Tag Archives: social progress

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.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

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We Need To Talk About Creating Utopia

Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, Anthem, The Fountainhead, Brave New World, and even movies like Demolition Man, have instilled society with an unreasonable fear of anyone positing any vision for Utopia. Over the years we’ve become more and more paranoid about openly discussing what a perfect world would be like that you can’t even whisper the idea without someone playing the 1984 card and calling you Hitler or the Unabomber or Al Qaeda.

"Don't think too much. You'll create a problem that wasn't even there in the first place."

Sure, the world isn’t completely bad, but America is pretty far down the rabbit hole. One in four Americans will go to prison at some point in their life. Too much of the federal budget is spent on wars. Politicians lie to the people about the reasons for starting wars and everybody knows it but the politicians are never held accountable. Politicians’ careers are openly sponsored by corporations, and everyone knows that those companies influence politicians to pass laws that make them money at citizens’ expense. Everyone knows the war on drugs costs more in terms of money and life than the drugs themselves, and we’ve known this for years and have done nothing about it.

The country calls itself the land of the free and yet several large (as if the size mattered) groups of people are still denied equal rights, and the people who are most vocal about denying them are religious organizations. Suburbia is environmentally unsustainable. Ghettos are rampant. Teen angst is epidemic. Half the population is taking psychoactive drugs. Illegal drugs are cheaper than books. Schools are underfunded. Health care is unaffordable. Wage slavery is not only legal but the standard business model. You can go to prison (where you’re practically guaranteed to be beaten and raped) for downloading a movie, but CEOs can embezzle billions of dollars and practically walk away with an apology from the judicial system when they’re caught. The cost of a higher education has consistently risen faster than the price of oil. The stock market is designed to fleece the populace. Businesses that went bankrupt because of fraudulent and unethical practices have been rewarded with taxpayer money while taxpayers whose lives were decimated by natural disasters were left to die in the streets, literally.

There’s a serious debate about whether or not mythology should be taught as fact in public schools. The Food and Drug Administration approves poison for human consumption; in fact, it’s almost impossible to buy food at a supermarket that isn’t poisoned. And everyone sits on their couch getting fat watching romantic comedy and action movies that glorify pettiness and anti-intellectualism while their society exploits and murders them, and if you complain about it you’re called a terrorist. And that’s the “best nation in the world.” The consumer luxuries America enjoys are all produced in sweatshops by child slaves in third world countries oppressed by the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. How much more dystopian does it need to get before we actually start calling it a dystopia and stop jeering citizens who point out the flaws of society?

Regardless of how dystopian the world is or isn’t right now, you want the world to improve. You’d like to see the world move closer to a state that we can all agree on as relatively Utopian, but we’re never going to reach that point without talking about it. The more people talk about it the faster we’ll get there. In fact, I would go as far as to say that there isn’t a more important topic that we should be talking about. If you’re not talking about it then you’re not helping. If you’re not actively helping create utopia then you’re passively allowing the world to degenerate into the very dystopia that you’re afraid of living in.

But who is to say what utopia is or isn’t? You do. You have the authority, the right, and even the moral obligation to decide what is right and wrong without asking for permission or being certified as an authority by some other self-proclaimed authority figure. We can’t live in utopia as long as we’re constantly waiting for Big Brother to take us lovingly by the hand and guide us. We have to answer these questions ourselves because if we don’t then we cede our fate to authority.

If we’re not going to do the impossible and change the world for the best, then what the hell are we doing here? Why should we just sit on the couch and watch sports and sitcoms for the rest of our lives and let the chance to be real heroes pass us by? Do any of us really have anything more important to do than the impossible? For that matter, who convinced us that we aren’t capable of accomplishing the impossible? Most of human progress was accomplished by people doing the things that society said was impossible. So we know humans can do the impossible. The only question is whether or not we’ll go down in history as the timid majority of sane, practical naysayers who did nothing except discourage anyone who tried to change the status quo for the better, or are we going to go down in history as the people who said, “You know what? I know I’m not a genius… I’m not a world leader… I’m not a prophet… I’m nobody. I come from nowhere, and I have no right to presume to be able to change the world, but I’m going to do it anyway whether I’m allowed to or not.

If nothing else, I hate to sound cliché, but think about the children, specifically your’s. You want to leave them the best possible world, right? Well, spending your life watching mindless TV will guarantee that they inherent a dystopian world, and it doesn’t matter how good of a parent you were because they’re going to spend their adult life as mindless slaves working in a system that is rigged to make them lose for the benefit of the people controlling the system. So all the sacrifices you made as a parent will be for nothing since your inaction in the greater scheme of things will have guaranteed that their chance of success will be as good as winning the lottery. And the first step doesn’t require any sacrifice. All it requires is talking about utopia, but in order to do that, we need to get over our fear of utopia.

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A Grim Letter From A Wise Sloth Fan About The State Of The World

I regularly receive E-mails from readers saying they share a lot of my views and feel relieved to hear someone else express what they were thinking because they were starting to feel alone and crazy. I enjoy getting letters like that because sometimes I feel like I’m taking crazy pills too. So the relief of meeting a like-minded person is mutual.

"Am I the only one around here who doesn't feel like I'm living in Utopia? Because this seems pretty dystopian. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

I recently received an E-mail from a reader, who I’ve been corresponding with for a while. He wrote an eloquent rant that summed up many of the feelings I’ve been having and questions I’ve been asking. It resonated enough that I asked the author if I could post their words on my blog, and they agreed.

You don’t have to agree with any of the author’s opinions or conclusions, but you can probably sympathize with the frustration and exhaustion that drove the author to pen this rant:

“Hello, Travis.

It has been quite some time since we spoke, no doubt you might have forgotten my name or the subjects we discussed, but it has been a learning experience, after which, I have further progressed my world perspectives and have formed an even more grim conclusion: our lives are never going to improve and our potential will never be fully utilized, as long as this socioeconomic system is in motion. Never.

When we spoke last, on Skype, I was very saddened to see your living conditions, knowing that such an intelligent and truthful individual is not being appreciated by the corporate system designed to maximize the profits of the few at the expense of the majority.

You told me that I’ll never get as good of perks as I do in the military, and those perks provide much security at the expense of several freedoms, which I am sure does not need elaboration given your former military experience. That statement seems quite accurate. I have met geniuses in the military, but the individuals I am surrounded by have the lowest intellectual prowess I have had the displeasure of dealing with, and there is very low probability that these types of folks could thrive in the civilian environment.

Recently I have been conducting a social experiment, that is, in fact, a very easy one: silence and listening. And behold, the topics such as Will Ferrell movies, ways to torture people, worthless ESPN and media trivia and other pop-culture nonsense is in never-ending supply during the 12-hour shifts which we now stand, thanks to the boss wanting to look better on paper. And now all 12 people, save me, pay grades E3 to E8 are gathered around Google Images to see which celebrity each person resembles, while no free education that could be accessed 24/7 is being regarded.

George Carlin could write dozens of books about people like these, unfortunately, he is not in this material world to call wasteful people out on their bullshit. Like many others before him, he has perished at an earlier age than the life expectancy of the people in that country at that time, and it just seems the intelligence attribute is inversely proportional to longevity. Perhaps because the more intellectually inclined folks are appalled and saddened by the depressing reality of this world and declining social functionalities, and this stress manifests in terms of immune damage, disregard for health conservation and substance abuse. But maybe those individuals have long foreseen the irreparable damage coming, where most people are enslaved to be a cog in the wheel and spend most of their lives doing things they do not want to do.

Like you said, the rich cannot exist without the poor. The 1% does not exist without the 99% and as such, to create this expanding socioeconomic inequality, products are overpriced despite being made with cheapest resources and workers are being remarkably underpaid despite ever-increasing working hours of repetitive jobs, many with little productive merit. So you are forced to spend 40+ hours per week to make the minimum salary that the business owners can spare, and end up having little free time for yourself with little entertainment you can afford.

The promise of going to college in order to make more money would hold some water if education was easily accessible, professionally applicable and free. But as it stands, right now the college loan debts in the States exceed those of credit card and auto loans, and the companies who hire new employees do not care for the intellectual potential of the candidates unless a piece of paper says so. Certainly you have met some brilliant people without a college degree, unfortunately the employer also seeks someone who has credentials and incentive to pay back the expensive education that could be obtained for free on the Internet and public libraries, and as such the people without a degree are considered an inferior human being regardless of the actual values they represent.

So now, some poor blue collared workers, some of them with families, also try to attend college part-time, and have even less time to sleep, feed (and of course the food is mass-produced with damaging chemicals and overpriced)  and of course be covered from natural elements with reliable shelter and clothing. As far as air and water quality, many times those attributes have to be accepted at the expense of having the opportunity to live in a populated area where a job can be obtained.

All of this leads to health degradation in the long run, and as such, your potential is forever hindered unless you have a very high paying job that can produce enough monetary influx to not only have the needs covered, but the material wants as well. Not a very common occurrence, and so you see how most of our lives we devote to doing what is against our immediate wishes, even though resources, technology, and knowledge to create an intelligent and cooperative utopia are very real, albeit not mass propagated.

Trying to explain such ideas to the public is often unsuccessful, as the majority of people are conditioned to be ignorant, primitive and materialistic. Not entirely their individual fault, as many variables are responsible for shaping public attributes, whether it be teachers, parents, or the media. But one thing is for certain: resisting this system is going to be a losing battle, even if thousands of people exert public pressure, the special force like police is ever ready to crush any resistance to defend the standing of the corporate owners. Numerous riots today have the same after effect, and the rich continue to thrive.

Meanwhile, my wife and daughter have me to protect them, and even though I can stay in the military until l I retire safely and comfortably, I feel like there is no great achievement on the horizon anytime soon, that I’ll still blend in with the gray crown of unfortunate middle-class people and that any contribution to this world will be drowned out by the system that offers minimal securities at the maximum loss of freedoms.

Please tell me, what is the best course of action I can take to help propel humanity to socioeconomic equality and efficiency? Thank you for your intellectual content and politically incorrect, but technically correct explanation of reality. Hope to stay in touch.”

I don’t believe anyone has to die to make the world a better place. We don’t even need to agree on a Utopian philosophy. My current theory is that best course of action one can take to help propel humanity to socioeconomic equality and efficiency is to invest in sustainable infrastructure and free education. I explain why in the posts below:

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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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Conspiracy Theories and Theorists
My Tweets About Pop Culture

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.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Talk About Saving the World
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3 Reasons We’re Not Trying To Make The World A Better Place

Our species has spent the majority of its existence and its evolution as ignorant beasts ruled by our instincts. Even today it’s still possible to get all the way through life using about as much logic as a bird uses to successfully navigate a complicated flight path. You can easily let your instincts guide you through all of your life decisions.

It would be a mistake to assume only the most misguided, weak, cowardly members of society give up and surrender themselves to their instincts. We’re all born set on autopilot, and our instincts don’t turn off after they’ve led us to our mother’s milk. By default, we stay on autopilot our entire lives. Logic is a relatively unnatural ability that has to be consciously and deliberately chosen and refined over time in order to override our instincts.

Everyone assumes they’re the exception to the rule, and they’ve taken control of their lives, but if everyone was as independent-minded as they believe they are, we would live in a peaceful, equitable, and logical world. The world is the way it is because we’re still a society of animals who consciously use the logical part of our brains as little as possible.


Painting of a group of primitive cave men sitting around their camp working at various tasks like skinning a deer and grinding plants


Consider our nature.

All of our emotions are animal instincts: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, anticipation… even love… especially love. Parents tend to automatically love their children for obvious evolutionary reasons. Men are attracted to beautiful women because they appear to be healthy mates. Females are attracted wealthy and strong males because they appear to be good providers and strong mates. Guys want to sleep with as many girls as possible to spread their genes. They’ll even rape women despite all logic. Girls want to hold onto one guy to help them raise their offspring, and both men and women will remain in abusive relationships despite all logic. We tell ourselves falling in love is one of the “highest” intellectual activities we do. In reality, it’s as primitive as taking a dump.

Masculinity reflects the hunter/protector role male animals traditionally filled for the past 2 million years. Femininity reflects the camp-tending/child-rearing role female animals traditionally filled for the past 2 million years. Today we look to leaders to run society for us because we’re pack animals, and that’s how we‘ve done it for millions of years. Tall people get promoted at work more because we see them as more “alpha” pack members. Feeble kids get picked on at school because even as children we feel compelled to establish our dominance in the pack hierarchy. The same instinct motivates bosses at work to bully their subordinates. Our brains go on to undermine our ability to use logic by providing us with mental shortcuts like schemas, confirmation bias, the fundamental attribution error, fear of the unknown, etc.

This sounds sinister, but the fact that our species has survived this long is evidence that these instincts are helping us. They tell us what to do when life is too complicated to think all the way through. They guide us towards the path of least resistance and help us navigate our way through life with minimal need to think for ourselves. In other words, we’re not supposed to use our brains because we can’t be trusted to.


Consider our nurturing.

Infants can’t think objectively much less distrust the people they view as gods: their parents. So as infants, it’s only logical for us to trust our parents and assume that the way they teach us to live was the way to live. And since we assume that that’s the way it never occurs to us to question it. And when someone tells us we’re wrong it’s only logical for us not to believe them. Even if we do ever decide to look at our beliefs objectively we can only change the beliefs we have, not the ones we don’t have, and we don’t how much we don’t know. So we’re inclined to believe that we know as much as there is to know (or at least as much as we need to know). From that point of view, it’s logical (or at least inevitable) to have a closed mind (initially). To make matters worse, the more we know the more we tend to believe we’ve reached the apex of human knowledge. So ironically, the more we know the more close-minded we tend to become. Even when we admit that we don’t know everything we tend to think that admitting our ignorance makes us wise, which again closes our mind.

It’s human nature to have a closed mind, and that’s why it was inevitable that the religions we created would say that blind faith in the answers you’ve been given will earn you a place in paradise while questioning the answers is a crime so terrible that those who do it deserve to be punished for eternity. It was inevitable that the governments we’ve created would say that to be a good citizen you have to be a patriot and support your government no matter what and anyone who doubts their country is a traitor or a terrorist or at least a cry baby. It was inevitable that our parents and school officials would say to respect them and that to question them is insolent, disrespectful, stepping out of our place, rude, etc. It was inevitable that society would tell us to be optimistic and grateful for what we have and that to question your position in life or your society’s social model is pessimistic and ungrateful. It was inevitable that our business model would reward those who don’t rock the boat (even if it’s sinking) and labels people who criticize the system as insolent, troublemakers, lazy, or not tough enough to handle “it.”

Businesses love to talk about thinking inside and outside of the box, but these terms are misleading. There’s no inside or outside the box thinking. There’s being guided by your instinct while repeating the patterns you’ve learned from society and then there’s thinking, period. And for those who define their reality by repeating the processes they already know, anything and everything outside of their experiences appear radical. To them, the world is black and white, and they tend to view anybody who thinks at all as an extremist and a heretic. We say we value thinking, but nobody takes it upon themselves to practice thinking as an art form. We don’t think on our own time, and even when someone barges into our lives and pushes ideas into our hands that don’t fit into our preconceived schemas, we tend to automatically naysay it and label it stupid…and the more we label everything outside our box stupid the smarter it makes us feel and the more it cements us into our box.


Look at our group behavior.

Just like our individual brains, society seeks the path of least resistance. Society is set to autopilot. It embraces beliefs that are familiar, vague, and shallow. It embraces behavior that is routine, immediately gratifying, and physical. It shies away from beliefs that are too unusual, self-critical, complicated, or far-sighted. While society will accept superficial forms of deviance such as wearing slightly unusual clothing and using slightly unusual slang, it opposes behavior or beliefs that contradict or undermine society’s fundamental values, which again, are vague and shallow. After generations of this modus operandi, cultures naturally sift out a functional level of equilibrium that it calls maturity, responsibility, being grown up, sane, normal, moral, acceptable, natural, etc.

Children usually don’t have all of these standards explicitly spelled out for them,  but society will give them hints when they step off the path and will guide them to normality and mediocrity. When they get there, they’ll be rewarded with acceptance, praise, and the internal peace that comes with having your mind completely whitewashed. All of this sounds sinister, but again, these tendencies have evolved because they help us survive. However, our instincts are blind, and when left unchecked they can actually drive us to our deaths through over-consumption, overpopulation, and over-competition.

Unfortunately, despite possessing the ability to reason, our individual instincts and our societal tendencies oppose the development of logic, the fail-safe that could save us from our instincts. The more you question yourself and take yourself off of autopilot the more you have to come face to face with your own inadequacies, and the truth hurts. The more you confront these difficult truths the less simple your world will become, the more responsibility you’ll have to take for your welfare and the harder life becomes for you. The more you question society and see the world more clearly the more society will reject, ridicule, fear, hate and persecute you. So we’re classically conditioned to become safe, unthinking, self-congratulatory automatons who are going to over consume, overpopulate, and over compete ourselves into extinction.

History provides plenty of examples of individuals who pursued the art of thinking despite the immediate, negative consequences, and while they did find answers that lay outside the accepted model of human understanding and improved life for future generations…many of these individuals were killed for their trouble. Make no mistake, society is not a docile herd of sheep following a sly pied piper. They’re a ravenous pack of wolves kowtowing to the fiercest wolves, and the only thing worse than being at the bottom of the hierarchy is to be outside the group because that makes you a common enemy, and pretty much the only thing they’ll all put their differences aside for is to kill an outsider who threatens to upset the status quo of the pack.

Yeah, we all want society to improve, but all we really need to do to improve society is become better individuals. We don’t become better individuals though because anytime anyone tries, they’re descended upon by the wolves (who are usually their friends and family). We all want the system to improve, but anytime someone tries, the same thing happens. Theoretically, we all want change, but in practice, it’s the one thing we fear and hate most.

The point of all this isn’t to say change isn’t possible. Obviously, society has changed a great deal throughout the history of civilization. It’s just worth knowing why you’re unlikely to see all the changes you want in your lifetime. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll see some change in your lifetime, but most of the change will be unimportant (like fashion). You’ll see some baby steps on the important issues even though people will fight that progress kicking and screaming and then spend the rest of their lives bitching about how these advances in society are proof of the crumbling of society and the end of the world. Then you’ll see the children of this generation grow up accepting those baby steps as true, but most of our children won’t think any farther past that. Only a few of our children will grow up to be sinful, heretical, preposterous, ungrateful nerds who will push the envelope of human understanding. They’ll be persecuted by those of our children who grow up to be good, normal, decent people. Then our children’s generation will die off, and their children will grow up accepting some of the advances that the deviants of the previous generation made, and the cycle will continue improving at a snail’s pace…

Unless we start rigorously, systematically teaching children to think. If we can raise just one generation of children with legitimately curious, logical, objective minds we can break the cycle of ignorance. But in order to do that we’re going to have to teach them to be sinful, heretical, preposterous, ungrateful nerds, and most parents will fight that tooth and nail. That’s why society won’t change…much… unless you can think of a way to undermine the system.


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10 Signs You’re A Sheeple

Pictures of a cave man morphing into a sheep, with the words, "The evolution of blind acceptance"


10. You own an expensive vehicle. 

You don’t need a $40,000 vehicle to get from point A to point B. The only reason to own a $40,000 car is because you want one. Why do you want one? Because you were told to want one… and you obeyed.



9. You watch the top 10 highest rated television shows.

This wouldn’t be the case if the top 10 television shows were beacons of genius. As it stands, the top 10 television shows are beacons of petty ignorance because stupid sells better than genius. The reason stupidity sells so well is because people who don’t think flock towards stupidity because it’s familiar and safe. It reinforces their egos without ever challenging them. If you’re confused as to whether or not you’re a sheeple you can check to see if any of your favorite television shows are on the top of the Neilsen ratings.


8. You believe that the music you listen to and the clothes you wear make you unique and/or rebellious.


Photo of a bunch of sad emo goths who all look the same, with the caption, "CONFORMITY: The harder you try to show your individuality, the more you look like everybody else."


Music and fashion are mass produced consumer goods no matter what label they fall under. I don’t care if you’re hip/hop, grunge, indie, metal, emo, punk, hardcore, country, death metal or classical. There’s somebody else out there listening to the same music as you, wearing the same clothes that were made in the same sweatshops, congratulating themselves for being unique just like you. But you’re not unique. You’re defining your identity by associating it with mass-produced consumer products that you’re going to stop listening to/wearing when it goes out of style. I’m not saying you can’t listen to music or wear clothes. Just don’t assume any of it makes you a rebel.


7. You don’t read or you only read popular fiction.

In order to grow and change you need to learn. In order to learn, eventually you’re going to have to read a book. If you’re not reading then you’re not learning much outside of the pop culture you’re bombarded with every day.


6. You get along with pretty much everybody.

On the surface, it sounds noble and virtuous to get along with everybody, but most people are stupid. Stupid people are afraid of ideas. Smart people have ideas. If you’re smart, stupid people won’t like you. If you get along with everybody you either don’t have any ideas to offend their stupidity with or you’re not standing up for your intelligent ideas, and if you’re not going to stand up for what’s right then you’re stupid.


5. Similar to #6: You automatically disagree with people all the time.

If you do this you probably don’t notice, but it’s pretty easy to spot when other people do it. So think about this. Non-thinking people don’t weigh pros and cons logically. They just defend what they already believe and automatically reject everything else even if it’s mundane and trivial. If it doesn’t already have a place in their mind already it’s not coming in. So they constantly disagree with other people. They think this makes them smart because they’re so “good” at coming up with arguments and playing the devil’s advocate. The more they shoot down other people’s ideas and shut them up, the smugger and more genius it makes them feel, but all they’re really doing is building a higher and higher wall around their mind.


4. Your best friends are stupid.

We hang out with people we’re comfortable with. Now be honest. Are your best friends stupid? If they are, then the reason you’re friends with them is because you’re stupid.


3. You have no philosophy or your philosophy is vague to the point of being useless.

Here’s a simple sheeple test in one question: What’s your philosophy on life? Don’t have an answer ready to go? Your mind is empty. You’re following the herd.

But don’t take my word for it. Go do a survey. Go ask everyone you know what their philosophy on life is. Most people won’t have an answer. That means they don’t know how to live. So all they can do is just follow the herd and convince themselves that whatever they’re already doing is novel and ideal. But what they’re doing is neither novel nor ideal.

A thinker would be able to immediately give you a summary of their philosophy and tell you a long, arduous story about how they came to that conclusion, and they would go out of their way to make the disclaimer that their answers aren’t conclusive, their journey isn’t over and they’ll have more to say on the matter every year.


2. You believe in religion.

All religion is mythology. It’s just stuff humans made up and told their descendants not to question. Believing something that isn’t true and refusing to consider the evidence is the definition of a blind follower. Don’t get mad at me for calling people who worship mythology sheeple, get mad at Jesus for comparing himself to a shepherd. I’m also not saying that being an atheist makes you smart and independent. There are plenty of pop atheists who have rejected religion just because it’s trendy, and that makes them sheeple as well.


"If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people." Gregory House


1. You don’t think you’re a sheeple.

I don’t say this hypocritically. I say it self-deprecatingly. Every one of us is a product of the environment we were raised in. Our most basic assumptions about life, existence, and our own identity are interwoven with the fabric of society so tightly it’s usually impossible to tell where society’s ideas end and ours begin. The world simply can’t be divided into sheeple and nonconformists. We’re all sheeple.

If you don’t think you’re a sheeple you’ll never have any motivation to analyze your beliefs and behaviors objectively to decide if you’re doing anything stupid or herd-minded. However, once you admit you’ve been guilty of following the herd your entire life then you’ll be motivated to tear yourself apart looking for the disgusting stains of society within yourself. And when you do that you’ll also find the good parts of your personality that society helped build within you.


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