Category Archives: Be Better People

The World Won’t Improve Until You Stop Being A Vidiot

The quality of the world is determined by the quality of people in it. A perfect world would be full of educated, self-actualized people. In a society like that, we wouldn’t even need the perfect government because people would behave rationally and empathetically without having to be micromanaged. In a world full of idiots, it wouldn’t matter if we had a perfect government because people would still behave irrationally, selfishly and mercilessly, and we would destroy the systems we put in place to make life better.

The world we live in is far from perfect because we are far from perfect. Even if it’s impossible to define or create the perfect person or perfect government, we can still do a lot better than we’re doing. Even if we can’t save everyone else in the world, it behooves us to become better individuals ourselves. Truly, the only way society will improve is by each individual improving themselves, because each individual’s life is their own responsibility, and nobody can live it for them.

In order to fulfill your obligation to improve yourself, you need to proactively educate yourself, analyze yourself and the world around you, and stop spending 34 hours per week watching television.

Watching TV isn’t a sinister act in and of itself. The problem is that the content we’re currently broadcasting is designed to appeal to the lowest mental common denominator. It’s vapid, unedifying brain candy.

Sitcoms, reality TV, and cartoons revolve around petty characters who spend their lives stressing over petty conflicts. They rarely, if ever, teach us valuable life lessons or set positive examples to live by. Even the “mature” characters such as the adults on children’s shows act like unrealistic, goofy, neutered youth pastors.

Emulating these characters will cripple your ability to cope with the realities of life more than they will prepare you. Since these characters are presented as role models and children have a hard time separating fantasy from reality they skew children’s perception of reality for the worse. And those are the “good” characters. Television is full of glamorized characters who are flat-out bad role models.

Only a handful of shows such as Star Trek the Next Generation feature protagonists who are intelligent, proactive thinkers who value knowledge and reason, but more often than not, if a television show features a protagonist with an above-average intelligence he/she will be monstrously flawed in some other way. The rest of the protagonists on television simply celebrate their stupidity. In big ways and little ways watching television skews your perception of reality by presenting you with a warped reality, and the less you get off your couch and experience the real world the more susceptible you’ll be to accepting, mimicking and defending that dumbed down perception of reality.

Millions, if not billions, of people are able to watch television without mimicking the worse behavior they see, but they still worship the actors who play those characters since they’re presented as larger than life. Since these actors appear as authority figures on television we tend to hold them as authority figures in real life even if we know they’re not. Worshipping celebrities is a complete waste of time and distracts you from real intellectual authorities who actually have useful knowledge to impart and can back up their statements with research.

Celebrity-studded sitcoms, reality game shows, and children’s cartoons aren’t the only intellectually toxic programming on television. There are over 100 channels devoted entirely to sports.  I understand that professional sports are near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts, but we all need to understand that the only reason that is, is because of the billions of dollars the sports industry has dumped into manipulating people into thinking that sports matter. If all the professional sports in the world disappeared tomorrow the consequence would be that we would not be wasting our time glued to the television watching people move a ball from point A to point B. Then we would have to find edifying and productive things to do with the short, irreplaceable time we have on this planet.

You might reply to my these criticisms of professional sports by saying, “Sports teaches you about teamwork and exercise.” To that I would reply, little league and intramural sports teach you about teamwork and involve exercise. Watching professional sports builds rivalries as senseless as street gangs who hate each other because one gang wears red and the other gang wears blue. And sitting in front of your television watching sports while your body atrophies, is the opposite of exercising.

Even the news has become more entertaining than informative. Some news actually makes us dumber.

Probably the best reason not to watch television is the commercials. The word “commercial” is misleading. It would be more accurate to call commercials what they really are, propaganda. Commercials are designed to manipulate the viewers into buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have. They redesign your values so that you believe there’s something wrong with your life that can only be corrected by buying consumer goods. They turn you into a consumer whore who is more interested in the accumulation of objects than solving the world’s problems, and when you adopt that lifestyle you become part of the problem.

You may respond to all of this by saying, “Yeah, the world has its problems. It’s a tough place, but that’s why it’s so important to have a little distraction every once and a while.” There’s truth to that statement, but watching 34 hours of television per week isn’t a little distraction. It’s a full-time job. Think of how much work you get done each week at your real full-time job. You could accomplish that much work making you a better person and solving the real world problems that make life hard by cutting television out of your life. But when you spend a major portion of your free time aging in front of the television, ignoring all the problems crushing civilization, when you could be fixing them, then your complacency makes you as responsible for those problems as if you were an active participant in creating them.

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4 Reasons Terrorism Doesn’t Work And 4 Alternatives That Do


1: Governments already kill more of their own citizens than you can.

Every country locks its own civilians in prisons for nonviolent, victimless crimes where, with few exceptions, they’re raped and beaten until they’re thrown out in the streets with felony convictions that ruin the rest of their lives. Every country sells tobacco, alcohol, and toxic food to their civilians. They also enforce laws that prevent the poor from being able to afford the medicine they’ll need to save their lives after getting sick from the poisonous food they bought at the grocery store. To make life even scarier and more impossible, most governments set the minimum wage below the poverty level.

It would take an army to kill as many civilians as those countries let die every year. It would be illogical to expect terrorism to hold any leverage over countries that make a full-time job out of terrorizing and slaughtering their own population.

2: You will be killed in retaliation to justify war spending.

Attacking a world superpower is tantamount to personal and ideological suicide. When you attack a superpower, it will attack back. Period. There’s no question about that. Even if a terrorist kills him/herself in their attack, the superpower will still need to attack somebody in retaliation. So they’ll invest billions of dollars into killing you, not because they even care about your ideology but because you went out of your way to give them an excuse to kill someone for money.

3: Everyone you know and love will be killed in retaliation.

And since the largest, most powerful militaries in the world are riddled with bureaucracy, inefficiency, and un-accountability they’re probably going to end up imprisoning and bombing more of your innocent neighbors than your actual associates. If/when/before that happens, you really have to take a step back and ask yourself what terrorism really accomplishes. It just sets in motion a domino effect of murder and mayhem until there’s nobody left to be angry at. The only people who really win are the bullet and bomb merchants.

If you truly have an ideology worth spreading, the worst thing you could possibly do is kill a bunch of innocent civilians. All that’s going to accomplish is getting you and a significant number of like-minded individuals killed, and your ideas are going to die with you.

4: You will make the world hate and reject your ideology.

You’re not going to die as a glorious martyr either. You’re going to be demonized, and your ideology is going to be demonized right along with you. Even if your ideology isn’t demonic, you’ll have made it demonic in the public eye.

Bad Luck Brian Meme: "Kills innocent civilians for the glory of his religion. Now everybody hates his religion."

Some terrorists kill themselves and other people because they believe they’ve been pushed up against the wall. Terrorists say they were forced to use violence as a last resort against overwhelming odds. That’s the line we hear, anyway, but when have the police ever raided a terrorist’s bomb-shack and found a door-length list hanging on the wall of every other method the terrorists had tried before finally resorting to violence? Never. Terrorism isn’t the last resort of courageous men. It’s the first idea of uncreative fools. Here are a few ideas that have worked for other people, which you and your organization should consider trying before resorting to violence:


1: Bribery

Maybe you have a righteous ideology that you want your government to adopt. Killing innocent people will obligate politicians to reject your ideology. However, history shows that nothing motivates politicians better than money. Instead of funding terrorist training camps, just fund a politician’s political campaign. Even if your ideology doesn’t make any sense and is blatantly in the disinterest of the common citizen, you can still get a politician to sign legislation that will force your ideology onto others. Why do you think America cares so much about Israel? It’s not because America loves Jews. It’s because American politicians love Jewish campaign donations and business connections.

2: Outreach

The Catholic church tried to spread Christianity by the sword. Now the Crusades are remembered by believers and non-believers alike as a prime historical example of FAIL. However, Christianity still spread all the way around the globe because the Christians changed their tactics. They sent missionaries to foreign lands to set up schools, hospitals, orphanages and poor houses. The locals didn’t (usually) fight off the missionaries. The locals came to them. Then, once the locals were lured inside the church the Christians pulled a bait-and-switch and pushed their manifesto on them. Hundreds of years later, Africans, Hawaiians, Maoris, Alaskans, Native Americans and countless other ethnic groups are still worshiping the God who stole their land and erased their culture.

3. Propaganda

You don’t have to kill your enemy to defeat them. Ultimately, what’s your enemy? Your enemy is the ideas in people’s minds. Defeat the ideas and you convert your enemies into your allies. Then you win twice.

If your ideology isn’t sound enough to convince people to adopt without violence then you need to seriously consider whether your ideology is worth spreading at all. If your ideology can convert people without violence then why use violence?

If you have an ideology worth killing/dying for then you must have a giant manifesto detailing your cause, right? If you don’t, then you have to ask yourself what you’re killing/dying for. How do you spread an idea? You put it into a book and then circulate copies of that book. Your money would be better spent on ink than bullets. You don’t even have to be subtle about the fact that you’re spreading propaganda with a bait-and-switch agenda. Just make it cute and funny. If you want to get into people’s minds then DO get into their books and television; DON’T kill them.

4. Regrouping and rebuilding

Joseph Smith had an ideology he wanted to spread. He was killed for his beliefs, and his followers were brutally persecuted by Christians. Afterwards, his followers didn’t start burning churches and attacking government buildings. They moved out into the country and built a new nation based on their ideals. Unfortunately for them, the United States forced them to accept annexation as a state instead of being able to start their own country, but even after that happened they still didn’t start burning churches and blowing up government buildings. They set up schools in places Christians had already done the groundwork of wiping out the local culture. They sent missionaries door to door all over the world to spread their manifesto and convert people’s minds by talking to them, and they’ve had far more success that way than violence could have ever achieved. They haven’t taken over the world yet, but that’s no reason to start killing people. Point in fact, at the time of writing this a Mormon is running for president of the country that wouldn’t let Utah be its own country. Regardless of whether Utah is a state or a country, it’s still a stronghold of the Latter-day Saints, and it became that way through hard work, not violence.

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Holding Onto Our Cultures Is Holding The World Back

Culture is defined as, “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.”

The reason so many different civilizations have developed different cultures is largely due to environmental factors. Surviving in the desert requires different behaviors than surviving in the tundra. Likewise, living in a place where fish and fruit are abundant will lead to a different culinary culture than living in a place where tubers and livestock are abundant. A place where war has reduced the male population will create a different culture than a place where abundant food and resources mean there are plenty of mates to go around.

But what happens if the environment changes? What happens if a warm land turns cold, when once abundant resources become scarce, or when technology eliminates the sacrifices and hardships your ancestors once faced? In order to survive and thrive, your culture has to adapt to the changing environment.

That’s easy to say, but humans are cognitive misers. By default, we go through life on autopilot relying on biases, stereotypes, assumptions, and faith to allow us to survive without having to delay our actions with thoughts. In fact, that’s a large part of why culture exists: because we do the things we’ve always done without thinking about it. This is a natural survival mechanism that has served our ancestors well, but the benefit of this natural instinct becomes a liability when the environment changes because we’re naturally disinclined to change our behavior even though it would benefit us.

Well, guess what? The world is changing. Technology allows us to ship abundant resources from a country on one side of the world to another country on the other side of the world where that resource is scarce or non-existent, and we can move those resources in less than a week. You can even move people out of their environment into a totally new one in less than a day. The world is becoming more uniform. Other than learning the language and the laws you don’t have to do hardly anything different to survive in the mountains of Bavaria as you do in the plains of America. This has only been true in recent history.

In addition, information travels almost at the speed of thought. You can access the same information over the internet in Bolivia as you can in Siberia. In a world where you can take all your customs and information with you wherever you go and still survive and thrive, culture is becoming more and more obsolete.

A lot of people are afraid of this and see it as a bad thing. They feel like they’re losing their anchor to reality, that their rich heritage is being lost, that the world is becoming whitewashed. So they’re pushing back against the rising tide; little do they know this is as futile as fighting the ocean.

The fact is, the world is changing. In fact, the world is changing faster than any time in history. The old ways are becoming obsolete within a year instead of a lifetime. And no matter how you rationalize holding onto your heritage, the basic premise of culture is still the same today as it was in the Bronze Age. Culture is the sum total behavior of a group of people developed in response to the environment in order to create the best chances of survival.

Holding onto the past is the best way to survive and thrive when the environment is the same as it was in the past. When the environment changes, culture has to change with it in order to provide society with the best practices to ensure survival and prosperity.

At this point in history, the past is obsolete. The old ways won’t help you. In fact, they’re more likely to hurt you. If you want to survive and thrive you need to upgrade your culture.

But you might ask, “Isn’t that disrespectful of the past? Shouldn’t we honor the past?” To that, I ask, “Why?” What do you owe the past? Your heritage, your ancestor’s culture, what you call “the past” is just a way of doing things that worked for a different group of people in a different time and a different place. You don’t owe the past anything. In fact, your ancestors worked hard to survive in a harsh world so that you could live today. They made difficult adjustments, and they broke away from the old ways themselves in order ensure a better future for their descendants. You owe it to your ancestors to do everything you can to survive and improve your descendants’ chances of survival because life is more important than rules or habits or ideologies.  And the best thing you can do to survive is to adapt to the changing environment: to abandon your ancestors (even your parents’) obsolete culture.

The best way to honor the past is to embrace the future. Upgrade your culture.

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10 Reasons You’re Surrounded By Idiots

Man laying in a hospital bed talking to a concerned woman says, "Doctor says it's because I'm surrounded by idiots."


1: Cultural Isolation

Great leaps in human progress have often come from the meeting of minds. The Crusades brought Europe out of the dark ages. Christianity would have never evolved out of Judaism were it not for the cultural diffusion the Romans brought to the Middle East.  The founding fathers of America based many of their political ideas on what they learned from thinkers all over Europe as well as the Native Americans.

The printing press made the ideas cheaper and easier to transport, and the internet has sped up the growth of human knowledge exponentially, but throughout history, our minds have been cut off from each other’s by physical, linguistic and political barriers… and they still are. If we had free energy, one language and no political barriers our knowledge would explode like an algae bloom in the ocean… but the people with the power to remove these stumbling blocks from our path fear change. So despite the globalization that is shrinking the world and bringing humanity together, all of our minds are still limited by the relative cultural isolation that remains.


2: Stress

The greater the disparity between the rich and poor becomes, the less wealth there is for the poor to fulfill their base needs/desires, much less achieve self-actualization. The harder and longer the poor are forced to work, the less time, energy, opportunity and motivation they have to turn their minds towards self-actualization and learning for the sake of learning.

Throughout history, the gap between the rich and poor has stretched and contracted in cycles, but the contractions have been few and far between. If human nature wasn’t to be so greedy, and the distribution of wealth had been more equitable all along, then the human race would have progressed at an exponentially faster rate, but since the vast majority of humanity has been poor and stressed throughout history, we’re suffering the compounded consequences of generations of ignorance.  Even today most people are still too stressed over their base needs/desires to turn their attention to becoming more complete people.


3: Peer Pressure

Humans don’t like it when people act differently than them. Our brains are designed to fear what they don’t know. It was a useful survival instinct for cavemen, but in modern society it mostly causes us to bully, insult, ostracize and find other ways to punish each other, for being different. One of the big reasons we’re all so dumb is because we’ve beaten the courage and inspiration out of each other.

Another consequence of fearing the unknown is that progress is by definition, deviant, which means humans tend to reject improving the status quo. History is full of examples of heroes who died trying to pull their fellow man out of the dark age, and humanity is still being dragged towards enlightenment kicking and screaming.


4: Media caters to the lowest common denominator

Mass media isn’t designed to enlighten its viewers. It’s designed to cater to its viewers most base desires: fortune, glory, excitement, sex, drama, and shiny things.  Mass media is puerile brain candy. If you always eat brain candy, and you never eat brain food, your brain regresses. The longer you stay in Stupid Land, the more you accept and defend stupid as reality.


5: Government doesn’t make education a priority

The world wouldn’t be so dumb if our governments devoted more resources to education than war. If we’d spent our entire war budget on education we could end the need for most of the world’s wars and prisons. Our leaders aren’t doing that though because it’s very difficult to exploit and manipulate highly educated people who are capable of solving all the world’s problems. The rich need the poor to stay poor, desperate and ignorant in order to exploit them. So they lobby our leaders to under-fund schools and over-fund the prison industry.


6: Academic philosophy has failed humanity

Ideally, school is supposed to teach students to be curious, to seek knowledge on their own, to ask questions and seek answers. Unfortunately, academia has suffered the same fate as any large, hierarchical bureaucracy that controls vast amounts of wealth and power. It has come to defend the status quo and ridicule, ostracize and punish deviant thinkers.

Universities rarely teach people to think for themselves. More often than not they teach students to think what their professors or the authors of their textbooks think. There are some good academic philosophy classes out there, but standardized tests don’t measure original thought. They measure memorization. So most curricula are designed to challenge students to study old thoughts and regurgitate them, which makes students experts at bragging about how much they know about the history of philosophy without doing much original or practical problem solving of their own.


7: Religion has failed humanity

There may be some force somewhere in the universe that fits some definition of the word God. There’s some evidence to suggest that might be possible, but there are mountains of evidence that all the religions humans have invented are mythologies. While these belief systems may make some good points and give people hope, there are catastrophic consequences to a single person, let alone entire world, of people basing their real-world decisions on a mythology-based understanding of reality.

History is full of examples of people hurting each other and discouraging progress in the name of religion. These aren’t anomalies. That’s what happens when you base your understanding of reality on mythology. That’s still happening, and it’s going to keep happening as long as people keep believing in mythology.


8: Our leaders don’t know what they’re doing, and they lie about it

Society is so lost we don’t even know we’re lost. This is true for the lowest street sweeper all the way up to the highest political leader. We have no idea what we’re doing, and we’re just guessing while putting on enough airs to make it look like we have it together.

In this kind of world, it’s natural to look to leaders for guidance, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that our leaders are just as blind as the rest of us. The only difference between us and them is that they’re better at lying. This causes two problems. First, when we attempt to emulate our leaders we end up emulating fools. The second problem is that our leaders are leading us in circles as our world becomes overpopulated and better armed.


9: Parents don’t know what they’re doing, and they lie about it

Nobody knows the meaning of life, and psychologists are still figuring out how what makes a mentally healthy human being. Most K-12 schools don’t teach philosophy, and I’ve never heard of one that teaches child psychology. Parents are mostly making up their parenting skills as they go along, but they still demand respect and obedience from the younger generation. So children are raised to look up to and emulate people who are doing their best at faking it until they make it. This haphazard approach to raising children into adults yields haphazard results.


10: Evolution has designed us to be stupid

All of these problems aren’t accidents or anomalies. They’re all inevitabilities considering how evolution has designed us. As surely as evolution gave us hands, feet, eyes, ears, and noses to help us survive it also gave us pain, pleasure, hunger, fear, love, greed and all the other emotions and base desires that steer us away from logical accountability. It also put shortcuts into our brains like cognitive dissonance, cognitive bias, schemas, trust for authority, fear of change, the fundamental attribution error and a slew of other mental processes that reduce our need to think about what we’re doing and encourages us to sleepwalk through life on autopilot.

The truth is ugly, but we have to face this demon in order to fulfill our potential. We were born to be stupid, and make no mistake, we are stupid. I don’t say this because I’m better than you. I’m no better than you. I’m stupid too. The big difference between me and the gangstas, rednecks, preps and religious fanatics that infuriate me day in and day out is that I’m afraid and ashamed of my stupidity whereas they celebrate theirs.

How terrified are you of your stupidity? Because the greater your terror is the more motivated you’ll be to do everything in your power to get unstupid. The more confident or even resigned with who you are the less critical of your own stupidity you’ll be and the more you’ll wallow in your own stupidity, infuriate the intelligent people around you (who you will have ignorantly mistaken for being stupid) and waste your life and lower humanity’s potential.


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Society Won’t Improve Until You Do

"I told about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It's that way with people too, he said, only with people it's sometimes that the whole is less than the sum of the parts." Wendelin Van Draanen

If a society is nothing more than a large group of individuals, then the key to creating a Utopian society is to create a large group of Utopian individuals…

but if you can’t help an individual improve him/herself who doesn’t want to improve him/herself, then there’s no chance of helping a society of people who don’t want to improve themselves….

and if a person who does want to improve himself will do so with or without outside help, then a society of people who want to improve themselves will do so with or without outside help…

then if you don’t live in a Utopian society already, there’s a strong possibility it’s because the majority of people in your society don’t want to improve themselves. In which case, there’s little hope of your generation living to see Utopia…

and any chance your society has of improving its wants will be minimized as long as the majority of people in your society spend 3-6 hours per day watching and listening to commercials designed to make them crave fulfillment of the pettiest, self-serving, immediate desires humanity is capable of.

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Where Do Heroes Come From?

Outline of Superman. The crest on his shirt has a question mark instead of an "S."

I have this theory about where heroes come from. Look throughout American history, and you can find some incredible heroes who fought in the name of social justice. There are no great leaders today. America is so starved for real heroes that it’s resorted to looking up to sports players and TV characters as substitutes. Why don’t we have any heroes, and why were there so many in the past? What was different?

As cliché as it is to pull the “Fight Club” card, I think Chuck Palahniuk touched on it when he wrote that we have no great war to fight. If you look back through history at any hero anywhere you’ll notice that they all had great wars to fight. Think about Winston Churchill. He was a great orator, a capable leader, and a massive alcoholic. Ask yourself this, if it weren’t for Hitler, would many American know Winston Churchill’s name?

There are rarely heroes without a war to respond to because human nature is to sit around docilely as long as nothing is bothering you. The more something bothers you the more you respond to it. However, depending on how house-broken you are, you’ll put up with degrading levels of abuse before you stand up for yourself. Some people are so housebroken they’d let themselves get poked to death with a stick. Some people are so housebroken they’d kill to keep getting poked by that familiar stick.

Some people get fed up with getting poked by the stick and stand up and take the stick away. From an evolutionary standpoint, it sort of makes sense. If there’s no need for heroes then nobody would be motivated to become a hero. Unfortunately, heroes don’t seem to stand up until the poking has turned into bloody beatings.

So you have to ask yourself, how much are you getting poked? Have you ever seen anyone getting hurt or killed from the poking around you? And at what level would you actually stand up and be a hero? Or would you take your beatings to the grave?

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