Steve Bannon promised to support US president Trump after he had resigned from the White House. He went back to Breitbart and now we are told, that Breitbart has been very critical of the latest descisions of the US president and some of his staff. I do not see any controversy here. A critical newsmedia should be critical even about the political leader they otherwise support. Otherwise it stops being critical and becomes just a form of propaganda for the politician. This is a positive sign.

The US president Donald Trump made a comment about the intended demolition of the statue of Confederate general Lee. He defended the statue and asked wich statues are the next to be tumbled. I agree with him. Pulling down statues, even those of people whose values we no longer share is a bit barbaric.

Of course, if a dictator has littered the landscape with enormous statues of himself or symbols of regressive and oppressive regime all over, it is only natural that when such a dictatorship falls, the people vent some of their anger on those statues and that a good number of them do not need to be in the open any more.

I do not think we should hide our past by taking down old statues, even if they represent ideals we no longer share. History should not be re-written as such, but rather that some of those statues should stand in order to remind us how we have been wrong once.

Now, in the US, it seems to me as an outsider, the problem is actually not so much the taking down of such a statue, or pulling the rug over history, as it is the crowd that came to protest the statue being taken down. People organized into paramilitant groups toting automatic guns and waving the Swasticas and the Confederate flags. These people were not there to protest against the cultural barbarism of pulling down an historical monument, but to demonstrate that they dare still openly hold racist values. I guess, it is these groups, and their audacity to publicly demonstrate their ultra-conservative extremist right-wing values really existing, why such a statue as the one representing general Lee was decided to take down at the first place. To make a gesture, that the US society no longer finds racism, or slavery as values to support, or even to flirt with. The fact that there was a counter protest finally made the gestrure. So in order to defend the statue, these right-wing extremists actually made the gesture bigger. It would have been even bigger if the US president had taken a firm stand against the neo-nazies. But he wavored. I guess he felt he had to accomodate for some of his most scared and angry voters.

Now poor president Trump is in dire straits with this. He has pulled much of his most loyal support from such extremist groups and even more from large amounts of individuals who may not be members of any of these groups, but symphatize with them, and share their concern of the world changing around them. Many of his supporters may not be open racists, but feel anguished about being monitored by demands of political correctness and not really knowing how to behave, when their former inhereted values no longer seem to be seen as valid by the ever changing society around them. Having a cultural heritage of already a bit old fashioned set of values, that as so many ancient cultural traditions are more based on arbitrary authoritarian dictates, than the ability to reason what is actually good and what is poor behaviour, these people have elected a president who seems to fit the picture of an authoritarian, white, strong, conservative male, who in addition speaks in simple phrases, rather than using complex political jargon. The thing is, that one of the many misconceptions of these sorts of voters of the president, is that they think they represent the majority and that the not only have the democratic majority, but the right of might of the majority and indeed even the right of might of their god, who no doubt agrees with them about all the moral issues. Yet, that is not how reality works and this means they are in for a nasty ride in the future and that they may get even more desperate, if this president fails to provide them the imaginary golden age of the past, they think existed when they were kids.

What options does president Trump have? He tries to provide a picture where he has not abandoned this large support group of ignorant and possibly desperate people. He has the advantage, that they often are limited in their cognitive abilities to analyze reality, so he – knowing his own crowd – may be able to numb them down with his message, that the “other side” was just as much to blame as the right-wing conservative extremists who demonstrated waving open the flags of Nazi-regime and those of the slave-owning Confederate magnates. The main question is what other side? Should we not stand against nazies? What follows, if we do not? I truly hope, that not even president Trump would really want that as in his own family there are people who would be among the first victims of such extremist right-wing conservatives would reach the sort of authoritarian absolute political power they expect him to weild, now that he is the elected president.

Ultimately, just as the ultra-conservatively motivated right-wing extremist Islamist terrorist is good at igniting the fear and hatred of the ultra-conservatively motivated Western right-wing extremist to demands of segregation and even violence (wich I might add is the goal of the Islamist terrorist), both are good at slowly waking up the great majority of the modern people, who just want to live their lives in peace, that at least some of the values they may share with these conservatively motivated right-wing extremists may indeed be bunk.

It may be slow progress, that no longer do we need to only argue with religious conservatives, that there are atheists even among conservatives, that liberal values like freedom of speech is defended as a conservative value, while it has not been that for a very long period of time, and in most extremely conservative and authoritarian cultures it is not valued even today and that some regressive extremist conservative political movements are infact led by women, but I call it progress never the less. Now there are even homosexual advocates of the right-wing conservative extremist values. Women and homosexuals have thus emancipated within the conservative culture up to a point even though opposing such emancipation used to be and still is, so very centrall to so many extremist conservatives of the right-wing tradition. Now, even a political leader who obviously is trying to fill in the leadership model of an authoritarian strong-man such as Donald Trump is critizised by his own supporters, like the Breitbart, who otherwise have had a tendency to spout out all manner of authoritarian propaganda in his defence. The world is turning and it changes. Let us hope it changes fast enough in comparrison to how fast we are detereorating it around us.

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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.

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.

Apparently, President Trump expressed his admiration to President Putin, in a Fox News interview by Bill O’Reilly. To wich somewhat awstruck Mr. O’Reilly replied, that he views Putin as a sort of murderer. President Trump defended President Putin by pointing out, that the US is not totally alien to similar methods of violence. This roused a form of denialism in many more or less patriotic US citizens. For example, Michael McFaul a former ambassador to Moscow, now a professor at Stanford University said in public, that: “Mr. President, our soldiers dont carpet bomb cities. We dont assassinate government critics.”

Yet, in defence of President Trump, I have to point out that the Professor and former diplomat McFaul is incredibly ignorant of the reality in the world, even though I commend him for his conviction to ethics as such. The US is not at all known for not carpet bombing cities. Ask the dead in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Pjongjang, or a number of other cities and rural areas (because people who get carpet bombed in their homes in the countryside are just as dead as the ones who got carpet bombed in a city). Neither is the US especially admired around the globe for not assasinating their political opponents. If this comes as a news flash to you, please find out about President Allende, Ernesto “Che”Guevara, or any of the victims – killed, assasinated, murdered or tortured – of regressive governments around the globe the US has supported and keeps supporting, unless the people have not overthrown them. This support is freely given to governments, that in return the help to exploit their own nations for the benefit of “US interrests”. Well, that is US based corporate capitalists. Not unlike the owners of companies like Halliburton, wich was heavily involved in the previous Republican government.

Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva

Russian soldiers do not engage in assasinations of government critics, than the US soldiers do. Both of these empires have mercenary forces for anything, that might come as a bit of a problem, if these actions were ever to rise to general public awareness. And the ridiculous thing is, that everybody knows this, exept for some reason this professor from Stanford University.

Bill O’Reilly may, or may not be shocked by what President Trump said, but he is actually just reaping what he himself and his “news” channel have been sowing – a climate of ignorance, fear, anger and hatered and an admiration of regressive, conservative, hard line authoritarianism, capitalist greed, tribal moralism and resolving problems through violence. Those are the “traditional” values O’Reilly, Trump, Putin, Al Assad, the ISIS, Al Qaida and so many other “strong” authoritarian demagogues and leaders have shared throughout history. Why? To satisfy their own hollow and meaningless lives they have offered millions of people to the warmachine and murder. What have they given to us other than suffering? War, famon and pestilence are their allies.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle pjongjang bombed

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?

Crucifixion

“Hey guys, I think we have a live one here!”

Many Christians profess to have a personal relationship with Jesus. What do they mean? A personal experience impossible to replicate, if one has not experienced it. It is sometimes even presented as the best and foremost evidence they have to believe in the existance of their god.

What do Christians mean when they say they have a personal relationship with their god entity? It is often described some form of conversing between them and their god. They ask their god for advice in choises they have to make and supposedly this god of theirs answers. How? How do they know, that who ever answers is actually their god?

How does one make the distinction between a particular god talking to oneself within the limits of the inner mind of the person experiencing this, from the normal inner dialogue we have? How does one make the distinction between different alledged supernatural entities talking within our minds?

Or are they referring to hearing voices? Hearing voices is not necessarily a sign of schizophrenia and it is far more common than commonly assumed. Be it caused by such serious condition or not, it is a trick of the mind. The physical brain within our cranium. It is perfectly natural, that when a person starts to hear voices, those voices that are echoes of the brainfunctions reflect the cultural heritage of the individual. Sometimes including their religious beliefs and cultural ideas about the supernatural. The Jesus character in the Bible seemed to think, that sort of experience is a form of coexistance with some sort of demons. This makes the Bible appear very much as a book and the Jesus character in it as a typically superstitious human being of the time when the book was written. Does it not?

If the relationship with a particular god entity is not described as much as hearing actual voices inside your head, merely the natural inner dialogue, perhaps even a muted version of it, it still is necessarily connected to the cultural heritage and culturally induced ideas such as particular concepts of gods. Even if a person later in life becomes convinced, that the connection they had to a particular god was not those of a particular god concept of their own cultural heritage, in order to recognize wich god concept fits the experience they remember having had, they first need to become aware of the cultural notion of a particular god that would fit the bill. God concepts are necessarily cultural constructs. Similar god beliefs have appeared ignorant of each other around the globe, but the very same concept has never appeared simultaneously in different cultures indipendend of each other. Instead the succesfull religious movements all require a form of proselytising.

How could a personal experience, limited between our own ears be evidence of a particular god to exist? Even to us ourselves? Most of these experiences are direct reflections of the cultural heritages and subsequent beliefs people already had even before they had the experience. Putting aside the fact, that the personal experience of an individual is presents very poor evidence for a nother person. The obvious cultural connection of recognition of a particular god depending on the culture and experiences of the particular individual, at very least, puts the evidence value of any such experience to question. In any case it reminds us, that either, if there is a god behind such phenomenons this god is “challenged” in trying to convey who this god is to human individuals, or then there are multiple different gods providing evidence of their existance.

Now, if the god of the Christians manifests somehow differently from other gods, and the “personal relationship” is a concept to describe this, it still means, that it is a cultural concept. As this personal relationship seems more common among particular mutually competing Christian sects, it means, that most Christians are not included in this personal relationship. Most Christians in the world are just normal people who have no personal relationships with anything supernatural. Why?

What if there is something supernatural causing these experiences, and the cultural interpretation was just a side-effect of the phenomenon being transmitted to the rest of us, by superstitious and culturally indoctrinated individuals? Well, perhaps, but how likely is that? According to the Occam’s Razor, the more simplistic model of explanation is the more likely truth. If applied to voices in the head, the inner monologue feeling or seeming like it was between the individual and a god, or just a chance occurance seeming like it was an answer to a question presented by the person inside their head, it is still more simple to explain any of those as tricks of the mind, rather than by anything supernatural, that would still require an external verification to even exist as much as to be a possible explanation to the experience.

I have to admit it, if I ever had any such an experience, I would rather have my head examined, than jumped to the conclusion, that a particular deity was trying to make a contanct with me. But is that just my own cultural heritage and bias? I am not immune to my own culture, or the assumptions it provides me. Yet, my ally is the scientific method. As long as it does not provide any direct information about divinities, I am quite happy to neglect any suggestions of gods as fable. Much the same way I neglect any ideas of demons, angels, pixies, unicorns, dragons and such. Besides, being a researcher of history, I have quite scientific evidence of how the beliefs in the supernatural appear. We have no reliable knowledge about anything supernatural, but we do have reliable knowledge about otherwise perfectly rational people being able to make up fantastic stories, believing them against all evidence and even sacrificing themselves for their faith in the most ludicurous and harmfull beliefs. Like for an extreme example the Nazies.

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.