Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ideas as components of systems

If we look at our systems of thought as actual systems, we quickly realize that ideas are actually parts, or components, of them. Do you think that the CPU inside of your computer or the current version of your Internet browser are final products? Of course not, so why should the way that you view the world be so disgustingly out of date and static while the technology that you use continues to be improved upon? For most of humanity, how information is processed is lagging far behind how QUICKLY this occurs.

Thought systems, ideally, should be:

1. Open

2. Dynamic

3. Practical. This entails implementing an ideal or concept by first testing its usefulness in the everyday world, then deciding whether there are any other ideals or concepts of higher degrees of utility. If not, we "prototype" the ideals, but we never "believe" in them, or act as though they can never change. We also, because the system is dynamic, remember to upgrade the ideals whenever we can.

Computers don't need empathy, so why do we?

In today's world, computers can be readily programmed to medically assist people. With some work, they can probably even be programmed to invoke decision-making processes to the end of generating high quality sum outputs in real-life medical situations. Really, all we'd need would be a set of algorithms, a tentative set of values and desirable outcomes, and data on what kinds of variables and parameters exist in any given scenario that we're going to assess. The computer would then be able to calculate which outcomes have the highest value, and would subsequently perform the necessary actions to generate those outcomes. So, for example, if someone with an injury were to request to be attended to, but voiced his plan to massacre a school full of people, the computer would be able to realize that the most suitable action would be to NOT dress the man's wounds -- that is, if said wounds rendered him unable to carry out his plans.

Does the computer feel anything for those in danger of being massacred while performing this calculation? No, but it knows that the people involved DO feel, and that this is valuable. Therefore, the computer would be able to maximize the outputs of the situation, but without any of the setbacks of the exclusive preferences that emotions foster. Incidentally, you don't have to feel pain in order to understand that it's negative, and thus, something to rid the world of (for the same tautological reasons that the consequents of wetness and solidity are inherent in the definitions of water and solids, respectively).

Empathy is no good for the same reasons that racism, preferring the taste of unhealthy foods to healthy foods, and being sexually attracted to people whom we know aren't very mentally worthwhile are all no good. Even when we can't help feeling a certain way, we should still double-check the feeling by way of a mental algorithm before we decide to act on it.

Collaboration over competition

Thought experiment: A corporation, headed by a single CEO, opens for business. Their key product line gets under way, mostly thanks to a small handful of experts -- marketing, design, etc. -- whom the CEO has deemed top of the line in terms of innovation capability. Before long, the corporation starts reeling in profits. So far, so good.

A business-savvy man gets wind of the product idea, and thinks that it is a profitable one. He decides that he wants to try his hand at selling the product as well, but realizes that, if he were to work under the current CEO of the new corporation, he'd be making virtually nothing in lieu of the bureaucratic hierarchy that exists there.

Problem! The man wants to make a profit. In fact, he finds this to be so much more important than refining the product to the end of maximizing its benefit to society that he decides to start his own, competing corporation! He doesn't need the former corporation's experts, he thinks. He'll just hire some of his own to find ways of making the product attractive enough to the average consumer to out-compete his rival.

He's successful. As a result, the two corporations are now competitors, which may stimulate economic growth, but it in no way makes society a better place. Due to the existence of a monetary incentive, neither CEO is willing to combine their experts for the purpose of balancing out their marketing and design teams, because neither CEO is willing to share his salary with the other. Obviously, if one group of experts contains an individual who knows more about some aspect of the product than everyone else in either group -- and vice versa -- then they'd all do well to combine and collaborate -- if their goal is the actual improvement of the product.

Eliminating the monetary incentive would solve this problem, as, in a resource-based economy, there would be no fear of becoming destitute or going hungry. We'd all have access to the exact same resources -- not as in communism, which is contingent on equal distribution of resources and ownership, but in a manner which utilizes equitable distribution -- that is, allocating resources based on wants and necessity rather than on lowest common denominators and fixed numbers. If this were to happen, we'd all be free to work on things for a superior reason: to make them better.

No one should categorize their ideas by way of isms

I don't generalize humans into predefined categories, so why should I generalize ideas in this way? Everyone seems to have at least one "ism" that applies to them, and while it's rare for them to find flaws in their own isms, when it does happen, they cast them off entirely in favor of wholly new ones. This is silly, because ideas should be scrutinized and refined individually; any other approach is inefficient.

What if you concur wholeheartedly with every facet of a given philosophy, but eventually find one, tiny flaw in it? Do you still steadfastly stand behind it? A lot of people do, and that's called cognitive dissonance. Others repudiate the philosophy as a whole, which I'd consider an emotional overreaction. It makes much more sense, then, to simply talk about ideas one at a time; isms and so-called static "philosophies" are archaic and a detriment to the quality of our society.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two aspects of your existence to be mindful of

1. By existing, you influence those around you, and therefore cannot simply do whatever pleases you.

2. By existing, you generate work and suffering for those who bear the burden of your existence. Therefore, it is your imperative to reduce and be mindful of the amount of negativity that is introduced into the universe by way of your physical processes.

Why being against theistic belief is not good enough

What good does it do to focus so exclusively on theism if we understand that challenging otherwise unquestionable beliefs is important across the board? Let us not forget the following preconceptions, which have no reason to be espoused or obeyed:

1. Monogamy

2. Ownership

3. Inalienable "rights"

4. Competition as an ideal, both socially and economically

5. Equality

6. Individualism; ego or self-worship

7. Usury

8. Paper proclamations, laws; absolute decrees which fail to apply context, conditions, or circumstance

9. Deadlines; mandatory attendance

10. Rule by humans -- which are essentially idea agents -- rather than by the ideas themselves

11. Family; love; illogical preferences for fellow human beings at the expense of the rest of sentient life

12. Making decisions based on subjective feelings and preferences rather than rational thought

13. Consumption of meat

14. Sexual reproduction -- a non-consensual act which is solely responsible for all leaks whose puddles we psychologically love to clean over and over while never bothering to actually plug the hole

15. Placing value in uniqueness -- a trait requiring further qualitative analysis in order to be meaningful (a single black person amid a town of racist whites is "unique" in his or her situation, right?)

At the end of the day, ALL preconceptions -- especially those steeped in desire, emotion, and subjective preference -- are a problem. We must promote open, dynamic systems of thought which continuously update themselves as new data becomes available, so that we never become complacent in our daily lives. Religion is just one symptom of this far more fundamental problem.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We don't need bad in order to have good

If, as the average person believes, struggle and horror make life worth living, build character, and teach us lessons, then why isn't anyone deliberately creating horrible situations for him- or herself? The sheer size of the anti-smoking collective is enough to demonstrate that most people are not interested in imposing harmful or deleterious agents on themselves, so why do the most pretentious among us continue to lie when stating that they find the most awful aspects of life to be the reasons for why life is worth living? Such aspects do not build character or make the good more good.

If you think otherwise, then why aren't you trying to get lung cancer by starting smoking? Why aren't you trying to get AIDS by having unprotected sex? Why aren't you chopping your arms off? If you want the good to be so good, then why aren't you making the bad as bad as it can be for yourself? Don't you want to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair in order to prove that you're a strong person whose life is rich and worthwhile? If not, then cognitive dissonance, that most vile and disgusting of all meme viruses, has taken root inside your brain.

Of course, some might claim that, in order to be truly valuable, the bad cannot be administered consciously. This is silly on its face, as the only difference between the above set of circumstances and this one is that, in this case, there is a lack of reason and deliberation. It could be said, then, that mystery is what those who subscribe to this view are after, and, unfortunately, humans do value mystery, often for idiotic evolutionary reasons: we eventually became intelligent animals, but did not fully understand our world, so we had no choice but to evolve reverence for the unknowable and mysterious.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nature is bad; intelligence is good

No CEO of any business would abide by the methodologies of natural selection for refining existing products or producing new ones. The manner in which "nature" works when selecting what's "best" is quite dumb, really: make a bunch of copies of stuff that doesn't actually fix or accomplish anything, then throw all of them into the trash except for the one that seems to work the best in that particular niche.

That would be like if a major corporation attempted to determine which product was best suited for a given market by creating ten variations on that product at random -- with two being horribly inoperable -- spending millions of dollars on each product line, and then terminating all of the lines but the one that appears most profitable. Nature is worse, though, because its "products" can scream in pain and terror, and usually do at least once in their lives.

The more "natural" that something is by conventional definitions, the stupider it is to adopt, revere, or support it. Foresight, planning, and goals are far superior to blindness, idiocy, and apathy.

We finally show up on the scene to clean up the mess but decide to turn a blind eye

When the non-religious among us proclaim their love for life, it really rubs me the wrong way, because they seem to think that the rest of the planet works the way that their Western, New Agey, free spirit, nudist, nature-loving society does. Meanwhile, for almost a billion years, now, organisms have been popping into existence against their consent, and have had no means of justifying their existences, or even thinking about whether life makes sense as an intelligent concept. Until you've been a dinosaur with worms, or a hyena on the verge of starvation, you really don't have the right to say that life is some praiseworthy idea -- especially considering that forces far dumber than ourselves were responsible for its inception.

Want to know the meaning of life? It's simple, really: want, want, want, chase, chase, chase, take, take, take, run away, run away, run away, multiply, multiply, multiply. Maybe a given organism is chasing its love for honey, or maybe it's about to eat your newborn baby. Nature couldn't care less, because it's much dumber than we are.

The binary system of attraction and repulsion that all non-human organisms use is quite scary, really. No animal has ever decided to live in the name of perseverance, or proving some point that it's 'successful' and 'life-loving.' That's all manmade, ego-driven nonsense. Animals don't have a choice, and they haven't for a solid billion years.

Ever have a relative slowly die of stomach cancer over the course of six months while crying and screaming in agony? Yeah, that's been happening for a billion years for no reason -- to beings that don't even have the capacity to wonder whether life is "worth it." 

What are humans trying to prove by having children and continuing to perpetuate life? "I'll show everyone how great at living I am by beating cancer! Yeah, I'll show nature that I'm good enough to eat and make copies of myself. Life can't beat me. Torture me all you want for screwing up in my mindless pursuit of desirable things; I'll win and prove that it's worth it!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Belief as identity

Belief, as previously discussed, is both incomprehensible and problematic; as a consequence of my realizing this, I no longer believe anything. However, almost everyone on Earth believes at least something, and oftentimes will equate their beliefs with their identities. This, too, is problematic, as outlined in one of the original three posts of this blog. But let's make it very simple.

Believing something because you're a liberal, as opposed to being a liberal because you believe something, means that you're dishonest, and more interested in how you appear to others -- or to yourself -- than in pragmatic conjecture and approximation.

Once again, there is no justification for ANY kind of belief, but those beliefs which help to forge a given individual's static personal identity are especially unjustifiable.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is essentially a phenomenon where preconceptions are reinforced by any means necessary, while evidence or other indications to the contrary are ignored or even go unperceived by the "investigator." A good way of thinking about this phenomenon is by imagining a child who's been made aware that one of his favorite toys is at the bottom of a toy box. The child may ultimately find only a generic version of the toy, or perhaps the toy is missing some of its parts, but the child still accepts it as what he'd been looking for. Meanwhile, in his excitement, the child throws other toys of potential interest behind him, completely absorbed by the search for the desired toy, thereby producing a tunnel vision effect.

Confirmation bias results from emotional attachment to ideas, and is antithetical to standard scientific inquiry. We should always attempt to disprove or discredit any ideas that we entertain. Furthermore, should we fail to actually disprove or discredit our ideas, we should still refrain from believing in them, while implementing them in our lives in a manner that makes it appear as though we believe in them. Never quickly say, "No, that's not what I'm looking for" as you mindlessly hurl a piece of evidence behind you, only to forget mere seconds later that you'd ever encountered it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Belief is incomprehensible to humans

Claiming that you know that something is true because you have evidence in your favor is a form of begging the question that relies on your five senses and rational processes; I'd refer to it as "appeal to empiricism," if I were to give this fallacy an official name. We have finite scopes of the world; until we have infinite scopes, we can never say that we know something to be true. I can't even say that I know the preceding statement to be true, but how do I know that this statement about that statement is true? This process terminates in an infinite regress, which causes a "runtime error" in the human brain.

Instead of believing in things, let us, both to do away with arrogance and to remain scientifically minded, act as though we believe in things in order to test their practical value in the environment. That seems sensible, doesn't it?

Copyright is a stupid concept

It is physically impossible for any particular manifestation or configuration of genes, genetic expressions, memes, memetic expressions, biological drives, instincts, desires, or general cognitive processes and faculties to own an idea. As there is no such thing as a quantifiable, finite self ('we' are all merely copies of hundreds of 'Frankenstein' components, each a collection of possibly an infinite number of interconnected objects), and we live in a deterministic universe, there is nothing particularly special about any discovery made by any one of us. Recognition, furthermore, is a symptom of a problem called individualism, which breeds social and economic disparities and jealousy, just to name two ills.

Therefore, anyone who finds my blog entries to be worth disseminating has my permission to copy and paste them to whomever they please. Don't bother giving credit; ideas are neither owned nor created by individuals, and even if they were, that says nothing of the quality of any one individual. Ideas are what matter -- not ego drama.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why we don't need to look at the fossil record to establish that the theory of evolution is probably true

1. Human fingernails are obviously vestigial claws that have no function.

2. Why is the eye so flawed, and why does it have a gaping blind spot where the optic nerve is?

3. What use is the appendix in modern humans?

4. Why do we get goosebumps if we no longer have thick enough hair to be intimidating in the same way that chimps are to their peers?

5. Why do we have a tail bone?

6. Why do dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans have hand and finger bones in their fins?

7. Why do bats have similar bones in their wings?

8. Why do male mammals have nipples?

9. Why are bird genomes much more similar to dinosaur genomes than reptile genomes are to dinosaur genomes?

10. For "half an eye" arguments: Is there ever a point at which a developing fetus has "half a head" inside the womb? After all, the head is too complex to have come from just a sperm and egg cell! Feathers may have initially evolved for the purpose of regulating temperature; organs and body parts do not have to maintain a singular function throughout their tenures, so rudimentary precursors to the eye needn't have been an "eye" in the sense that we think of them today.

The problem of sentient life in a nutshell

1. Objects of desire are chased indefinitely but are never truly obtained. This chase does not accomplish anything of any importance, and instead is only kept up in order for organisms to produce copies of themselves. Furthermore, the intermittent and temporary state of satisfaction merely fills a hole and brings the sum back to zero; it never actually generates a real positive.

2. Should deprivations remain untreated long enough, suffering will result. Likewise, suffering from other environmental factors is inevitable as well. Why are we punished for not obtaining the objects of our desires, given 1.?

3. The ephemeral glimpses of satisfaction that we're all offered in life are of mere physical objects or other mundane phenomena -- never the idea of the object of desire. The idea of such objects cannot be obtained; only the objects themselves can be, and they're always pale imitations of the ideas that our psychologies actually crave.

Thoughts over feelings

I've made a short list of common examples of the interplay between human psychology and human intelligence, emphasizing what kind of pitfalls many people are prone to entering and how to avoid them. If you agree with most or all of these examples, then it's likely that you understand that feelings, emotions, and desires are dangerously exclusive and subjective.

1. We dislike the taste of broccoli, but we know that it's good for us.

2. We're attracted to the bad boy, but we know that he's an asshole and not worth our time.

3. We're repulsed by a hideously obese man, but we know that making fun of him to his face would be wrong.

4. We're sexually attracted to a female friend, but we know that our male friend is a more logical and interesting individual, and thus someone worth spending more time with.

5. We prefer meat to vegetables, but we know that keeping animals in cages for months before brutally slaughtering them is vile behavior.

6. We think that wild polar bears are beautiful animals, but we know not to go near them lest they attack us.

7. We've been raised to want to be the best at competitive diving, but we know that it's not worth hitting our head on the cement and ending up paralyzed for life.

8. We love what alcohol does to our brains, but we know that we'll become irresponsible and erratic while under the influence.

9. We're genetically inclined to want to get pregnant, but we know that our child will eventually die -- possibly quite horribly, or at least after having experienced a mediocre or horrible life.

10. The idea of a universe designed by an intelligent creator is much more emotionally appealing to us than the idea of a universe devoid of original purpose, but we know that the evidence weighs against there being a creator.

11. We become very uncomfortable while sitting in the dark alone at night, but we know that it's no more likely that a supernatural entity or unwanted intruder would be near us then than during the daytime.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Idearchy - the optimum choice for any meritocratic, and pragmatic, society

In an ideal society, who should we give authority to? Why should checking and balancing exist if "the people" possess the capacity to ruin society with errs in judgment or poor ideas?

The answer to this is simple: based on both hard logic and empirical observation, we pragmatically formulate models of ideals which we rigorously test -- not for rightness or wrongness, but for usefulness, as in components of a system. Then, after peer reviewing the results while continually checking for superior alternatives, we adopt these ideals for implementation by default. In essence, society will be ruled not by elites, not by no one, and not even by everyone, but by ideas. This, if we are to label it with a name at all, is idearchy. Anarchy strips everyone, especially government elites, of power; omniarchy grants everyone power; idearchy grants power to logic and logic alone.

Testing ideas shifts our focus away from agents. If I agree with a Christian that sadistic torture is unacceptable, am I now a Christian? Of course not. Likewise, just because a Christian is against sadistic torture does not imply that he or she would make a good leader. We're all subject to individual faults, so instead of inefficiently taking any one of us as a bundle of ideas, why not assess the ideas individually, and let them 'rule' us through unbiased, rigorous testing and peer review? No idea should ever be coupled to another simply because it runs on the same hardware.

Logical action is logical action -- period

If morality, as pointed out in my original outlining of my modus operandi, is essentially superstition, then words like 'ethics' are archaic. Logically determined default actions encompass a variety of different facets of life, so distinguishing between one type and an 'ethical' type seems a waste of time -- either an action is logically founded, or it isn't.

Some bad spoils the whole

Heed the post prior to this one for a more elaborate and complete argument against life as an 'intelligent' idea, as it contains some of the more poignant points on this topic. If you're still hung up on the existence of subjective 'good' alongside subjective 'bad,' though, and perceive 'good' to be enough of a justification for life, then consider the following analogy.

You encounter a belief system consisting of four core tenets. Three of the four tenets seem extremely rational, and thus worthy of being put into practice, while the outlying tenet is so absurd that you can't even fathom why anyone would espouse it. Is the belief system "good enough," or should you shave the absurd part off before working with the belief system? Would you ever be okay with converting to a belief system that gets most things right, but with which you differ on at least one major point?

Life is a bad thing

Let's not pussyfoot around the issue: life is a bad thing. In several previous posts, I outlined why there probably is no god, and why, consequently, life should be criticized and denounced as a phenomenon by intelligence. However, to sentiments revolving around the notion that it's all "worth it" in spite of the guarantee of suffering for no positive gain, I suppose that I haven't provided a definitive rebuttal.

So life's filled with risks and guarantees of suffering and terror. It's also filled with good stuff, right? Sure, but let's not pretend that the 'good stuff' is the reason for why the majority of organisms live. On the contrary, the only reasons for why the vast majority of organisms live or lived -- all organisms aside from us, in fact, which must be several trillion over the span of nearly four billion years, including a similarly gargantuan number over almost a solid billion years of suffering -- are to 1. consume parts and 2. produce genetic copies after having assembled and maintained those parts for a long enough duration to be able to do so. Living things are only concerned with running away from the bad and chasing the good, regardless of who or what gets trampled along the way -- not with making the world a better place, or maximizing 'beauty,' or some other fabricated purpose.

Have you ever watched even the 'highest' of mammals live life in the wild? If they're not tired, hungry, or being chased by something, they have absolutely nothing to do. Human societies threw an extra ingredient into the mix -- religion and culture -- which came to occupy most of the downtime created by civilization, but now that we as a species are beginning to realize that neither religion nor culture are intellectually valid, we don't have much to fall back on other than brainless distractions.

These distractions, it should be noted, are contrivances that have come to fill the gaps that religion is slowly leaving behind as it evaporates. Do you think that a person living in plague-era Europe would have found life beautiful without his Christian religion? What were his distractions? What, aside from superstition, masked both the inevitability of intense suffering and the lack of any legitimate impetus beyond the mindless perpetuation of the human genome? Aside from religion, what could have sufficiently explained the enormous quantity of suffering coinciding with the microscopically tiny quantity of valid reasons for living? There is no way, as far as I can tell, that either side of the equation can make sense to someone lacking in spiritual beliefs and other cultural distractions. In short, we're apathetic procrastinators unconcerned with the inevitability of our own demises, or, even worse, with the welfare of all the lion cubs who never make it past their first birthdays.

This is supremely unfortunate, as, even if you enjoy your life, you must still remain cognizant of the price that the rest of the world pays for your happiness, as well as the simple fact that nearly all of the sentient organisms to have lived over the past billion years were and are nowhere near as fortunate as you are. With that kind of efficiency track record, and without a valid purpose, life suddenly seems a lot less enticing. Are you really willing to trust a process which wastes nine models just to get to the one model capable of performing well in its environment? No CEO would, so why should you?

All art, sculpture, architecture, music, literature, government budgets, and laws were, for more or less the entire duration of the existence of human civilization, religiously motivated, but now that religion is starting to crumble, we've turned to new distractions -- reality TV, YouTube, parties, drugs, pretentious social events, sports, and other primarily hedonistic endeavors. Because of advancements in medicine and technology, we're several times removed from the dying and destitute, so it's much easier for us to conclude that life is worth "doing" than it was for our pious ancestors. Consequently, we're no longer afraid of god -- not even the believers among us -- and have begun to eliminate or reduce the importance of religion to such an extent that we now only think of it when Dancing with the Stars is over, or when a relative actually is in the hospital.

Without religion, the Renaissance wouldn't have produced the David, as the character depicted is a biblical one; likewise, budgets would have turned away from cathedrals and toward hospitals and medical science. Meanwhile, aside from some light playing or socializing, the populace would have been reduced to eating, sleeping, music, and sex -- modernity in a nutshell, but with far less pleasant ramifications, and far fewer technologically contrived distractions.

Would you want to go to school in the dark during a thunderstorm inside a leaky building the size of your bedroom alongside individuals who may have the plague? Without the prospect of heaven, would it be worth it? What do animals really live for -- to "survive" and be "fit" by exerting their wills upon the world in triumphant ways, or to consume organic compounds to the end of producing copies of themselves? Science points to the latter; the former is, at the present, pseudophilosophical garbage.

Finally, life lacks real, concrete positive gain. What are desires but deprivations, or holes that we continuously fill until our deaths? Imagine taking a nice, warm bath -- a pleasant experience for many -- and concluding that you wouldn't mind staying in the tub for several days, perhaps thinking about philosophical topics while allowing the soapy water to massage the whole of your body. It sounds like a great idea, but not long after contemplating it, a few things happen: you get hungry, you start to feel sleepy, or you might feel the urge to go to the bathroom. Perhaps the phone rings, or you realize that you have to finish an assignment by the end of the night. The combination of responsibilities and deprivations overwhelms you, and you come to the unfortunate but realistic conclusion that you must exit the tub.

You can't simply fix the problem of hunger, for example; you have to satiate your hunger drive for a temporary period, then wait for the 'problem' to return again. The worst part is that, after chasing this satisfaction intermittently throughout your life, you end up dying without ever absolutely obtaining it. No organism has ever obtained absolute satisfaction of its desires; at most, the best of them have simply managed to make copies of themselves before death.

Of course, should you ignore it long enough, not only will you desire a given object or concept intensely, you will eventually begin to suffer in very real ways. Why should we be penalized for not being slaves to genetic propensities? What do we gain by obeying them, and why is this gain so crucial that, should we fail, we must endure horrific unpleasantness? The answer is that we gain nothing, because neither we nor any other intelligent force guides the evolutionary process.

Therefore, the burden is on those who believe that life is worth perpetuating, or that life is a good idea worthy of implementation by intelligent beings, to demonstrate a valid reason for the penalization of organisms for failing to eat, sleep, etc. Likewise, such people also bear the burden of explaining why producing copies of genetic material is more logical than fulfilling desires or accomplishing tasks. In the meantime, life appears to be the eventual assemblage of motivations and wills over billions of lifespans of activity, having assumed its currently 'beautiful' shape only by 'chance.' This car is very real -- it clearly functions, and can get from one location to another -- but there doesn't seem to be a driver. This should alarm everyone on Earth.

There is nothing to life other than a biochemical agenda lacking in efficiency and intelligence: to wit, consumption and reproduction. What does the reproduction accomplish? Is it working toward some goal? Does it fix anything? No, it just goes on and on, never halted by any of its participants, because they lack the capacity to do anything about their situations as slaves to genetic decrees.

We're different. Using intelligence, we can put a stop to life's continuation by, at the minimum, not having children. So why don't we?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress is neither linear nor exponential

There are two progress lines to track for our society:

1. Finite implementations: technology, medicine, economics. This progress line is non-linear. However, it's not really exponential per se, either; it's more like a tree with divergent branches, some increasing, others decreasing, others still remaining unchanged.

For example, technological progress has been, on the whole, exponential, but with this 'progress' has come nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, and social malaise. Radiation poisoning, the bubonic plague, asbestos, slavery, coercion, and eye strain are problems that hunter-gatherers never had to contend with. Likewise, we generally don't have to worry about many of the ills of hunter-gatherers, like ticks or living with fractures. Cause and effect is nowhere near as simple as most make it out to be, and there is always the possibility that a new finite problem will come to occupy the niche of a previous finite problem that has since been solved.

2. Continuous problems: the human brain as it generates bad ideas/memes, cultural preconceptions, and genetically motivated desires and preferences. This progress line is actually the parent of the former, but has hardly changed in over fifty thousand years. We may now understand that slavery is a bad idea, but most of us have a long way to go before we realize that life is an intrinsically negative phenomenon with no purpose or mediator. For the most part, the 'problems' described by the former progress line deal with means to an end, while this progress line deals more with our actual values, reasons for existing, and other ends. If we fix these -- and somehow have absolute knowledge that they are fixed for good -- then we'll have fixed everything.

A simple question concerning our society

If you're worried that a society lacking ownership, property, trade, money, hierarchy, laws, etc. wouldn't work: does the current system 'work'? Better to go with a system that might work than one that demonstrably doesn't.

Of course, any new system of this sort would require a complete overhaul of how individuals are conditioned, and would only work if all permitted citizens had passed the necessary tests. This is unlikely to ever happen.

Pleasant illusions vs. harsh reality

Ever notice that most people hold worldviews that are not only static and finite, but extremely pleasant as well? This, to me, seems an absurd coincidence; there are thousands of competing, concretely defined belief systems, and all of them just so happen to have pleasant connotations. Obviously, they can't all be accurate, but what if none of them are? What if they're all pleasant not because the universe tends toward pleasantness (the warm biome to freezing cold, oxygen-less space ratio is astronomical), but because they were all adopted under the modus operandi of confirmation bias? If such a meme selector is the primary determinant for which belief systems get adopted, as is implied by at least some belief systems being adopted in this manner while all of them share the quality of pleasantness, then perhaps most people are only interested in what feels good -- not in reality.

Just a thought.

Two simple arguments against god

My previous post was aimed at just about everyone rather than at religious or spiritual people in particular, as almost all humans have children, or believe that life is a 'gift.' I think that, because of how broad the scope of those to whom that post applies is, it's much more relevant to our society than this one (especially when you realize that technology has now superseded god, anyway), but the god premise is generally easy to repudiate, so let's give it a shot.

God is omnipotent

1. If god is omnipotent, then he/it should be able to create anything imaginable -- even if a given thing were to fail to adhere to the laws of logic and physics, like circular triangles. Otherwise, he/it would be limited in his/its power.

2. We can imagine a god more powerful than god.

3. ...But if a god more powerful than god were to be created by god, then he/it wouldn't be omnipotent, as the new god could kill him/it or otherwise will him/it out of existence.

4. ...But if a god more powerful than god is impossible, then god is not omnipotent.

5. Therefore, god does not exist.

God explains the complexity of the universe, or is entailed by it

1. The universe is a beauteous, grand, and extraordinarily complex* place.

2. Beauteous, grand, and extraordinarily complex places have to be designed or otherwise created by someone. How could they grow to such complexity without an entity of some kind behind their orchestration?

3. ...But god is far more -- infinitely more, in fact -- complex, grand, and beauteous than our humble little universe.

4. Therefore, god would require an even more complex creator in order to explain his/its own existence, ad infinitum.

5. Therefore, god does not exist -- or is at least superfluous and non-functional, given the law of parsimony.

* I disagree with this premise, because there is nothing against which we can relatively compare the universe. Therefore, the universe is neither ordinary nor extraordinary; it merely is -- for now. 

There probably is no god; life is intrinsically inhumane

The universe in which we live, particularly on Earth, is replete with deterministically inevitable events that are idiotic and inhumane. This premise, should one properly infer its ramifications, lends itself to the notion that there is no god. Would you, dear reader, as a likely self-proclaimed 'moral' individual, program a machine to have only two core functions -- indiscriminate consumption of organic compounds and indiscriminate reproduction -- and then unleash it upon a world full of sentient creatures? Would you expect to win a Nobel prize for designing and programming a machine to indiscriminately sink sharp, metallic teeth into kittens, for example?

If a god exists, it has decided that such machines are completely acceptable; it did engineer the torture of seels at the expense of the amusement of orcas, after all. Given that god is alleged to be nothing more than an absolute and complete version of a human being* in most cases, the premise that it programmed a deterministic universe wherein indiscriminate suffering takes place -- this universe -- is obviously contradictory. What lesson do the seels learn as they're being tossed about the air like rag dolls by the orcas? If animals as basic (according to modern religion, anyway) as human beings can understand that such events are inefficient and to be avoided, then shouldn't a god be able to as well? If we're smarter and more empathetic than god, then god can't be god.

Stating that our understanding of god is relative and finite as a counterargument is fallacious, as we could say the same of serial killers -- or anything, for that matter. So what if someone murders sixty people for his own satisfaction? Maybe he has a plan. We don't know for a fact that he doesn't, so maybe he does, and therefore, we should let him alone. If this mentality were applied to the most practical aspects of our lives, we'd never accomplish anything.

Does it make sense to listen to a plan for which you have absolutely NO details, especially if the plan has been conferred to you by a fellow human? Has god ever spoken to you personally? If not, then why are you taking your fellow man's word for it when he claims that the details -- the what, how, why, when, and where -- are irrelevant, and that you should just listen to him?

Analogously, let's say that we enroll at a new school, show up, and discover that there are no professors. Then, because someone whom we respect tells us to take his word for it, we remain seated in the classroom indefinitely. The windows are boarded up; the room smells of decaying cadavers; the electricity doesn't work; none of the seats are paired with desks. All of the evidence points toward the school having been forsaken, but because we're emotionally invested in the premise that we're going to receive the best education that we'll ever be able to, we ignore the evidence. It's all a test, we claim.

Life, as a premise involving sentience and lacking in foresight or planning, is unacceptable to any sufficiently rational cognitive processor. All that evolution (forgive my personification) 'cares' about is that organisms become as well adapted to their niches as is possible -- that is, that said organisms are parsimoniously and sufficiently capable of consuming enough energy to maintain their organic processes long enough to generate copies of themselves. Their energy source could be the sun; it could be bamboo shoots; it could just as easily, and often is, your six-year-old child.

So why should life be perpetuated? Using the rest of the universe as a standard, life appears to be freakishly aberrant chemistry -- we're all, literally, mutants. Why is our continued existence such a great idea to perpetuate? Why should we tolerate asteroids blocking out sunlight, thus indirectly starving millions of innocent animals to death? Why should we tolerate parasites and viruses?

Remember: if you can't win a Nobel prize for building a Tyrannosaurus from scratch and letting it tear kittens apart, then god can't either. So let's implicate this capricious menace and rise up against his alleged creation -- a stupid, uncaring reality where anything goes, and whoever has the bigger teeth or sharper claws wins.

* This is absurdly unimaginitive and arrogant; why should we be the ultimate product of the universe, especially when that place likely has trillions of years of life left, while we may not last more than a few more millennia? For modern 'spiritualist' types: you may not think that god created the universe with us in mind specifically, but even if he didn't, what, aside from god, has the capacity to plan creations? Only humans.

In other words, early humans lacked the requisite imagination to be able to bestow any grander properties upon the natural processes that they were attempting to explain, so they instead looked at themselves, saw that they were capable of creating and planning, and concluded that planning and creation are significant phenomena in the universe. They aren't.

You can't take one of the rarest phenomena in the universe and ascribe it to the universe's creation simply because it makes you feel good -- you need evidence, at the very least.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Means vs ends

If we improve means that can lead to either beneficial ends or detrimental ones, and have no mechanism of control instituted which is capable of parsing the various ends, then any improvement to the means will ultimately prove detrimental. We must stop worrying so much about technological and medical advancements and begin to work on memetic and cultural ones.

Why quoting others is childish

This isn't of any particular importance, but it is an incredibly widespread and pretentious phenomenon worthy of being outed. I figured that, since I'm making so many posts lately, I might as well...

1. Absolute associations are stupid. Inevitably, there is going to be some point on which you and the person quoted disagree, so why exalt him or her in the first place? Focus should be on ideas at all times, rather than individuals -- unless, of course, there suddenly becomes a valid reason for focusing on individuals in similar instances in the future, which can be said of just about anything.

2. It's an appeal to authority. What's so hard about paraphrasing the quote, or otherwise putting the concepts that it lays out into your own words? Everything that we disseminate or teach comes from somewhere else; if we take the vast majority of what we learn and put it into our own words when attempting to convey it to others, then why are there ever special cases? Furthermore, even if the quote is as concisely or accurately as the concept can be put, why give credit to its source? In a deterministic universe, there is no reason to ascribe merit to someone for merely being in the right place at the right time and having an experience conducive to his or her understanding of a given concept; it was predetermined that said experience would happen, anyway -- which obliterates the ideal of recognizing individuals for "accomplishments."

Stop contriving problems and there will be nothing left to fix

There is nothing inherent in life that causes it to 'need' to exist. The only premise that leads most people to believe otherwise, unfortunately, is stupidly simple: they are alive. Having grown emotionally attached to an ego that comprises all of their triumphs and struggles, they feel threatened when someone challenges their preconception that life is sacred. This is quite problematic, and needs to be addressed if we are to actually fix the world in which we live.

Inevitably, many who are presented the possibility that life has no purpose, or the possibility that it is the direct cause of everything negative that has ever existed, will become defensive. No one wants to hear that they aren't accomplishing anything by existing, after all, or that the universe would be better off without them while in a state of absolute zero value. Submission to the various genetically and memetically motivated drives which cause a person to do whatever pleases him or her, or whatever gives him or her a sense of entitlement, is difficult to break, even in spite of the resource cost that such irresponsible behavior generates.

Yet, despite the general population's repugnantly selfish repudiation of the harsher aspects of reality, you'll hardly find anyone who lacks empathy for the dying, the sick, the handicapped, or anyone else who may experience intense suffering. Why is this? Is it really because we generate a positive when we save a life or nurse a sickly person back to health?

The answer to this question, ultimately, is no. Doing anything for a suffering person that might ease his or her pain merely terminates a negative; it does NOT produce a real positive. In any case, when most people display empathy* for their fellow man, it's in a grotesquely narrow fashion, and only pertains to those suffering within close proximity. Subjective preferences and other forms of cognitive bias distort the average person's perception to the point where suffering is "just the way the world works," yet when this same phenomenon comes knocking on their own doors, so to speak, it's suddenly the end of the world. Over two hundred thousand people die every day, but no one bats an eye, because that's part of the "circle of life." When it's time to attend a loved one's funeral, however, it's suddenly acceptable to break out the tissues.

Crying over the death of anyone, of course, will not bring them back, nor will it undo the traumatizing experiences that led to their demise. Having emotional preferences for living organisms, therefore, while mostly unavoidable at the moment, is plainly dangerous; it retards productivity, and ignores the vast majority of all life that has ever mattered in favor of some emotional preoccupation -- a symptom of a problem that itself can lead to racial segregation and genocide, just to name two of its uglier manifestations. You can like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla ice cream on a purely subjective level, but if chocolate ice cream feels pain when you chomp into it, the logical choice is the vanilla ice cream. And if the prevailing trend is to fail to adhere to this most basic of principles? Remain indefinitely alarmed in the general sense rather than occasionally and in singular instances -- no crying required.

No one gets diabetes checkups for their children in order to be a "good" person, or in order to make the world a better place, or in order to be productive. They do it because it makes them feel good -- much like any form of emotional altruism does -- to have something to accomplish in life. If their children were to not exist, then there'd be no diabetes to treat. Of course, there'd also be no mission to embark upon, and the mission is all that matters to anyone.

Anything which justifies a person's own existence and fortifies his or her DNA-obeying ego is what wins out in the end. Never mind that no one consents to being born and that society merely pretends to value consent; people are necessary, and deserve medals every time they clean up fifty percent of a spill that they purposely engineered in the first place. In short, the petty ego satisfaction of those who have children overrides all of the runny noses and car accidents that they wind up causing along the way.

* Empathy in any form is a bias; it has nothing to do with defining qualities or values, but rather with psychological satisfaction, which is irrelevant to pragmatic work, and often illogical or selfish. All that matters is that we assess a given situation based on past experience and a workable values system, then come to a tentative conclusion and act. You don't need empathy for specific living things in order to agree that something needs to be done about life as a whole.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts on global sentience

Why we, quite erroneously, think we are a "self": memories -- including those pertaining to what has most recently occurred in the immediate environment, or within our own conceptual thought spaces; both are a kind of RAM. Without being able to remember that I just typed the last portion of this clause, I would not have the illusory perception of being a discrete self who never changes.

On the contrary, every time I breathe, the molecular composition of my finite body is altered. Meanwhile, qualitatively identical copies of the collection of drives which aid in the continuation of the process of self-perception are found in millions of other living organisms, many of which suffer horribly for no reason whatsoever throughout their lives. If we as "selves" do not exist and are merely a collection of copies of feeling reflexes, shouldn't we concede that our lack of memory for the horror that takes place on a daily basis on this planet is irrelevant to the fact that copies of "us" continually experience it?

Also remember that feeling reflexes receive data along a continuous gradient, but that there are two separate gradients, each contained within its respective, discrete state. In essence, then, sentience is a binary system in spite of the nuances that can be found on both sides.

In spite of this, there are no hard, physical walls separating the molecules that make me who I "am" from those that make you who you "are." It's likely that some of the molecules currently representing my circulatory system used to be, prior to my digesting them, minerals found in various foods. Before this, perhaps millions of years ago, those same molecules helped to represent the wing of a pterodactyl. I may not have the capacity to remember the harm that has been ongoing for hundreds of millions of years on Earth, but each organism is not a universe unto itself; it is an aggregate of drives, propensities, senses, and mental capacities -- all copies, and all of the same general biochemical composition. An individual organism is merely one location in which the unified phenomena that we can collectively refer to as "suffering" take place.

To put it more directly, the universe itself is what suffers; only memory makes us think otherwise. There aren't any physical organisms so much as there are organisms as genetic processes that use physical material in order to synthesize, metabolize, replicate, etc. Take away our memories, and it will become quite obvious that all of the feeling reflexes on Earth are equally important, not at all different or separate. Connect all the memories to create a super organism, and it will become even more obvious.

Societal systems

There are bound to be more in the future, but for now, a shorthand layout:


Note: Notice the lack of a belief system

Meme system (for ideation; selection for implementation and practice) -> information system (for retention of an updated knowledge base)
Value system
Education system
Economic system
Governmental system
Technological infrastructure
Social system


Meme system - The pool, mill, etc. from which we synthesize, create, and select ideas for use in our values system

Information system - The continually updated repository in which we store all data and information of any kind, regardless of its value or selection potential

Value system - What we care about, what our goals are, why we exist at all

Education system - How our values are instilled into their future agents; teaching agents not just what to think (subject to change moreso than the other outcomes and of least importance, especially given data redundancy and storage) but how to think (meta-cognition) and why to think

Economic system - How raw materials and processed materials are exchanged between agents to the end of upholding our values

Governmental system - How to deal with aberrations and logically inferior competitors (with our ideas, for brain-space) through meme selection and agent evaluation

Technological infrastructure - How we manipulate the physical world to the end of upholding our values after acquiring resources and enforcing our ideas through a state

Social system - How we spend our time as we live our lives to their various ends after society has formed and as it is maintained

Current implementation plans:

Meme system - See previous posts on this topic 

Value system - All systems remain open, no attachment or commitment, no assumptions, practical approach to processing data/information, social system should eschew individualism and competition, pain/pleasure depression/joy fear/desire make up our core value equations, logical processors are the basis for meme selection and ideation, reproduction is cumbersome and aconsensual and incurs massive risk, use risk analysis and relational analysis to better understand what logically takes precedence in our reality, continue existing not to perpetuate our instinctual desires (which are unable to ever be truly fulfilled) but to act as guardian of the universe in an effort to end all suffering, no morality or freedom but rather higher quality outcomes after processing value-centric problems through our algorithms

Education system - Youth centers where children are confined away from all society until they demonstrate a near-full awareness of the core values of the society, perhaps through training modules and, eventually, virtual simulations of real-world problems

Economic system - Resource-based economy eschewing notions of trade, ownership, property, and inheritance

Governmental system - Meritocratic idearchy*; rule by logically selected ideas rather than by individuals or groups

Technological infrastructure - Subject to change with time (as is everything else, but this is particularly transient), but very little waste and highly efficient, designed both with functionality and aesthetic "value" in mind (not real value according to core values but important to moods and atmospheres), transparent buildings with no locks, less doors and compartments per building, especially in tropical climates

Social system - Open society with no traditions or customs, everyone is a friend because everyone has the same values and general goals, no individualism. note that we'd still employ merit-based interaction, and that people wouldn't be able to do whatever they wanted (even though they probably wouldn't want to behave that way, anyway, given their conditioning), as some functional aspects of society would require certifications.

* A society run by ideas rather than by individuals; contra to stateless societal implementations, like anarchy, but also to individual-centric governments, like fascism, totalitarianism, and democracy.

Life has no intrinsic purpose

This post has been designed with the intent to quell any unfounded inferences regarding what building a better society implies about reality as a whole; I may find repairing the world in which I live to be immensely valuable, but I will never purport to believe that life is sacred, or that we should live our lives as individuals for our own independent reasons, or that life is a wonderful thing worthy of purposeless perpetuation. None of these ideals could be further from reality, despite being touted by everyone from existentialists to New Agers* to even, yes, many members of grass roots movements like the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project.

As outlined in an earlier post, suffering and pleasure are not opposites. Life is rife with the most abominable of horrors, as there doesn't appear to be anyone "in charge" of its underlying processes. Having children, therefore, is incredibly irresponsible and selfish so long as there are no realistic simulations of reality or safe means of euthanasia or suicide available to the general population. Furthermore, debilitating bouts of the flu, life-changing car accidents, kidney stones, and any other obviously horrible experience should be enough to make anyone with a conscience control themselves. Stomach cancer, a common cause of death among the modern elderly, is reputed to be extremely painful and difficult to endure. Death itself is almost a guarantee -- not a risk -- and so, if we do not believe in a god, but still desire to have children, we are imposing risk, fear, and suffering upon non-consenting sentient creatures without any meaningful return on our investment to balance out the equation. Nothing could be more barbaric.

As an illustration of the imbalance of pleasure and pain, if you were promised a billion dollars, but in order to receive the money, it was required that you also receive AIDS, would you agree to the transaction?

This rationale invokes risk management, which, while applied rather effectively in many business environments, seems to be nonexistent in our larger, selfishly democratic civilization, with its emphasis on doing what feels good, satisfies our expectations of ourselves, or is popular. Risk management is only necessary, of course, if our ideals are predicated on the crude, binary system of attraction and repulsion which makes up the agenda of all living organisms on Earth. Unfortunately, there is no evidence for anything else being of greater, 'objective' value, so we must pay attention when sentience perceives something as negative.

Sentient life has created value merely by existing, and is almost impossible to ignore, especially in its most stark manifestations. Therefore, we must listen to it by minimizing negative sensation wherever we encounter it -- that is, so long as our methods are practical and efficient first and foremost. This is the default stance to take, and should anything prove more sensible, it will be tentatively adopted, or at least implemented under the pretense that we "believe" in it until something better comes along.

This approach differs from nihilism, which asserts that, not only does reality lack any inherent purpose or ultimate meaning, it lacks meaning or purpose of any kind. The evidence is not in nihilism's favor, however. Therefore, we have to care about improving life for all sentient organisms.

But we can't just care. We also have to get it right, or at least get it as close to right as we can based on probability assessments. Multiculturalism, the sanctity of "opinions," and the power of the individual (as opposed to the power of well-tested ideas), then, are all dangerous.

Our existence necessitates that we take responsibility for the welfare of all feeling organisms, because we possess intelligence through language, and are therefore the first beings in documented evolutionary history to be able to ratify the world in which we live in any sustained, planned, and meaningful way. There is an inherent, cause-and-effect logic to the universe; as a result, we have to draw conclusions. Even remaining undecided is a form of 'conclusion,' though it's quite impractical and silly in any instance where we have enough data to make an informed decision about something. Therefore, it is up to us to give our lives a purpose -- one aimed at putting the termination of negatives far before the creation of positives* -- but we must also come to a consensus where possible, and reject the sanctity of individual opinion in favor of the scientific method.

Also consider this: subjectively, I may prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla ice cream, but if both chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream were sentient creatures, I'd not let my psychology get in the way, and would value both flavors equally from a purely rational and unbiased perspective. It should be noted, though, that I expect everyone in a productive society to also be this rational, because the more bias we introduce into our lives, the more problems we create.

* I would never (or at least doubt that it would ever be acceptable to) generalize anyone based on their beliefs into any preordained category, let alone an 'ism,' or to the extent that I'd personally refer to them as an 'er.' If you hold 'New Age' beliefs, I'll still listen to what you have to say for as long as it is an efficient use of my time to do so. Everyone is a feeling organism long before they are an 'ist' or an 'er.'

* I do not think that it's even possible to create real positives at the moment. All perceived positives are born of deprivation, and are merely the return to a zero-sum state.

Buddhism vs pragmatic work

Today we're going to examine why Buddhism, though attractive as a personal philosophy, is ultimately nothing more than an overly complicated self-help guide, and therefore irrelevant to creating a better world. We'll also examine why Buddhism is self-contradicting in its simultaneous promotion of critical thinking and outright belief in made-up nonsense, such as karma. Remember: if a philosophy sounds nice, or is coincidentally something that placates your otherwise desirous psychology, it's more than likely unrealistic and impractical. Reality does not care about us.

Why pragmatism is superior to Buddhism

1. Suicide is probably a superior alternative to meditation for overcoming one's desires, if one's own desires and "enlightenment" are the focal points of one's philosophy.

2. No amount of meditation is going to make a drowning polar bear appreciate or accept its current state of experience. Not even humans who've spent years meditating could probably overcome such an experience.

3. The universe is currently performing work, which generates various kinds of energy; we, as intelligent beings, have the capacity to influence and steer the direction of this work toward a configuration which is beneficial to sentience. We must, therefore, be pragmatic in our lives, and consequently maintain a supra-personal philosophy which promotes making practical, infrastructural, and memetic changes to reality rather than smaller, less fundamental changes, like when improving technology, or fixing our own individual psychologies (in this case, through meditation). Technology, of course, can serve as a means to these ends, but if our ends have been corrupted or otherwise compromised, then any progress made to the means will only result in more mess and inefficiency.

4. Some Buddhists may be going against the Buddha's original teachings when they state that "external objects cannot bring one true happiness." I say this because I do not believe that the Buddha was at all concerned with happiness; instead, he seemed to be concerned with enlightenment and mindfulness. That having been said, what about the mind makes it any more "internal" than the rest of reality, all of which is interconnected through an immense network of relational sets of data? If our external desires are finite, and therefore can never lead us to immutable well-being, is the mind not similar? Will the mind not also cease to exist eventually?

Conceding this, it necessarily follows that we must be concerned moreso with performing productive work to the end of alleviating, mitigating, or otherwise eliminating suffering and negative sensation in a practical manner; happiness is merely a distraction, even if it isn't necessarily a terrible thing to experience. While there's nothing wrong with feeling happy in your everyday life; meditating in order to overcome personal psychological pitfalls; or detaching yourself from your various desires and commitments, these improvements to your own life as a single individual are irrelevant to the gross quantity of suffering in the universe, just as the above mentioned technological improvements ultimately are, so long as we fail to apply a context to them.

Education and dissemination of the fundaments of our values system take precedence over finite attempts at fixing problems. Analogously, if there is a leak in a dam wall, we'd do better to plug the leak than to clean up any finite quantity of water spilled from the leak.

Why Buddhism is self-contradicting

The following all contradict the notion that Buddhism is about detachment from ideas, or questioning reality as new data becomes available.

1. There is no evidence for the existence of karma.

2. There is no quantity of understanding or suffering that gets transferred metaphysically from one organism to another during the death and birth, or "rebirth" in Buddhism, parts of the life cycle.

3. The life cycle itself appears to have no basis in reality.

4. Individual enlightenment has no bearing on some form of metaphysical "progress" by which organisms born in the future come to be more prepped to understand their existence or mitigate suffering than in previous generations. Ecosystems are balanced not based on who desires what, but on the whims of the environment in which the organisms live (meaning no empathy from anything toward any particular species), and there is nothing either linear or cyclical about this process; instead, it is parsimonious and deterministic.

5. If Buddhism preaches that the self does not exist, and that all finite objects are merely configurations of smaller finite objects, how can reincarnation even be possible?

Of course, all static worldviews which promote belief of some kind are dangerous, for they all make blanket assumptions about reality in some form. Only unassuming thought/meme systems utilizing the scientific method as part of a greater methodology should ever be taken seriously, for they are not self-limiting, anti-progress, or finite.

With that said, I thought it'd be fun to out Buddhism in particular, because we've already covered many of the fundamentals in earlier posts, and New Agers seem to be taking over the planet. Someone has to say something.