Popular culture


I know, the title is a bit of a mouthfull, but I did not find any shorter, or more striking headline for my post.

What is the difference between religion and conspiracy theories?

Recently I have run into a number of wild and even wilder conspiracy theories. As I have previously stated, their lure lies in, that the world is actually full of conspiracies. Big and small conspiracies are made by actual people to achieve a goal. “Conspiracy theories” however, are not conspiracies. They are the products of paranoid imagination. Attempts to guess what is behind this, or that complex phenomenon. They are most often precisely nothing but, wild guesses and poor methodology at trying to examine the reality.

Many of the wildest conspiracy theories are motivated by the need people have for safety. For example the people who claim, that there actually are no nuclear weapons, or the people who claim that there is no global warming going on. Both of these groups of people have chosen to live in denial of an unnerving fact, so they do not need to fear, or do anything against a threat in front of wich they feel totally powerless. The denial springs forth from the fact that they have no means to evaluate wether the phenomenon in question is a fact, or not. (Even though they think they can.) The view on the matter is chosen intuitively by being motivated by fear and all the subsequent argumentation and attempts at rationalization are only put forth to support this presupposed position.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle nuclear blast

There are also those conspiracy theories, like the flat earth theory, or the moon landing denialism, to wich it is a bit more difficult to point out some pre-existing motivation. A nother reason why they are so popular is that they seem to provide explanation. Simply because of various reasons the theorist has come to suspect what has been told to them, they jump to a seemingly convinient alternative explanation. We humans are curious animals who want answers. Knowing about things is also a method to provide us with a sense of security. Because knowing gives us an edge to prepare ourselves. We fear nothing like we fear the unknown. Especially so, if the basic sense of security has been shaken. Wich it often is, if the person in question has poor methodology to evaluate reality. If they have been originally indoctrinated to simply rely on authority, and then it is revealed to them, that not all auhtorities are reliable, what then? What is clear, is that the people who have such misunderstanding of the reality around them, is that they have a very limited ability to evaluate the anything beyond their immidiate grasp. I see this mainly as a failure of the school system. In that the schools have traditionally taught kids what is true and what is not, much more vigorously, than how to find out what really is true and how to make the distinction.

There are of course various reasons why people believe what they do. If someone believes in the holocaust denialism, their motivations to fall for this trap are most likely political, but such political views come from a pre-existing misunderstanding of the world and history. Not to mention the methods of how history is studied, or how we know – really anything. Political views are a result of values we hold, but most people do seem to have a certain set of values because they have inherited a set of values from family and surrounding culture. Not so much since they have analytically evaluated various sets of values and chosen one by virtue of the kind of world that one tries to sell them. Even of those few who have, some have fallen for a trap of world views that sell their particular group of people some form of priviledge, instead of a world where we would all share and be equal. Most often people are taught, that such priviledges belong to them by mere birthright. Being born with a certain colour of skin, certain nationality, certain economic class and so forth. In the wide world any such group can hold on to this sort of priviledge for a while, but because it is based on nothing real, such structures are under constant change. Conservatism seems to come from the need to keep to the particular priviledge of the current generation.

How do religions differ from conspiracy “theories”? Religions are the result of ignorant people trying to guess and explain reality around them with poor methodology. You could claim, that this applies to all the other religions, exept yours, but then you should be able to explain how yours is different in this respect. Can you?

Religions often give us the guessed end result first, not unlike conspiracy “theories” and they seem to provide an explanation to the unexplained, unexplainable and the univestigated. From the history of religions we do know, however, that when we have a better explanation than the guess that there was some supernatural causation behind some extraordinary event, the supernatural explanation loses it’s significance. The question is why should we pay any attention to any supernatural explanation, because not one of them has ever been verified on any even remotely reliable level? The reason why people do this, is naturally the cultural tradition behind such a behaviour model, but it is only a part of the actual problem, wich is that people do not even know how to evaluate the truth of things beyond their immidieate grasp.

The most widespread conspiracy “theory” is creationism. Or if you please, Intelligent Design. The latter refers to a seemingly sciency version of superstitious belief, wich people mostly believe, because it supports their pre-existing belief in a divine and benevolent designer parent character. To cope with their fear of dying, wich has been extended from it’s natural form to elaborate measure by fairytales, that are virtually empty threats of eternal punishment they feel they need this parent figure, as if they were not adults at all. Do you see how the motivation for this belief is not so different from the climate change denialism, or nuclear weapons denialism? In fact, many of the people who belive one of these things also believe the other. They have the same very limited skills of evaluating reality and facing reality.

Religious beliefs like conspiracy “theories” often also come from our base values. The things we value, have been taught to value, and as such concentrate to a world view and eventually politics. Politics affect other people and the rest of the ecosystem. In my many encounters with religious people I have learned, that they are sadly often not unlike the conspiracy theorist, statistically illiterate, ignorant of history, physics, biology, geography, cosmology, and without the means, or even will to find out about the truth. They both, the conspiracy theorist and the Theist, have decided about the “truth” in their own subjective mind and are not even interrested about any objective investigation. Any “investigation” only exists for them to provide confirmation bias.

Are there no differences between conspiracy “theories” and religions? Yes there are. For example religions are by far more authoritarinistic, than the conspiracy theorists in general. The conspiracy theorist wants to reveal the truth hidden by the authoritities, while the religious person believes in some specific authority blindly and teaches the next generation, that this blind faith is a virtue. The conspiracy “theories” rather rarely include any supernatural explanation, but at least try to explain the complex reality within the limitations of observable, material reality of the universe. In that sense the average conspiracy theorist does not leap as far away from what could be verified to wild guesses about what can never be verified. It is just that their ability to investigate the reality is impeded.

There is one more major difference between religions and conspiracy “theories”. It is that because of our cultural history, religions are such a widespread cultural sets of beliefs, that no matter what science, be it about physics, biology, history, sociology, or any other field of study says, religions may not be mocked, are not mocked, as the average tin foil hattery even though in a sense they are even more removed from reality by appealing to unnatural causation.

A gender neutral marriage law was recently affirmed in the Finnish parliament. This aroused some attention and controversy. There were arguments for and against it being presented. They were much the same as in this issue around the globe where ever it has become into focus. I do not even try to repeat them all here. There are a couple of concerns I would like to address about this discussion.

“Born this way.” The question wether, or not, homosexuality is a trait a person has from birth is not and should not be brought up in the entire discussion about marriage. It is totally irrelevant. Even the question, if someone chooses, or not, to be a homosexual is irrelevant to the question of marriage. We do not really know, if people are genetically caused to be homosexuals or wether it is a trait that developes onto the person. We do know that a lot of homosexuals would choose not to be homosexuals, if they possibly could. The reason to that is, that the society around them has trouble accepting them as they are and in respect to that some of them even learn to have similar cultural reasons of having trouble of accepting themselves as they are.

The real question is not what causes homosexuality, but wether we have any actually rational and sane reasons to think it is wrong on any level. We do not. The “reasons” presented to make the claim, that there is something wrong about homosexuality are presented as follows and often the path from one claim to a nother are presented on this line of thought:

Is it a sin? Now, sin is something determined to be some sort of violation of the will of some particular gods. Freedom of religion however dictates necessarily for a peacefull and mutually respectfull society to exist, that the beliefs about the divinities, or the supernatural in general, may not decide legal processes, or be used to step on the rights of a nother individual. Not even within a religious group that has accepted one doctrine or a nother. That is, even if the Catholic church and all the victims of rape by Catholic priests thought it was not really a crime, by the secular mutual standards of the modern soceity, they still are and should be treated as such. Therefore even if the majority of religions in any given country thought, that eating shellfish or being homosexual was a sin, they could not ethically make it illegal based on that imaginary guess on what their god supposedly thought was a sin.

Because the entire issue of marriage equality has been raised mostly in secular countries (and not in the Vatican or Iran), the question wether it is a sin is irrelevant. In modern democracies religions are a private matter and sin is something you discuss privately with your particular god, if you wish, who then redeems you from it, or judges you from it. Or you do not bring this or any other subjects to your god, if you even have one in the first place. This is why the people whose dislike of something like homosexuality often is derived from religious prejudices, often move to the camp of inventing seemingly secular “reasons” to justify their feelings about the issue.

Is it unnatural? There are people who try to frame sexuality into this tight box of reproduction. They have the right to do so in the privacy of their own homes, but not force the idea on others. No doubt that this line of argumentation appeals to all sorts of simpletons, as it seems simple. However, human sexuality is far from simple. I could discuss how a lot of animal species have homosexual behaviour, but from experience I know that this tends to lead down the rabbit hole of humans not being animals. Wich strangely often leads us back to the idea of sin. No, humans are not the same animals as those other animals that also engage in homosexual behaviour. That is there just to show you, that it is natural in the sense that it happens in the nature. But wether or not any animals engaged in homosexual behaviour does not in any way address wether it is right or wrong. Animals do not drive cars, but we do not try to ban driving a car because we see it as unnatural. Sex is as much just a form of reproduction and should be as much limited to that, as human transportation is all about walking and should be limited to walking. If you do not want to run or ride a bike, fine then don’t. But do not try to make running illegal. OK?

Gods are by definition unnatural. They are not part of nature, if they even exist beyond our natural brains. Should we ban gods because they are unnatural? Everything that happens in nature is natural. Salt is natural. Polio is natural. Homosexuality is natural. The only relevant question about homosexuality regarding laws is wether it is harmfull or not and if then to what extent. The entire question wether it is unnatural is ridiculous.

Is it harmfull? People see a lot of harm done to the homosexuals by people who feel justified in disliking, or even hating them for the “reasons” they give, that I listed abowe. There are also people who have been harmed by homosexuals. This works much the same way as with racism. When people are harmed by the representative of this, or that group of people, they make the connection between the group and the deed. Despite wether or not the group identity, or what ever makes the purpetrator of the harm part of that group – even skin colour, or sexual orientation –  was actually the motive for the deed. If a homosexual rapes a child, it is not the homosexuality that caused the deed. Any more than, if a white man shoots a black man, him being white was his motive for the act. The rape of a child is the result of the rapist being a) rapist and b) pedophile not being homosexual. If the rapist was not a homosexual, he would simply have chosen his target differently. The white man shooting the black man may have been motivated by any number of reasons from theft to racism. But even if it was racism, the motive was not him being white.

As for the marriage equality, there have been a number of more, or less comic attempts to stop the change, that has now finally taken place. There is this notion, that a family unit ideally consists of a father, a mother and some children. The idea has been, that the reason why the society recognizes a marriage as a special status between two people is because they are able to reproduce and should be given social support to be better able to do this. It is a ridiculous notion, in that even if that could be proven to be some form of ideal family unit, it does not mean all families need to reach such an ideal. Especially not those families who do not find the arrangement ideal in any way. By the same token, people who can not have children should not be allowed to get married and old people whose children have grown to adulthood should divorce.

There is this claim, that there is some sort of harm done to adopted children in same sex marriages. This claim has not been confirmed in any scientific arena. But even if it could ever be proven that the children have it better in a heterosexual family than in a same sex family, that would be a moot point. It is like saying that since the rich families can better nourish the needs of their kids, than the poor ones we should ban the poor people from getting married, and/or from having children.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle aito avioliitto mielenosoitus

The picture abowe is from a “Genuine Marriage” demonstration at 24. september 2016 , that gathered almost a hundred demonstrators (wich is pretty few even in Finnish terms) in Helsinki to protest against the gender neutral marriage law. It seems they had more balloons than demonstrators.

Last but not least the most stupid argument against the gender neutral marriage must be the slippery slope argument. Wich is that if this is allowed, what next? Shall we allow polygamy, marriages with children and marriages with house pets? It shows the level of stupid from the political side that opposed the gender neutral marriage, that they themselves did not laugh at the representative who presented this ridiculous argument. Was it not the same as arguing that if we allow people to drive cars, we may have to allow people to drive tanks next? If you do not understand the difference between two consenting adults havign sex and sex with a child or an animal, never get any children or pets. As for the polygamy, where in any holy books ever does it even hint that, that was a sin? It is a separate discussion we may have in the future, but it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the gender neutral marriage law.

The reconstruction of a historical artefact is typically a project, that is easily affected by our modern cultural norms and standards. Standards, that we are often blisfully unaware of. Sadly, having such standards and norms makes us easily blind to the wider world and makes us less than objective about reality.

As my example I have chosen a silly little mistake, that I see all too often and probably (hopefully) I am the only person (or one among a very small minority) who is even irritated by such. I guess, there are far more people who get irritated even by my calling this out as a mistake and I would first like to appologize to people who might get offended by me revealing their misunderstanding. In my experience people are more likely to get agitated by their mistakes being pointed out, than they are happy, that they get a chance to repair any such mistakes they might have otherwise overlooked. Why is that?

Anyway, the waistline, especially the concept of male waistline has changed according to fashion lately, but long enough time ago for us to have become unaware of this radical change. It shows us, how what we may easily percieve as conservative, may actually be quite modern and how often we are blind to the changes in our culture. One of the most radical changes on thinking on what is proper attire for men has happened after the industrial clothing markets have totally taken over with their ready made garments. That change has really pulled the pants down for men. Up until the mid 20th century male waistline was typically considered to be at the level of the navel. At the point where the human body twists the most – largely because of this and because that is where a healthy human individual (healthy enough to do close combat with spear and shield, at least) is the most narrow, so it is only natural to tighten the belt there. Yes, men just like women are at their narrowest at the navel, not at the hips, where the waistline in western culture today is percieved and where fashionable pants today reach. But I am actually pulling far back in time when the westerners did not even use pants yet.

I have seen several attempts to recreate medieval armour and (as in my example) armour from antiquity, in wich the modern reconstructionist makes ridiculously large chest piece, to fit the armour to reach all the way down to the modern low waistline. This causes the armour to not turn with the body easily, along the shoulder line, but causes an irritating at best, restricting at worst twist because it now both hangs from the shoulders, but also rests on the hip. One person who had made this mistake, described it themselves as “chafing on their nipples”, or something to that effect.

I could post several pictures, that people themselves have published, in wich they wear a ludicurously tall chest piece, but because my point is not to shame any individual who has made a common (as is my case) mistake, I shall not. If you are interrested, and do not recognize what I am talking about, I recommend you make a search for this and I promise you shall find plenty of examples of both reconstructions fitting the mistake I call out here, and of very good reconstructions, that have not made this error.

In any case, even if my example was hypothetical and nobody had made the particular mistake I present as an example, I hope you get my meaning. Further more, I do not believe in presenting the wrong example, but presenting the right example and especially in historical research a good source material of the orginal, as the better pedagogical example.

The picture below is from a Greek vase from the antiquity and it shows us how the so called linothorax armour plate is worn. Now, one could make the mistake to think that the waistline of this armour is lower than the navel, because of how it is painted here, and that is part of the problem. Our sources are not always accurate, or so obvious to us, that they would set us straight from our own cultural assumptions and biases. Yet, if we examine the picture closely, we see that the crotch of the man in the picture is just a bit lower than where the pteruges (the flaps hanging from the edge of his chest armour) even reach. If we compare them to the width of his hand, we are perfectly justified in thinking that the pteruges must be at least two widths of hand long. Even given the fact, that the hand width is not an accurate measurement, this leaves very little for us to assume otherwise, than that the lower edge of his chest piece is at the level of his navel and it is certainly not resting on his hip. This will not only allow a greater freedom of movement and wearer comfortability. It also explains why there are only two connection points to close the armour (not only in this particular picture, but uniformly nearly all pictures of such an armour), as if the chest piece was any taller, the twisting motion at the level of the navel would open it when the wearer made any radical movements. That would hardly be very convinient in a battle?

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pteruges

Once more, this is just an example of how easily we jump to conclusions about cultural concepts foreign to us, even in seemingly trivial things. In this case the false notion of historical concept of waistline based on modern fashion, makes the armour reconstruction next to unusable and certainly paints a picture of the ancient people having been idiots for using such clumsy military gear for generations after generations. Think about how a more taboo concept may make us see a foreign culture, we come to contact today, in a completely false and twisted light. This is the very same point, where our ignorance, preassumptions and biases makes some of us see all Muslims as potential terrorists.

Now, that a lot of right wing extremists have won ground in actual governments, they have also vocalized this demand, that the media should cow down to their version of facts and reality. It appears, that they have lived in this fantasy world, where the press has no integrity at all, but it only spouts lies made up by who ever is holding the political power. But as the media who do hold integrity and/or opposing political views to theirs continues to resist their preconceptions and biases, they are annoyed at the media. They would have the media lie for them, as they percieve the media has lied for others. What nincompoops? But they rely on there being enough of other nincompoops and ignorant people in such a measure, that these supporters are unable to recognize when their leaders that the media should lie to benefit them. The supporters of such politicians only exist for their own leaders to exploit them.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle alt facts

To make matters worse, there indeed exists false media, the sort of publications – in the internet even more, than in radio, TV, or in the printed form – that makes up wild claims and downright lies to feed the preconceptions of, surprize surprize, racists, fascists, and other sort of right wing survivalist looneys, not to mention alternative medicine, regressive religious movements and what have you nonsense. People who are ill equipped to recognize scientific facts fall prey to them, and rely on such media to uphold their own bubble of imaginary safety, where they typically are victims to degenerate naïve fantasies of past glory and lost golden age rethorics. Where their fear of the change and the different are confirmed by non-scientific and made up claims. Where they get false sense of security wether it comes from angels and gods supposedly healing their ailnesses, from climate change denialism, or from them thinking they can recognize dangerous individuals on the street by mere colour of the skin. These false media publications are echoed in their limited social circkless, that remain limited, because they spout out the most abnoxious hatred and slander at anyone who might point out the weaknesses in their conspiracy theories. They provide the most black and white world views, that seem to appeal to the most ignorant individuals, and on top of that, they also provide these individual with similarly simplistic solution models, to these percieved threats.

Building walls, stopping immigration, protectionist economics, do not in in the real world even remotely address the problems to wich they are suggested as solutions by populist demagogues, who infact are not out there to solve these problems, rather just to ride the tide of discontent and fear to their own personal glory. Building wals and restricting immigration only creates more segragation, dehumanization and tension between groups of humans and as such result in more terrorism. Protectionism does not provide jobs, it cuts them down as it downgrades all economy. These are well known facts of history, but the ignoramuses who rely on such methods do not know their history. Do they?

There are and have been a lot of conspiracies in the real world. Because the conspiracy is something secret it is often hard to prove, or disprove.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle new york skyline 2000

Some of the most extreme conspiracy theories have captivated the minds of millions. Some are so ingraned to society, that they are not even discussed when examples of conspiracy theories are presented.

Examples of typical conspiracy theories are the ideas, that the US officials knew before hand about the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbour, or the terror attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. Both of these conspiracy assumptions represent deep distrust a large part of the US citizens have for their government. They also represent the fact the US citizens who pay dearly as taxpayers for an ultra expensive military and extremely secretive agencies – both of wich have been found red handed in ethically questionable actions – do not feel safe. The blatant disregard for legality, or ethics these powerfull institutions have shown, does not make people feel any safer, nor the fact that these very expensive institutions are caught with their pants down. The average person likes to think they are safe and that is the main reason why they agree to big spending keeping such institutions costs. However, when something surprizing happens, that shows how woulnerable people are, they find their previous misplaced trust hard to accept, and try to look reasons for having been wrong from elswhere. Like that they had every reason to believe they were safe, exept for this conspiracy theory.

One major conspiracy theory in this same category is the Nazi hatred of the Jews. As the Germans could not accept their loss in world war I, they had to find a scape goat. Someone to blame that the promised victory never came. Racism is a similarly unfounded prejudice as the idea that a big military will keep your country safe and you personally out of reach of violence. Usually the effect is contrary, since a big military is often used for unsavioury actions to “protect the intrests” of the country, or more likely the corporate capitalism, or some obscure political ideology. This is prone to create enemies, who in face of overwhelming military power need to form conspiracies of their own to fight their oppressors.

However, if you thought any of the abowe were wild and implausible conspiracy theories, there are some that are by far even more ludicurous. For example a couple of surprizingly popular and mad conspiracy theories, that have the same roots and often the same believers are the climate change denialism and evolution denialism. Both are based on a claim that the scientific community has a major conspiracy going on.

Climate change denialists state, that the entire climate change is a hoax and even if it is not a hoax, but true, the change is not a bad thing, nor is it a human caused phenomenon. One of the climate change denialists is the new president of the USA a nation that is responsible for a very large portion of pollution. He has stated in his campaign, that it is a conspiracy by the Chinese to undermine US economy. His main advisor in environmental issues has claimed (while on the payroll of Exxon), that it is a conspiracy by the EU. I am curious as to wich one they are going to settle between them as the purpetrator of this conspiracy. This is a demonstration why conspiracy theories are not just us laughing at the stupid mentally disturbed individuals who think the world is secretly led by lizard people. Ignorance that leads to such nonsensical conspiracy theories is dangerous for the entire world. They make people distrust science and turns them to hand power over to self interrested authoritarianistic demagogues.

Just as with the climate change denialism, the evolution denialism starts with the assumption that the entire scientific community is in conspiracy, a secret pact, to lie to people contrary to their better information. The problem is how to prove such a conspiracy. The scientific method after all is the best method we have to evaluate reality as objectively as we possibly can and the scientists supposedly involved in this conspiracy are the ones who are best equipped to research both evolution and the climate. It would be ridiculous, if it was not so serious, that for these conspiracy theories to propagate themselves, they do not need to be investigated. People take them as true without the least bit of effort to investigate them, or precisely because they are ill equipped to investigate reality. They are most often believed by people who have been from childhood taught and indoctrinated to belive, that faith is a virtue. That their gut feeling is the best judge and somehow in more or less direct connection to some ultimate moral arbitrator creator entity – That in turn has never been falsified to exist on any level of reality. That means these people are effectively adults, who are totally subjected to their prejudices.

If the believer in any wild conspiracy theory is prejudging the reality around them according to some arbitrary tribally moralist ideal, be it something like a religion, or nationalism, they are helplesly biased. For example, to think they have every right to own a big polluting car, as the car is part of their identity, way of life and a continuation of their sexuality and self image. Or for a nother example to think, evolution must be untrue, as it challenges the fairytale they think is the ultimate truth from some god they worship, and feel as a base for their morality and sometimes even the justification of their very existance and possibly a redeemer of their guilt from the evil they have done because of their arbitrary understanding of morality.

As with everything else, the time to believe in an extreme conspiracy is when the evidence is presented, and the evidence is achieved by using the scientific method, as it is the only even remotely objective way to achieve reliable information. In addition, the more extraordinary the claim for a conspiracy is, the more extraordinary should the evidence be.

It seems to me, people believe the most extreme things when they are ill-educated, ill-informed and when the theory supports their preconceptions. Did I get this right?

When we observe dogs, or horses, we percieve obvious differences between various races of these domesticated animals humanity has selectively breeded for thousands of years. A dog is a dog, it is within the distinct species type, wether a chihuahua, or a great dane.

Are humans any different? No. We are biological entities as much as our pets and beasts of burden. There seems to be these distinct differences between human races alike as there are for example between different breeds of cows. Some are bigger, some have darker skin colouring than the other and so on and these are easily recognizable features.

Or are they? We have stereotypes of racial human features, but even though a vast majority of people may fall under those types, at least in some outside features, what is the actual difference? What about all the people who do not fall under this or that stereotype? Whose stereotypes should we abide to and why? These stereotypes are very much the product of our subjective and sometimes collective minds. The expectations loaded to these stereotypes are also often very unfair towards any individual at all and filled with tribal selfrighteousness, by assuming the features shared by the person holding a specific stereotype are seen as virtues by themselves and any differences as symbols of some sort of defincency. In addition the idea is so muddled, that the cultural aspects of our heritage get confused with what is genetical all the time. Further more, these cultural constructs are equally confused with not just percieved races, but to genders age groups and indeed social groups as well.

Studies of varying social groups and selecting correlative information from those to the ethnic heritage of some groups tells us absolutely nothing about race in reality, but it is often enough used to confirm biases of the existing stereotypes. However correlation does not mean causation.

Realistically speaking, race stereotypes assume all sorts of evolutionary (or unnaturally created) differences between stereotypically nominated groups of people, that can not be demonstrated by any scientific methodology. There exists this ridiculous missunderstanding about evolution, that it causes all things change towards some specific goal and at an equal speed at that. So, that if hereditary groups of people have varying skin colours, their intellects should vary somewhat equally and if these groups are found to have a difference in their economical situation or how often  these groups of people living nominally within the same culture end up in prison, that would somehow indicate some genetic causation to the group ending up in criminal careers (or at least being caught at doing the thing against the social norm of a society). In reality, we do know that powerty and social segragation based on an imaginary stereotype of race or an imaginary stereotype of the poor people do cause crime, while we have absolutely no show that any specific genetics of people with certain kind of perplexion was any cause at all to criminal behaviour. Evolution pushes for change by the simple logic of positive mutation to be more likely to survive long enough to produce the next generation. Nothing more. When a species spreads to new environment for wich it was previously adapted it picks up some mutations that benefits that goal. Perplexion may change over generations according to how much sunlight is awailable to better adapt the new environment, wether the skin needs to protect itself from overt sunshine, or alternatively does it need to let more of sun radiation through from a very limited amount of the sun light awailable in the environment. Human brains have had no such dire demands from varying environments. It seems quite obvious that the brain, is our most adaptive organ as it is, without any major change. There is no soul, we are our brain and it is the same regardless from wich population group on the planet we are descended, since it evolved to be as it is today within a very small group of people who were the ancestors of all of us on the planet today who call ourselves human.

I write this as a “white”, middle aged, male and having lived my entire life in the rich western world. I am painfully aware of my priviledge to even be able to write about this and other issues in my blog, that could be deadly dangerous to other people elswhere.

Realistically speaking race is an issue in societies with history of abuse of people with different perplexion from the ones who held power. Or a cultural norm used when ignorant people get scared of different looking people who come from outside of their very limited cultural experience world.

I find it annoying how loosely the term of race is weilded about in western and especially in American culture even today. For example, in science fiction the imaginary intelligent species originating from various different planets are referred to as “races”. Even if these characters were played by actors wearing mere green rubber mask to make them different enough from humans of planet earth, they most certainly would not be just of different “race”. The products of a completely different ecology and evolutionary trail, separated by the void, would not share none what so ever genetical similarity to us humans and should not be called a “race” under any pretence. This may seem harmless fiction of the most imaginative and farthest from the reality we do live in, but the stories deal often enough with very human problems and they are watched because the audiences can relate to the stories however fancy they are. Hence, implying that there are races and that race differences are an issue may be harmfull. Sure, it may also be a beneficial way for the film makers to remind us about how artifical the entire concept of race is. Yet, when “white”captain Kirk kissed his “black” crewmate in the sixties TV-series Star Trek, it was both a brave step forward by the film crew and a sad show of the racial prejudices of the surrounding society as Kirk had allready kissed green alien “women” and it had been seen as OK, as long as the actor was a “white” woman.

Even today the stereotypes of race are there hidden in plain daylight. When the issue of race comes up, it is about the people of colour or in other words of people of different race, than some race normative people, that is the so called “white” people. More seriously, than in popular culture, though not necessarily any more effectively, these ideas are everyday confused in politics. I just read about two lady candidates in some election in California where it seemed to be an issue that for the first time there were two women candidates and that they were “people of colour”. One had Indian heritage and the other Latin heritage. Neither looked anything but “white” to my eyes, even though I come from Finland where on average there are more of us blue eyed blondes, than in most other countries.

It would be ideal, if it was not an issue at all, that these candidates were “people of colour” or that they were women. However, it remains an issue for as long as such a pervaisive amount of racial and gender stereotypes affect the thinking of the people. It seems the stereotypes need first to be turned, before they can be erased.

 

Most people do not think about death too much, because it is an unpleasant thought. Many people have been led by superstitious cultural heritage to tell themselves they or their loved ones are not going to die at all, but continue in some sort of pelasant paradise after their bodies die out. Some people have managed to provide themselves an income by providing a service of rituals that perpetuate this baseless, but pleasant notion. There are even a few, that get some form of sick satisfaction from the idea that bad people will suffer for an eternity in this assumed afterlife. No surprice the definition for the bad people is typically tribally moralistic, that is, people who are not part of the “tribe”, or “club” that has certain tenets and rituals.

Death is inevitable, but many a cultural movement, that are built around the blatantly obvious form of wishfull thinking, that it is not and there is some form of afterlife, have managed to make themselves exempted from being taxed. Some of them even get support from other taxpayers and indeed they all collect a form of taxes themselves to provide the income to their ritual experts. This is a widely accepted situation in almost any given society. Why?

A couple of years back here in Finland the government decided to stop collecting fees for owning a TV-set and provide funding for the national radio and TV broadcasting network YLE (much like the BBC in Britain) by taxes instead of the previous obsolete method of collecting money. The new tax was named the YLE-tax according to the name of the national and government owned broadcasting company. Now the vice president of the youth section of the (True) Finns party Aleksi Hernesniemi, has launched a citizen campaign to stop the YLE-tax. This is possible through a nother new law we have, wich is that if you can collect 50 000 names to support an initiative, the parliament has to have a discussion about the matter. This is how our new marriage equality laws for example were finally led to the parliament vote.

The main complaint against the YLE-tax is about it being unfair, as it is a network under political guidance. Hernesniemi complains also about the bad quality of the programmes as provided by YLE channels. It is sometimes very difficult to fathom how stupid people are. The president of the political guidance for YLE has been for almost a year a member of the same party as Mr. Hernesniemi. Is he now complaining against his fellow party member, or what? To what is he comparing the quality of the programmes as sent by YLE? One can argue, that the newest series by HBO, that the YLE keeps sending are not quality programme, but that is a rather subjective view at best and they do get high ratings. YLE sends out a wide range of movies, other entertainment and documentaries from around the globe and it provides those online to be watched at the convinience of the audience. I have watched a variety of commercial channels, and none can compare with quality, or wider selecltion to that as sent by YLE. Yes, it is true, that YLE does not produce Big-Brother type of social porn, send out ridiculous “documentaries” such as produced by for example the History channel and that their news are “biased”, to research the facts behind the news stories before airing them out, instead of spouting out racist hatred. Like some small time private tabloids, that are not even members of the journalistic unions have done. That can hardly be called partisan bias, even though the party of Mr. Hernesniemi has based much of it’s xenophobic populism on such.

I for one would much rather see news from a company led by constitutional and journalistic principles and a democratically chosen political guidance to regulate that those principles are held, than by newscompanies led by the popular vote of the viewer masses, advertising sponsors and the preferances of billionare owners. In any case , it can not be argued, that one or the other was any cheaper to me. If anything the commercial channel is prone to be more expensive, because not only does it need the money to run it, but it must also provide for winnigs of the owners. I either pay for the service through some form of taxes, or by the extra cost in products for advertising them.

So, indeed there are ways to awoid taxes, even if there are no ways to awoid death. However, it should be observed how much it is going to cost us, to awoid the taxes.

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