Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo: The Empath

Having been produced by millions of years of natural selection, the human brain is such a phenomenally fantastic organ, and the study of neuroscience has given us a great window into how it operates. Common misconceptions maintain that brain function remains a complete mystery to science, leaving imaginary gaps in function of  the human psyche. One of those gaps that woo-woo wishes to fill includes the concept of empathy, which of course is attributed to the ambiguous term “energy” as well as a cacophony of other facets, real and imagined. You cannot have New Age beliefs without exalting yourself as some sort of psychic, thus this particular brand I will cover today is labeled as “empath”.

Some of the attributes of supposed “empaths”:

1. Ability to sense feelings of another.
2. Literal mind reading capacity.
3. Feeling drained from social situations.
4. Psychic connection to the spirit world.
5. Knowing when people are lying.
6. Psychometry – ability to psychically read the history of objects through touch.
7. Susceptibility to illness by being around sick persons.
8. Capacity to heal others by taking on their pain and releasing it…wherever….

There are many other claims of course, but these are the main characterizations typically given as symptoms of being a super psychic empath. Now if you are a fan of Star Trek, you will find these themes awfully familiar. As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I was personally reminded of a character named Commander Deanna Troi, who was half human, and half Betazoid, which is a telepathic alien race.
Troi
Recently I began to watch the original series of Star Trek, when I ran into this episode. It was uncanny…

Star Trek: The Original Series – “The Empath”

Lots of folks seem to get their New Age beliefs from movies and TV programs. I have mentioned the ideas they have regarding “The Matrix” being a real thing previously. This is no different, and often fiction will be mixed with some bits of reality in order to relate to the audience. But when it comes to the actual claims regarding empaths, how can the truth be distinguished from what’s false?

Sure, I can understand the human source of empathy arriving at the behest of such things as mirror neurons, and perhaps the brain is largely responsible for responses to our social encounters. Neuroscience gives us quite a bit of understanding of how we feel empathy, as Dr. Thomas Lewis demonstrates below:

Perhaps there is some merit to the idea of being able to detect emotions from micro-expressions, and other non verbal forms of communication. I will even grant being around sick people can often be the source of one’s own illness because of the germ theory, and that stress can lower immune system responses.

But psychic healers? Well, there’s hoards of people who wish to believe this, yet sadly no evidence. If these people actually can heal with their abilities, perhaps they should visit as many hospitals as possible. If this notion is mentioned to anyone who claims to be an empath, watch them squirm to move the goalpost. They will say “oh but my abilities aren’t fully developed yet,” or “it drains me when I do a healing for free.” You heard that right… “for free” because it seems there is no corner of the internet where you cannot find a supposed reiki healer.

BS Detector.jpg
I used to consider myself an empath, and in some ways, I still do, except for the psychic nonsense. The truth is, aside from those who have defects in mirror neurons or unusual brain patterns, the majority of human beings have an uncanny ability to empathize, and it assists us in maintaining a healthy group dynamic. Identifying with a group is very important to the human race, and it’s this very thing that seems to lure some folks into believing they belong to an elite association of empathic light workers.  For example, the other day I ran across a self-proclaimed empath who felt it was their job to condemn a selfie poster as lacking in self-esteem. They were quite shocked to gain some backlash. You’d think a person with psychic feelings would’ve seen that coming…

Ironically enough, those who consider themselves an authority in regard to feelings tend to tread on others and misunderstand quite often. However, when questioned rationally, this authoritative stance breaks down completely, especially since humanity has empathy written into the fabric of their being. It’s definitely no outlier when one can relate to another’s feelings. A simple and rational explanation for the human capacity for empathy lies within the proven theory of natural selection. As mammals, our brains are hard-wired to care for our offspring; as apes, we are a very social species, thus the proponents of caring for one another is a key aspect of our survival. There is no need for the additional burden of supernatural abilities, nor pseudo-authoritative labels.
Spock

Stoicism

The Philosophy of My Life: Stoicism #1

So I thought today I might share with you a bit about the philosophy of life that I have chosen to follow, Stoicism. Now to start off, I’m a shit Stoic, but the good thing is that with each passing day I am presented with a new opportunity to better follow my philosophy. Unlike religion, Stoicism isn’t about reaching a point of perfection, it is instead about striving to be the best person you personally can be, while realizing that perfection will always be outside your grasp. This allows for constant practice and bettering oneself throughout life.

So before I get very much farther into this article I’d like to discuss a few things that Stoicism is not.

  1. Stoicism is not a religion – Stoicism isn’t about pleasing a deity or about working towards a reward after life. The Stoics were materialists believing that only those things we can truly experience exist and things outside of that are “indifferent” to us, or in other words not to be worried about.
  2. Stoics are not cold-hearted – Today’s common usage of the word stoic shares little in common with Stoic philosophy. Stoicism is not about simply acting as if nothing bothers you but in choosing what things to react to and what things to let pass by. The ancient Stoics spoke of the quiet joy and cheerfulness that life as a Stoic could provide.
  3. Spock is not a Stoic and Stoics are not Spock. – Going with the last point is the idea that Stoics are chained to logic, living an unemotional life. As stated in the last section, it isn’t about living a life free of emotion but about understanding emotions to a better degree and stopping yourself from getting too emotional.

So anyway, with those few points made I will begin by stating that Stoicism had three branches initially to their philosophy, Physics, Logic, and Ethics. I will not be going into Physics and Logic as they are both topics that had basically fallen out of usage by the time of the three major Stoic authors that we have today. I will be dealing primarily with Stoic Ethics, though I might delve into the other two if it is deemed necessary to explain a point more fully.

So let’s get started…

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.” – Epictetus

According to the Stoics all of life falls into two categories, with a few small subcategories for clarity, those categories are things within our control and things outside of our control. Stoic ethics is about how to live “in accordance to nature” by dwelling only upon those things within our control.

So what things do we have control? We control our opinions, our choices, our wants and desires, as well as our own physical actions. What don’t we control? Everything else.

Most modern Stoics would add to this the category of things not quite under our control as well as things not under our control but influenced by us. An example of something not quite under our control would be the final grade on a group project, since you could work your hardest but if the others don’t pull their weight the final grade could be poor. An example of something influenced by us but not under our direct control would be a national election in which we vote but have very little say over the end result.

The Stoics believed that much of human strife is caused by dwelling upon those things outside of our control. If we instead shift the mental focus inward and worry about only those things that we can control our life can reach a state of contentment.  Many of life’s ills can be avoided simply by realizing that no matter how hard we try to change a situation, the control is not ours and thus our efforts are futile.

Let’s put this into perspective with a few examples…


Example 1

For the last month three months you have eagerly anticipated a week off of work. You have made plans for that week to go to the beach, have a picnic, take a long bike ride in the country as well as other things in the outdoors. The week arrives and instead of the warm and sunny weather you were expecting, it is cold and rainy. What do you do?

Well you have a couple of choices.

  1. You could choose to carry on with your plans. Enjoy a rainy day at the beach, a rain-soaked picnic, and a long, cold, and wet bike ride. This could result in your health taking a turn for the worse and being forced to take even more time off of work.
  2. You could complain bitterly about how nothing ever works out for you, how the universe is against you and how life just plain sucks.
  3. You could have prepared in advance for the possibility of rain and had a separate schedule of things to do. Go to a movie, visit a museum, go to a friend or family members house.

Notice how none of those choices included snapping your fingers and instantly having the sun come out, the rain go away, and the week be as perfect as you believed it would be? The Stoics believed that most people go with choices 1 or 2, when in reality they should have gone with number 3, as it ensures them the greatest degree of happiness with the least amount of risk involved. Choice number three prepares you for if it is sunny or if it is rainy and allows you to enjoy the time off regardless of the weather.


Example 2

We would all like to believe that we are immortal and that life will continue to go on, as it is now, forever. However we know in the back of our mind that it will someday end. Death is an unknown and so to many folks it is a chilling thought. How are we to deal with it?

Once again we are given a few choices…

  1. We can live as if we are immortal. Pretending that there is always going to be time to do everything we want to do in life. Death? Not me, I don’t even think about it. The only thing on my mind is reaching retirement age so that I can finally start enjoying life!
  2. We can live in absolute fear of death. Never taking any risks and leading a life that is dull but safe. Death? I want to avoid it at all costs!
  3. We can accept that death is a thing that we all must one day experience and choose not to fear it. We can live today knowing that it could be our last chance to experience a sunset, listen to the rain, enjoy the kiss of a loved one, or feel the warmth of a fire.

Once again the Stoics would say that the majority choose 1 or 2 but the best choice, number three, is the way to go. Stoics saw death not as something to be feared but as an experience we all must accept and live with. Living without fear of death but also with the knowledge that life is finite allows us to enjoy our family and friends to a much greater degree than if our mind was constantly focused on simply living as long as possible.


As with the examples, Stoics realized that you could not control the weather or change the fact that you will one day die. They instead choose to plan ahead, consider alternate courses, and accept the end of life with dignity and courage. Life is far too precious to waste on those things that I have absolutely no control over.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this jaunt into the philosophy of my life. Remember, I’m a shit Stoic but I’m still a Stoic. You too can be a shit Stoic if you choose to be. Thanks for reading!

 

Freethought Friday

Free-Thought Friday: Losing My Christianity: Part 2

For part one of Jennifer’s journey, click here.


 

We arrived home, shaken up, but alive, and went to bed. The next day, I told mom I had enough of this shit, and if we didn’t leave, someone was going to die, and I wasn’t kidding. She told me to be patient, and she had a plan – a remark that I had absolutely no faith in, but I nodded and told her she’d better follow through with it, because the situation with dad was getting so far out of hand that our lives were risk. A month passed before the plans actually fell through, which mom later told me was a tactic to assure that dad didn’t realize what was happening. She was on disability for a severe back injury she had suffered for over a decade, so every year or so, she had to be evaluated by a doctor to confirm she was still disabled. She told dad she had one of these appointments, so she and I were going to go to Texas so she could see her primary doctor. He didn’t seem to suspect any foul-play with this explanation, so it seemed things were going well. Mom gave me instructions to pack enough stuff to last us a while, but not too much that he would find it suspect, placing it little by little into the truck on the days before our trip. On the day we left, I couldn’t stop smiling. We loaded up into the truck, said our goodbyes to dad, before taking off. At some point between our getting in the vehicle, and pulling out the driveway, he seemed to realize we were leaving for good, and began to run after us like a madman. I turned around and gave him a nice, big smile, then waved like crazy at him. I never will forget the stunned look on his face. To this day it makes me giddy, which may be odd, but I really don’t care. I was free from the hitting, the degrading name calling, isolation, paranoia, and authoritarian household that had me in chains for my entire life. Things were looking much better, and I finally had a chance to be happy.

On the way, mom and I discussed many things, one being my doubts about god because of what we had been through. She assured me that god was still with us, and if he hadn’t been, we wouldn’t have survived or had one another. Now, he had given us the opportunity to be happy, and it was her and I against the world. I heeded her words, and thought she had a really good point. I never forgot when she said, “It’s you and me against the world…” I considered this evidence that god was real, and with us, holding us together against all odds and struggles. Such a wonderful new beginning! I prayed to god and thanked him for having helped us get away from the tyrant, and swore I would never doubt him again as long as he kept mom and I together.

After about 7 hours, we arrived at my granny’s house in Texas, which was exciting because I hadn’t seen her in years! My aunt was also living there to take care of granny after she had a stroke. It was so awesome to be around family again! Things were fine for a while, and I began school a couple of months after we arrived. It was scary to go to public school, since I had been homeschooled and isolated for so long. Lots of bullying went on, because I was socially odd, and didn’t quite fit in. All of that really didn’t matter much, as long as I knew mom and I were free and could spend quality time together. So I would walk home from the bus stop each day, expecting to see her there when I arrived, but for one reason or another, she rarely was. I would ask granny where mom went, and she said she didn’t know. At times my mom would show up, late at night with the smell of alcohol on her breath. I inquired where she had been, to which she replied she had been at the bar hanging out with friends she knew in town. This went on for about 6 months. Me going to school, and her arriving home late and drunk. I started smoking cigarettes at school due to the stress and lack of guidance at home. My granny caught me, and told me it wasn’t good for me. I asked her why it mattered? No one really cared. Then mom found out I was smoking, she pretended to be upset for a few months, but after a while, she began buying them for me, since she had begun smoking herself, and figured it would be hypocritical for her to tell me to stop rebelling in that way.

About January the next year, mom told me that she had found a place to live where dad wouldn’t find us, and it was a college town, so she had signed up for classes there. How wonderful! Maybe being away from her bar friends would allow for her to spend more time with me! I thanked god once again for helping us find a place, and giving us a real chance to grow closer together. I began school there, and actually started making friends. I loved the new place, but mom seemed very stressed when she was home, and on the weekends, of course, she still frequented various bars. She loved being back at college, and spent a lot of time studying, but we were fighting quite a bit. I began to feel as though she didn’t like me at all. It hurt my feelings, but at least she was actually there, and I had some friends to talk to. After her first semester ended, and to my utter dismay, she started spending more and more time at bars. By this time, I had turned 14, and was already quite rebellious and angry – especially after she brought home guys from bars that wouldn’t seem to go away. We had two different guys move in with us, one of which was a complete control freak that wouldn’t give me any privacy, and as ALWAYS drunk or high on something. One day, they left for the bar, and didn’t come back for a full month. There was barely enough food in the house for me to survive, and I had no idea where she had gone until she called me on the phone a week after they had left to let me know they were staying in Arkansas, and she didn’t know when they would be back, but would let me know. To say I was hurt by this would be a complete understatement. The woman abandoned me to vacation with a drunkard. I prayed and prayed for them to come home, at least before the food ran out. They finally did, so I assumed god answered my prayer, but there was still the matter of the additional drunkard flopping at our house.

 

He lived with us for 5-6 months, and after a couple of really bad, drunken fights between them, I advised mom to take that bastard back where he came from. She agreed, and he packed his stuff and they went back to his town. I waited for her to arrive back home until 3am, and to my utter dismay, she arrived with guy #2, whose name was Thomas. I was absolutely infuriated with her! I prayed to god that night that she would stop drinking. I pleaded with him, and bargained my life to him if he would just help me have a real parent that cared about me for once in my life.

A few days after Thomas had arrived, mom decided she wanted to vacation to Arkansas once again. I insisted that this time, they take me with them. She disagreed, saying she wanted to spend quality time with the guy she had just met. To my surprise, the guy agreed that I should go with them, and he was looking forward to the opportunity to get to know me as well. So off to Arkansas we went, and aside from my mom’s drunkenness, I actually had a good time! Thomas loved to drive FAST on the narrow highways alongside the mountains. It was exhilarating, and he was funny, smart, and quite an interesting character. One night after my mom had passed out, we spent some time talking about everything from life to music, only interrupted by the occasional animal that glowed their eyeshade with wonder at us as we tried to guess what species it was. I really liked this guy, and as I prayed later on that night before going to sleep, I thanked god for him coming into mom’s life, despite how they met. He actually was nice, and seemed to actually care about my feelings and well-being more than my own mom. Perhaps it would be a good influence for her, I thought.

To continue on to part 3, click here: Free-Thought Friday: Losing My Christianity: Part 3

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #11: Wishful Thinking

For last week’s Wednesday Woo, click here.

Matrix

The latest craze in New Age philosophy, called the “law of attraction” has dominated pop culture like a maddening song. It’s the MMMbop of self help, running through people’s heads, and echoing from their lips like the annoyingly positive verbal diarrhea that it is. “Thoughts become things….thoughts become things,” is parroted over and over again, washing over the world’s populace as waves of stupid provoked by a raging storm of charlatans and self-help gurus who decided to enrich themselves by plagiarizing the emerald tablet. New age believers often dip their toes in whatever philosophy makes them feel good, since it is a form of pantheism. All religions and ideas have some bit of truth according to the pantheist, so why not steal some ideas from the occult? It would be a great way to sell books, make videos, and hold expensive self-help conferences.
Magic.png
Hermetic philosophy, which derives from the writings (the “Emerald Tablet”) of the fictional character, Hermes Trismegistus, and has inspired occult superstition since the dark ages of Europe. Now it has been simplified and mass produced on a level only the internet and microphone headsets can achieve. I will grant the notion some credit; it did inspire European culture to strive for better science, since many well-known alchemists were staunch followers. Alchemy is now considered a pseudoscience, and was eventually replaced with chemistry. Another contribution attributed to the practice of alchemy is hermetic sealing, which aided us in preserving foods by canning them. Here are the seven Hermetic principles:
Definitions.png

As you can see, many of these terms, like “vibration” “manifest” and “law” are the same ones conflated often by those who tout this inane attraction rubbish. They will tell you that in the*law* of attraction is the power of the*mind* and thinking positive or negative thoughts *cause* the *vibration* of what *manifests* as an *effect* of your thinking. Well then, let’s define these terms scientifically to see if they hold up to scrutiny, shall we?

Law – “A scientific law is a statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspect of the universe. A scientific law always applies under the same conditions, and implies that there is a causal relationship involving its elements. Factual and well-confirmed statements like “Mercury is liquid at standard temperature and pressure” are considered too specific to qualify as scientific laws.’”

Mind – “noun 1.(in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.:the processes of the human mind.2.Psychology. the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities.3.intellect or understanding, as distinguished from the faculties of feeling and willing; intelligence.”

Cause – 1“a :a reason for an action or condition :motive b :something that brings about an effect or a result trying to find the cause of the accident c :a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state a cause for celebration; especially :an agent that brings something about She is the cause of your troubles. d :sufficient reason discharged for cause”

Vibration – periodic back-and-forth motion of the particles of an elastic body or medium, commonly resulting when almost any physical system is displaced from its equilibrium condition and allowed to respond to the forces that tend to restore equilibrium.

Manifest – verb (used with object)3.to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly:He manifested his approval with a hearty laugh.4.to prove; put beyond doubt or question:The evidence manifests the guilt of the defendant.
Effect – power to bring about a result :influence the content itself of television … is therefore less important than its effect—Current Biography
Now let’s reword the sentence with the real definitions, and see if it makes sense:

The*statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspect of the universe [and] always applies under the same conditions* of attraction is the power of the *element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges* and thinking positive or negative thoughts *brings about an effect* [of] the *periodic back-and-forth motion* of what *make[s] clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show[s] plainly* as a *result/influence* of your thinking.
abraham.png
Sounds legit – like these thoughts are playing tennis with reality. So does this “thoughts become things” idea really work? Let’s do an experiment and see:
Think about your favorite movie star all day, and see if they knock on your door. According to this law, it should occur. Remember, laws are testable, and always reliable, like gravity, and should happen very plainly. This move star should knock on your door just as you imagined. Now if this manifests in your lifetime, without you putting forth any effort other than thinking, I will be impressed, and you should win some sort of Nobel prize for having figured out the way of thinking the world into peace. By the way, there are many folks out there trying to do this very thing – have been for years, and yet turmoil continues to exist.

I am obsessed with owls. I know it’s weird, but I like what I like. I think about them a lot, look at pictures, read books, and watch documentaries about them. I thoroughly appreciate owls, still, I rarely see an owl in the wild. If this concept were true, wouldn’t I manifest owls all the time? I think some very negative things about people sometimes – especially when I drive in traffic behind some goon who wants to go twenty miles below the speed limit. I visualize their head exploding, but it never happens. The jury is still out on whether or not this is a negative or positive thought… haha…

The only thing that will manifest as a direct result from the law of attraction is more law of attraction books and videos. Plain and simple, this is an example of wishful thinking. Once again, you have charlatans who want to make money on the desperation of others. Those who are sick, broke, want relationships, and have all sorts of needs would be the very ones attracted to such a notion. Sadly this will not help them, and if someone is sick, this kind of magical thinking can really cause damage. It’s dangerous to tell people they can think their way into wellness as opposed to seeking medical treatment.

I don’t know about you, but I am rather skeptical of anyone with the title “Reverend Dr.”
Now there is nothing wrong with trying to remain positive, in fact, it can help reduce stress which can help people in many ways. But to conflate this logically into every single aspect of reality is absolutely ridiculous and dangerous. I found this video of Rationality Rules where he breaks down the law of attraction quite well, and displays the flaws in the logic.

You can be a positive person without being a sucker to those who are trying to profit from things you desire. The best defense against charlatans is to use critical thinking, and beware of those who conflate scientific terms to suit their own claims.

Eat Me

Increasing My BS Vibrations

This article will deal with Quantum Woo. For more information, click here.

Let’s start with some definitions…

Vibration: an oscillation of the parts of a fluid or an elastic solid whose equilibrium has been disturbed, or of an electromagnetic wave.

Frequency: the rate at which something occurs or is repeated over a particular period of time or in a given sample. Such as a sound or electromagnetic wave.

Energy: The capacity of doing work.

Alright so now that we’ve gotten the definitions out-of-the-way, let me tell you that you are completely full of shit. There is no such thing as raising your frequency or your vibrations. First off, frequency of what? Vibration of what? These are words used to describe things.

For example a sound wave…

Frequency

See those crests, those are how we would judge the frequency of a sound wave. It is the number of times that a wave reaches the same point in a given period of time. If the above illustration was a second, the frequency of the two lines would be 6 and 3 respectively. These do not represent positive or negative thinking…if you think they do, you are full of shit.

Now let’s discuss vibrations. I keep hearing morons talk about increasing their vibrations in order to exist on a higher plane of reality. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Nothing, because when you ask for an actual definition they simply move the goalpost anytime you try to get them to actually answer the fucking question. It doesn’t even make sense that higher beings would have to exist at higher vibrations while lower beings would exist at lower vibrations.

Guess what….your thoughts do not create your reality, otherwise how in the fuck would I be able to tell you that your beliefs are fucking stupid and that you are a goddamned moron for believing in them? Guess what else? I have a pretty good life. I have more than enough money, I have a great deal of contentment, I have a great job, friends, and a wonderful family life. Yet, according to your bullshit ideology I must exist on the extreme low-end of the vibration scale, since I think that you are full of shit.

Now…Energy….let’s talk about energy…

I’ve seen folks say that all is energy…Well….that’s pretty god damned special since energy is the capacity for doing something. We eat a certain amount of food, to produce a certain amount of energy, to exist a certain amount longer in life. Our cars use a certain amount of gas, to produce a certain amount of energy, to go a certain distance down the road.

Now perhaps where this gets confusing is that everything is made out of energy. In order for anything to be created something else has to give up something. In order to create, something else has to be destroyed, to eat, something has to die, to do anything, something else has to occur. However, all bread is made from flour….you couldn’t eat a cup of flour and say you just enjoyed a loaf of bread. Energy converts to matter and then matter into various forms of energy, however I believe that some folks forget about mass.

The mass of a molecule does not change. So a molecule with a given mass will continue to have that mass regardless of the state in which it exists. Water for example may weigh differently in its various forms, liquid, solid or gas. However the mass of the water molecule H2O remains the same regardless of the state in which it exists. If it had more or less mass then it would cease to be water.  A water molecule is always going to be a water molecule, this is why the water cycle works.

This brings me back to vibration. Vibration of an object can go up or down depending upon outside forces, yet the object itself remains the same. Objects exposed to heat will  vibrate faster, objects exposed to cold will vibrate slower. This is why elements can exist in moth solid, liquid, and gas forms. I’ve heard some idiots claim that only water exists in these three forms yet given the proper temperatures any element, even helium, can exist in these three states, given the proper temperature and pressures. We need look no further than the other planets in our own solar system for proof of this.

So what does all of this mean in?

There are many people out there that believe if you can “Raise your frequency” by “increasing your vibrations” then you can create your own reality because “everything is energy.” Hopefully, I’ve been able to point out that this is bullshit.

I’ve seen some try to use Einstein to promote this bullshit idea in the form of this quote.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

Now…

A.) Einstein didn’t say this bullshit quote.

B.) That isn’t physics

  • Definition of physics: the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics, distinguished from that of chemistry and biology, includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.

Notice how matter and energy are fucking separate in that definition? That’s because your theory is bullshit, this quote is bullshit, and everything involved in these ideas are bullshit.

But what about Quantum Physics???

Oh Deepak….pooor sweet Deepak….shut the fuck up about quantum physics because you are nothing more than a bullshit artist who has absolutely no understanding of quantum.

“It is safe to say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

Richard Feynman. -Theoretical Quantum Fucking Physicist

Please…if a quantum physicist says that quantum physicists don’t even comprehend quantum mechanics, how can your favorite Youtube channeler or writer of idiotic secret books understands it better than they do?

Quantum mechanics deals with things at the incredibly small-scale. This is why it is so hard to understand because it deals with things that we cannot see or measure. What we can however do is measure the effects of quantum mechanics on the things that we can see and measure.

Think of it like this, and I’ll admit this is a poor analogy because I am not a physicist, but imagine you come across a slab of concrete and in the concrete there is a shoe print. No one else is around to have made the shoe print but you know that at some point there had to have been a shoe in order to have made that shoe print. So we could come up with various theories as to who made that shoe print and when it occurred by measuring the size of the print, the type of shoe that made it, the depth of the print to determine the weight of what who created it, etc…etc….etc…

Now, we understand that the universe is expanding. We can measure the rate of expansion yet the cause of that expansion is still unknown, we do however have a good idea that something had to have started the expansion or else it wouldn’t currently be expanding. This is where quantum physics comes into play and attempts to explain what we see today and why we see it as it is.

Quantum physics does not explain any of your Youtube Channeler or spiritualists ideas. Spooky action at a distance does not describe ghosts. The double slit experiment does not mean that nothing actually exists. The other dimensions that exist outside of the 4 that we experience are not higher, or better, or spiritual…in fact the other dimensions are tiny if you read anything about quantum physics. So your 9th dimensional angel healer guide is about a 1000th the size of the pinhead your brain fits on.

Anyway…if you believe any of this bullshit, you haven’t read through the entirety of this post…since reading isn’t your strong suit. If you have read through the entire article, you are probably like-minded and hopefully found it entertaining. Thank you for reading.

 

The Diary Of My Mind

Rudeness

Throughout the years I have often times been called rude for things that I have said or done. Things that I didn’t consider rude or insensitive at the time and still have great difficulty understanding why these things are considered rude. I have come to understand this as part of my autism which makes social norms not make sense to me, but even so it’s still weird to me that some of these things are considered rude. Now, I’m not saying that I can’t be rude, of course I can. What I am saying is that some of the things that NT’s consider rude make little or no sense at all when you actually look at them.

So I decided to make a short list of some things that make no sense to me…

5.) No saying “bless you” when someone sneezes

So, someone is in your presence and they blow germs all over the room. It is then your responsibility to say “bless you?” Are you thanking them for covering you in germs? Are you literally worried that their spirit is going to escape their body to be replaced by a demon? This common act is so ridiculous to me and I never do it.
Now it hasn’t happened often but I have had people get very upset with me because I didn’t say those two words after they had sneezed. Isn’t that a silly thing to get mad about?

4.) Not saying “excuse me” after burping or farting

Okay, now what the fuck is up with this. A sneeze is to be greeted with a blessing but a fart is to be treated with contempt. Now I understand that a fart or burp can smell bad but they don’t generally make someone sick, whereas a sneeze can lead to a plethora of health issues.
Also, excuse me for what, a natural body function? Everyone farts and burps. Animals throughout nature fart and burp, hell even fish fart. Manatees fart in order to maintain their buoyancy. Why should I feel sorry for something that happens naturally to everyone?

3.)Telling the Truth

This one really gets me. The vast majority of people would rather be lied to a million times than to hear a single harsh truth. For me, I love knowing the truth of things. I’m not saying that I am always right, but I try to speak only the truth and factual information. I find though that I am in the minority.
Over time I have had many people get upset with me because I either told the truth or corrected them on something they were incorrect on. You might ask, “Well, do you like being corrected?” Actually, yes, I do. If I am factually incorrect on something I want to know it.

2.) Disliking something that the majority enjoys

I hate “Game of Thrones.” I am a Tolkien fan and I feel that GoT is nothing more than a wannabe Tolkien epic. With that said I do not go out of my way to insult the show, however, I’ve had numerous people get upset with me over my dislike of the show. This response completely perplexes me.
Perhaps it is the fact that I am so used to people not enjoying my own interests. I cannot remember a time where I actually got mad at someone for disliking something that I enjoy. I have gotten annoyed in the past when someone simply dismisses my own interests as dumb but I cannot think of any time that I have ever gotten mad just because they didn’t like what I did.

1.) Not Understanding Funerals

I guess this is the whole point of the entire post really. My grandmothers funeral is coming up and I guess I have no choice but to go. Funerals though make no sense to me and they never have.
I am told that a funeral is really for the grieving family and not for the person that has passed away. I guess this makes sense but does the dead body or ashes have to be the centerpiece of the event? Just being in the same room as a dead body creeps me the fuck out. I know that I am going to be uncomfortable, I will be greeted by people who don’t really give a shit about me, offering condolences and prayers that are meaningless. If it wasn’t the fact that I feel like I am being forced to go, I wouldn’t…
However, not attending a funeral is seen as rude and insulting to booth the family and the deceased person….even though the deceased person can’t actually get insulted anymore. So just so we’re clear….when I die…if they have a funeral…I won’t care if you don’t come…just saying.

 

Anyway these are just a few of the things that really make no sense to me. I hope you have enjoyed my mindless wandering through this post. Thank you for reading.

 

The Diary Of My Mind

Dealing with Stuff and Things

Life can be incredibly overwhelming to me. For many years I have enjoyed watching the news and discussing current events. Current events were at one point one of my focused interests. I could and still can tell you just about every important news story that happened throughout the day. I used to love keeping up to date but lately this has become a chore and in many cases a terrifying experience.

All of my life I have dealt with fear. I was raised during the era of “Stranger Danger”, at the tail end of the cold war. Life it seemed could be ended for everyone at any point and everyone knew “drop and cover” would do absolutely nothing in the event of a nuclear war. Being a fundamentalist at the time added an extra layer of fear because, at any point, Jesus could return and if you were a sinner it would mean hell for all eternity.

Then things got better. The cold war ended, the world began eliminating its nuclear stockpiles, and humanity seemed to possibly be turning a corner. We had our first African-American president, gay marriage was legalized, and universal healthcare seemed to be a very real possibility in our near future. There was no doubt in mine and many others minds that we were entering a world where anything was possible.

Then the debacle of an election occurred on November 8th occurred and all of that forward progress stopped.

I can no longer turn on the news and enjoy myself. Every day a new awful thing has occurred. One day we hear that the President is goading the North Koreans to a nuclear war, the next day we learn that birth control will no longer be covered by insurance, hell maybe whacking seals with clubs will become the new national past time tomorrow? Seriously, how bad is it going to get?

I am not one for hyperbole. I really couldn’t give a shit it the president hates Rosie O’Donnell. If he wants to tweet about how bad the ratings of the apprentice are now, have at it. I don’t care if he eats pizza with a knife and fork, or that he can’t form a coherent sentence to save his life. I honestly don’t care about 90% of what the news makes a big deal out of, but after listening for 15 minutes, my heart is racing, I start sweating, and my breath shortens.

If I could, I would just hide myself away from society.

People are so fucking exhausting. The world is fucking exhausting. Simply the idea of leaving my house anymore is fucking exhausting. Who knows, maybe today will be the day that I’m at a store when some moron starts shooting the place up. The facts are that half of the country wants to make positive changes that could help the country and the other half simply doesn’t give a shit about anything at all it seems.

I find myself joining that side of the equation from the opposite end of the spectrum. I don’t give a shit anymore because the vast majority of people don’t give a shit. Leave me alone to my books, my movies, my games, and my own thoughts. Let me have my dreams of a better world that will more than likely never exist. Do what you want, destroy the fucking world if that what you see fit to do, just leave me and my little niche the fuck alone.

So to get back to the topic at hand, how do I deal with this world and how overwhelming it is at times?

Short answer: I don’t.

Long answer: I really fucking don’t.

General Information

A New Direction

So to start, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone that has read this blog consistently over the last several months. I hope that you will continue to read in the future. If you have read my recent posts you will know that my life has been turned upside down a bit and I’m having a bit of an existential crisis. I’ve been a jumble of emotions, which is odd for me, and I’ve had great difficulty putting my thoughts together over the last few weeks, this has been especially hard in trying to keep up with the daily schedule that I laid out awhile back. So with that said, this blog is going to go into a new direction.

Have no fear, you will still see all of the articles that I have been writing here but they will not be added in the weekly format. I love writing but I find that the quality of my writing goes down greatly when I try following a format. Thinking, it’s Monday so I need to write this article destroys my motivation many days, which I believe shows in the writing.

So from now on, I will write what I want, when I want to write it. We will still have Wednesday Woo written by my wife and Free-thought Friday, written by a guest blogger, but outside of that the articles will be more off the wall and hopefully better written.

Thank you once again to everyone that has read so far.

Matt

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #10: Cults and Gurus

For the last Wednesday Woo, click here.

Where does one go when an existential crisis hits, or they feel misunderstood, ostracized, and in need of spiritual guidance? For some, mainstream religion just doesn’t resonate, nor does it fulfill their needs, so they seek something more mystical, and less connected to societal norms. After all, why would someone who felt betrayed by society dedicate their spiritual journey toward a majority religion that represents the masses that rejected them? Perhaps they wish to find something that has a more scientific ring to it, or is connected to otherworldly ideas – like extraterrestrials or inter dimensional beings who can whisk them away from the planet that did not accept them for who they think they are. This creates an opening for charismatic New Age leaders, who offer promises of enlightenment, peace, knowledge, power and fulfillment. While these leaders can seem relatively harmless, some of them do cause significant damage to individuals who fall prey to their manipulation. All one needs to do in order to gain an understanding of just how much dangerous potential a New Age guru can cause is looking to recent and current history.

Osho
Bhagwan Three Rajneesh, known as the “sex guru” in his home country of India, began Poona ashram in 1974, where he criticized the doctrine of organized religion, societal norms, and used his following to enrich himself, as well as have his way with as many women as possible. The ritualistic practices included strange “therapy” sessions where enraged people would seem to throw fits and assault one another while nude. Many of them had to be hospitalized due to injuries of these sessions. Rajneesh had scrupulous morals indeed, and because of his corruption and smuggling practices, eventually had to flee his own country, abandoning a multitude of adoring followers, most of which gave up everything to be with their guru.

In 1981, his trusted aide, Ma Anand Sheela, obtained a 64,000-acre ranch for his cult just outside of Antelope, Oregon. The struggles between the ranch and local/state government ensued. Sheela became quite impatient with this to say the least, and at the behest of her criminally minded guru, did whatever she could to try to stifle those deemed “enemy” by the ranch. She tried poisoning officials, setting fire to their offices to destroy documentation of their ranch’s over-capacity, flooded the towns with vagrants, threatened lives of dissents within the ranch, and eventually had followers poison 751 citizens of Oregon.

Of course, when the shit hit the fan, Rajneesh tried once again to flee. He didn’t quite make it, and was caught in South Carolina, but the horror his cult caused still brings a sense of shock. Eventually he was deported to his home country of India after a plea deal, changing his name to OSHO, and regained a following, perhaps not as significant as before, but still to this day I see people share memes with his face and quotes, as well as videos of him speaking. To be completely honest, it makes me sick to see, and each time I do, I remind people of what a psychopath OSHO was. I have only touched upon some of the story, but if you wish to know more, check out this page. 

 

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L. Ron Hubbard was an author of science fiction, who apparently thought himself to be in the wrong business when he said, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” Since he was so adept at coming up with nonsense that didn’t reflect reality, he decided to embark upon a woo-woo solution to mental health with his notion of Dianetics and gave lectures on the how subject. In 1952, he established the “Church of Scientology” based on his writings, and saw to its growth, which led to much controversy around the world. Australia revoked Scientology’s religious status, which of course was later reinstated, but there were also fraud charges in France, and allegations of co-conspiring international theft at the time of his death. Hubbard made many claims about himself that were false, including one that he was a nuclear physicist. If you could think of it, Hubbard claimed to have experienced it, and have extensive knowledge about it. According to his followers, Hubbard could do no wrong, and was the source for all spiritual and psychological growth.

Of course, the belief system is a quite wacky, with their ideas regarding “Thetans” – which are rather like souls, and “Xenu” – a galactic dictator. I don’t wish to really delve much into these aspects, instead, focus on their atrocious practices. What really bothers me about this cult, is how they isolate, abuse, and take total control over their members. They force them to sign contracts with terms of a billion years, make them essentially slave-laborers, and do not allow outsiders to know the goings on of the organization. It costs thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars to move up in the ranks of Hubbard’s teachings, as well as countless hours undergoing “audits” where members hold “cans” in their hands. The cans are attached to an e-meter monitored by inquisitors who ask highly personal questions. The goal is to move up the “bridge to total freedom” through clearing out imprinted memories hidden deep within the psyche, in order to attain a state of pure spirit so they can save the world. That’s not hyperbole – Scientologists actually think their religion saves the world.

David Miscavige, who seized authority over the cult after Hubbard passed, has been said to be highly abusive towards members. Those who do not hold up to his standards are often subjected to his violent fits of rage. If someone speaks ill of Scientology, be sure that Miscavige and his goons will do anything they can to smear them in the press.

Members are not allowed to research scientology, are often held prisoner at what they refer to as “the hole” if they cause a stir. If someone questions the cult and speaks out, they are deemed a “suppressive person” and their families are urged to shun them, tell lies about them, and claim they have committed crimes against Scientology. Those who suffer from mental or physical illnesses are denied access to much-needed medication, and instead, subjected to more audits, which of course, costs them more money. There is absolutely no end to the horrors and abuse this cult inflicts upon people.

If you have yet to check out “Leah Remini: Scientology & the Aftermath” on A&E, I highly recommend it. The show really highlights the personal damage caused by this cult. I have found myself in tears watching this compelling series.
Huuu

Paul Twitchell was another fiction writer from Kentucky who founded the cult of Eckankar in 1965. Much like the rest of the belief systems previously mentioned, this cult isolates its members by rejecting society, makes ridiculous assertions, and has a leader who claims to know the ultimate truth about stuff that happened long ago (without evidence, of course). Followers of this cult consider it the “path of spiritual freedom” – sounds familiar, right? Well, turns out, Twitchell was a member of the Church of Scientology, and was later placed on their “suppressive persons” list. Like Hubbard, he gave lectures on what he deemed as “soul travel”and was urged by his wife to turn his spiritual teachings into a religion. Granted, he dedicated his life to exploring the occult, having joined Premananda Giri’s Self-Realization Church of Absolute Monismuntil, only to be kicked out in 1955, and was also involved in Ruhani Satsang, until he had a falling with its leader, Kirpal Singh.

It seemed that Paul just couldn’t find his tribe, nor a master to give him pearls of wisdom he could pass on. So he decided to pull some from his ass. “Rebazar Tarzs” is what he called his ancient, imaginary ECK master, and supposedly this was the torch-bearer of the cult for over 500 years. There are so many of these fictional figures, and I will not bother to list them all, but according to the religion, they have the ability to help people reach god. How do you reach god? By singing the ancient name of god, which is “HUU” for 30 minutes a day. That simple? Well no. There’s lots of other sounds to study, and all kinds of karma, reincarnation, astral travel woo-woo to go with it. This religion is very much like the Hare Krishnas, except while they do allow Christians to join their cult, but they maintain Eckankar is the ultimate path to god.

The main issue I have with this cult is how is brainwashes people into losing their grip on reality, while defending its leaders multiple lies, plagiarism, and inconsistencies. They are told that society is corrupted, and the only way to think is their way. No questions or criticisms of their ridiculousness is allowed, and you are forced to wash away your personal identity. If one tries to break away from the cult, it takes a long time to adjust to life in society again. Read about their personal accounts here:

http://truthabouteckankar.blogspot.com

I want to assert that the following persons are not all necessarily confirmed to be cult leaders, but I do have my suspicions on how their following acts when it comes to being questioned, as well as how their beloved gurus treat them. Alarm bells also go off when I hear people completely deny reality to not only their own peril, but their families, and society’s as well. While religious apologists tend to insert god claims into the gaps of scientific understanding, New Age believers choose to conflate science in order to justify their claims. This way they can create a following by means of pseudoscience, and sometimes, outright ostracizing science itself, all while maintaining their beliefs are scientific. Many of these gurus will create false dichotomies, false memories, and program their followers to disregard any evidence presented to them that sheds a negative light on or contradicts their outrageous claims.

Teal Scott/Swan has a huge following online, and even has a house full of giddy sycophants to do her laundry, take care of her son (according to one who has lived with her), and come to her defense whenever she makes a horrible claim like: “We should rethink Hitler….” It’s usually echoes of “well, at first it bothered me, but then I listened to her more and more, and decided it was ok.”

The more I listen to her, the more I think she has lost her grip on reality:

Ok… so you’re an alien, Teal? And only YOU can save the planet from these made up creatures that wanna take it over, huh? Sounds as though you made up a problem just to deem yourself the only solution. This isn’t a new tactic. She also has a tendency to gaslight victims of trauma through her shadow work and cutesy sayings like, “What you resist persists.” Again, this is not a new idea. It seems as though Teal did some reading and decided to act as though she is Carl Jung or something. So if I am in danger, or things in my life go wrong, it’s my own fault because I’m projecting, and resisting. I should just stop and allow whoever is abusing me to continue. Sorry, I don’t buy that way of absolute thinking – surely many things are my own responsibility, but to conflate it into all things are my fault is just ridiculous victim-blaming. She forces her housemates to participate in “shadow work” which is much like an inquisition where she has them reveal their deepest fears for millions to see on youtube. There are mountains of other issues with Teal’s claims, and it’s worthwhile to look into them.

*Disclaimer: These are personal opinions; not facts.* Now, this is merely speculation, but I personally consider her a psychopath who takes advantage of people for her own amusement. When I see how people react to her, I am reminded of Ted Bundy and the adoring fans that took audience in the courtroom as he defended himself. “Oh my gawd! He’s so handsome! Surely he doesn’t torture and murder people, and even if he does… HANDSOME!”
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Byron Katie is another one that I keep hearing about, and when I question the methods, of course, her fans get defensive. Just like with the above examples, Katie has a tendency to claim she has THE answer to everyone’s emotional problems. As with all philosophies and techniques that lack nuance, there are some problems with this, mainly when it comes to those who suffer from PTSD. Turns out, practicing psychotherapy without having a psychological degree can lead to damaging effects.

“The work” is an irrational perversion of CBT inquiry, intended as a fix-all cure with sides of suppressing critical thought, and quite possibly the reality of the situation. More victim-blaming.  Those who have participated in her technique have also been subject to public humiliation; having their personal secrets being questioned on stage, and forced to be homeless for a day. While Katie may seem harmless, and there may be some individuals who benefit from her teachings, there is reason for pause when it comes to some of these claims. As much as people pay for these self-help courses, they may as well spend their hard-earned money on a professional who won’t cause them embarrassment, and is subject to confidentiality laws.

Now these are just a few historical and current examples of gurus who mislead people in order to gain a fame, following, money, (sometimes sex and power), but there are many more out there who prey upon those looking for answers, or a sense of community. It’s best to keep your wits about you, and keep your skeptical eye open for attributes of cult-like behavior.

Warning signs of a cult:

1. Suggests they have “the answer” to all of life’s problems that only they can provide.
2. “Love-bombing” or an attempt to influence new comers with lots of affection.
3. Charismatic leader who everyone adores and must never criticize. 
4. Use of euphoric (dancing or chanting) or humiliation (exposing one’s darkest secrets publicly, forced poverty, or forced nudity) driven programming methods to break individuality.
5. Driving wedges between families through isolation and lack of communication. 
6. When questioned by outsiders, those in the cult provide the same cookie-cutter answer.
7. Demonize societal standards, and hold contempt for the law. 
8. Pressures initiates to hand over large sums of money (if not all of their money), and properties. 
9. Wild, ridiculous claims are made, which are typically outright lies. 
10. Dangerous cults do not disclose doctrine and ritual to initiates (no informed consent), and does not allow for leaving without harassment or fear tactics.

If you suspect you or a family member is in a cult, get help, and get out now! The longer an individual is in the cult mindset, the more difficult it is to gain back individual control.

More resources:
https://freedomofmind.com/ex-member-recovery/
http://ownyourbrain.org
http://www.culthelp.info/index.php
http://www.ex-cult.org

The Diary Of My Mind

Memento Mori

Stress is a strange thing for me, I guess it’s strange for all of us but for me it is very hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that is stressing me out. Obviously my grandmothers illness was wearing my mind out completely because today I had a really good day at work. Not only was I focused but I was back to the extreme focus and motivation to get a lot done that had been missing for several weeks now.

Add to this I’ve changed my shift to showing up an hour earlier, that means I get to work before things get busy and am able to get a lot of work done before things get too hectic. This led to a much less stressful day by itself. I’m incredibly averse to change but this was something that I needed to do for my mental well-being. It was a good choice and while I will have some issues with the change over the next few weeks I’m sure in the end it will have been the correct choice.

So back to my main stressor, my grandmother. I had a dream last night. I saw my grandmother lying there on the bed dying, we sat there for hours waiting to hear anything. All of a sudden she shot upright in bed, looked at me and said,

“I’m dead, Matthew, you can move on now.”

Some would believe this was a paranormal experience, that my grandmother visited me in my dream. However, being that I put no stock in those beliefs I believe the more logical explanation…My brain was telling me that my stress can now subside, I no longer need to worry about my grandmother because there is nothing that worrying can do. She’s dead…tomorrow she will still be dead, the next day she will still be dead, and a year from now she will still be dead, my life however can move on.

I awoke in a good mood, I went to work in a good mood, I completed my tasks in a good mood and as I write this I am still in a good mood. Life is moving on and with it my mind and body can get back to its normal. I loved my grandmother but nothing will bring her back, my life however is something that I can regain control over.

“Memento Mori”, remember that you have to die.  Death will one day come to me as well, but not for now, for now I will write. As Epictetus, the Stoic Philosopher said,

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”