Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #4 – Reciprocity, entitlement and being bothered by it

I was once friends with a student of medicine. These students have the reputation of getting arrogant during their studies, becoming ‘half-gods in white’. Highly trained skills combined with power over life and death can do that, I suppose. It was certainly true for him. It got so bad in everyday situations that I ended the friendship with him.

But that was nothing compared to the kind of entitlement I noticed in the last friendship I ended.

The lack of balance was one thing. People can feel they are entitled to get more than they give — or they simply think that the amount they give has such a high value that it should be more than enough. A crumb of their gold is worth more than your bucket of lead. After all, you might remember the ten-second conversation you had with that famous person until the end of your life, while the famous person immediately forgets the small talk with that face from the crowd. But a friendship should be between equals — all things being equal, the same actions should have the same value. And I would not want to be ‘friends’ with someone who feels entitled to my friendship.

But what was even worse was that she felt bothered by her entitlement. Not only did she not believe in the norm of reciprocity, the expectation that she would have to reciprocate for what she sought and took bothered her.

Yup. It is one thing to profit by an imbalance. And I had my part in that imbalance. I created it and keep it there. But if someone considers me as a friend and repeatedly tells me so, I would have expected some kind of feedback that my support bothered her — especially even when she asked for it and accepted it. That, while she asked for support and took it, it made her resentful that others would now expect she had to reciprocate and give something back.

Realizing that she felt entitled and felt bothered by it at the same time was the final straw that ended the friendship. I have received a couple of metaphorical slaps in my face, but that was … different.

It makes you question the character of the person — and the world we live in.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #3 – Fault and Responsibility

When I look back at the imbalance in the last friendship I ended … having invested a lot of time, emotions and effort into something that I knew — deep down — would not reciprocate … I had to accept the fact that it was my fault how the friendship turned out — and how it ended.

It was my decision to continue the friendship, because a bad friendship is in many ways easier than building new friendships. I chose to stay in that friendship because trying to build new friendship always carries that scary element of rejection.

Life dies inside a person when there are no others willing to be-friend him. He thus gets filled with emptiness and a non-existent sense of self-worth.
Mark R. J. Lavoie

And I used her in some ways. I like to develop my ideas in writing, and with her I had someone I could bounce off my ideas. I also like to create things, and with her I had someone whom I could create things for.

I think this was the main reason why the friendship continued this long — and this was also one of the main reasons the friendship turned toxic.

Over time, she came to expect my attention while she did not have to give much. It was my responsibility to set the balance right from the start. Well, hindsight is always 20/20.

But I do not think that this was the only influence at work here. There was also her growing sense of entitlement in general.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #2 – Red Flags

When I look back at the last friendship I ended, I am a little taken aback how I could have stayed friends with her for so long.

Don’t get me wrong, she was a very interesting person — in a way. But — to be brutally honest — not really a good friend. Friendship requires interest in the person and empathy/perspective taking. She might have been interested, but more in what I could do for her (mostly in terms of emotional support) than in me as a person. And when it comes to empathy and perspective taking — that was not really her strong suit.

In short, despite being highly intelligent (trust me on this), she was also superficial and self-centered.

And I accepted it and made excuses for it.

For example, I accepted …

  • that I invested much more in the friendship (for years) than I got back.
  • that someone I trusted for a long time was not good for me, was more of a detriment to my happiness and success, than an aid.
  • that she was applying a double-standard where I had to compensate for her idiosyncrasies and bad mood but she would be offended by mine.
  • that no matter how interesting she might have appeared she did not show it in her interactions with me.

In many ways that friendship was like a sunk-cost fallacy. At some point I had invested a lot in it — and I was still hoping to get something out of it. Not “benefits,” by the way, but support, feedback, someone I could rely on.

But when it comes down to it — if I were in a situation where I really, really needed someone who does something for me, something that was really, really important and that thing has to be done exactly right — I would not have trusted her to do it.

Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn’t there the first time you need him, chances are you won’t be needing him again.
Unknown

In fact, she failed the parachute test of friendship a couple of times. In consequence, I avoided such situations, and when I had to trust her, I hedged my bets. Sure, she had her excuses and explanations, but that does not help you if you would have crashed real badly were it not for the reserve canopy you took along.

That alone should have been a huge red flag — I was expecting to get something out of the friendship yet deep down it was clear to me that I could never really depend on her.

But that was very difficult to realize.

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Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #1 – Intro

A couple of weeks ago I unilaterally ended a friendship that existed (in various degrees) for over a decade. It wasn’t an easy decision and it lead to a very negative reaction of the person I was friends with — which I can totally understand.

After all, if someone considers you as a ‘best friend’ or even a ‘good friend’ and you suddenly end the friendship — that really is devastating. Friendship is a question of fit between two people, but ending a friendship tells the other person that you judge her unfit for a friendship with you. And doing this after being friends with her for over a decade and she was thinking that everything is fine … holla.

It shows that something was seriously wrong in the friendship — not only due to the fact that you unilaterally ended the friendship, but that you did not talk openly about it earlier. Not telling a (former) friend about it in advance, warning the person that something is wrong, but simply ending the decade old friendship from one day to the next — that is an asshole move.

Still, I did this three times so far — and I wonder why I did this to other people — people whom I had considered as friends.

My “surface” reasons did differ a little, but I think the underlying problem from my perspective was that I invested more in the friendship than I got out of it. This went on for years until a combination of critical incidents led me to end the friendships.

Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone – but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
William Hazlitt

A nice excuse but hardly the full picture and it begs the question: “Why didn’t I talk about it earlier?” Or: “Why did I wait until I though my only recourse was to end the friendship — abruptly, unilaterally, without warning?”

No matter how I turn it, the fact remains that I made the decision to end the friendship well in advance. I made the decision and accepted it before I confronted the other person with that decision.

That’s not only an asshole move, that also a pretty cowardly move.

The fact that she reacted hurt should be a clear indicator that she cherished the friendship and that I was a cowardly asshole who did not cherish the friendship — shouldn’t it?

I am not sure.

There is another explanation — people react very negatively not only when they lose a good friendship/relationship, but also when they lose access to resources. I do not think that this is the only reason in this case, but I think it is a reason. I think she considered me useful and practical, someone who was always there for her when she needed me, someone who righteously invested a lot to be friends with her.

But still, a decade of ‘friendship’ is a long time and it bothers me that this was the third time that I ended a friendship this way. That a friendship developed this way. I wonder how I could not have seen it earlier and why I kept the ‘friendship’ for so long.

I think the decision to end the ‘friendship’ was the right one. It was a dysfunctional friendship/relationship.

But I want to find out why.

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Feminism – Gender Relations

Yesterday’s posting was a bit long, so I’ll make it shorter this time. If I would try to bring my concerns about the current version of feminism (entitlement/rights without responsibilities/accountability/fairness) to the point, it’s not the sense of entitlement and righteousness, or the inherent injustice in rights without responsibilities, or the arrogant sense of superiority (“You don’t know what you feel/do, only I do”) in it that bothers me most. It’s this here:

Comic from xkcd.com (http://xkcd.com/642/).

The view that men are evil/potential rapists/abusers and the view that women are victims and cannot take responsibility for themselves makes the relationship between men and women unnecessary complicated. And it is already complicated enough.

That might not be a problem if you hate men, or women, or people in general. Or if you are unhappy and want everyone else be unhappy too. Or if you look for political power and use a ‘divide and conquer’ mentality.

But some of us want to live an interesting, stimulating, and happy life — in an heterosexual relationship with a competent partner/companion.

So, feminism, please, religion was bad enough, don’t make it worse. Stay the hell out of our relationships. Better yet, fuck off completely.

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Are Some Kinds of Feminism that Blind? — or: Many ‘Female’ Troubles Are Human Problems (Men can have them too)

One of the nice things of the Internet, especially blogs, is that you can “get to go into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them.” (to quote Penn Jillett). Recently, I read a blog entry by a hardcore feminist. She had written a very good entry on “50 Shades of Grey” (not that I would have read the book, but she gave me a few more good reasons to avoid it). But her other entries … holla.

I got the impression that her whole idea of feminism was very … backwards-oriented. A little like affirmative action for Blacks in “The West Wing”:

“So, why a racial preference and not an economical one?”
“Because affirmative action’s about a legacy of racial oppression.”
“It’s about compromising admission standards.”
“That’s bull… excuse me. It’s about leveling the playing field after 300 years of…”
“See, this is where the liberal argument goes off the rails: you get stuck in the past. Now, you want to come back with: Grading is based on past performance, but admission should be based on potential, on how a candidate may thrive with this sort of opportunity. And studies show that affirmative action admits have a higher predisposition to contribute to society.”
Mulready and Charlie in “The West Wing”

She wrote that in most places, women were second class for millennia, so women are disadvantaged as they lack historical figures to look up. She went so far as to include famous writers you could look up when you grow up. Men have Hemingway, Dickens, Shakespeare — whom do women have?

Aehm, Rowling? 😉

But seriously, if you are fixated on the gender of the authors — yes, more famous men than women made it, ignoring that:

  1. it was (and is) high-risk work that takes a lot of guts
  2. it is extremely hard work that demanded a lot of persistence and dealing with failures, and
  3. also a lot of men failed to make it and ended up in desolate circumstances (sometimes even if they made it).

But is the lack of female authors to look up to still the case? Rowling (or, e.g., Lindgren before her) wrote beautiful books — are these exceptions or do times change? I mean, there are female authors and today, women can even become famous with crap, as James showed with “50 shades” (if you are willing to misrepresent an entire community/lifestyle, but this is another topic).

I get the impression that for some people, gender is all they see and they see it everywhere. And I wonder whether they listen to anyone but themselves — hmm, how was it in “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”:

[discussing the plan to achieve solidarity among the farmers to use a blockade as leverage for better working conditions]
“… suppose you managed it. Solidarity. So solid not a tonne of grain is delivered to catapult head. … What happens?”
“Why, they have to negotiate a fair price, that’s what!”
“My dear, you and your comrades listen to each other too much. Authority would call it rebellion and warship would orbit with bombs … .”
“The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein

But perhaps (likely) there is an influence of gender. It’s like the fundamental attribution error — the situation is usually neglected because it is so pervasive. But is it really this strong?

Hmmm, and I wonder how often it is used as an excuse. Like the person who claims to be gifted, but neither does something great nor gets tested, because s/he claims ‘I also have ADHS and this prevents me from realizing my potential.” Convenient. Or to quote another movie, “Addams Family Values” captured it beautifully:

[The children in a summer camp are just starting their life-saver swim course]
“I’ll be the victim.”
“All your life.”
Amanda and Wednesday in “Addams Family Values” (1993)

I think the playing field changes and I am concerned that with this kind of attitude the changes are neither noticed nor used. In many cases, the question is not a question of male or female (BTW, what’s with homosexuals and transgendered people?), it’s a question of having a level playing field independent of gender.

Take for example the question of family — or to put it differently, who raises the kids? There are men who are willing to stay at home — can they profit from services aimed to support women? I think that it is very hard to do a career if you also spend time raising your family. It’s hard to beat the competition, and skills and performance should count. Using subtracting years for children is a way to deal with it — the person who stays home gets the deduction, independent of the gender. And there should be positions for people who do not want to get to the top but combine having a family and having a good job (BTW, single dads anyone?). Still, the price for a career is usually that your children don’t know you that well. It’s just a matter of priorities and effort needed.

I think the worst proposed ‘solution’ for more equality/diversity so far is a quota for women. Seriously, is this the sick joke of an ‘old boy’s club’?

  1. It does not solve the question of skilled employees who are qualified for the position and want it. Might not be a problem in some disciplines (e.g., psychology, pedagogy), but is in others (e.g., computer science, physics).
  2. If it works it leads to discord, because past injustice is used to justify injustice in the present/future.
  3. It does not address the problem of a parent-friendly workplace when a child arrives.
  4. And worst of all, it puts a question mark on the skills of every woman who made it fairly.

Seriously, if I wanted to turn the clock back, introducing a quota is the way I would do it. Muddles up the playing field and puts every woman in question.

I think the second worst ‘solution’ is offering courses specifically for women. If it would really change something I would be concerned — it would make the playing field uneven. But does it address the real problems? For example, that most women decide to stay at home (at least for a while) when they have children. Or that (too) many organizations — despite claiming to be child-friendly — are in reality opposed to their employees having children (beyond having the necessary poster child to claim they are family friendly). Or that it’s easy to drop out of work, if telecommuting is not supported and people deciding on ‘family friendly’ solutions have not reared children themselves (there are examples of uncomplicated and well though-out solutions for employees who are parents, but I’m not talking about them here).

Even worse is the world view of some of the courses. I recently saw an ad (made by a woman) for courses for women, to help them learn how to compete in the workplace. The ad described the problem that ‘women are not recognized as women in the workplace’ and gave examples like men stealing women’s ideas in discussions and presenting them as their own. It gave some tips, but the stated conclusion at the end of the ad was to ‘act like a man’ to be able to compete in a ‘masculine domain’.

Really?

I think that “idea stealing” has a long history in the workplace and is not specifically related to the gender, but more to attributes like introversion and lacking a ready wit. A workplace where these behaviors go without punishment, because the boss is the greatest thief or disinterested, doesn’t help either. I (dimly) remember a book on presentation techniques that argued that especially engineers were often too scared (or too timid) to present their ideas, which prevented them from becoming associated with and thus rewarded for their ideas. Instead, the more extroverted guy from another department or the supervisor did the presentation — and got all the credit. And the same thing happens in discussions. It’s not a problem that all men steal ideas from all women, it’s a problem that some people steal from other people, independent of gender.

The sad thing is that the solutions — standing up for oneself, training to have a ready wit (which you can learn) — would work. But seeing gender as the underlying problem biases the view. And it does not help. In reality, …

  1. minorities (which — depending on the group/organization — can include any gender, but also ethnicity and other salient attributes) are noticed more extremely — their failures and their successes seem larger,
  2. many men have the same problem (cf. the engineers in the example above, which at the time were mostly male), and
  3. the overlap between genders is larger than the differences in most cases.

I mean, this view would not only provide good sparring partners, but would also be a strong message that it’s not gender (which you cannot change … that easily) that holds you back. It’s behavior — and you can change behavior (easier than gender, anyway).

But this requires putting down the self-righteousness of being a victim, of getting something for past injustice, and claiming responsibility for ones behavior — and I fear that not everyone wants to do it. It’s simply easier to bemoan something you cannot change, demand your share based on your gender, and be angry at the world. And fighting general ‘injustice’ is such a turn-on.

Especially if you can easily imagine winning by it. After all, if you are a minority and you get a quota protecting your minority, why shouldn’t you win? Perhaps because while you are a minority (at the moment), you are not the only person who qualifies. You have the same situation the current majority has: You have to fight for your own career against other minority members, only with the disadvantage that no matter how well you advance compared to your minority competition, other non-minority members will attribute at least part of your position to your minority status. It might get people into a position, but it is a Pyrrhic victory. It does not change anything in the long term.

I think taking action regarding your career independent of quotas gets you farther. I like Roseanne Barr’s quote in this regard (although likely out of context):

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power.
You just take it.”
Roseanne Barr

Feminism will not give women power, only themselves can give it to them. Or to use two nice quotes:

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
Erica Jong

and

Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, “This I am today; that I will be tomorrow.”
Louis L’Amour

I guess that a few feminist readers (of a particular brand of feminism), who made it up to this point, will probably be angry. I do not claim that sexism does not exist. It does, both ways. Yes, there are some male supervisors who never employ or promote women, while others only have women on their team. And there are some (female) HR managers who prefer women, because they claim women work more conscientiously, others prefer men (for other reasons). And there are countless other cases and ways of sexism. But I hope that these people are dying out. Hopefully it’s a little bit like what Max Planck said about scientific progress:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Max Planck

And we shouldn’t miss it or destroy it with half-baked ‘solutions’. I think that most problems — at least when it comes to gender at work (excepting work linked to sex, e.g., prostitution, sperm/egg donors, and the like), are not female problems, they are human problems.

And these human problems should be solved, because regardless of moral or ethics or justice or whatever ‘noble’ reason, it’s simply stupid to waste resources. We’ve long past the time of individual or even one-gender efforts. When we look at our world and our problems … stupid, stupid, stupid to waste resources due to antiquated ideology and stupid to tolerate unjust behavior, e.g., idea stealing, no matter who does it.

We should use everyone’s talents to the fullest and create a playing field where support is available for those who need it and performance matters. It think that most people — men and women — would agree to this (radical feminists would be the exception here, but who cares about them anyway).

So, why not work together, instead of creating an artificial distance (out of fear?), now that the actual group differences seem to vanish? I don’t see why it cannot be a win-win-solution instead of an “I want something at your costs”.

And when it comes to competition at work — let’s ensure a Rawls like equal playing field and please, let’s make training/support of employees a priority — and then let the best ones win.

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What Good Friends Are For

One of the best examples of what good friends are for I have seen so far … with probably the best two YouTube comments I have read so far.

neobabe120788: A good friend knows when to hold you back. A BEST friend knows when to let go and let you rip into a bitch.

CloudCereal553: A good friend will hold you back in a fight. A best friend will know when to let go and let you tear up a bitch. A best friend forever will know when to let go and take pictures while you tear up said bitch.

Hmm, the only question is — where do you find such a friend?

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A Voice for Men about Atheism+ and Elevator Gate and (of course) Feminism

While I would consider myself a skeptic, I am not really part of any organization or group. So, the whole “Elevatorgate” incident passed me without noticing. That is, until a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon a couple of videos on YouTube. Well, shit, that’s not only why women become scarce, that makes some men not want to attend ever as well. While I missed the whole discussion I was eager to read what other people thought about it. Better yet, hear some smart people talk about it on YouTube. So I was very happy to see that “A Voice for Men” did a show about it a few days ago. You can find the show as Podcast in iTunes, or more information in this posting on their website.

I was also interested enough to leave a comment on their site how the whole incident seems to me. It turned out to be rather long (time and words flies/fly when you are having fun), probably a bit long, but, what the hell, I’m reposting it here.

*snip*
Thank you for the show, it was further food for thought. I have to admit that I missed the whole “Elevator Gate” incident and even the Atheism+ movement until a couple of weeks ago. While I would consider myself a skeptic, I’m not really a part of any organization. So my view might be old and I might not have all the information.

When I heard about “Elevator Gate” — mostly by stumbling upon videos by ‘The Amazing Atheist’, ‘Girl Writes What’ (I think), and the series by ‘Thunderf00t’ — first I shook my head, then it made sense, then it made even more sense. Not in the logical sense but in the ‘this is how humans sometimes operate’ sense.

The first thing that came to mind was the research in psychology on the role of interpersonal distance. In an elevator people are usually standing closer than what we would normally like. People come into our personal/intimate space, even when they normally would not qualify to stand that close to us. In other settings we would move back, but in an elevator we can’t. The closeness produces anxiety, which is simply due to the constraints of the room. Combine this with 1) being “trapped” into a metal room where the doors shut noticeably and cannot possibly be opened for some time (no way to ‘escape’ from the situation), 2) no way to politely avoid eye contact (as many people normally do in these spaces) due to being asked a question, and 3) the time of night — yeah, some people might feel uncomfortable in such a situation. And they might mistakenly attribute their anxiety in that situation to the person standing close, ending up with the interpretation of regarding him as a threat. If you see yourself as an independent, competent and logical/skeptical person and you feel anxiety, it has to have a good reason, doesn’t it? It has to come from the outside, from a real threat, from someone else, doesn’t it? Nope, not if you mistakenly attribute your anxiety, something which humans are prone to do.

And sure, one could even make a case for not starting a conversation in a situation where the conversation partner cannot leave easily/at all, esp. when no other people are around.

However, I think this is mostly a personal problem — you need a certain worldview to mistakenly attribute the anxiety and interpret the situation this way. And (no news here) that tells you a lot about the … really ugly social climate we are living in — what it can do to some people. And I really mean people here — women and men. If men are vilified and seen as potential rapists or murderers, it poisons the interactions, not only between men and women, but also the normal interactions between men. To put it differently, when I walk the streets at night, I feel some anxiety when I see a man/group of men — but not when I see a woman/group of women. That might be a personal problem, but I do not think that it is that rare. Society sends very strong signals that men are possible threats. And yes, while I am a man, I have also experienced violence and harassment by other men. It happens (in some forms actually much more frequently to men than to women).

That fear would be okay and even useful if it really were a problem. But while more men commit assaults, it is a very small minority of men. The view that men are the problem as a group is wrong, and that begs the question why Elevator Girl as a self-proclaimed skeptic did not start the conversation this way: Why do (many) women and (probably some) men feel uncomfortable when they hear a man walking behind them? When they are ‘trapped’ with an unknown man in a small, confined space? Why do we ignore the data and make a whole biological demographic responsible and not the small subgroup of really screwed up criminals or sociopaths?

I mean, it’s easy to be skeptical about something you don’t believe in. But noticing the sexism in our everyday life, noticing that many men and women are positively and negatively discriminated by men and women? Noticing one’s own biases — that’s where things get interesting. And I guess that these biases are prevalent also among skeptics, women and men.

Instead the discussion started and went on with the one-sided narrative of ‘all men harass (and they don’t even know it and we have to indoctri… aehm, educate them)’ or even ‘all men are (potential) rapist’. By criticizing men this way and continuing to trying to justify herself, elevator girl rang a bell she cannot unring — and I suspect she does not want to unring it. Not only because of ‘attention due to assumed personal victimhood’, combined with assumed ‘moral superiority’. Attention and a feeling of superiority are nice to have and much easier to achieve this way than through the hard work of thinking critically. Not to mention that after a certain point there is really no way to stop it unless you are willing to lose face big time. And risk the scorn not only by falsely accused, but also by your former allies who want to ride ‘the cause’ and are absolutely willing to bury you beneath it if you stop. To put an end to it after it went rolling — that demands not only insight but a strength of character that is extremely rare.

But it’s not only elevator girl who profits. This ideological version of feminism (e.g., rights without responsibilities/accountability/fairness) itself profits by it. For any ideology, a strong, organized movement of skeptics is a threat. If you apply skepticism to that kind of feminism — it just tears it to shreds. That kind of feminism has used dogma, and misrepresented the data, for far too long — it’s like a religion this way. Or rather, even worse than a religion. If criticizing religion is shooting cows with a high-powered rifle and a scope, criticizing that kind of feminism is doing the same with a grenade launcher. There is no save escape by an appeal to faith, or by referring to a god. And what’s worse, the former sheep of the fold pack an even harder punch. You can discount men (“they want their positions of power back — and they are evil”), and you can discount a handful of women who publicly criticize feminism (“Stockholm syndrom” or even — gasp — “Quisling” might come to mind). But if a large portion of women publicly criticize your brand of feminism you’re gonna have a problem if you claim to fight for them.

And it seems that that was happening before: A growing number of women became involved with skepticism/atheism. Given that critical thinking has an epistemic quality (people who learn to think critically quickly begin to think critically about a lot of things), it could have ended up with a lot of women skillfully criticizing feminism.

So, from a certain viewpoint it makes sense to attack and discredit skepticism via an preemptive strike. To infiltrate it first and then explode it from within. It seems to have brought down the number of women in the atheist/skeptic community. I guess it makes the interactions awkward — when frank conversations and honest criticism is what is needed to think critically. It distracts from the relevant issues. It might even bring down the whole movement by combining it with a dogma, the very anathema of skepticism and atheism. How can you balance thinking skeptically/critically in one area but not in another? Criticize religion and pseudoscience, yet accept a certain feminist ideology as gospel? How can you live with such a strain, such a cognitive dissonance?

But hey, some men might even like it, given that a religion like Christianity runs partly on guilt (sin, atonement) — so that branch of feminism with it’s ‘all men are evil theme’ fits right in. Feel guilty just for being alive (as a man). And the atheist finds new faith in the next ‘religion’ that pushes him down — where it’s familiar and the world is ‘known’.

I don’t think it was planned this way, but I would not be surprised if some people would regard this as an serendipitous development. After all, the biggest threat to feminism are people, and especially women, who are able to think skeptically and apply their critical thinking skills to feminism itself. And organized skeptics are a big threat for any ideology (if organizing them even without these disturbances weren’t already like herding cats).

To end on a positive note, I think that skepticism/atheism will survive. The ones outside of movements and conferences will likely ignore it (or miss it). Movements itself might take a hit, it might even split or destroy some groups, but thinking critically is inherent in too many skeptics/atheists. People are already dismantling the attacks and the dogma. In the end, it brought the ugly side of that version of feminism onto the radar of the skeptics and made it one more topic to think critically about. What began as a vile poison that did and does much damage might end up as a painful inoculation.

The thing many of these feminists have yet to learn is that many skeptics/atheists, men and women, might be hit or fooled once or twice, but they can also deal with it — deal with criticism and attacks, dismantle them, examine their merit, learn from them, and become better in the long run.
*snap*

Hmm, in any case an interesting topic to think about … esp. to think critically about.

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Why blog?

Continuing yesterdays posting — why would anyone blog? Or anyone read? Sometimes I’m reminded of this comic here:

xkcd comic by Randall Munroe

Who cares if someone is wrong? Is that really what anyone posts for? To change minds? And will anyone really change his or her mind when reading a blog posting?

Perhaps some will.

Not the extremists, not people who have invested months or years into one position. When they change their minds, it’s often … unexpected and quite violent. Realizing one has wasted years in a cause — be it religious, political, or social (or anything else) — and then realizing that one was mislead or not told the whole truth … it can provoke some fits of anger and resentment. Just ask any ex-Christian who has found out that the work of God pays off more the servants on this world than the lord of the next. But that wont be triggered by a few blog posts.

Not the uninterested either. This posting is already getting too long for anyone who is not really interested to read.

But the middle ground — the ones who should be the target in any debate — they might actually find a few interesting ideas in postings. They are interested enough to listen, yet not so entrenched in a position that they ignore anything that runs counter to their preconceived ideas.

And there is another benefit of blogging — listening to yourself. As Paul Graham once wrote in “The Age of the Essay”:

Expressing ideas helps to form them. Indeed, helps is far too weak a word. Most of what ends up in my essays I only thought of when I sat down to write them. That’s why I write them.

In the things you write in school you are, in theory, merely explaining yourself to the reader. In a real essay you’re writing for yourself. You’re thinking out loud.

Paul Graham – The Age of the Essay

And that’s a good reason to write — I think.

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Once more unto the breach …

I’m not a 100% sure what I want to do with this blog … only that there are some ideas that I do not want to connect with my other online profiles — yet.

Yup, the NSA could draw the connection in a few seconds, Google (as the corporate equivalent) as well, and so also WordPress when the track the IP. No to mention that the way I write is pretty idiosyncratic — I’m guessing a five minutes search with Google would work as well.

But why would anyone care — yet.

This said, once more unto the breach, dear friends …

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