People Are All Crazy! Then What?

Had a conversation today that put me in mind of this post I wrote.  Like in that one, this one has to contain ableist language, but hopefully not be seen as an endorsement of such, or an invitation to do that in my comment section.  In fact, read that post first, because I don’t wanna repeat the same junk.  Long story short, what if the things we rate as cognitive deficits and malfunctions are vastly vastly more commonplace than we assume?  What if, as an emotionally stable person without any major risk of delusions, you were in a minority?  Can we sane few right the world gone mad?  Can we steer this ship of fools unto the safe harbor of sanity?

Nope.  There are no cures for most of what can ail a mind, just a life of care and carefulness.  Assuming we are even fortunate enough to know how bonkers we are.  A lot of people who are walking around assuming they are fairly normal or similar to others, not susceptible to delusions, are one weird day away from joining a cult and giving their lives over to it.  One moment away from being told “the truth” on a facebook post and forever thinking something that would make a gullible child look twice.

Atrocity Guide on yewchoob has a video about a cult that includes interviews with an ex-member who got out and is doing well.  Nice.  But what happened?  At a seminar the cult leader gave, he saw a golden light radiating from the man.  The deeper he got into it, the more impossible things he bore witness to.  And yet, on the other side, he realized those were all hallucinations, provoked through the power of suggestion.  Hearing this sensible guy say these things, you have to wonder, could it happen to me?

If it’s never happened to you before, well, probably not.  I think some people just have wild imaginations, or are more prone to influence.  But who knows?  Also, as you age, who is to say how your faculties might change?  As an atheistical type, formerly of the fiery brand, I used to imagine we could eliminate magical thinking from the world by getting everybody hip to philosophical materialism.  The holes in the logic of religion are trivially easy to point out, to talk under the table.

But nobody is impervious to bullshit, and it’s so pervasive in the world that it deforms the perception of reality on an everyday basis for vast swathes of humanity.  They’ll never buy reality because the fantasy everybody around them was taught every day forever just feels more correct, in their hearts.  Words to the contrary, they just sound like silly noises.  Maybe they don’t have the exact words to argue against you in the moment, but they’re sure somebody smarter in the faith, some preacher would be able to get you to see the light.  Because they have the same point of view as I do, at the end of the day.  Their truth is so obviously self-evident, it doesn’t need a rationale.  You don’t see me doing atheist apologetics much.  We all know what’s what, right?

The misguided person I spoke with today, she felt mighty foolish and didn’t know what to do with herself.  Not her fault.  I got the same conclusion here as I did before, but feel it more today than the last time I wrote it.  We need laws against lying.  The ACLU will say no, reaching across the aisle to join hands with political propagandists and corporate salesfuckos, but nay.

We can’t prevent all types of exploitation forever, we can’t protect people from themselves perfectly, but if human life and well-being has any value at all, we, as a society must find a way to reduce the harm caused by dishonest persuasion, better than we do now.  It’s like how we have laws against murder, knowing full well it will still happen at some point, no matter what we do.  But the laws give us a mechanism of enforcement, a disincentive.  Right now, in the USA, you’re literally praised for being the biggest con artist.  It’s fucked up and I hate it.

People Are All Idiots! Then What?

Gonna use ableist language in this post, obviously, but not as an endorsement, also obviously – I hope.  A common belief of misanthropes in all walks of life is that they are the lone sane or intelligent person in a world gone mad or gone stupid.  You get that a lot in comments on FtB.  Observe my comment policy in the sidebar before you bring that here, please.  I just wanted to get out an idea that’s been occurring to me a lot lately.  I’ve been running into the cognitive deficits of others pretty often, and the big plagiarism video focused a lot on the question of “why plagiarize?”  I feel these things are related.

When I say I’ve been running into the cognitive deficits of others, you might reasonably infer that I think of myself as superior to those people in intellect and worth – that I am being ableist.  But I believe you can acknowledge that somebody has a deficit in a non-ableist way, for example, when developing policies to allow the cognitively impaired full access to a good life.  It’s what you do with the observation of that fact that matters.  Do I think people are less valuable than I am because they would do worse on standardized tests?  Worse at math, reading comprehension, elementary logic?  No.

Do I think I am the end-all be-all of genius?  Fuck no, I feel the limits of my own ability to think every fucking day at my job.  It sucks.  It sucks worse for the people I deal with, and I feel bad for them.  My job is, in part, trying to explain information that makes me feel feeble-minded to people who find that information fully paralyzing.

The picture I’m starting to get, the half-baked thesis I’m dropping here, is that huge swathes of humanity are much less intelligent than society expects them to be.  We expect certain basic abilities in modern life – attention span, reading comprehension, math, awareness of cultural concepts and trivia, wit, spelling and grammar, whatever.  You might see people being slack about some of these and scoff, say there is no standard, but that’s a facile way of looking at shit.  Witness the way people get dogpiled for embarrassing themselves on social media.  These expectations are unevenly enforced, but they do exist.

(Quick aside on race and class:  I’ve talked to an upper middle class white person who was hatefully resistant to understanding the most basic aspects of the laws and policies they were dealing with, and a user of thick AAVE with multiple children dependent on social benefits -your “welfare mom”- who effortlessly intuited subtleties of the even worse laws and policies they were being subjected to.  You can’t judge cognitive ability from how educated a person sounds.)

This situation has not resulted in people rising to those standards, because they fucking can’t.  The actual result of those standards is a lot of fakery.  People learn how to pretend they’re more capable than they are.  Some buy their own act and get overconfident, but most live in terror of being discovered.  It’s not always imposter syndrome, because – if I’m right – the average person is genuinely not as cognitively capable as we expect them to be.  This is not unlike the way we expect everybody to be more slim and physically adroit than most people are capable of being.  We’re all doing our best to not get attacked for our deficits, and if I’m right, huge numbers of people passing as able right now are actually mentally deficient by mainstream standards.  They’re suffering for it.

The shittier skeptics will just mock the gullible.  The more idealistic skeptics might see this issue and think, well, we’ll just help enlighten them.  They’re right that nobody deserves to be gulled, but they’re wrong to think it’s possible for most people to reach a point of skeptical competence that will prevent it.  We’d do better to push for laws and social mores that protect people from deception.

If you see somebody struggling with some cognitive task, cut them some slack.  You’ve surely struggled with thinking at some point in your own life, or will in the future, should you experience senescence.  Don’t call attention to it, just help them get past the situation discreetly and move on.  That’s all I have for now.  I don’t believe education and outreach is useless, but it could be useful to get a more realistic view of its limitations.

Affirmative Action

Ah, affirmative action.  I’d forgotten about it.  It just doesn’t come up much in my life.  There are some institutions private and public with policies of inclusion that set a minimum amount of hiring or selection of women or people of color, or other traditionally oppressed or marginalized peoples.  It’s a classique bogeyman of racists, to the extent you can hear it called “affirmative blaction” (get it?) by the wrong uncles.

Anyway, somebody remembered it exists and acquired a raft of assholes to sign on a statement against it, posing as an academic paper.  The beef, as usual, is that there may be talented cishetwhitebros who are being excluded from these institutions and privileges because a lower-scoring person who met certain demographic requirements was forced into place by critical race theory jewish social marxists or whatever they’re called.

It’s hardly worth arguing about, but it occurred to me, in looking at this trash fire, that I would rather have a person with a significant cognitive impairment in charge of a scientific endeavor than any of the people who signed to that paper – if the cognitively impaired person was capable of honest inquiry, of accounting for their own biases in their work.  Why is that such a rare quality in this world?  At least among those privileged to be holding the bullhorn.

Very tiring.  I take a nap now.

pro AI lol

I think I’ve made long-winded posts in favor of AI art (not on this blog) that people “liked“ because they didn’t read far enough & assumed I was part of the popular hate train for it.  I’m in favor of AI art, in case you didn’t know.

(Side note:  I may reiterate the “debate” civilly in my comments, but I’ll block you if I’m at all annoyed by how it’s going.  Don’t come with your fingers in your ears, hot to regurgitate the hot takes you’ve ingested elsewhere.)

I don’t see myself using it for much more than a laugh right now (see Spooktober 2022), but if I ever get back into making art in earnest?  I’ll probably use it as a tool.  In a survey on Midjourney 40% of the thousands of people using that AI said they work as or have worked as professional artists.  They’re using it as a tool, like we all did when we all learned Photoshop and whatnot.

Anyway, pro-AI art thought for the day:  I’ve made the case before that opposing AI art can be ableist, because it allows people to create art who would be otherwise unable to do so.  So as I reflect on that tonight, I’m thinking, that just might be the most exciting thing about AI art right now.

A lot of people who use it are either dabbling, or are already artists in their own right by older means.  But some people are approaching this as artists, who have never been able to make art before.  How might their work be different from the rest of us?  What are they going to do with it?  When they’re new, versus when they’re more developed?

Outsider art is a very interesting realm.  The postmodern embrace of it was one of a few inarguably good things to come out of that school of thought.  Ideas from the untrained help keep the world of art fresh and interesting, and balance the elitism inherent to its sadly ever-present class association.

AI art is, in a very abstract way, a descendant of the art of collage, which is a very common form for outsider art to take.  Where my outsiders at?  What have you done with this new tool today?

– ps: enjoy some abject AI foolery


Department of Bad Ideas – Mass Shootings

Content Warnings: Murder, Ableism, Suicide, Abuse, etc.  This is me being a shitty edgelord for a minute.

Nobody likes mass shootings, even rethuglicans.  A few people carry out the practical end of Fucker Carlston’s stochastic terrorism and gun control looks reasonable – the NRA doesn’t want that, even if they don’t give a shit about a mountain of dead children.  Nobody who knows one of these killers is surprised by them doing the deed.  Sometimes they’ve even been ratted out to the authorities, who were too slow to act on the information.  This suggests to me a solution.

If you’re very pro-gun and you know somebody who is going to kill lots of people, murder them before they can do it.  They are usually troubled enough you could make it look like a suicide easy, and who is going to believe this as a motive for murder?  You’ll know in your heart that you saved lives – you were the fabled good guy with a gun, putting one in the back of your friend’s dome like George did Lenny.  And you’ll know you helped prevent bad press for your beloved assault rifles.

Literally everybody wins.  The children live, the guns keep their good name, you get the joy of committing a murder which is something I know you all desire so richly, and your troubled friend is released from all earthly suffering – their boiling rage allowed to cool and subside into the earth along with their physical corpus.

There are of course multiple reasons this is a bad idea.  Conservatives are spectacularly bad judges of where the violence and abuse in society are coming from.  Youth Pastor Handsy?  Solid dog.  Coach Concussion?  Made you into a real man.  Officer Beatdown?  The thin blue line.  Autistic Steve with the tics?  Who let him be a janitor?  Somebody should part him out for organ donations.  Making this ask to the kind of people in a position to carry it out is both advocating murder, and asking them to be as ableist as possible about who they choose to kill.

I just felt clever in a terrible way for two seconds and had to share my faulty math.  I hope you enjoyed it as dark humor and forgive me if you did not.  Thanks.

If You Hail Satan, Come Correct

Woof.  I wanted to like The Satanic Temple and Lucien Greaves, but I randomly came across the real scoop on what low-down fash-friendly piles of shit they really are.  Representing myself as satanic, I feel the need to address this, and while I’m at it, help fix some of the harm they are doing in the world.

To start with, I need to make clear that I do not believe every member of TST is fascist or a scumbag.  Some just haven’t gotten the facts yet, and some who have feel too invested to acknowledge the truth.  To those of you who are good people, I hope you work things out.

But I also hope you can realize you don’t need TST and can represent Satan in your own ways.  There is absolutely nothing stopping you from walking away from TST en masse and starting your own Satanism.  Maybe it starts small, a facebook group or a twitter account, but it can turn into something just as big and certainly better.


Eugenics and Nazi Friendliness

I was ill-informed and had little idea that modern satanists were so cozy with antisemitism and nazism until I fell down this unfortunate rabbit hole.  What in the name of Hell is the point of rejecting Christ only to wallow in the shit ideals of his worst fanboys?

Lucien Greaves has made some half-assed apologies for antisemitic comments made on a radio show in 2003 as that came to light recently, and in the narrow context of that clip one could think of his comments as being more antitheist than antisemitic – he was saying jewish religious belief is his problem and jewish blood is not, in disagreement with the hosts of the radio show he was on.

But broaden that context just a little bit more, and things look much worse.  Why did he not rebuke the whole proceedings when his pals on the show went full sieg heil?  Why didn’t he bail?  Because he knew they were nazis going in, and he was OK with that.

The show itself was the “Might Is Right 24-Hour Radio Special” in honor of a new printing of racist / antisemitic book “Might is Right” – and Greaves (as “Doug Mesner”) was invited because he illustrated the book.  Whatever terms or qualifiers he’s used for it (he had a site called “dysgenics” as late as 2018), Greaves has wholeheartedly endorsed eugenics on many occasions.  As recently as the founding of The Satanic Temple ten years after his appearance on that show, he was willingly associating with and involving the sieg heiling host of that very broadcast.

(Quick aside – the event hosts may or may not have identified as nazis and they didn’t actually say “sieg heil” but I don’t give an earthly shit about distinguishing between flavors of antisemite and the finer points of their ideologies.  Another guest on the show was prominent KKK figure Tom Metzger – in a segment of the show Greaves (Doug Misicko in the transcript) happily participated in.  Y’all are nazis; eat shit and die at your soonest convenience, thanks.)

(Aside Deux – because this is an atheist blog network and the “thought leaders” of modern atheism seem to think some nice guy version of eugenics, as a concept, can be salvaged for good, I should emphasize that ain’t true.  I’m not up to linkspamming support of that point, but feeling tempted to give nazi ideas an inch of your mental bandwidth should give you great pause.)

Anyone who would oppose the hypocrisies and injustices of cultural christianity has to decide for theirself what they will propose in the wake of christianity’s defeat.  Because you’re not going to defeat xtianity at large, of course (only they can do that to themselves lol), but you are going to win some hearts and minds away from the pews and pulpits.  What are you giving them in exchange for what they’ve given up?

For some opposing xtianity is enough, like dictionary atheists who are iconoclasts without a care.  LaVey was in the pitiful thrall of Ayn Rand and his satanic bible owes its soul to her “objectivism.”  His Church of Satan and the satanic movement generally from that point on carried those values of cruelty and greed forward.  This was the movement from which Greaves emerged, only differing in that he was more fully atheistic than his predecessors.  Or maybe just more ableist.  From what I’ve seen, ableism was always his biggest hobbyhorse.

OK, greed as a value does seem to oppose the charity spoken of by Jesus, so satanic, right?  Wrong.  If we were just going to oppose xtianity as described in the bible, maybe.  But I don’t give a fuck about that.  I want to oppose xtianity as it is practiced in my culture, and all the harm it does – most of which is fueled by greed.  If you’re not doing that – fighting for the ability of people to enjoy life, fighting oppression – what’s the fucking point?

In their stances on gay rights and reproductive rights and religious freedom, The Satanic Temple has lured in thousands of progressive people – taken their time and money.  But was this truly deserved?  The organization is rotten at its core for the same reason the gnu atheist movement was: the founders centered ableism, the ability to feel superior to the “stupid” xtians, which is just about the quickest path to eugenics and nazism.

To this day, there are high ups within TST that have a history of consorting with nazi clowns like Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannapolis.  TST have gone on record as being anti-antifa, and you know what you get when those antis zero out.


Reproductive Rights People Hate Them

Just because anti-abortion scumbags have had a great deal of success lately does not mean that the defenders of reproductive health have been failing at their jobs, only that fascists have been achieving horrific victories across the board.  But The Satanic Temple has opted to use that messaging to suck up activist dollars – to claim “We must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed.”

And what are they doing with the pro-abortion activist dollars?  They’re acting like $cientology in the way they veer between saying they’re a religion and denying that depending on what’s most advantageous in a given financial or legal situation, and not being at all transparent about where the money goes.



All these issues and more led some Satanists in my part of the country to rebel, to make public critique of the organization.  The law protects criticism of religious organizations, but they’re still suing for business harm – a business when it suits them, a religion when it doesn’t.  The apostates are just regular people facing tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses they can’t afford.  It’s a SLAPP suit working as intended, and you can see why I might find that something worth fighting against.

Support the Queer Satanic Apostasy.  Help defend them against the SLAPP suit.


Full Disclosure:

TST and FtB have both employed the same lawyer in free speech cases, a man who is a strong partisan on that issue, but easy to find very negative articles about.  That lawyer is specifically named as one of the reasons for dissenters leaving TST.  Due to our prior relationship with him, I will not be addressing that one specific issue here and prefer it not be discussed in this space, except to say I understand and very much sympathize with those concerns.

Renewing My Comment Policy

Once upon a time, some SJW types decided we should avoid using stupid and crazy and their synonyms in our discourse, because of splash damage to those with cognitive and mental disabilities.  This idea prevailed only in a few narrow places, never on FtB.  Gradually, it has faded altogether.  It doesn’t help that in the last few years the worst elements of society have been pushing ignorance and irrationality to virtually unprecedented depths.  The tumblr types I follow have actively rebuked this voluntary policing of our own language.  So should I enforce this in my own language and in my comments section?

Yeah, I’m going to keep doing it.  I’m going to respond to the arguments in my last post’s comment section here, paraphrasing for simplicity.  Might be that nobody said exactly any one of these – they are amalgamations and distillations.  I’m trying to boil this down to reduce redundancy, without leaving any one argument completely unaddressed.  Indeed, some of my commenters did less arguing than merely posing questions, and I don’t want the way I’ve set this up to make them think I think this is what they were saying… Whatever.  Here I go:

[Read more…]

I Need SJW Opinions, Help Me

Anybody remember the Ableism Challenge?  I’ve made it a matter of principle to never use crazy, stupid, and their synonyms on all my blog posts, the entire time I’ve been doing this.  I’ve also made it a comment policy.  The most recent violations of said policy are currently unaddressed, because I’m wondering what I should do at this point.

There was a minute when the prevailing feeling in the progressive internet parts was that we need to take ableism seriously in our language.  In culture at large we are quick to refer to anything we disagree with as stupid or insane.  People with psychological and cognitive disabilities exist and unquestionably do suffer from ableism.  Implicit in calling a conservative antivaxxer a “covidiot” is the idea that having such disabilities makes one a fair target of mockery.

FtB has never, on the whole, taken this type of ableism at all seriously, or had any staying power with efforts to reduce it.  How many of us are even trying?  I feel like I’m not 100% alone in this, but I’m not even sure who the others are.  This makes sense – the atheist and skeptic movements are founded on the hobby of making ourselves feel clever by mocking those who are not.

And I get it.  This isn’t a callout post for Mano, PZ, or 95% of the commentariat across the whole network.  We live in a world on the fast track to extinction and the cultists of a cheap and obvious con artist are spreading doubt about germ theory.  I wanna call Q shit stupid and crazy the same as you.  Who am I to tie your hands, to tell you not to call a spade a spade?

Furthermore, the SJWsphere seems to have moved on.  I never see people addressing ableist language anymore, and have seen a few prominent progressives actively rebuke these restraints.  The people who initially advocated for taking stupid and crazy off the table?  They’ve been quiet about this for years.  Some aren’t even blogging anymore.

I will continue to avoid stupid, crazy, and their synonyms in my posts.  It costs me nothing and I like to think this commitment offers some people a way to feel like they have some safe content on the internet, somewhere.  But how important is it?  Where’s the SJW pulse at, right now?  Should I hold my commenters to the same standard as myself?

When I say I want SJW opinions, I mean it.  If you’re just commenting to grouse from a centrist or liberal or crass point of view, fuck off.  The people whose opinions informed my original stance were the sensitive, the thoughtful, and those who are seriously committed to making the world a better place.  Social engineers.  Idealists.  Real social justice warriors.

I’m going to delete any comments that don’t meet that standard, even if I don’t ban anyone over it.  The comments on this post, assuming I get any, are for comrades only.

Taking the Ableism Challenge

The excellent Ania Bula offered this challenge “for all of (her) blogger friends” – which I take to mean she isn’t expecting randos to participate.  So calm thyselves if riled, randos.  This isn’t for you.  The challenge in short: Do not use any ableist language in your writing for one month. This is not a challenge I am personally accepting because I’m trying to do it forever rather than a short time, and because she doesn’t know me. I’m a rando.

I mention and link it because it lays out the good case against ableism in writing – which in the atheist and skeptic communities is mostly synonyms for “unintelligent” and “mentally ill” being used as insults. A response article by the righteous and mighty Luxander Pickel is also well worth a read. Below are some choice chunks from both articles: [Read more…]