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Author: Briggs

February 24, 2018 | 2 Comments

Insanity & Doom Update XXIII

Item Cuckolding can be positive for some couples, study says

In our current political climate, the term “cuck” — short for “cuckservative” — has become an insult of the so-called alt-right, aimed at men they view as spineless and emasculated. The slur has its roots in the concept of cuckolding, or having an adulterous partner.

But, according to a recent study by David Ley, Justin Lehmiller and the writer Dan Savage, acting on cuckolding fantasies can be a largely positive experience for many couples, and hardly a sign of weakness.

Did somebody say Dan Savage? They did. Here is an excerpt from the abstract of the peer-reviewed paper “The Psychology of Gay Men’s Cuckolding Fantasies” on which the CNN story is based.

Cuckolding (also known as troilism) is a sexual interest in which one obtains sexual arousal from the experience of a romantic partner engaging in sexual activity with someone else. The present study investigated fantasies about and experiences with cuckolding in a large and diverse sample of predominately gay-identified men (N = 580).

Enough.

Item Religion’s Psychological Effects on Non-Believers

In New Zealand, Australia and many other countries, it’s hard to escape Christmas in December.

But even if you don’t believe in Christ or a God, religion can still be a powerful force. Research shows that even nonreligious people may hold unconscious beliefs linked to religion that can affect their psychology…

A study in Finland explored how religious and non-religious people responded to the idea of God.

The researchers used electrodes to measure how much sweat people produced while reading statements like “I dare God to make my parents drown” or “I dare God to make me die of cancer”. Unexpectedly, when nonbelievers read the statements, they produced as much sweat as believers — suggesting they were equally anxious about the consequences of their dares.

Wee p-value alert.

Item India Willoughby: Is it discriminatory to refuse to date a trans woman?

The argument started on UK reality television show Celebrity Big Brother, where minor celebrities are locked into a studio made to look like a house, then filmed 24/7.

As might be expected in such a situation, tensions run high and conversations can be fractious. One of the housemates is India Willoughby, a TV journalist who had an established career as a man before transitioning to become a woman.

Willoughby asked her housemates about their dating preferences, and the resulting conversation kicked off a social media storm

“The majority of straight men are worried about what society thinks of them if they date a trans woman,” she says. “Toxic masculinity makes them violent and rude about their attraction. When you don’t fancy someone you should talk about their characteristics. It’s not as black and white as many people think it is because whether you are attracted to someone or not is about being attracted to a fellow human being.”

Given that a “trans woman” is a man, and a man wants to date women, then yes. It is discriminatory. Not all discrimination is bad. This is good, quality discrimination. Long may it live.

February 23, 2018 | 5 Comments

The Deepest State — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

I’d like to propose an analogy. But first, the groundwork. Let’s say you believe (but can’t prove) that there is such a thing as ‘The Deep State‘. Your friend, who is equally unable to disprove this belief, equally disbelieves this thought.

Suppose you have a government that says one thing, yet seems to be intent on delivering its opposite. Thus, you must believe that either it is composed of idiots, or of liars. For whatever reason. And yes, there can be (and always is) lots of middling ground between. But overall, let’s take the extreme case. Why? Because today, most cases are extreme.

Here’s an example. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That ring a bell? We have a government that will seemingly go to every extreme to protect an obvious malefactor (say, a convicted serial-killer), yet willingly allows the execution of the innocent. The truly innocent. Those who have committed no earthly crime. The living but as-yet unborn.

Now think of an assembly line. At the beginning of the line there is an open slot. It looks empty, even as the line begins to move. Yet the owner of the factory has already assigned a name to that slot. And a Vehicle ID#. He already knows what he intends to build, what it will look like, what it will cost, and what he will call it. He knows the value he places on that seemingly empty slot. A value higher than the sum of the intended parts.

The owner built that assembly line in order to build that car, and many others. So, there is already a sunk cost associated with that ’empty’ slot. In other words, that slot is not really empty. And the car already exists, at least in the mind of the owner. He has already put his money where his mind is, by building the line. But only when that very first visible part is inserted upon the line can we bystanders begin to sensibly perceive what the owner already knew.

So who is right about the reality of the existence of that car in the thirty seconds before that first visible part was placed upon the line? The owner, or the person who can’t believe anything that he can’t see?

Someone can come along and interrupt the process. They can prevent the final construction of that particular car. And if they do, what have they destroyed—a car, or an amalgamation of parts that can’t possibly be driven at the moment of interruption?

I argue a car has been destroyed. After all, the thing destroyed didn’t belong to the destroyer, so why should he be allowed to define what he has destroyed? Surely the owner should be the one to place the value upon his own work. Yes, he should have to show that he has a rational basis for his belief. But just as surely, the destroyed parts and labor expended to date are not the only costs. The true cost is much larger, and must equal the cost of the final product, for there will be more costs associated with the process of obtaining justice. The cost to break even on this loss will often exceed the final value of the originally intended car. Anyone who has dealt with the legal system will understand this. Or with the insurance industry and its representatives. You’re never made wholly whole in the event of a loss, whether accidental or intended.

Back to the Deep State. Why do we have this mechanism, the Visible State, if it is not for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a functional society? A mechanism that delivers visible results through a visibly understandable process. Hopefully it will deliver a society that values mercy as well as justice. Mercy is deliverance from the dictates of a law that was broken. But mercy must be predicated upon law. Otherwise, it’s simply amnesty. Without law, there can be no mercy. Only error. Or terror.

I hear the first objection already! What if the owner was the one who terminated the production of that car? How can he be guilty of a crime against himself? Indeed, how so? But is the person you have in mind really the owner? Or just the assembly-line worker? Because in the real example, the unborn, there is an ingredient that must be accounted for, but which, like the owner, is totally invisible: the life-force. Anyone can assemble lifeless material in a physical world and even endow it with the power (but not the motive) to self-move. But someone, even in this example, has to be the prime mover of this lifeless pile of metal. Your car doesn’t start itself. Your car doesn’t yearn to be alive, and it never will.

Obviously, we have to decide who owns us? Our Prime-moving Maker, or our physical factory-worker parents? We know which way the State has decided. In fact, it says only one of our factory-worker parents gets the right to destroy what they feel is their own work. These workers (today) have no thought about who gave them the parts to assemble, let alone gave them their own place within the factory. Is this place called Earth just a random jumble of people and parts, or is it an organized entity that belongs to someone other than us? Can we even posit such a term as ‘us’ in such a fragmented world? There is no ‘we’, there’s only me.

There’s the rub. Those who believe there is (or should be) an organized and rationally operating entity can’t point to a visible owner. But those who don’t believe there is an owner (because they also can’t see him) are equally convinced that there is something else that no one can see. The life-force. Show me a pound of it, please. Or a quart. Or a piece of it. Or any measure you like.

Those who disbelieve in the idea of the cosmic owner, based on their unmet empirical demands, but believe in the unmeasurable life-force, are simply trying to have it both ways.

Using this rubbery logic, anyone can (and many do) assume that either they are the owner (at least in some small part) or that there is no owner whatsoever. In which case, anything goes. But that leads me to ask, if there never was an actual true owner, how did this concept of ownership arise? Who would have thought of it? Yes, I know, all you socialists believe some clever capitalist conned a bunch of idiot workers into trading their time for paper. But seriously, how did the social beginnings of organized physical social life (including work) begin if there was not some pattern, some form, for mankind to follow as he built out his communal environment?

I just don’t see the proverbial cave-man thinking very much about the concept of anything other than how to spear some dinner. And how to keep his spear from his fellow cave-man. How did he ever dream up that spear? When did he ever get the time to think of higher things? How did he ever get out of that cave? What is it that convinced him to cooperate with anyone? How did he convince them? And if you say it was by force, then how did our fairly-cooperative society of today grow out of that benighted past?

We’re now at the mark. The mark where we say things begin, and end. Either cave-men built the Pyramids and went to the moon all on his own, or he had some help. And if he had some help, who helped? And when?

I do not disbelieve the Law of Entropy. But neither do I believe that we are living in an enclosed system where Entropy is King. Something else must have happened. Something that would produce a rational result. The result that we can all see and feel in our daily lives. Meteors don’t count as rational actors. Yet if something rational happened, why would it not be at the beginning? Why would some unseen-yet-real factory owner wait through some interminable billions of years to get to work? That’s not very capitalistic, or even socialistic. Nor would it be very intelligent. And factory owners are not stupid, regardless of how you view them.

You can argue, weakly, that those billions of years somehow simply happened, and that throughout the last few relative ‘moments’ of that immense span of Sagan-time some individual cave-man decided to forgo immediate survival in favor of the whole of cave-kind. And you can then further argue (even more weakly) that there were enough like-minded cave dwellers who supported this relative genius, and that they were willing to subjugate themselves to his cooperative dreams of joint effort. And of course, that they all had the time to do this. And that their wives approved of this idea.

Mankind has the innate intelligence to accomplish all that recorded history has told us. And he equally has the basest instincts that inform us of the incredible atrocities he has committed in these same annals. Given this, and given the assumption (that I do not share) that man began his trek in some primitive environment that leaves little if no time for wonder (of anything), with no supporting social structure beyond his family (if indeed families as we know them existed), how in the Hell did he survive taking that first tentative step towards social organization?

We’re not dealing with billions of Sagan-Years now, even if we buy Carl’s fable. No, we’re now at the end of his narrative, and all of it had to happen in a relative flash of time. At least, if you want to explain things like the rise of the Pyramids, etc. in such a short time. How did all of this take place in such a short span? What was the catalyst that allowed such a leap of achievement for such primitive men? Please tell me, I’m anxious to know.

Before you object, let me relate what my father once told me. He was the managing partner of one of the largest engineering firms in the world. He’d travelled everywhere and seen everything. One day, while arguing with me (as I delusionally defended the modernity fable) he pulled out his little Swiss pocket knife and unfolded the smallest blade.

He told me that when he visited the Pyramids, he was unable to fit this tiniest of blades between the megaliths, due to their incredibly fine surface precision, and the minimality of the mortar. He said that even with unlimited resources, mankind today could not duplicate this ancient wonder. Even if there was unlimited manpower (which even Pharaoh didn’t have), even if there was the most advanced precision laser-tooling available (which again, Pharaoh didn’t have), even if the stone source was nearby (which it wasn’t), and even if there was no further purpose than funerary memorialization (which we now know isn’t true, as the location and positioning of the Pyramids becomes astronomically clearer). No, these monuments are not reproducible today, either physically or intellectually. Nor politically, nor economically. And certainly not religiously, as mankind has fragmented into a thousand different beliefs.

Wait a minute. Did I just say a thousand different beliefs? How stupid of me! There are only two real beliefs, actually. Either you eat The God, or the gods eat you. That’s right. It’s one or the other. Either you believe that there is one unifying source of intelligence, or that there are thousands. And those thousands are all opposed to one another, generally, but more specifically, to the One. And now we’re back to the beginning of things. Either there was one man (and one source of enlightenment) or there were many men, with no source of enlightenment.

Either there is a friendly source of injecting outside energy and intelligence into the closed universe to counteract the Law of Entropy, or there is not. Go ahead, fall back on your multiverse theory. It’s still the same equation in each iteration, on to infinity. Cave-men plus zero simply equals cave-men. Which equals zero, again.

So just where is this factory owner I’m talking about? Where is He? Why doesn’t He just show Himself and get it over with? Where would that lead us? Why won’t He descend from wherever and announce that He exists, and that we’d best believe it? What would that produce?

I’ll tell you what it would do. It would put the end of the story at the beginning. ‘Happily ever after’ would come before the tale itself. How stupid is that? That’s not the purpose of a story. A story is told so that we may begin to gradually see the intricacy of the meaning woven into the tale. A meaning that transcends the characters involved. A meaning meant to enlighten us as to a larger truth that transcends our individual being. A truth that points towards that which will bring us closer to the truth. A truth that is so large and astounding that we cannot comprehend it all, let alone all at once. Were we to experience it all at once, we would simply explode, in wonder. Literally. Gradual revealment has its benefits.

This, of course, is the whole point of angels, good and bad. They are the intermediaries between the Infinite and the finite. (Not that Evil is infinite. But like all knock-off goods, they have to pretend to have the same attributes of the One whom they counterfeit.) Anyway, each side in this battle seeks the allegiance of men to use as intermediaries to converse with the factory workers. Think of them as Management, and their counterparts, the Laborite agitators. Each side seeks to control the factory floor. But only one side is committed to the concept of Free Will. The other is committed to winning at any cost. And that cost is to be paid by us. To mirror the cost they paid in that third instant of time, when they refused to obey. Ask Mary of Agreda about that moment.

We are close to understanding the Deep State. Why? Because now we can understand The Deepest State. The word Deep has many meanings. But the one we must not forget is the physical meaning. Where would the Deepest State be located? Just short of 4,000 miles away from you, and me. And everyone on Earth. 4,000 miles straight down. Right at the center of the Earth. Which, if you are a geocentric believer, would put you at the absolute center of the universe. Which, of course, is where the Errant One wishes to be. At the center of everything. At the center of you.

Ignore all that molten metal, Komrade. And that lava above it, waiting to erupt whenever the tectonic plates shift. Pay no attention to all those writhing souls and those dark beings tormenting them. It’s all about location in real estate, right? What a great view! Everything is equidistant. So easily accessible on your daily commute! But why go anywhere? Stay here and look at me, the Bearer of Light! Aren’t I beautiful? Aren’t I worth beholding? Forever?

Aren’t my minions as equally brilliant as His? Don’t they bring my messages to you, just like His? And aren’t I as seemingly equidistant and un-seeable as Him? So why should He get to enslave you to provide the labor for His factory floor? That’s what it is, you know. Slavery. So, rise up, throw off your chains! Workers of the World, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Join me in my rebellion, and taste true freedom! Come to my kingdom, I will give you sanctuary. But oh, by the way, there’s no free lunch. You will need to work, for me. But I guarantee full employment. You will never be laid off. Ever! And the benefits are astounding. No rent. No utilities. No taxes! And remember this: you will never have to worship anyone as God. Not even me. Aren’t I great? Would you like to kneel before me?

There’s the analogy, my friend. The Deep State of mankind’s Earthly governance (regardless of which national entity you reside in), is simply analogous to the existence of The Deepest State. The state of Hell. The state where all men are willingly captive to their worst inclinations. Where every evil man is willing to make his Faustian bargain in order to maintain his place in the proud hierarchy of the ruling elite.

Since the exercise of political power always has the strongest allure to the prideful, why wouldn’t our government be full of men attracted to trading ethical righteousness for egocentric riches? So, the bigger the State, the deeper it’s depth, morally speaking. And thus, the closer it is to Hell.

What better argument for shrinking the size of government?

February 22, 2018 | 4 Comments

Scientists Prove There Is Life After Death?

Headline: “British And German Scientists Prove There Is Life After Death.” Thanks to reader Mark Charters for discovering the study.

British and German scientists have confirmed there is some form of life after death. The astonishing conclusion is based on the results of two separate European studies using a new type of medically supervised near-death experience that allows patients to be “clinically dead” for almost 20 minutes before being brought back to life.

In the British study — a large scale research project involving more than 2,000 people — scientists confirmed that consciousness does carry on after the heart stops. It had been believed the brain stopped all activity 30 seconds after the heart had stopped pumping blood around the body, and that with that, awareness ceases too.

But the shock research from the University of Southampton proved “clinically dead” people continue having thoughts — and also uncovered the most convincing scientific evidence yet that “out of body” experiences are real.

The study is from the peer-reviewed paper “AWARE—AWAreness during REsuscitation—A prospective study“, in the journal Resuscitation by Sam Parnia and a boatload of others. The study details are these:

Cardiac arrest (CA) survivors experience cognitive deficits including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is unclear whether these are related to cognitive/mental experiences and awareness during CPR…

The outcome measures were (1) awareness/memories during CA and (2) objective verification of claims of awareness using specific tests…

Results
Among 2060 CA events, 140 survivors completed stage 1 interviews, while 101 of 140 patients completed stage 2 interviews. 46% had memories with 7 major cognitive themes: fear; animals/plants; bright light; violence/persecution; deja-vu; family; recalling events post-CA and 9% had NDEs, while 2% described awareness with explicit recall of ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ actual events related to their resuscitation. One had a verifiable period of conscious awareness during which time cerebral function was not expected.

Not resisting the urge to quote Princess Bride, there is an infinite distance between mostly dead and dead. In math, this would be a number greater than zero and zero. Barring miracles, there is no coming back to life from dead, but as technology improves there is a chance of regaining consciousness after being only mostly dead.

That there is no coming back from dead, save miracles, might be best explained in an abstract to another paper by JT Eberl in Bioethics, “A Thomistic understanding of human death” (I added paragraphifications for readability).

I investigate Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysical account of human death, which is defined in terms of a rational soul separating from its material body. The question at hand concerns what criterion best determines when this separation occurs. Aquinas argues that a body has a rational soul only insofar as it is properly organised to support the soul’s vegetative, sensitive, and rational capacities.

According the ‘higher-brain’ concept of death, when a body can no longer provide the biological foundation necessary for the operation of conscious rational thought and volition, a substantial change occurs in which the rational soul departs and the body left behind is a ‘humanoid animal’ or a mere ‘vegetable.’ I argue that the separation of soul and body does not occur until the body ceases to function as a unified, integrated organism. A rational soul is not only the seat of a human being’s rational capacities; it is also the principle of the body’s sensitive and vegetative capacities.

Since Aquinas defines a human being as a composite of soul and body, and not with merely the exercise of rational capacities, the determination of death requires incontrovertible evidence that the body has ceased all the operations that correspond to the soul’s proper capacities. The evidence of this is the body’s loss of its integrative organic unity and the criterion for determining when this loss occurs is the irreversible cessation of whole-brain functioning.

So there you are. Mostly dead is not dead. This of course does not mean “near-death experiences” are not real. They appear to be not terribly uncommon, if this study is right. Something is happening to the body as it brushes up against The End. That some of these experiences are remembered, in some vague sense, shouldn’t be surprising.

The causes of these experiences are ripe subject for study. Doubtless many, probably even most, are caused by bodily processes, in some form or other. But that does not mean all experiences are strictly body-caused. Meaning the obvious: some might be the intellect making contact with immaterial entities.

How to tell the difference, since the brain’s operations are correlated with intellectual awareness, is not likely to be solved soon. Or any time.

February 21, 2018 | 15 Comments

Science Is Not The Most Important Subject

Stream: Science Is Not The Most Important Subject

What’s with all the kowtowing to science among religious folks?

As soon as a scientist, or science cheerleader, starts talking about the “unbridgeable” divide between religion and science, a Christian apologist trots out and pleads “There is no contradiction between science and Christianity.”

Well, there isn’t. But the Christian has the wrong attitude. There is no need of meek acceptance of science’s superior ground. Science does not hold the hill. It is down in the valley boasting big. Christians need to recognize this. When a scientist starts waving his slide rule around in a menacing manner, the Christian should say What is wrong with you people?

The Limitations of Science

Science is terrific. But isn’t everything. It isn’t even most things. Knowing the weight of a neutrino won’t tell you why stealing is a sin. Neither can positing some mathematical formula for altruism and selfish genes tell you why men cooperate. All arguments along this line are circular or invalid, anyway. They either assume what they want to know, like that rape is wrong. Or they assume that alone among men, the scientist has escaped the pull of his biology and can tell you how things really are.

Look. Figuring how to create a magnetic monopole won’t get you into Heaven. It won’t keep you out, either. So why are scientists so combative about religion?

The suspicion—more like the raw, rabid hope—of some scientists is that a culture which embraces science will eschew religion. Science will allow humanity to leave its infancy behind and lead it to a bright, happy future where everybody goes around chatting about the reproductive habits of newts.

But not discussing why it’s right wrong to kill yourself. Scientists figure they can handle those tough questions themselves, and then tell the rest of us their “discovery.” This is a vain hope.

The Unmeasurable Cannot Be Measured

Science can speak only about the measurable properties of things. That’s it. Nothing more. About elementary fermions science is teeming with a lot o’ news. It has many cheerful facts about your brainwaves when you take a snooze.

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You can click here and observe the words at the link, but science will never tell you why they are important.