I propose a bigger tent, not surrendering the atheist tent, but to make it but one wing of a larger movement: Universal Freethought. Universal Freethought is being radically smart. Its being smart enough to make art or music, smart enough to be well read. Smart enough to have a body of intellectual work under your belt, even if that work is online or self-published. The world is dominated by the stupidity of people’s psychological inertia, largely shaped by commercial marketing. People who are smart enough to think and think hard need to have a common cause. Universal Freethought is the values of the academy carried beyond the ivory tower and into the general public dialogue. In fact, in many cases intellectuals owe the success of their discoveries as Universal Freethinkers shape these ideas into something that is attractive for a larger audience, who is busy living life and does not have reading the dry academic text of your field anywhere on their “to do” list.
Universal Freethought is the values of the academy carried beyond the ivory tower and into the general public dialogue. In fact, in many cases intellectuals owe the success of their discoveries as Universal Freethinkers shape these ideas into something that is attractive for a larger audience, who is busy living life and does not have reading the dry academic text of your field anywhere on their “to do” list.
It has been a long time since I have posted here. I am still denying the holy spirit. But I am also a lot more chill about it.
I think a lot of horrible things come from religion, and I also think that it is worth criticizing religion on its face as an act to promote free inquiry. I think religious influence in politics should be resisted as a matter of civic duty.
But I also think that there are things about how we are hardwired that make religion, and all other sorts of woo appealing to most of us. As evidenced by the fact that most people are either religious or subscribe to some kind of woo.
For me the million dollar question is why?
I agree with Sam Harris, Dawkins, Dennet, and Hitchens on pretty much everything they have written. But I also think if we really want to effectively deal with religion thinking people just buy into it because they are dumb is not a particularly good strategy.
Why? What does religion give people?
I think I have found a lot of parallels in art, which is really where I am at as an atheist.
I think a lot of what people are getting out of religion (and other woo) they should be getting out of art. I am defining art loosely here (theater, music, writing, etc.).
The questions people ask from their religions are better asked of science. That is a big part of it too. And I think atheists are doing a good job of that, constantly debating creationists and what not.
So here is another post in my series on personal finance.
A brief recap (and to my non-myspace readers, this is the first time you're hearing this) I will be writing about personal finance, my own life, and science in that order each blog.
At least until I flake out on that plan.
But I plan on doing it this way for a while.
I have become obsessed with my personal finance, I love writing autobiographically, and I also want to write more about science (since that is what I've been working on doing for a living for the last 3.5 years).
But this is one on finance for the cycle.
Well, its because I'm writing from where I am.
I would love to write about Roth IRAs and 401Ks and mutual funds and money market accounts, but those are concerns for people who have money.
Allow me to emphasize now, just so no one misunderstands, the point is to get to a position where Roth IRAs, 401Ks , mutual funds, etc. are my primary concern because I have become so good at saving money that the time has come to invest it.
Thats right, science studies sex. In fact it is one of the greatest reasons that I can give for science being a part of everyone's life, and for everyone taking an active interest in science.
The science of fucking.
I like the phrase "science of fucking."
I know from the experience of my podcast that this phrase drives people crazy, when I say things like "evolution is the science of fucking" people who are freethinking atheists will have their inner puritan take over and cause them to scream about asexual evolution.
Indeed, most reproduction is asexual. But how can you compare that in the minds of most of us to sex. To good ol fashion penis/vagina, genital/mouth, genital/anal sex!
When we really like something we call it "better than sex" as if sex where the bar for all pleasure. It is.
It should be.
Yet, due to religious codes and dualistic philosophies we as a species have spent the last few millenia treating sex as though it were a source of impurity, uncleaness, something not fitting for polite comany.
In the 1800s there were some important stabs at the science of sex. Most famously is Sigmund Freud, who I revere not for any discoveries (most of his theories have been disproven) but for daring to ask the questions that he asked.
The Punk Years: IntroductionThe Punk Years: Introduction
I have used my background as a punk rocker often in my writing to accentuate my belief that I have my finger on the pulse of American culture. I have decided that the time has come to clarify this.
First of all I am using the term punk very loosely. I am not using it as a genre of music, which it is, but rather as a word defining the sub/counter-culture which flocks around this genre of music. I am also in the camp that accepts "punk" as applied situationism. Situationism is an ethical system that states that all ethical choices are contingent and variably justifiable based on the situation. Most punks who know this term (and most don't)deny that punk is a situationist school of thought. This is because most punks are anti-intellectual.
What I learned from "Debt Control" by: Chris J. Richards:
Chris J. Richards is a guy who teaches self-help courses in financial management.
The book in question was written in 1999, and if he is a CPA it is not said in his biography. Chris J. Richards also seems to not exist on the internet. All of these are bad signs, and reasons to take this book with a grain of salt.
I thought Chris J. Richards must be a CPA because he gives so many anecdotes of people he counsiled out of debt, but they must have been people in his classes. Me thinking he was a CPA when I checked the book out from the library is probably by design, so kudos to Richards for good marketing. Unfortunately when you fool a skeptic, he tells everybody!
"Debt Control" is the second book I have read about money, mostly because I was intoxicated on Dave Ramsey, who is awesome!
In addition to all the books I'm reading I'm also listening to about 8 podcasts on money on a weekly to daily basis. So what I will emphasize in Richards' book is stuff that I have heard or read from other financial advisors. Where Richards unique, due to his lack of credentials, I will assume he is simply full of shit.
I learned 3 things from this book, I learned about debt negotiation, chapter 7 bankruptcy and chapter 13 bankruptcy. Another interesting parallel between Richards and the others is his attitude towards credit cards.
What I Have Learned From Dave Ramsey:
So let me get my feelings about Dave Ramsey right on the table. First, I don't agree with everything he says, and with me, he had the cards stacked against him. I believe that almost all self-help books are scams, and that anyone who believes in a literal interpretation of scripture loses 10 IQ points in my mind.
Ramsey lost those 10 IQ points in my eyes, and still came out with a well above average IQ.
Ramsey has a simple approach, spend less than you make, save what you don't spend, and get the hell out of debt. Oh, did I mention that his approach involves you getting out of debt? Dave Ramsey has an unquenshible thirst for getting rid of debt.
Dave Ramsey's popularity is based on people needing to, and using his system, to get out of debt.
According to Ramsey debt is public enemy 1.
I started my inquiry into money with Ramsey, because I used to be a fundamentalist christian punk-rocker, and remembered his popularity among my peers.
Perhaps this is "As a dog returns to his own vomit, a fool returns to his folly," according to book of Proverbs in the bible, but I am glad I did it.
Ramsey had some religious hogwash in most of his chapters, but it was easily ignored.
Money is the #1 cause of divorce in America.
Most of us are in debt.
Most of us have inadequate savings, or no savings at all.
So whats up with all this?
I can’t speak for anyone but myself at this point in my inquiry, but in my case its simple I just never thought much about it.
When I tried to talk to my friend Joe about his Student Loan debt, his response to me was “I just don’t care about money.”
This would have been my response as well.
Then my marriage started having problems because of my “uncaring” approach to money.
My internet friend “That Writer Chick” sent me an email stating that basically the whole system is corrupt, there is no way out of debt, and luckily Ron Paul is here to fight the good fight.
I can’t stand Ron Paul, but that is another story.
“That Writer Chick” also said that I need to break free from my dependence on mainstream media.
That may be true.
But “That Writer Chick” suggests that instead of the mainstream media I go to the likes of Ron Paul and his friends for my information.
I don’t like Ron Paul, but I can give an explanation of why I think that my sources are useful.
My dad killed himself over money, and I have since concluded that it's not that big of a deal. Debt is an imaginary number. For example, when I walked into the emergency room and they turned me away because I didn't have insurance, then sent me $1,000 bill for the evaluation, all I could do was laugh. I don't have $1,000 and I don't feel bad for not paying when it's obviously an arbitrary debt for no good reason at all.
I am sorry to hear about your dad. Money can be terrifying, and I realize that your main point is not to make money the center point of life. Indeed. But money is a part of life, and a huge one, no matter how you slice it.
I think if you call the Hospital and are patient enough to climb the management ladder you could get that bill dismissed, or significantly reduced. I used to work at a costumer service call center, and my roomate currently does. You would be surprised how much a bill decreases if you are polite, patient, and use the phrase "I need to speak to your supervisor."
The costumer service ladder is also suggested by Chris J. Richards, in his book "Debt Control."
Student loans with MONTHLY interest of $100+ dollars when I was making $50 payments. What can I do but laugh?
I have had a personal awakening. No, I did not find Jesus, get born-again, attain Nirvana, or any other transcendental awakening. But I would wager that my resent awakening is more valuable than any transcendental experience. What has happened to me is that I have become aware of money, most acutely; I have become aware of my own money.
For most of my life I have disregarded my money as a necessary evil, with emphasis on the word evil.
I began my first job at the age of 16 as a telemarketer and was disillusioned with the whole affair before I took the time to learn to properly manage my checkbook. This disregard for money escalated to a full-blown hatred for money, which was fueled first by my religious faith, which taught me:
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
- 1 Timothy 6:10 KJV
While many Christians are avaricious as can be observed in their obsession with electing the political candidates, who are most unapologetically beholden to corporate America, there is still plenty there to justify a young man’s hatred of money.
My hatred of money later found itself well served by anarchist philosophy and activism, and later more so by my communist beliefs and activism. In essence I have hated money for 12 years.