Things I Believe

This is just a sort of random list of things that I believe to be true, and my opinions on things. I just thought it might be useful to map these out explicitly.

  • I believe that the Universe was not made by any sort of supernatural being or agency. I believe that the Universe is materialistic, i.e. that nothing exists which is not made of something (even if the something is intangible). I believe that it is unlikely that supernatural forces exist in the Universe, and if they do, I believe they are natural forces which are simply not understood yet.
  • I believe that there are other intelligent, conscious creatures in the Universe aside from the life we know on Earth. I do not know if these creatures have visited us. While I myself have had extremely powerful and personal experiences that could possibly be understood as encounters with the extraterrestrial, I do not claim to know the actual source of these experiences, or if they were even external to my own mind.
  • I believe that a healthy society is one in which people work together to achieve a common good, even if that common good often comes at the expense of the individual. I do not claim to know where the balance between the common good and the good of the individual lies, but I suspect it does not lie on the far side of owning a giant goddamn military-spec SUV that you use to drive to Wal-Mart.
  • I believe that all drugs should be legalized and taxed like any other good. Even the ones you don’t think should be legalized. I believe that people have a right to be educated about the consequences of using addictive drugs…including nicotine and alcohol.
  • I believe that psychedelic drugs are incredibly powerful tools for understanding oneself and one’s place in the world. I have had many experiences with psychedelic drugs, and while not all of them were fun, all of them were learning experiences. (And, let’s be honest, a lot of them were fun.) I believe that psychedelics are serious tools for mental development, and should not be used recreationally at a whim.
  • I believe that an understanding of history and the past is absolutely essential, both for society at large and for individuals as a whole. I believe that a desire to “return” to the past is poisonous to a society. I believe that conservatism in general is an atavistic response to a collective fear of the future, which is why I believe that political conservatives are cowards. I also dislike nostalgia, even my own.
  • I believe that art, music and literature are serious subjects, and should be taken seriously as much as they are enjoyed for enjoyment’s sake.
  • I believe that there are such things as “good” and “bad” art, music and literature, and that these qualifications are independent of whether you, I or anyone else enjoys any of these things. You may enjoy dancing to “What Is Love?” by Haddaway, but you’d be a fool to suggest it’s on an equal artistic footing with, say, Mozart’s Requiem (or any given Tom Waits song).
  • I believe that human consciousness is the most valuable thing in the universe, and that it is consciousness and the storage of experience — in other words, the possession of “minds” — which makes human life valuable. I also believe that consciousness likely plays a more central role to the way the Universe works than is currently accepted. I haven’t worked out how, though, yet.
  • I believe that anyone has the right to do essentially anything they like or feel compelled to do, so long as it prevents no one else from the same right. That includes sex, religious faith, drugs, and even negative beliefs about others.
  • I also believe, however, that absolutely no one has the right to be free from criticism. Part of freedom of speech and action is the freedom to criticize, irritate and even ridicule others. It is every individual’s responsibility to accept the consequences of their choices and behaviors, including the willingness to accept that others may not understand or like what one is doing.
  • I believe that the rights of humans are more important than the rights of governments or corporations. But I also believe that human rights end where they infringe upon the collective good of society as a whole. I think.
  • I believe that aggressive/pre-emptive war is bad, but I believe that defending one’s country is good, assuming it is actually at risk. Finding out whether that’s the case is where all the tricky stuff comes in.
  • I believe that there is no such thing as a “normal” person. Scratch the surface even slightly and everyone is strange in some way. The people who are the least strange are, invariably, the least interesting.
  • I believe that humans overestimate their own specialness most of the time. People believe that their thoughts and feelings are far more unique than they usually are. People’s motivations are usually easier to understand than they would ever believe them to be.
  • I believe that the 1967 Mustang GTA is the coolest goddamn car ever.
  • I believe identity politics are boring. I believe it’s more constructive to identify yourself in terms of what you do — your own actions — than who you are or how you were born. These things affect your decisions, of course, and should be taken into account…but they do not define who you are or who you can be. If they did, there would be no point to human life.
  • On a related note, I believe that nationalism is toxic. No one chooses where they’re from. They can only choose how they make the place they live better. As an American, I am proud of the ideals upon which this country was founded, but I am not always proud of the way we comport ourselves collectively as a nation.
  • I believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone.
  • I believe that the Roswell incident was likely a result of an experimental Soviet jet surveillance craft infiltrating U.S. airspace and crashing in New Mexico, and that the government was more interested in covering up the fact that our Cold War enemies could penetrate into our airspace than aliens. However, I have no conviction about this particular belief. It’s just a theory.
  • I believe that complexity arises from simplicity.
  • I believe that Mac is slightly better than Linux, and both of them are far better than Windows.
  • I believe that science is better than superstition, that knowledge is better than ignorance, that truth is almost always better than a lie.
  • I believe that human life as a whole would be better if Sam Cooke and Otis Redding had not died young.
  • I believe that capitalism without limitation may actually destroy human society.
  • I believe that most companies have too many managers.
  • I believe in open-source software, but not open-source pedantism.
  • I believe that faith is dangerous to oneself and to those around one.
  • I believe in the future we shall suffer no more. Maybe not in my lifetime, but in yours, I feel sure.
  • I believe that happiness without sadness is boring.
  • I believe that technology is the way humans evolve.
  • I believe in global warming.
  • I believe that love can conquer all, even if only for a little while.
  • I believe that there are some people — not many — who genuinely need killing. I’m glad I’m not in a position to decide who they are, though.
  • I believe that pop music is killing the youth of America, or at least making them completely fucking boring.

More to come….

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