It’s a moral imperative that you consider your religion may be mythology


There are at least 4,200 religions in the world today, and countless more have been lost to history. It’s obvious that there’s a 0% chance that all 4,200 religions are the true word of God. Some people have speculated that each religion is at least a little divinely inspired and holds a piece of the puzzle left to us by God to put together. But the only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore huge tracts of doctrine in each religion. Ultimately, none of them are compatible. If any religion is true, there’s only one.

This means at least over 6 billion people alive today believe in a religion that was written 100% by human beings and 0% dictated by the creator of the universe. A belief system written by human beings that has no bearing on the factual nature of reality is mythology. The cold, hard truth of reality is that the vast majority of the people alive today believe in mythology and dogmatically refuse to even consider the possibility that’s true. So if you believe in religion, there’s automatically a 99%chance you believe in mythology. If you refuse to question your beliefs, there’s no way for you to know if they’re true, which increases the chance that you believe in mythology to 99.9%. This number is increased to 99.99% if your religion contains any of the following:

  • Human sacrifices
  • Moral values that reflect the needs and wants of a specific primitive culture
  • Instructions to hurt, kill or look down on other people
  • Reasons to look down on yourself
  • A pyramid shaped authority structure
  • Scientifically inaccurate statements
  • Magical beings, powers or events that no longer exist

Some people have speculated that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in as long as you believe in something that gives you meaning, instructions and peace. But believing in something that isn’t real is the definition of insanity. It’s not okay to be insane just because you like it, because it holds you and society back.

Believing in mythology is counterproductive if for no other reason than it’s a waste of time. It keeps you busy going through meaningless motions while ignoring real world issues that have real consequences to you and the rest of of mankind. Your life and everyone else’s would be improved by you focusing on real problems.

To this you might reply, “But how can we know how to live without religion?” Remember that most (if not all) of the world doesn’t believe in religion; they believe in mythology. So the question is really, “How can we know how to live without mythology?” If mythology is just a belief system made up by humans, and you’ve spent your whole life living according to those rules, you already know the answer. We can make up our own ethics, and in fact, that’s what we’ve been doing all along. We just haven’t been honest with ourselves about it.  If taking personal responsibility for your own ethics sounds scary or haphazard, consider that mythologies can contain horrible rules that can lead you to hurt yourself or others, which makes it all the more imperative that you question your beliefs.

This is especially true if you absolutely insist on believing one of our religions is the divine truth.  Everyone wants to believe that their religion is the right one, but at least 6 billion people are dead wrong in their faith. Statistically, you’re probably one of them. The only way you or anyone else can find the right religion is to scrutinize yours objectively. This may sound like heresy, but it’s probably not a coincidence that you were created with the capacity for reason, skepticism, doubt and logic. For the billions of people who believe in mythology, it’s a necessity. If your religion can stand the test of truth, there’s no danger in putting yours to it. If your religion can’t stand the test of truth, objectivity is the only way you’ll ever free yourself.

Your quest for truth isn’t just about you. Most religions encourage you to convert nonbelievers, and even without actively proselytizing on the street corner, you passively send out the message that people should join your faith just by living according to it. If you believe in one of the religions that’s mythology, you’re leading unwitting victims into a trap. If enough people in one area buy into mythology, one way or another, their beliefs are going to determine social norms and even laws. This has a harsh real world impact on people who don’t believe in that particular brand of mythology. Another danger of spreading mythology is that some people will inevitably latch onto the most violent, oppressive, absurd rules within that belief system and use them to justifying hurting other people. So before you go spreading the good word, it’s imperative that you make sure it passes the most rigorous test of truth, not just for your sake but for all of our’s.

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My vision for the future of education

In a perfect world every classroom would have two teachers, twelve students and 20 computers, but we don’t live in a perfect world. First world countries, let alone third world countries don’t have the resources to create the perfect class room. There are schools so poor they don’t even have teachers. Even the most well-funded school can fail their students if their administration is inept.

This is a big, because the quality of society is determined by the quality of the individuals living in it. Everyone’s actions affects everyone else in the long run. The more educated everyone is, the better things get. The less educated everyone is, the worse things get. There are billions of people alive right now living in poverty who could save themselves without receiving any other charity, if they just had unlimited access to education.

Humanity will never grow up until it offers every human being unlimited access to free education. It’s a moral imperative. And since the invention of the Internet, this goal has become very realistic to achieve. We’re just missing two things that can be created relatively easily:

1. A mainstream open source online school

There are already free online schools like The Khan Academy, but there needs to be a free online school that is as easy to add content to as YouTube. Once every conceivable course has been crowd-sourced, all anyone will need to get an education is a tablet and an internet connection.

2. Sustainable school buildings

If the perfect online school existed, you could home-school yourself through as many doctorates as you have time to complete. You could also build schools in which classrooms are replaced by cubicles. Students could come and learn what they want, when they want, at their own pace. This kind of school would  require very few resources to build and very little manpower to manage.

Again, it would be nice if these schools had teachers to help students, but they’re not necessary. In the poorest communities students have bigger problems than lack of teachers, like not having access to food, water or shelter.

If you can erect a building with cubicles, you can build a cistern onto that building that collects rain water. If you can build a cistern onto a building with cubicles, you can build rooms for people to sleep in. If you can build a school with living quarters and a cistern, you could build a really big cistern and then water crops with rain water. If you can grow your own food, then all the students will always have their basic needs met.

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This Was Your Life: The Feminist

This is the 22nd comic in an ongoing series in which Loki and his supernatural friends taunt the recently deceased.

Click the comic anywhere to enlarge the picture. 


See who else Loki has taunted: 

Should Muslims be feared, accepted or what?

I’ve never written about Islam before because journalists and bloggers have been shamed, threatened, and killed by Muslims for criticizing Islam. A lot of other people have chosen not to publicly speak objectively about Islam out of fear. This may seem like a victory to some Muslims, but censoring discussion about Islam has also had the effect of keeping non-Muslims from being able to learn about Islam and understand it. Since they can’t hear the objective side of the story, they only hear the Islamophobic side. Now that I.S.I.S. has basically ignited WWIII, and Europe is being flooded with Muslim refugees from the Middle East, people are talking about Islam more than ever, but the public dialogue still has its hands tied. The mounting tension combined with mounting misinformation is making non-Muslims panicky and distrustful of Muslims.

I’ve received more E-mails asking me to write a blog about Islam/Muslims than any other topic. It would be pointless for me to write a blog explaining what Islam is since Wikipedia has already done a better job of that than I could. What I can offer is some perspective on whether or not you should be afraid of Muslims and Islamic culture.

It’s tragic that there’s so much ignorance about Islam, because there are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. That’s almost one fifth of the entire human species. If you take any group of 1.5 billion people you’ll find every possible kind of person from the most intelligent saint to the most ignorant murderer, and you’ll find the same spectrum of personalities if you poll the populations of each of the world’s major religions.

People act basically the same regardless of what religion they profess. Most self-proclaimed believers are effectively non-practicing, or “lapsed,” as the Catholic Church would say. Most believers have never read their sacred book cover to cover. If they have, they’ve only done it a few times. They glazed over parts of it. They ignored the parts they didn’t understand, and they never read much if anything critical of their religion. Most people don’t fully understand the religion they claim to believe in, and they don’t base their entire lives around it. They base most of their decisions on cultural norms, personal wants and logic.

Some people might call non-practicing theists hypocrites. I just call them human. It’s human nature to mimic the culture you were raised in. It’s all you know about life, after all. So humans tend to accept the creation story they were told and repeat the rituals they were taught. But most people are poor, busy, stressed, not-exactly-geniuses, looking for love and trying to succeed in the modern world. Life is demanding, and people have too many real world problems to deal with to spend their evenings reading contextual analyses of ancient manuscripts. So the average person exercises their faith just enough to feel safe in death and then gets on with their life.

Religion is just a hat most people wear. Underneath the hat, they’re exactly the same as anyone else who wears any other hat. They’re just people who live in houses, struggle with bills, love their family, enjoy hobbies, go to work every day and hope they can retire in comfort. They’re just faces you pass on the sidewalk. They have personality flaws, but most of them would never and will never kill anyone. The worst thing they’ll probably ever do is not fulfill their potential.

There will always be a percentage of followers in any religion who will fixate on the most aggressive aspects of their decided holy text. There will always be Kim Davis’s, Westboro Baptist Church’s, Osama Bin Laden’s, Crusades and Inquisitions. That threat will always be small, but it will always be real as long as people believe in books that contain (or can be interpreted to contain) divinely inspired instructions to harm other people. On a philosophical level, this means you should be a little afraid of religion, but it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of religious people moving into your neighborhood.

You can find inhumane instructions if you dig deep enough into any major religion, but most people don’t follow them, because they either didn’t read that far or it’s not socially acceptable or practical. The average Muslim is no more likely to go on a murderous Jihad than the average Jew is to stone a woman for adultery. The average Muslim doesn’t support I.S.I.S. any more than the average Christian supports the K.K.K.

You probably already know that. You’re not really afraid your Muslim neighbor is making bombs, but you may be struggling to decide how much you should respect your neighbor’s exotic cultural practices, particularly the ones that seem oppressive, like forcing women to cover their breasts and faces.

The bottom line on that question is, you can’t make a categorical imperative out of refusing to objectively criticize anyone’s ideas and behaviors. If we did, all cultural progress would cease forever. In ancient Hawaiian culture, women weren’t allowed to eat bananas, and the punishment for eating them was death. Everyone in the world today would agree that’s not just, logical or divinely inspired. None of us are closed-minded or disrespectful for disagreeing with that practice. That rule needed to become obsolete.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to hold people accountable. You’ve known someone your entire life who believes and does things that you believe are wrong, but you still value that person and enjoy their company. You don’t sit around at night pondering whether or not you should be offended by their antics. You just accept them and move on. If their behavior comes up in conversation, you express your disagreement politely and honestly, because it would be doing your friend a disservice by silently condoning behavior that you believe is counterproductive. If they don’t listen, you’re able to just agree to disagree and get on with your lives. You’ve done that before. Every day we’re honest without being spiteful. If we can do that in every other aspect of life, we should be able to do it when we disagree with other people’s religions. It would be illogical and hypocritical to love some people despite their differences and hate others for theirs.

At this point some of you may be thinking, “Sure, in theory we should all get along like a big hippie commune, but right now in the real world, Muslims are murdering each other in droves in the Middle East in the name of Allah. Muslims are overcrowding European cities and bringing all the crime that comes with overcrowding and poverty. The author of this blog even prefaced it by saying that he, himself, has been terrorized into not speaking openly about Islam out of fear of being murdered in cold blood. That’s not for nothing. That means something.”

For the sake of argument, let’s assume I’m being way too lax about the threat of Islamic violence in Europe and way too dismissive of the sectarian violence in the Middle East. Le’ts assume your worst fears are true. What’s the call to action that raises? Do you exile all the Muslims? Do you round them up in the streets and shoot them? Do you pass laws suppressing their culture? Do you sneer at them in public and bully them?

Every religious and ethnic group in the world has, and always have had, rules that are good, bad and irrelevant. Every culture is constantly evolving as it adopts customs that work and abandons ones that don’t. No culture was ever improved by insults, fights or killings. Cultures improve as the population’s knowledge and self-empowerment increase. Cultures devolve as the population’s access to education and basic needs decrease.

If you’re worried about any group of people oppressing, terrorizing and killing people, the best thing you can do to combat that threat is to donate to free online education and work to eliminate poverty. When people are educated and safe, they’ll naturally gravitate towards fulfilling their potential as a self-actualized individual instead of fighting to secure rewards in the afterlife.

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My theory on illegal immigration in America

Politicians and celebrities in America regularly bash illegal Mexican immigrants for being lazy criminals who leech off the system. There are about 10 million illegal immigrants in America right now, and you’re always going to have a few bad apples in any group that size, but generalizing illegal Mexicans in America as villains is detached from reality. The causes, consequences and implications of illegal immigration are bigger than that. In order to see the real issue in the broader scope of things, you need to understand five things:

1. Illegal immigrants are people too.

Illegal aliens are just as human as natural born American citizens. They come from the same tree of life that every other human being came from, which makes them more than just neighbors. They’re family, and from a cosmic perspective, they’re the among the rarest, most precious entities in the known universe. If there’s a God that created us, we’re all children from the same loving parent.

We’re all lost and stranded on the same planet. We’re all going through the same existential crisis, and when we die, we all return to dust. It would be illogical to have a conversation about illegal immigrants without acknowledging their inherent sublime majesty, and any solution to illegal immigration must take into account the dignity and respect due to every sentient being. To say that illegal immigrants are just outsiders who need to piss off misses the point of life.

2. They’re here to work and send money back to their families or they’re trying to build a new life in the land of opportunity.

In order to understand how to deal with illegal immigration you need to understand why people risk traveling thousands of miles across deadly terrain in a strange land where they’re hunted by police. Most of the people who do that aren’t rapists and criminals. Some of them are women and children, but most of them are fathers who left their homes and their families to find work so they can provide for their loved ones. Some want to stay in America, but most want to return home after they’ve made some money.

Think about that, and then think about the words written on the Statue of Liberty:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'”

The bedrock of American political ideology has always been love, hope, freedom and industry. Those are the same values that have motivated so many Mexicans to answer the call of Lady Liberty.  That’s not to say that opening the borders unconditionally is the best solution, but that would be more American than building a wall from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean and lining it with armed guards.

3. They do the jobs Americans can’t.

It’s a well established fact that Mexican immigrants aren’t taking high paying, in-demand jobs. In 2010 The United Farm Workers organization challenged Americans to come work the jobs that Mexicans have been taking, and not one American took up the challenge.

It’s an understatement to say Mexicans are taking the jobs Americans don’t want. Frankly, they’re taking the jobs Americans can’t do. Immigrants work 13+ hours per day in inclement weather doing backbreaking work with almost no breaks for almost no money. Even if an American could endure the inhumane working conditions that immigrants suffer every day, their wages would be so far below the poverty line they wouldn’t be able to afford a basic quality of living much less The American Dream.

4. America’s economy is based on slave labor.

To say that Mexicans are taking Americans’ jobs today is like saying black slaves were taking all the good cotton picking jobs that colonial-era white settlers were entitled to. The work Mexicans do is tantamount to slave labor. Since America’s agricultural and construction industries (to name a few) are so heavily dependent on immigrant labor, that means the American economy is built on slave labor.

Any American who believes all the illegal immigrants should be deported is a hypocrite every time they go shopping, because the low prices they enjoy are the direct result of immigrant slave labor. If all of these workers were deported, prices would skyrocket giving anti-immigration advocates a whole new set of problems to scream about.

Since the economy depends so heavily on illegal immigrants who don’t want to spend the rest of their life in America, the simplest solution to the problem would be to make it easier to obtain temporary working visas. The reason that solution hasn’t been implemented is because then American businesses would have to pay their slaves a living wage and give them all the perks entitled to legal workers. That would raise the cost of goods as surely as deporting all the undocumented workers. Very few business owners would lobby the government to do that. It works out better for their bottom line to keep distracting the public with talk of building walls while continuing to enjoy the fruits of slavery.

5. Mexicans go to America looking for work in the first place because South America’s economy and political structure have been systematically destabilized by the U.S. government. 

So many South Americans head North to find work because their economies and governments have been systematically destabilized by the United States government to ensure that none of its neighbors could challenge it economically or militarily. This has also allowed the United States to outsource jobs to South American sweat shops while also guaranteeing a steady flow of workers will come North to work inside America without any legal protection. So screaming at Mexicans for taking Americans’ jobs is blaming the victim.

(Documentary) The War on Democracy

(Documentary) Harvest of Empire

(Wikipedia) Latin America- United States Relations

No amount of victim-blaming will solve the immigration problem. We need to fix the fundamental problem with the economy, which is that our entire economic system is based on oppression and unsustainability. America and Mexico both need to build affordable, self-sufficient cities that don’t require its citizens to work themselves to death for barely enough money to survive. If/when that ever happens, nobody will need to leave their families and travel thousands of perilous miles to work in inhumane conditions, and nobody will have to fight each other for the ability to build a happy life.

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My theory on gun control

gun control america

The topic of gun control makes headline news in America every time there’s a mass shooting, which is almost yearly now. Even without those events, the topic of gun control rarely leaves the public discourse because Americans are killed and terrorized by guns everyday. Even if Americans didn’t want to hear about guns, tens of millions of dollars are spent every year by both pro and anti-gun control groups to lobby politicians and create propaganda for the public. And guns are such a normal way of life in America that they’re celebrated and satirized in American movies and television daily.

With guns so ingrained in American culture, it’s impossible  to have a productive public conversation about them. Both sides are right about some things, but they both overvalue some of their arguments. Since most mainstream news organizations are fighting tooth and nail for ratings, they tend to paint the issue black, white and divisive, but gun control is a kaleidoscopic grey area. It’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Americans can speak with authority on guns, because every one knows somebody who owns one. But most Americans have never left America. There are 195 other countries in the world, and between them, every possible combination of gun control laws are in place somewhere. When discussing the possible consequences of implementing different laws, the question isn’t, “What would happen?” The question is, “What’s happening?”

Before I offer my theory on what combination I advocate, I want to share my personal experiences in the countries I’ve been to.

Mexico– Every Mexican has the constitutional right to own firearms, but there are very strict laws on what kind they can own, and they’re basically not allowed to carry them outside their home. The gun laws in Mexico don’t really apply though, because criminal organizations are stronger than the government, and guns are extremely easy to obtain. To be fair, there are a lot of places in Mexico where people don’t lock their doors at night, but other cities are nightmares to live in. Guns are the number one reason I would not live in Mexico.

Israel, Greece, Egypt and Italy– When visiting each of these countries I didn’t know what their gun laws were. I was standing in a bazaar in Jerusalem when I heard random gun fire in the distance, and nobody around me batted an eye. I witnessed a large, angry protest smash a car in front of the Parliament building in Greece, which was surrounded by riot police carrying automatic weapons. In Egypt there was a mounted machine gun in front of my hotel, and while living in Italy, I saw Carabinieri police with automatic weapons everyday. In these four very different countries, I got very comfortable with seeing heavily armed guards on the street corners. After leaving Israel, I flew to New York, where I felt naked on the streets and longed to be surrounded by automatic weapons. Granted, if I were a black man in New York or a Palestinian in Israel, I would have had a different experiences.

Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia- These countries have pretty middle of the road gun laws, and I felt reasonably safe. However, I was in a night club in Croatia, where one of my friends kicked over a bottle of beer and shattered it on the dance floor. An Australian we were hanging out with, who had been living there for a year said, “Be careful. That bouncer over there has seven lines cut into his forearm. That’s for each person he killed in the war. Life is cheap here, mate. Don’t piss people off.” So obviously, any debate about gun control laws must also address the larger issue of what causes people to be violent in general.

Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Holland– These countries have mostly strict gun laws, but out of all of them, Switzerland has the least. Of all the countries I’ve visited, I felt the safest in these countries, and I felt the safest in Switzerland. This is partly due to laws, but these countries also have the highest quality of living of all the countries I’ve visited. The locals just don’t have as much stress and desperation motivating them to kill each other.

Kuwait- Regardless of the laws in the Middle East, weapons are easy to get. Life is cheap and hard, and there are a lot of ideological extremists who divide the world into “us versus them.” This is a recipe for violence, and weapon manufacturers are fanning the flames. I wouldn’t live in the Middle East even if I could, and every year hundreds of thousands of refugees risk their lives leaving their country because it’s a better option than facing the guns and bombs at home.

Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam– These countries have fairly strict gun policies, and the local religions tend to promote peace and harmony. I felt safe in these countries when I was in affluent areas, but I didn’t venture into impoverished neighborhoods, because the threat of being robbed is very real there. Even when a society has strict gun laws and a pacifist attitude, poverty will still create criminals who have less to lose and more to gain from picking up a gun than obeying the law or social norms.

The UK, New Zealand– These countries have fairly strict gun laws, but they have high levels of economic inequality. I felt safer in these countries than in America, and I was more afraid of being stabbed than shot.

America– I went to two different high schools in Texas. At one of them students had gun racks full of shot guns and rifles in their trucks, which they parked on campus, and nobody ever worried about it. When I attended the other school I lived two blocks from the projects and would hear random gun fire from my bedroom window at night. I would never walk the streets after dark. When I lived in Hawaii, I was awoken one morning by a man shooting an AK-47 randomly outside my apartment as he went door to door looking for the man who raped his sister. I told that story to a friend of mine in Texas, and I asked, “Where do you even get an AK-47?” My friend replied, “Do you have $300. I’ll get you an AK-47 today.” I’m afraid to live in America.

If there’s one thing most of the world agrees on, it’s that insane people and violent criminals should not be allowed to own guns. There’s nothing wrong that. It’s been said that, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” But if you give a monkey a gun, a random person is going to get shot.

So the first solution to gun violence that I would advocate is:


Another concept that’s not up for debate is that “opportunity creates the criminal.” The more people have guns, the more gun deaths will result from accidents and crimes of passion. Just because some people can own a gun responsibly doesn’t mean everyone can. If you want the general public to have easy access to guns, you need to ask yourself how many inevitable gun deaths you’re willing to accept for that freedom.

Any violent gun-owning criminal will tell you that the easier it is to legally buy a gun, the easier it is to illegally buy a gun. So it’s shortsighted to say, “Criminals don’t follow laws. So if the public can’t have guns, only criminals will have them.” In reality, the more guns the public has, the more guns criminals will have, and as I just mentioned, more otherwise peaceful people will become violent offenders.

To address this problem I would be fine with either of these solutions:


It’s been said that, “American’s weren’t meant to be safe. They were meant to be free.” But the basis of the social contract is limiting people’s freedoms to hurt each other. You’re not free to drive a car without a license. You’re not free to practice medicine without a license. You’re not free to hold public office without meeting a few requirements. It’s easier to get a gun in America than it is to open a business, get divorced or buy a house.  There’s a limit to how many freedoms we should sacrifice for safety, but everyone’s life is already saturated with inhibiting laws. Screaming about gun control is screaming at a single tree in a vast forest that’s on fire. If you’re going to get mad that you don’t have easy access to assault weapons, you should be screaming about having to get a driver’s license or wear a seat belt.

If you truly, madly, deeply believe that American citizens should be able to own guns in order to defend their rights from an oppressive government, you should already be overthrowing the American government. Americans aren’t free. The average American isn’t represented in government, and America isn’t the good guy. I’m not actually saying that we should all band together and violently overthrow the government. I’m just saying that if you use the “protection against tyranny” argument then you’re naive at best, a part of the problem at worst, and a hypocrite either way.

You already know you don’t stand a chance in Hell of defeating the U.S. military with weapons you bought from a pawn shop. As much of a beating as the U.S. military has taken fighting loosely organized, moderately armed rebels in the Middle East, America is still over there killing people every day. The American war machine will keep fighting until everyone you know is dead and the country is bankrupt. Armed insurrection in America is not an option.

You don’t need to overthrow the government to make America a better place anyway. Even if you did overthrow the government, it wouldn’t matter what kind of gun laws you put in place afterwards. The main determining factor in whether or not people will commit crimes with any kind of weapon is ultimately poverty. If you’re screaming because you’re worried the government is going to take away your assault weapons, you’re distracting the public from the fundamental problem with society: the oppressive economic system. Regardless of what the current gun laws are, if you’re truly worried about your (or anyone else’s) ability to preserve your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness then you need to worry about poverty first and foremost.

So my number one solution to the gun question is this:


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What’s it like to be a twin?

I think I'm the one on the right.

I have an identical twin brother, and we’ve been asked thousands of times, “What’s it like to be a twin?” I’ve given the twin speech so many times I’m bored of it, but I’ll give it one more time.

The difference between identical and fraternal twins is that identical twins are created when a fertilized egg in a mother’s womb splits in two, and both halves grow into babies with the same DNA, whereas fraternal twins are created when two separate eggs are fertilized by two separate sperms simultaneously and grow into two different babies with different DNA.

It’s illogical to ask identical twins which twin is older. It’s like taking an apple, cutting it in half and saying that the first half you picked up is older than the other half. For legal purposes you can say that the first baby to come out is older, but that’s just an arbitrary bureaucratic formality. In reality both individuals have existed in the universe for the same amount of time.

Most twins are born premature because there isn’t enough room in the womb to carry two babies full term. This often results in health problems and even death for one or both of the babies. In my case, my brother and I were born two months early. I came out a blue baby because my heart wasn’t done developing, but my brother was fine. Due to my health problems in infancy, I’m half an inch shorter than him, and I wear one size smaller shoes than him. I’ve been asked many times, but I can’t comment on our penis sizes.

Identical twins are of great interest to psychologists because they have the same DNA. This means you can study the behavior of twins to determine what behaviors are the result of nature and nurture. Many twins (myself included) get to experience being tested like lab rats at some point in their life. Psychologist have done countless studies to determine if the order in which siblings are born has any impact on their personality, and they’ve only found one positive correlation: one identical twin tends to be an introvert, and the other will be an extrovert. For the record, I’m the introvert in my twin unit.

Doctors and the general public treat twins like they’re rare, mythical creatures. If you tell a child that they’re different enough times, eventually they’ll start to believe it. This has different ramifications on different people’s psychological development.

Schools in some countries, including the United States of America, have a strict policy of not letting twins be in the same classes during elementary school, because they don’t want twins to base their identity too strongly as a member of a pair, like Thing One and Thing Two. This can be traumatic for twins at first, but this and other twin experiences can serve as motivation to define their identity.

Everyone in the world has to ask themselves, “Who am I?” You have to spend the rest of your life answering that. That question is complicated when you grow up with a clone of yourself. What does that mean? Do you have half a soul? Are you half a person? Are you twice the person that non-twins are? Will you and your twin’s soul reunite when you both die? Will one of you haunt the other after one of you dies? Did fate play a role in you being born a twin? Is killing your twin ethically equivalent to killing yourself? Life is already an existential riddle, but being a twin takes it to another level.

Being a twin is surreal, but it’s not magical. Twins don’t feel pain when the other is hurt, and they don’t have telepathic powers. They may seem to know what the other is thinking, but that’s because they shared the same experiences growing up.  If you spend enough time with anyone you’re going to develop inside references and jokes that only you two understand. Twins just have a head start. Since they learn how to speak together, they tend to develop their own inside language.

This is the most majestic aspect of being a twin. Single children enter this world alone and have to face it by themselves. Twins are born with a best friend to take on the world with… and not just any best friend, a copy of yourself. They’re born into a stable and meaningful relationship comparable to marriage. That’s phenomenally useful and personally rewarding… as long as it lasts.

For these reasons and more, having a twin is fun. It’s like having a super power. Random strangers will freak out gleefully when they see me and my twin together. It’s like being a celebrity. Sometimes people will want to sleep with you just because you’re a twin, especially if you hint that there’s a possibility of having a threesome, which is gross and I would never actually do.

If you’re inclined to use your power for evil, you can trick people. My brother and I never did that much. We didn’t switch classes in school, because that would just mean we’d fall behind in our actual classes that we missed. We never swapped girlfriends, though I know twins who have. The most we ever did was use each other’s ID cards interchangeably.

The only time one of us used our power for evil was in middle school. One day at school I tried to leave my lunch tray on my table instead of taking it back to the kitchen, and my football coach caught me and yelled at me. Once he left I just put my tray on my chair and pushed it under the table and headed to my locker. My coach found out what I had done and ran down the hall screaming. I turned my back and let him pass. He found my brother and pinned him against his locker and screamed at him thinking he was me. Then he gave my brother lunch detention for six months. My brother had no idea why that happened until we were telling twin stories at a party seven years later.

Having a twin isn’t all fun and games though. For the first 10 years of your life, adults will make you stand next to each other and ooooh and awwww at you nauseatingly. Your parents will dress you up in embarrassing matching outfits. You can’t tell who’s who in childhood photographs. On your birthday and Christmas you get redundant identical presents. People will constantly confuse you with your sibling. We got so used to being called by the wrong name in school that we often wouldn’t even bother correcting the person talking to us. We’d just pretend to be the other twin and pass the message along if it was important. Half the time the other person wouldn’t even care who they were talking to. They’d just call us by our last name. In elementary school we had one teacher who could only tell us apart by the mole in my right ear. So when she would see us she would grab our ears and fold them inside-out. The kids on the playground just memorized which shoes we wore.

Then of course, you’re cursed with the lifelong knowledge that one day one of you will die first. Then one of you will have to spend the rest of your life without your other half. But hey, at least if one of us needs an organ transplant we know where to find a perfect donor match!

Here are some more posts I’ve written about my life experiences:


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