Saturday, June 14, 2003

As you may gather, I am apparently a skeptic about most things. I could refer you to Michael Shermer's site at

or his book, Why People Believe Weird Things. It would all relate to why Richard Dawkins thinks of religions as mind viruses (dangerous memes).

If it will amuse you, look at his savaging of the numerology of The Bible Code, in the latest Scientific American.

Thriil! as David Thomas searches through the book Bible Code II, and uncovers this secret sentence: "the Bible code is a silly, dumb, fake, false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax" using their own techniques!

At the last gasp, however, some of the extreme skeptics are as badly fanatic as the True Believers (Some of the guys at PSICOP spring to mind). It's not that I don't agree with The Amazing Randi, and Martin Gardner (that we delude ourselves a lot of the time) it's just that they don't seem to find that fascinating in itself! I really do think we have to leave a gap for stuff we don't know for sure. Hence my liking for Robert Anton Wilson.

I am also reading a book called Straw Dogs, which not only argues (as I argue) that Western Christian culture has caused terrible problems by believing humans are a 'special creation' separate from the rest of Nature, but points out how the same arrogant belief has been smuggled back in by 'humanists' who still seem to be saying that humans are somehow 'special' and superior to the rest of Life. A dangerous belief when you are entirely dependent on a Vast Active Living Intelligent System like Gaia.

I found myself defending the sociobiological position (hated as a right-wing tendency by socialist and feminist friends alike - they fear more social Darwinism and Eugenics) just because I feel embedded in a continuum of living beings, and I think people are in denial if they try to pretend that we are not descended from animals...and that we carry all sorts of leftover traces of those origins.

I agree we shouldn't base social policies on 'Men are aggressive, women are submissive' and other such crass simplifications, but it also seems obviously true to me that men can not be sure they are the father, whereas mothers can be sure it is their child, and that this reality might affect their mating behaviour as it does every other animal. That women can only have (say) 20 children, but that males could (in theory) have hundreds. That a lot of cultural patterns seem to have evolved around suspicion and control of the female, and reckless 'spreading of seed' by males. I know we CAN override some of our 'animalistic' motives (with our 'superior' brains) but to deny that they exist at all, and claim we are all born exactly equal, and that all differences come from differences in Nurture seems like a deep evasion to me.

It just seems weird to me to ignore modern biological studies and retreat into some empty claim that humans are the only conscious beings, that we are the only intelligent ones, the only ones who feel pain, etc.

That degree of separation seems scary and dangerous, to me.

Call me an animist, pantheist, taoist, what you will...

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