Friday, August 28, 2009

Nearly Everything Is Bad

Whether religious or secular, people are naturally inclined to think the universe is in some sense a just place where things tend to work out. But what if they’re wrong? I’m not a naturally gloomy person myself (I don’t think), but what if, for example, all ten of the following rather negative thoughts are true? It’s not clear that’s logically impossible.

•Political criticisms always get channeled into one of the party lines. Almost nothing can be accomplished through politics.

•The scientific establishment is usually wrong.

•Supernatural and other anti-scientific claims are all false.

•Capitalists lack the ethics to rescue their own system from decline, yet all anti-capitalist philosophies are wrong and destructive.

•Conventional sex differences lead to malevolent behavior, as do attempts to alter those differences.

•Misanthropes tend to be self-serving people making limited criticisms based on one of the agendas alluded to above rather than harsh, constructive critics who might truly improve humanity.

•Terrible behavior tends to be rewarded and thus to grow more commonplace (witness the spread of deliberately rude “Game”-style dating, which is now so widespread as to border on becoming etiquette rather than the novel assault on etiquette it so recently seemed).

•Entertainment reinforces the easy intuitive grooves that lead to the aforementioned problems.

•Art that, by contrast, is consciously disturbing or alienating tends merely to reinforce different, often worse, intuitive grooves.

•People are irrational — and as a result are often selfish and sadistic without even succeeding in increasing their own happiness. They consciously or unconsciously choose pointless conflict over peaceful cooperation in countless situations.

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