Deterministic World

Part 3. Self

2. Thinking Clearly

In earlier days, I had an unresolved question as to at what point a change can be said to occur. It seemed mysterious that a small change could take place without changing the outcome yet a big change would cause an effect. [f1] Consider the filling of a water tank controlled by a float valve - adding a little bit of water won't cause action but more water will clearly at some point cause action to occur. Similarly in littering - throwing a little piece of trash doesn't matter yet a lot of trash will affect the environment. Similarly with dieting - eating a bit of sugar/fat will be OK but a lot will certainly make one fat. In general I argue it is a cultural/human trait to ignore the effects of small, gradual changes or assume that such changes have no effect. [f2] As another example, global warming, or on a small scale increasing the temperature on a thermostat by 1 degree is still comfortable, but then it will still be a "small" change to go another degree. An infinite regress occurs - as long as a small change is acceptable over time, over infinite time an infinite change is acceptable. The resolution to this problem occurred to me in the exploration of the earlier theories and is related to the view of determinism - namely, that there is no such thing as "a small change" or "a little bit". Everything is interconnected (which might be made rigorous in a closed system where information exchange cannot be blocked/shielded), and a "drop in the ocean" is not something insignificant/ignorable, but rather something that increases the ocean's volume by one drop and brings along its chemical/physical composition to the whole. This viewpoint also provides a ready resolution to many otherwise "mysterious" or "unexplainable" phenomena. For instance glass shatters in a certain pattern - this is not random but a result of micro cracks/strain which is in turn due to the specifics of the manufacturing process. One catches a cold because of exposure to germs and specifics of consumption. The unsettling conclusion is that human reasoning is flawed on a basic level because it is so willing to ignore small changes to a routine setting. Back in the example of increasing the temperature of a room ("boiling frog") a small increase in temperature may well go unnoticed by humans but that does not mean it can be ignored/has no effect - scientific instruments can clearly mark the change in temperature that is occurring, and medical studies could reveal appropriate changes in biochemical reactions with the increased temperature. This is the more practical solution to the earlier-posed problem: scientifically precise measurements allow for a confirmation that no change has occurred when none is desired. A thermometer may provide precise measurements of temperature, but for matters of life and philosophy the tools of precise measurement must involve precise thoughts.

This small=non-existent flaw in reasoning plays a large role in human interactions, where it is possible to "warp" one's sense of reality as well as one's goals by a gradual, continuous shifting of circumstances or requirements. This is regularly seen in abusive relationships, whether used consciously or not. Gradually worsening living conditions, for instance, may go unnoticed (as a saying - if something isn't fixed within a few weeks of moving to a new place, it will go unfixed). This can be particularly detrimental to an individual when it affects his goals. Life brings an array of challenges which can "warp" the goals an individual has. The idealistic goals of childhood gradually become "more realistic" but also lose many desirable characteristics. It is important that when it is desirable to put into effect certain given goals, that such goals be tracked in a scientifically confirmable/absolute manner (in other words to be specific and confirmable to have been achieved). Just as one cannot see patterns without the awareness and tools to look for them, one cannot achieve goals without the awareness and tools to evaluate progress in an absolute sense (because anything relative will fall before the flaw of reasoning outlined above).

Having absolute, independent, bearings in life can help the individual achieve his goals. These bearings will serve as a point from which to evaluate whether society at large is in line with his interests and aspirations, and will allow a more critical view of what path to take in life. Without such a scientific evaluation tool (like a thermometer in the above room temperature example) one is left without choice or an ability to evaluate the values imposed externally by society, simply going along with the flow; one does not even see the values he intrinsically follows. I sensed this as a meditation breakthrough - that to guide the development of my personality I need to determine the rules that I will follow (morality, conduct, ethics) - in determining good from bad, since I by default evaluate things as good or bad but without a consciously chosen rule set, I evaluate based on effectively random criteria that are largely environment based and such that my own actions are by default "good". It ought to be the case that some of my actions are bad, and to recognize this I need a definite rule set, an absolute standard to evaluate against. This is the unique way to evaluate one's own society even while living within its value system - to make one's own value system against which the society's can be compared; without this guide everything the society deems as good is seen as good, and great evils can happen (how holocaust was justified - everyone did what they thought was "good"; nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to be "evil" - not even the murderers and rapists). In taking the rules to heart I show the power and strength of my self, as opposed to subservience to others' or random elements. In designing the rules myself, I define my own personality and what to strive for. I would invite the reader to complete this exercise: what is a list of things/behaviors/actions you consider good? And a corresponding list of things/behaviors/actions you consider bad? (An example: consisteny, clarity, preparedness = good; inconsistency, vagueness, ignorance = bad) Using this list to evaluate one's own (and others') actions provides a key vantage point to better understand oneself and society, resist peer pressure/"hive mind", and see patterns otherwise invisible.

good and bad: there is no good or bad in the universe, these are concepts we made up to convince ourselves there is a greater plan that is in line with our human values. There may be a greater plan for the universe, along the lines of maximally increasing entropy, but this plan does not care about human values. Pain is painful, pleasure is pleasurable, neither is good or bad, both are necessary for effective survival and reaction to feedback (people who can't feel pain end up destroying their body, people who can't feel pleasure end up sleeping all day). So in everyday language "good" really means "in line with things I think of as positive/desirable" and "bad" means "in line with things I think of as negative/undesirable". One person's good is another person's bad, because we all think differently. So maybe I can find people who think similarly to me by seeing how they use the words good and bad, but there really is no physical/logical meaning to these words. similarly: acceptable/unacceptable, appropriate/inappropriate, legal/illegal. With any such valuation word pairs, there is an implied subjective evaluation scheme that is imposed (ie good=improving quality of life for immediate benefactors, appropriate=in line with current societal (majority) beliefs, legal=following the current interpretation of this society's laws), never an absolute.

Traveling abroad, I was thinking: this is a pretty big, modern-looking city; when people ask me about my visit I am tempted to say: well, it's just like any other country/city - big buildings, people walking/driving around, shopping malls, food (what's the food like: I don't know - same as here? edible?). At a general glance it's not so different from the US and really I think the fascination with the US is rather unfounded/arbitrary/unfair as it doesn't let local talent/abilities shine through. Yet there are slight differences: the driving is less orderly, safety regulations not as stringent, the way people interact with each other, errors and broken lights on billboards. So I digure it is these slight differences indeed, the little things, that set apart different levels of countries' development. So conversely to uphold the "standards" (or believed ones) of the US, it is crucial to look after the little things - fix the broken lights, sweep the streets, clean the grafitti, keep order on the road. It is by hundreds of little inefficiencies that the elegant system is made ineffective. So when drivers become distracted, infrastructure slowly crumbles, lights burn out - people adjust to the little changes and little by little the high status of the living standard is lost. This is true in the personal realm as well. A house looks good but the light switch doesn't work, the sink leaks if over-filled, and the thermostat is finicky. Each of these are not complete turn-offs, but an inconvenience that can be worked around, and yet letting such inconveniences remain makes the house decidedly not ideal. Fixing the inconveniences not only makes living easier but eases a rather large mental burden of remembering the various workarounds - when things "just work", an unrealized amount of mental freedom is made available - a freeing and liberating feeling, being content and in control. Same with life choices in themselves - making compromises here and there will eventually lead to a life that is both non-ideal and contains increased continuous mental effort as opposed to potentially a one-time initial expenditure to avoid the compromises - do the job right or don't do it at all.

The sunk cost fallacy is when irrevocable past payments affect present choices. The fallacy lies in that since these payments are irrevocable, the reason for making them in the first place becomes unimportant - only the current feelings (and financial situation) should determine a present decision. Why are we tempted to honor sunk costs? An account [Ryan Doody,] describes a consistent feature: the costs are honored when there is a possibility for "diachronic misfortune" - a sense of regret knowing that "if only" one made a different decision some time ago there would have been no sunk costs. I believe there is a straightforward explanation, making use of the idea of "diachronically accessible" options - something we cannot now do but could imagine having done in the past. This extends the problem beyond obvious "costs", consider 3 situations, opera/rainjacket/reservations:

2 weeks ago	|	Bought opera ticket									|	Rented rainjacket										|	Did *not* make reservation for event at discounted price
Now			|	Don't want to go to opera or road is not driveable	|	It is not raining or sufficient rain cover in forest	|	Want to attend event but it costs more now
Choices		|	Go anyway or don't go								|	Put on jacket or don't put on							|	Pay higher cost for event or don't attend

Namely the third class of "no reservation" virtual cost - knowing that one could have paid less for the event by acting differently some time ago ought to create a pressure to not go to the event despite a present want to go to the event (if this pressure exists it may validate the above assumptions). In all the above cases, a "rational" decision would be made by always ignoring the first row, "2 weeks ago", since in all cases that represents money that cannot be returned and is indeed sunk. Normally, a "human" or intuitive decision is not independent of the first row - leading to the fallacy - for the first case of the opera ticket, one feels a pressure to go after a purchase but no pressure if some money is lost and a ticket happens to be gifted. If the opera ticket is purchased, the decision to purchase or not is "diachronically accessible". However if the opera ticket is found/gifted and money is lost by other means (not under direct control), the choice to not have the ticket and have money instead is not "diachronically accessible" - the ownership happened by chance and not by (directed) action. Why should this distinction matter? I believe our memories cannot represent time duration or passing intuitively (like we can for space with 3D scenes). The concept of "2 weeks ago" is stored as a phrase or number - a logical/abstract rather than intuitive construct. We remember "2 weeks ago" and can show it on a calendar, but have no real appreciation for just how much time has passed in the two weeks. We do not have a "timestamp" to judge memories by - we only place them in order through a conscious logical effort and time phrases like "2 weeks ago" or "when I was 10" [f3]. The intuitive decision making process, which leads to the pressures we feel to make one choice or another, is completely time-agnostic. In the case of the opera ticket, if we remember the act of buying the ticket, when making the present choice of whether to go or not we intuitively act as if the purchase was immediate - just moments ago - rather than two weeks ago. If we don't remember the purchase (it was so long ago that we forget) it will not appear as "diachronically accessible" and we will act as if we found the ticket (or had it gifted). Our brains keep track of causes and outcomes (explaining life in those terms) and try to create a coherent logical world model - intuitively and automatically. Experiencing an instant where a cause does not lead to its expected outcome disturbs the coherency of this mental model and leads to great mental distress - bewilderment, anger, confusion. {observed with animals in stimulus-response conditioning studies when the response is suddenly removed}

This expectation of a continually coherent model of the world - where everything is going as what we expected and what we have learned to experience - leads to pushback from friends/family when one changes one's habits, leads to anger if a disturbed customer does not get the service he is expecting, leads to frustration if the pen runs out of ink while writing. It feels good to make correct intuitive predictions about the future and it feels punishing to make incorrect predictions - evolutionarily a sound strategy for increased survival by responding to future/potential threats accurately. This drive for a coherent world model (usually framed/made explicit as a "story") applies to our intuitive decision making process. So, in deciding whether or not to go today to the opera for which the ticket was purchased two weeks ago, the brain evaluates the coherency of these options: buying ticket and going vs. buying ticket and not going. The "2 weeks" does not play a role - same choices would be apparent if the ticket was purchased 2 minutes ago - since the memory of buying is only abstractly time-referenced and the intuitive decision process does not deal with such abstraction. Clearly the world is more logical and coherent (in one's mind) if one buys a ticket and goes than if one buys a ticket and doesn't go. The second option goes against well-established cause-outcome relations and feels uncomfortable/alien to seriously consider because of that. Thus, the intuitive decision will strongly favor the first option. The feeling of "regret" {or more like "discomfort" or "something isn't right"} if one chooses not to go - to take the second option - is the resulting mental distress when one's choice seems to disrupt one's intuitive mental model of the world and self. In the absence of the memory of buying - due to buying long ago or being gifted the ticket - the two options to go or not to go are both reasonably coherent so the choice between the two will be based on other preferences.

I think it is fair to say we can see solutions or problems based on what we want to see, the difference between good and bad is all in our interpretation, which I think eventually comes back to self-confidence. To make this less fuzzy and floaty, consider again the earlier amplifier model - in it, the controlling side does not get feedback from the controlled side directly - in fact it is indifferent to what happens there, but yet the time evolution is certainly affected since allowed interactions change. To the extent that our consciousness can "control" such amplifiers (which must be significant, as that is its essential constituent) this means we can experience different time-evolution solely based on an effect that is indifferent to the actual evolving system - in rough terms we may call this effect the worldview. If I become a janitor will I be sad and depressed every day dreaming of making millions and being unable to? Or will I be happy to have a dependable and useful job and make the best of it? Will I seek advancement or another career path altogether? Nothing about the situation has changed - only my opinion of it - and this opinion seriously affects my future evolution, for better or for worse. The opinion costs nothing to change (energetically or otherwise) but this means there is no 'energy gradient' or way to optimize it - any opinion is as good as another and there is no clear path to make a change. So our opinion is driven strongly by society as well as our own sense of self (such as an absolute ruleset as suggested above) and unconscious contributions from our life experiences - what makes us individuals - the essence of the "I". So changing a worldview is no less than changing one's essence, changing oneself as a person. And this is indeed powerful - leading to happiness or depression, mostly independent of actual circumstances but requiring a circumstance-dependent sacrifice or change of the "I" that is doing the experiencing (the happy beggar is far indeed from the happy millionaire, but both can be happy as different beings in different circumstances). We should evaluate our lives and who we can be logically, and then adapt ourselves/worldview accordingly (this happens automatically anyways, but perhaps not how we would want it if we were in conscious control).

The key in achieving a goal is many things working in concert towards a given goal, a common goal. So the "power" of a company manager is way more than his manual work, but all the manual work of his employees, and by buying products, all the manual work of all the companies that made those products. This is many influences working in parallel towards a common goal. For individual/personal goals, though, I typically cannot makes use of such parallel arrangements (except by buying things I want). But what I can do is use serial - sequential in time - arrangements to achieve my goals. There is immense power here: by taking concentrated action, day after day, the next time that I continue to work towards a goal I already have all the support of past me's actions, if they were all directed towards the same goal I will command proportionately more power to actually achieve this goal. Like a laser, continued effort on a focused task, leading to more and more ability+progress, can make a very powerful mark. So far I like the feeling of being able to command all the actions of past me towards a given goal, it is like a superhuman ability! To do this, I accept that self-reinforcing, runaway cycles abound and will arise whether I like them or not - instead of fighting them or pretending they don't exist, I should study them, think critically about which ones are controlling my life, then change key points of my environment such that the resulting self-reinforcing cycles lead more progressively towards the goals I seek. Against cycles and environmental influence, blindly forcing myself to do something I don't really want to do just because it is in line with a goal is ineffective in the long term - relegating myself to the "manual laborer" job instead of the "manager" job. Changing the environment to enable runaway cycles that lead to my goals is easier physically, doesn't cause constant frustration and unpleasant labor, and in the long run becomes truly effective in reaching my goals. This might be as simple as keeping a specific type of schedule/to-do list, shopping only at certain stores, or it might be more complex like finding a better job, moving to another location, getting a pet.

Or I can live randomly, letting each day take me where it might. Who am I to say one is better or worse? The latter might lead to more variety of experiences, then again it might just lead to a "groundhog day"-like repetition of some comfortable routine over and over, which is an easy and tempting trap to fall into without an absolute basis of life evaluation. In the last level of the time-travel-based game 'Life is Strange', player-me (PM) was stuck in a bathroom with a pin code on the door, not having any idea what the code was. After trying once, the whole bathroom changed and now there were numbers written on every surface. It was scary, psychotic, terrifying, to find myself surrounded by all this writing. In the back of my mind was this primal fear - this is fucked up. I realized that PM had written all those numbers and traveled in time to keep trying every possible combination. PM was slowly losing their mind, stuck in a time loop. And I suppose that's my real fear - being stuck in time, for what can you possibly do to escape? All the numbers on the wall are signs of how long PM has struggled fruitlessly, proof that PM really lived through all that just to end up in the same place again. But this is what happens to real me every morning. I wake up and see around myself all the consequences of my past actions - the stuff I bought, the stuff I've written (like this page), the stuff I made - and I get to re-live the same time loop over and over again, with my surroundings keeping track of the reality of my daily life and struggles. I really am scared of being trapped in time, of re-living the same day/week/month/year over and over again until I die. This year already feels like the last, I could swear it wasn't so long ago that I did taxes, but it really was last year. I think of the years ahead, of having to work 9-5 at the same place for the next few decades, and my mind shuts down. I cannot subject myself to such an existence. I must not stagnate. Every change I make must bring new hope and pleasure. And every choice I make - even passive ones like staying at home - really does affect the whole world in due time. For the future me to benefit from past me's actions, I must take these actions now!

"I'm sorry" "I didn't mean to" "I'll do my best" "I'm excited about" "I'm worried about"

Such phrases sound substantial, but they are deceptively circular in meaning and can give rise to mental "traps" of feeling that progress has been made when it is only an illusion/feeling of progress. The phrases grouped have a common feature - they publicly indicate an internal emotional state. I will focus specifically on "I'm sorry" for now, but all share similar analysis/approach/effect. What is the purpose of saying "I'm sorry"? If meant honestly, the person saying it feels guilt about some past action and its ensuing effects. If dishonestly, the person is feigning guilt or acting as if the choice has negative emotional consequences for himself. The guilt in these cases is not one of accusation - ie standing in front of an angry mob or a judge at court - it is rather in the sense of going against the societally expected norms and thus getting a feeling of social disapproval/exclusion due to such transgression. So, at its root, the "sorry" means that to the person saying it the action in question does not feel socially acceptable/justifiable. But that's all, and it's really not much; as an internal state/emotion (like "I'm angry now") such a phrase has no impact on the situation at hand, except for giving others a chance to predict the person's emotional state and actions. The deception here is that the person saying "I'm sorry", in surfacing the guilt and bringing it to light, in the absence of immediate adverse consequence will feel a sense of relief - of something having changed as a result of uttering the phrase - a sort of realization in making the guilt known to others as also making it known/validating its reality to the self; followed by the sense that now that the self has truly acknowledged and experienced the guilt, the situation has been remedied. I didn't intend it at all when writing the above, but the parallel with church sermons ("I am so guilty and sinful, pardon me father for I have sinned") is eery and certainly non-coincidental. Why does the feeling and public exposure of guilt/regret make us believe that anything has substantially changed? Perhaps it is developmental - the children who said they're sorry would not receive punishments vs those who remained defiant. This would account for the feeling of "instant relief" of guilt/pressure upon admitting guilt with an "I'm sorry" - knowing subconsciously that saying this has likely spared us from oncoming punishment, perhaps by making the other party feel empathetic guilt in return ("how could I punish a kid who's really sorry?"). Maybe a public sorry is an indication of emotional self-flagellation (but, being private, there is ample room for dishonesty/manipulation, especially between people for whom sorry is truly emotionally devastating and those for whom it's just another word - as seen in abusive relationships), offered in hopes of appeasing the wronged party. But realistically such masochism doesn't appease anyone - if I was wronged, I'm not better off by the other person being emotionally hurt and unable to function, and the world as a whole is worse off compared to everyone feeling "good". Really, I would rather have the other person in good emotional and mental condition to correct the situation and make it right, not sit and wallow in depression telling me how sorry they are. Yet perhaps it is the pain of guilt which makes the sorry so alluring - we feel that our having wronged has caused others pain and thus it is fair if we also feel the pain and saying "I'm sorry" is an offer to the wronged person of the pain we have felt, hopefully to match theirs (but of course, no comparisons can be made so our level of pain - which we more or less control - is likely nowhere near the pain felt by the other - after all there is a reason we prefer the "sorry" to an actual physical punishment). Having thus made an offer of pain to match theirs, we feel that balance has been restored in the social realm and we are free to move on. Yet throughout the whole ordeal, all that's changed is our private/internal emotional state - from the guilt to the relief, and ultimately to forgetting about the situation. What hasn't changed is the situation itself and its consequences - what really matters to the wronged person (and perhaps even to the one at fault). The "sorry" is a dangerous word - it creates the *illusion* of change/progress when there is none, and invites the person saying it to ignore/forget/discount any deeper issues with the self or the situation. It is a mental "hit" that makes people feel OK with having done something wrong without actually bothering to do anything to change it. The only way a "sorry" can have real external effects is if it changes the way a person behaves such that the fault is corrected and avoided later - and paradoxically such mental changes would be easier to undertake in the absence of guilt and depression associated with "sorry". In a roundabout way, the "sorry" is a mental shortcut that makes us believe we've changed without actually having to do the hard work of change. So for those at fault who really feel guilt, it is best to let go of the negative self-deprecating feelings and turn them into positive change. There is no need to be "sorry" when actions speak louder than words. If anything, I believe the phrase should be avoided altogether so as to not falsely believe that I have changed something I wanted to change - and if I don't want to change then I'm not sorry anyway.

Words have no inherent meaning, they are just arbitrary configurations that we assign meaning by repeated associative learning. The only extent to which words can be said to have meaning is in their observable physical effects on our behavior. And the nature of this effect is the real meaning of the word - not the dictionary definition, which is arbitrary. If someone tells me to "drink more water" but I don't hear it or it's in a language I don't understand (haven't yet learned through association - association to physical actions) to me those words have no meaning, and as the goal was to affect my behavior - which they don't (beyond perhaps me guessing that this person wants me to do something) - they have no "meaning" at all! Same if I actively ignore/forget the words. If I feel inclined to drink water after hearing those words, then the meaning is that those words tend to incite the aciton of drinking water; there is also the meaning that I accept "orders" from the other person - ie his words can get me to do what he says. Or I could drink less water, in which case the meaning of the words is still reflected in the physical results. Like imaginary numbers can be essential in finding a solution to an equation which ends up being real, words can be essential to planning out and determining actions which end up being physical+measurable (to this end, it is only conscious systems which are capable of using abstract symbols and ideas, in fact this might be the defining characteristic of conscious systems). Now we do not have easy tools to measure someone's emotional/mental state, and even if we did it is arguable that we could never really compare mental states (because to feel what someone else feels would require me to *be* that person but thus forget who *I* am - I cannot feel both and compare one to the other). So words describing mental states are doubly dangerous - not only arbitrary, but we all learn to associate them to different feelings that we can never compare or even see. If someone tells me they're sad, does that correspond to what I call sad? I have no idea. I can only compare physical things, and without putting a brain scanner on everyone I can only use their physical reactions and standing in life as indicators of their mental state. If they say they're sad but they still go out and have fun just as before, I question just how "sad" it is that they feel. It is likely that I am overly sensitive, and thus too predisposed to take these mental state words seriously, at face value and assuming they mean the same thing I would have meant, and this opens me up to all sorts of manipulation and mental fuckery. When I was younger, all someone would have to do is tell me how hurt they are, for me to start feeling anxious/guilty and ready to do everything I possibly can to make them "feel better" so they would not be so "hurt". Now I realize people are selfish, they will use any words necessary to satisfy their selfish needs (words are cheap/low-effort), and if on one occasion saying "I'm so hurt" gets you excessive attention and care, such phrases are reinforced and can become disjoint from any physical meaning - even the nebulous one of a link to a mental/emotional state.

So now I mistrust words. I look around and see meaningless but important-sounding words everywhere in conversation and speech, and I am baffled how people for the most part don't even question such meaningless and pointless babble. [f4] Here are some words I've particularly come to dislike:

So looking at words critically, with immense and uncompromising clarity and respect for physical laws/effects/realities, is key to better understanding and optimal choices. Like the aforementioned "having a baby"->"making a person". Like "I hope"->"it would please me to hear" with no concern about what the recipient would literally have to live through just to be able to please this person by the right words, how senseless! Like "don't worry" or "I know how you feel" or "other people have it worse" are all invalidating, meant to get me to pretend my feelings aren't real or aren't as I describe. Consider the *physical content* and take that as meaningful, everything else is to be doubted or discarded. This will take very careful and slow reading, at least at first:

"When I was young, my parents humiliated me and told me I was worthless" Overall, a decent clarity sentence.
"This is really bad, I am so worried now, please try to get better" Overall, effectively no information: purely emotional-level vague communications.

From the above examples, we see an interesting split: beyond the grammar constructs, we can classify words as physically concrete/meaningful/clear, or vague/uncertain/hazy; the concrete words communicate physical reality (literal meaning) while the vague words communicate emotional meaning. Emotional communication thus takes place even in written text, without requiring the specifics of verbal tone or body language in face-to-face interaction. The way emotional information is conveyed is through the specific inclusion of vague words. However as I argued above, we never know another's "true" emotional state, and words are cheap, so it is important to recognize what part of communication is emotional and not take it literally or supply one's own interpretation/feelings in place of what the speaker intends. The emotional communication should not serve as any influence in logical decisions or choice of actions/evaluations of reality.

"Don't worry"

This seems like a harmless enough, even positive/supportive phrase. With how I was raised, I encountered the phrase often and thought it had a fairly clear encouraging meaning. If a friend came up to me worried about something, I would give some practical advice and tell him not to worry. But this phrase is deceptively dangerous in its implication, as it is a prime example of invalidation. I would quote [S. Hein at]: "let's say I am traveling with someone and I say I am afraid someone could come into our room and steal my laptop computer if they keep leaving the door unlocked. If they tell me `don't worry`, then I am more worried, because they are not taking my fear seriously and they may just keep leaving the door unlocked. Besides worrying about my laptop getting stolen, I am now also worried about traveling with someone who invalidates me.". Having the chance to spend more time analyzing what this phrase is, I've come to strongly dislike it. A blunt translation of "don't worry" is "I don't care about the topic you bring up (and I wish you would stop bothering me with it)", and before I recognized the invalidation aspect I would have sworn that's not what I meant in saying such a phrase, yet on a subconscious level that is exactly what I meant. [f5] When somebody expresses a concern or says they're worried about something, they are asking for validation of their feelings, attention and emotional care. But by saying "don't worry" or something to that extent like "you're blowing things out of proportion", the emotional message transmitted is "your feelings are wrong, I won't give you attention or emotional care". I saw a video in which a daughter who had an illness was waiting for the results of a medical test: she said to her mother "The test results will be in today, I'm kind of scared to find out what they say", to which the mother replied "don't worry, I'm sure everything will be just fine". Do you see the issue with this response? The daughter feels scared about finding out something bad about her health, and says as much to the mother in this way expressing that her emotional state is fragile in hopes of getting emotional support, to which the mother responds "I don't care that you're scared, I'm sure not scared, and your feelings make no sense". Beyond the blatant lie "I'm sure" (which also manipulatively places the mother in a dominant/in charge/all-knowing position) and the vagueness of "everything" and "just fine", this statement basically says "shut up about your feelings!"; and it's no wonder the mother isn't scared - it's not her health/life that's at risk after all, and she's not emotionally sensitive enough to be scared *for* her daughter, so from her view being scared is just irrational. To be on the receiving end of such a phrase is harmful not only because it is a rejection of emotional closeness, but also because it makes the receiver question the reality of their feelings, the validity of the other person's claims ("how can she be sure? but she's my mother, she knows, I trust her, her words must be true" but when it later turns out the things she was "sure" of are not true? the brain gets stuck in an emotionally abusive 'fog'), leading to a disconnect from one's own emotions and an entrapment in a web of vague statements that could mean just about anything based on how they are interpreted that still manage to subtly contradict reality (the invalidated feelings *are* reality!), making it impossible to formulate clear thoughts and thus understand oneself and others to reach a more rational course of action. That is the damage of invalidating phrases, in teaching us to ignore language that describes feelings, to leave feelings beyond conscious appraisal and act not by logic but by factors we are thus pushed to stay ignorant of. While recognizing the harms of invalidation, one must still remain cognizant of the overarching claim that words are defined by their physical effects (so a child who finds that saying "I'm worried" gets him rewards, will say so without a link to his feelings), and that worry refers to an internal mental state that cannot be evaluated except by physical effects (is another person's "really worried" same as my "really worried"?), so skillful emotional communication without the possibility of manipulation/enmeshment is not a straightforward task.

All around in society, I notice regular instances of invalidation as in "cheer up", "don't worry", "it's time to be positive". And I realized, there is an element here of wanting to believe it, of wanting to act as if we are in control of our feelings, as if we have free will to feel as we like. These phrases do have a physical impact - tell someone not to worry and they may start acting "normal" more quickly. But the reality is that the feelings won't go away because of some words; if a loved one died, saying "enough time has passed", "life moves on", or even "he would want you to be happy" are all invalidating but provide the hope of being able to control these feelings of grief. Realizing these feelings won't go away because of some words means facing the fact there is no easy cure - really, there is *no* cure, to the grief and bad feelings, meaning our personality is deeply hurt and will be permanently scarred by the death. Words only distract us from this, which is more comforting than accepting the permanence and reality of our feelings and seeing that we're really not in control but only observers in a deterministic world. If I break my leg, I won't expect to hear something like "OK, you've been hurting enough, it's time to be healthy now" because it's obvious the bone won't be fixed for a long while and probably never recover fully, I can pretend all I want but the physical reality is not up to me to wish away. It is really the same with the psyche, except we don't see it (with our eyes) and like to pretend we can fully control it because we "are" the psyche, whereas we are just the qualia - momentary instantiations of the psyche's structure, in no way controllers in an "original/prime mover" sense. If a loved one dies, the psyche is broken, takes finite time to heal, and may never fully recover. Accepting this makes the invalidation of the above statements more obvious and the absence of free will more inevitable. I suppose it is nice to feel in control, for both the person "helping" by saying "cheer up", and for the person telling himself it's time to cheer up, but it masks the underlying reality that some mental effects can be seriously damaging, and permanently damaging, having no solution, and we are not in control at all - recovery happens by automatic processes like with broken bones, and even our very thoughts and actions are beyond our control. So I take the effect of phrases like "don't worry" is to give my brain information that person x thinks I shouldn't worry, or even that if I don't show signs of worrying it will please person x which may be in my benefit, thus I will not show signs of worrying - thus these phrases do give rise to a real physical effect, and I may even feel like it was my "will" that took my mind off the worrying and made me better.

Thinking more about these invalidating phrases, I became angry at the mistruths surrounding me. I wondered, why should someone be so angry because of this, after all these are uplifting phrases like "you can be anything you want" or "life is a blessing" or "every cloud has a silver lining", how are they harmful or worthy of anger? My thought was that these phrases are similar to the idea of santa claus that for some inane reason parents still continue. I have always taken things literally and seriously - which apparently makes me good for science and bad for social interactions, but then I say screw these social interactions where you can't even have a decent logical exchange - and yet as a kid who is dependent on his parents/family to teach him about the world (ha!) I had no choice but to trust the adults in my life. And when they knowingly tell me lies, it ruins my trust later when I find out it was a lie - this is a huge effect for me, and nowadays I will readily cut out people who do this. As an innocent kid, though, one can't help but trust their parents. So what's wrong with santa claus? For me, it is the frustration of knowing the adults lied to me for basically no reason {perhaps there was a reason, it was "cute" for them to watch} and kept me from seeing the truth and understanding the world. Even as a kid I had a general interest in how things work physically, and had a developing sense of what is physically possible and what isn't. So then when adults tell me there's a santa claus that flies in through the window (we didn't have a chimney), I right away ask (mentally): how? why? trying to make sense of this weird and physically impossible story but taking it for granted that it's true because why else would my parents tell me this? So many childhood years spending trying to make up stories and physical mechanisms to convince myself how santa claus could be real, all sorts of mental hoops and gymnastics to try and gain a coherent picture of the world, and then to find out that it was one big lie all along? I feel resentment, I want to shout "well that's exactly what I thought when I first heard it because it makes no physical sense, but you made me convince myself and spend valuable brain cycles coming up with a coherent picture of the world that can include this lie, while I could have come up with a more elegant and accurate picture if I right away trusted my instincts and figured it was a lie, but instead I stupidly trusted you - I won't do that again". These lies kept me from reaching physical enlightenment, they actively led me astray, thus have made my life less satisfying as I spent so much time questioning and justifying nonexistent entities instead of having fun or being content with how logical the world is (to a kid's view) or questioning the real important things. I just feel used and betrayed by the people I trusted the most. And such lies are as prevalent, and as damaging, as the constant invalidation which is a staple of conversation. Does nobody see the damage it causes?

Earlier I argued how santa claus might be a tactic for parents to easily control children who would more readily behave for an external authority than for the parent [f6]. But perhaps santa claus is a holdover from earlier pagan religious celebrations with a "winter god" figure (who probably came to take sacrifices rather than leave gifts - ie look at Germanic fairy tales), that we kept so as to have a winter holiday to make the cold season less bleak, give a ritual of certainty to look forward to and rely on for sanity. Looking further, religion itself is just such another damaging lie - told to us for god-knows-what reason and keeping us from seeing the truth of the physical world by actively making up explanations and mechanisms of action that explain how all the lies could be true instead of ignoring those lies and trying to explain how the real world works. With all this, it is surprising anyone becomes a scientist - I suppose the ineptness of these lies vs the elegance of scientific truth is a clear beacon attracting some individuals, perhaps the "serious" types like me. I remember, when learning about religion, having all sorts of feelings that what I was being told just didn't make any physical sense (perhaps a side effect of religion is to teach followers to ignore such "gut instincts" and instead fully trust in the goodness of the church - no wonder sexual/emotional abuse is prevalent, as it is the gut feeling of something being really wrong that would be responsible for recognizing and reacting to abuse, but religion counters it with an onslaught of logical fallacies and physical impossibilities that leave the brain wondering "just how should I react? Please tell me, godly leader"). How can god be everywhere and nowhere and in each one of us? Where is this heaven and hell, and if we can't see it how do we even know it exists (and what it looks like) - and if this is really true, wouldn't childbirth be a terrible thing as it means a 50% chance the child will end up in hell? Why should one guy being crucified absolve all humans of their sin, and if it did absolve us, why the fuck do we keep praying for forgiveness? Since we're god's creatures, wasn't it god who made us sin, and god who chooses to send us to hell - how can we praise such a god? Why is god suspiciously like a father/king figure of authority and punishment? All these questions running in the back of my mind, my gut instinct telling me "this is all bullshit - it makes no physical sense at all!", but my reasoning telling me, my family believes this and is teaching me it, there are large churches and establishments designed to teach this, it must be true if there's such a big commotion about it. [f7] So, taking the idea of religion being true as an axiom, a ground truth, I once again spend years of brain cycles/frustration constructing a picture of the world with religion being true. All sorts of inelegant mental contortions, keeping me from ever truly seeing the world by covering up my vision with lies and keeping my curiosity bound by creating mental stop-points (why is this true? because god, don't worry about it, worry about your relationship with god). Until I tried constructing a world-model with religion as a type of recreational mass-delusion event, and suddenly the incomprehensible complexity and questions that seemed to have no answer just vanished and my worldview was logical and scientifically sound. The same way the questions of "who is it that experiences all the qualia in my brain" vanishes once I get rid of the mentality of the "cult of I", that for some reason there is a duality between mind and body, that the "I" that I call myself is a wholly separate form from what computations/data processing the brain does.

Why do we still have all these lies around us? I can't fault the child for believing his parents - after all that is how children learn. But religion started somewhere - this somewhere being adults that made up shit just because they could, the famed story-tellers, bullshit-makers, con artists. At some point a kid asked "why is the sky blue, daddy?" driven by his natural curiosity instinct/urge to learn, and the father, instead of saying "I have no idea" or even "It just is", said "Because the sky god, Aoxotl, really likes the color blue", and so, slowly, it began. But why would the father say this? Because being truthful about what we don't know - especially in front of others - makes us uncomfortable, by showing very clearly that we really don't know much of anything at all; keeping ourselves from seeing this is a mental defense that keeps us from constant existential angst, so we make up stories of gods to keep curiosity at bay, satisfy it without actually learning the truth which may be incomprehensibly difficult to learn (luckily the drive still remains to some extent, as we now have science). On the flip side, admitting not knowing something can be damaging in a social way - ironically, if the father makes up a convincing lie the son will see him as someone powerful and all-knowing, have increased respect for him and elders, whereas if the father says "I don't know", the kid might well have less respect for him and instead give his respect to the neighbor who has all the answers (made up answers, but convincing answers nonetheless - the story teller's web of lies). And how can any leader address his people and say "well - I don't really know if this will work, I don't really know much at all"? Such people will quickly be trumped by those who "know" and are "sure" and "strong" and "powerful", most of all - confident (in their stupidity)! So I suppose the root of these lies is the human curiosity urge combined with the comfort that having convincing-sounding answers brings to satisfy this curiosity and thus avoid existential angst. Hell, it's probably a similar reason why I'm writing these articles - to understand how the world works, to convince myself I know a thing or two about it; I will still claim my explanations are testable and thus are no comparison to religious or fable bullshit, which is just plain made-up crap focusing more on human drama than on physics.

Yet it's not so innocent and arbitrary. A comment on an atheist forum [] reads "if you recognize the secret teaching of religion is `It's ok to lie to others to get what you want`, history will make a lot more sense". And there is truth in this aspect, recalling the above notion that the meaning of a word is not what's in the dictionary but rather what action it causes in the listener. The first person who told the religious story knew it was a made-up lie, and yet told it as truth nonetheless, for selfish reasons. Later on, I can't give so much slack to the people who kept perpetuating it - they realized that by lying to people you can get them to do what you want with almost negligible effort. With the teachings of the church in place, a person in power can just say "Do this or you'll go to hell!" and people *will* do it! A godsend for the kings and leaders - a threat of eternal punishment and offer of eternal reward turn out to drive people just as well as real physical punishment and reward, but with much less effort and material cost! It is mental fodder, which as a convenient side effect, fills up the believer's brain with so much unphysical bullshit that they never get around to questioning the physical reality of their situation - that there is no afterlife once they die and that they've spent their only life toiling for another person's benefit who will never thank them or reciprocate. In real levels of power, realpolitik once again rules, so I do blame the people who perpetuate religion for their own selfish needs. They knew what they were doing, and their actions kept society from enlightenment. And I suppose this is all a story of the bitterness I feel now, realizing that other people *will* lie and cheat to get their way, saying just the right words to get me to do something useful for them and then leaving me to deal with the mental/emotional fall-out. Other people as close as family will do this without a second thought. I've seen many instances of adults saying something as a joke then laughing when their children take it seriously. And while they are laughing, I think - of course they take it seriously, they're depending on you to learn about the world! And you're abusing their trust by not being honest (ie you fabricated the story, knowing it is inaccurate, but deciding to fool/confuse the child for your own pleasure - to laugh at their reaction). How is this a laughing matter? It is emotionally insensitive and violates another person's autonomy, turning them into a thing to play with (ie tell them made-up things and see their funny reactions! What a hilarious game!) instead of on equal footing as reasoning humans - often children have a more pure/unfiltered/accurate view of the world anyway, if the adults bothered to listen (and managed to not project their own feelings/desires onto the kid while listening).

Then again, apparently people like to joke/mess with one another. Maybe I'm the absurd one for hating it so much, but I think there are no "jokes" - all we say is a product of the mind and indicative of our thoughts, so the people who tease others "jokingly/playfully" also think these others truly are stupid or inferior, they must because otherwise they wouldn't have come up with the joke. There really isn't anything harmless or funny/cute about humor. It just seriously diminishes capability for logical exchange, because it throws mine fields - at any point you don't know and keep questioning whether this was meant as sarcasm, or meant to be taken figuratively not literally, or at other times literally but not figuratively. It is like adding shit into the "food" of logical serious conversation, and it is a whole new level of slop and imprecision, making it so a person can spin their words to make another believe anything at all - the words being diluted into meaninglessness so that the person "in power" can define them to be whatever gets him the desired results - ie gets the listener to believe and do what the speaker wants as if it is actually something the listener wants. And that is the realpolitik purpose of words - to get others to take "useful" actions with minimal physical effort. And I have grown to despise this use. Fairy tales, fables, made up stories, movies and cartoons in fantastic settings all reinforce this, then religion and family structure take the lead in channeling the developing mind into an obedient member of society solely through words that have the right effect on the child. Whether the child himself is mentally scarred by those words is no one's concern. So, people continue to lie and cheat and backstab. So I will ensure that I don't believe anything others say until I see it in physical reality. So I will avoid mind-numbing and logic-diluting media like comedy and fantasy. So I will force myself to not ignore my gut instinct even when others' words say everything is just fine and perfectly understandable. So I will seek my own truths and be ready to assume anything told to me by society is a lie. This is a loss of trust in society and family and friends, and it hurts to be lonely, but at least I feel at peace with the physical reality of the world.

There was once a friend I valued a lot, and I thought about how I could show this valuing: "I took this class for you!" "I updated my website for you!" "I planned this trip for you!". Why? Perhaps to get her to realize how much time I spend "for her" and that she is important to me, perhaps to get her to feel guilty for not doing more "for me", perhaps because I want to hear her say appreciative things and emotional validation. But at the end of the day this is a dangerously tempting idea that is unhealthy. The words "for you" in themselves are as meaningless as the "I'm sorry" of earlier - ie no effect except for an emotional message that may or may not mean the same thing to different people. Just as a real expression of sorry is in physical actions that address the problem, not in the feeling of crippling guilt/punishment/fear expressed in the "sorry" (or lack thereof in manipulative people), the real expression of care for someone is intuitively addressing their unmet needs (maybe even ones they weren't aware of, and even ones they explicitly say aren't real needs) such that their life is made happier by your actions, and not just saying "I did x for you". The "for you" should be obvious from the action (physical action) itself, just as with "sorry", and so if there is a need to say those words perhaps there wasn't a true intent of pleasing the other person, or if there was then it may have been misguided by an improper intuition. Saying "I updated the website for you" places pressure on her to like it/pretend to like it, and if she doesn't like it she feels guilty and may try to return some action out of guilt (did she even care about the website in the first place?). Does that really make her life happier (and isn't that my apparent goal)? As for me, it is also unhealthy because then my happiness with myself and my website-updating skills rests with her reaction, not with the actual physical product, and is thus disconnected from features under my control. I basically strap myself into an emotional roller coaster as opposed to learning from my mistakes, enjoying my successes, and accomplishing my goals, improving my self-confidence. In some months/years maybe we won't see each other, and at that point I should be able to look back at the website and still be happy about it, to look back at the time we spent together knowing that it has been worth it, such that the reality of the experiences of my life are not dependent on unrelated and arbitrary things like us being together or her being pleased about a gift. In this case the expression of thanks is really not a "thank you" but physical actions that increase chances of closeness, opportunities that have previously led to positive care actions from me - consciously or not, on both ends. If wholly unconscious, relationships can be stable but to the detriment of both partners - an example is an abusive relationship - one partner gets hurt but knows this usually leads to affection so stays together, perhaps even "making up" problems just because in the past problems have led to closeness (again, without a conscious connection of the emotional effects here). If conscious, relationships are mutually beneficial - so yes, both people are "using" each other, only staying together because that feels better/preferable to each vs being apart. Neither party stays unequivocally, but only because they gain a benefit, a life-experience benefit, from it. This sounds cold and uncaring, but really this is rationally sound: if both people gain (ie are happy) then isn't that great? Isn't it something to strive for? And if one or both would be happier leaving, then isn't that what should happen? So when I can't "use" her to enhance my happiness, there's no reason to be together. When she can't "use" me, it's the same effect. To stay together we have to provide pleasant experiences for each other (as evaluated by the receiver), consciously or not, and this is the real point of giving and thanking - words don't cut it, and maybe even mislead/gaslight one or both persons.

I should do things that I enjoy or that make my life better, with or without her. If I get enjoyment out of giving her gifts then I should give her gifts. But I cannot get enjoyment out of her receiving gifts - she may not like it and I can't (well I can, but it would be stupid) place my self-esteem and happiness on factors I can't control - like whether she likes it or not. It is also unfair to her to set up the guilt-tripping expectation that if she doesn't like it, she doesn't like me (my family were experts in this technique, consciously or not, so I ended up growing up thinking this was normal, which is why I am correcting it in such length now). If she does like it then perhaps she'll respond with an act that I might enjoy - which is a sign of thanks. If she doesn't like it then I should still be happy about having gifted it, proud of myself for the experience of making the gift or happy about learning more of her preferences. The mind-bending part for me is that her words "thank you" is not really an expression of thanks or of liking the gift, rather societally expected exchange: again the real thanks would be in reciprocated physical actions that intrinsically convey that message. This interaction beyond the word-level would lead to a healthy respectful relationship, as opposed to an enmeshed drama-filled one that fills time with irrelevant problems, because words can be spun to convey any meaning while physical actions are certain and clear to both partners, not debatable or revocable. And this mistrust and even ignoring of words seems so backwards - perhaps from my weird upbringing, where I was praised excessively for the tiniest things until I got to US schools where I was made fun of for the tiniest things - like "smiling too much" or talking. When kid me was given a gift, he was told something like "Look at this great gift! It was all for you, look how much they sacrificed! And you, did you do anything in return? Are you a good son? You have to prove it now..." This sort of thinking leads to the decidedly unhealthy "mutual sacrifice", where one person sacrifices "for" another, which guilts the other into also "sacrificing *for*" the other, and at the end both sacrifice their happiness and don't have happy lives, leaving with guilt/shame and gifts they didn't like/want. Or if one person is sly, they can fake-sacrifice while the other real-sacrifices, leading to abusive relationships. Especially with kids (like young me) - I had no idea of the effort required (or not) to get gifts, and every celebration time I felt terrible about receiving things and having no idea how I could ever sacrifice enough to make the gift-givers happy that I was so overjoyed at receiving their gift. The adults in the family should have known better than to put such ideas in my head and guilt-trip me. Gifts are "for" the other person, so they need to come with no strings attached. Otherwise they are control methods and emotional manipulation. I should feel no guilt in throwing gifts away or re-gifting. After all if they make me *less* happy (ie by making my life difficult) then do they really fulfill the whole idea of a gift? They are then the opposite, really. This seems to be a common mistake in society, and a big emotional lever that is subtly misused everywhere. Walking by the flag pole I see a flag for MIA/POW - something *for* them. Do they care about some fucking flag on the other side of the world when they're being tortured at an enemy base? Why not put that money/effort into actually improving their/families lives? Sometimes the illusion of care/"raising awareness" is dominant.

I guess the conclusion from this is, it is unhealthy to:

I am starting to believe less and less in words - like "I'm sorry" or "I will try" or "I didn't mean to" or "I want to" or even "I like". People lie and different people interpret the same words differently, so basing my decisions on words is always a gamble. Because words (like "sorry", "for you", "thanks", "that means a lot", "hope you're OK") are *flimsy*, basing my emotions/happiness/self-esteem/choice of actions on words opens me to manipulation and makes me a manipulator (perhaps unconsciously). My own joy and values for life should come from undeniable physical actions, like being there when a friend needs help (and vice versa, them being there for me), from the excitement of building a new toy for its own sake (gift or not), from updating my website and testing out my writing abilities (whether anyone reads it or not), going on fun trips (whether anyone comes along or not). This will lead to a rationally joyful, guilt-free life. I met a person who often skipped class but every time he was in class he mentioned how much he liked it. Actions, things that are not up for interpretation or open to rhetoric/debate, are the real important things I should make my choices by, so as to not be mislead or used. The above class-skipping example shows that unless we really study ourselves we are not even in control of our own actions - we may ourselves unknowingly bring about situations that are opposite to our (word/abstract) goals, or avoid actions which would be most in line with our (word/abstract) goals - I say that what ultimately matters is not the abstract intentions, but the real actions. We are not born knowing ourselves, and there are many pitfalls that are easy to fall into - addictions, abusive cycles, emotional enmeshment. I for one noticed I had a tendency to base my happiness on other people (which is futile, as mentioned above) then feeling sad if things didn't work out -> I was setting myself up for failure, without even realizing (why would I do this consciously?). So then ultimately it is all in my head - what I strive for, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what makes me content. I have the power to decide, to be happy because of some tiny everyday thing, or to only be happy if some miracle happens, either guaranteeing or discarding the possibility for happiness, respectively. I've managed to unconsciously control my desires thusly to keep a good amount of drive to do things in school and personal life, while still feeling satisfied. But I realize that with conscious control comes great power - I can choose to be restless until my next project performs perfectly, or I can choose to be content with quitting right now and not even following up. But then why can't I just feel that my everyday life is pleasurable and just be pleased every day without any effort - why do I still seek new experiences? That's because, while I have the illusion of control, it is not true control. As any physical system, I am determined by my surroundings, so my interests, my actions, my thoughts will all be affected by my life - what I see and experience. I cannot gain a different perspective on a situation unless prompted to do so by some aspect of my surroundings.

[f1] I can trace this feeling back to my earliest years being spoon-fed, the adults saying "it's just a small spoon, it's nothing" which I internalized (trusting the adults are all-knowing) as small=nothing

[f2] this is in contrast to systems thinking, in which self-reinforcing cycles and any contributions to them, no matter how small or incremental, will eventually have significant long-lasting effects

[f3] some evidence of this is in [Thinking Fast and Slow] second to last chapter on memories of painful procedures and the peak-end rule: *duration neglect*

[f4] consider social media, where it is possible to compare the content a person posts vs the physical reality of that person's life. There will be seen a psychological split: the physical reality is the person's actual life/beliefs/opinions (perhaps unrealized), while the posted words/content is the person's desired/imagined view of himself and the world. The use of a filter on photos shows an internal discontentment with what the photo shows as opposed to what the poster wants it to show (ie their ideal life).

[f5] and this is why it's important to have a clear/precise/logical understanding of words one uses, because it's easy to misunderstand even one's own desires/thoughts/intent when the language used to describe them is imprecise and flimsy; again just because I live as myself doesn't make me any more privileged in understanding what drives me on a subconscious level - it is something I have to learn through observation, but observation is only possible with proper tools, in this case precise words which lead to clear thinking. With vague words and loose thinking I have no hope of observing anything but the most obvious patterns

[f6] indicative of bad parenting, if anything - I can't blame desperate parents for trying what they can to get their kid to behave, but it seems we can solve 99% of society's problems by requiring parenting education - what to do, how to peoperly handle outbreaks, what will emotionally scar the kid, what will build up a good healthy relationship - but parents just have unprotected sex and "oops a baby!" and they have no fucking idea how to raise it, randomly throwing all sorts of mental/emotional shit and harm and damage in the mix. How fucked up and senseless is all this? Before buying a car you need to have a license and sufficient cash, that sounds logical. But before having a kid (*making a person*) all you need is functioning genitals and a willingness to forget protection during sex. Absolutely despicable, especially for the helpless newborn person - society's future, and the person seemingly always left out of consideration

[f7] to be sure, the same could be said of science establishments. the crucial difference is that in science I can (and do) build verifiable experiments that give me feedback and prove the truth and consistency of my worldview, whereas religion asks/forces me to believe but offers no proof or chance of ever obtaining it

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