Israelis Crimes Against Palestine

I haven’t written in a while due to the large amount of research, finally the summer is close to being over and the fall semester will begin and hopefully I won’t get as lost in research as I have over the past few months.
So what has me jumping on here and writing? well it is the killing of thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, but more importantly how Israel is churning out epic levels of propaganda in order to fool Americans and others into thinking Israel is just defending itself, really? by killing thousands of innocent civilians?

I first want to establish, by saying I separate Israelis citizens from their government, I also separate Palestinian terrorists from legitimate Palestinian defenders who don’t use terrorism as a tactic and I also acknowledge the many innocent civilians on bother sides. So when I say Israel or Israelis, I’m referring to those who want to expand Israel and advocate for ethnic cleansing. If you are an Israelis who disagrees with ethnic cleansing and expansion into Palestinian lands and the building of Israelis settlements, the use of the term Israelis doesn’t include you.
I do not hate Jews or Arabs one bit, I’m a humanist who believes everyone deserves to live in peace and safety. Since most of what I seen and read in the past is mainly produced by the Israelis propaganda machine, I learned Arabic in college in order to help me understand what is really being said by Palestinians, as I’ve found cases of Palestinian protest signs being incorrectly translated into English by mass media in the US.

So with all that said so far, I’ll say without any hesitation, that Palestine is not the aggressor, Israel is. How do I know? history tells the real story far better than I can.
If you spend a bit of time researching the region you’ll find that prior to 1948 UN partition resolution, Israel as a “state” only existed as private Jewish ownership of land in Palestine, which was approximately 1%-6% of what is known as Israel now, prior to 1947 it was under British control, then in 1948 under UN control and then through bribing and arm-twisting, of many UN nation members Israelis pushed for a vote to have Israel partitioned, rather than buying out land from Palestinians and blam! Israel as a state was born, consuming a bulk of Palestinian land, approximately 55%.

The geopolitical conflict over time is a bit more complicated, but a simplistic analogy is a easier way to describe what is going on between Israel and Palestine.
So lets say you and your family (Palestine) owned two large plots of land next to each other with a couple of houses, and one day the government (The UN) showed up and took one of your plots of land and gave it to me (Israel).
How would that make you feel? how would you feel to know the only reason I was given one of your family’s plot of land for free was because of my religious beliefs, some bribing of government officials and little else?

Then after a short time, we argued and fought over “why didn’t I just buy the house and land from you rather than having the government force it away from you and give it to me for free, I mean our family had lived in that house and farmed that land for generations.  So out of our dislike for each other I put up a fence to show where the property line was, so then we had a fence dividing our yards, you know to keep you off my property and to keep you from wondering around, since you’re kinda like a child.

But then it gets better for me, I then decided that I should have special powers in controlling both plots of land, since I have a military force and you don’t and you’re not really able to take care of yourself. So since I have total control, I decide you’re a second class citizen in your own home and dictate to you what you can and can’t do, where you can and cannot go, and if you do go I have say over how you get there, including driving on separate roads, that are maintained by you, but I won’t let you import any building materials, just to be safe, well safer for me anyways
But wait it gets better for me (worse for you), each year I move the fence that divides our plots of land, one foot into your plot of land, slowly taking more of your property as each year passed, until I have enough space for me to build another house for one of my friends or family to live in, then I continue each year after that in hopes of building more houses for my friends and family, or maybe I’ll just build a house and sell it to somebody for profit, but your kind isn’t allowed to buy it.

So how long till you said something? how long till you did something?
And if I continued to move the fence even after you said something, telling me to stop, basically forcing you to try to stop me from moving it again and again, but to no avail, I keep moving it. But here’s the catch, since I’m in control, I dictate that you aren’t allowed to own any weapons, since I make the rules and laws for both of our properties and I say any hostile action by you to stop me from taking more of your property is perceived as terrorism, and since terrorism is bad, I can do what ever I want in retaliation when ever you use any force to stop me from taking more of YOUR property.. 

At what point do you defend your property from being slowly taken away? What do you do since I make the laws, and have economic and political control over your property?

Let’s say I could even restrict what you could buy at the store, slowly starving you and your family out, and allowing the sick and ill to die, since I restrict medical supplies to your house and I won’t let you take the sick or ill to any hospital outside of your property or you can go, but I won’t let you back onto your property. 
So how long till you use deadly force? 

So how does Israel get away with what their doing?
Well mainly they omit information to the world, and have probably one of the most developed propaganda machines ever devised and operated.
The Israelis narrative goes something like this:
“We just want to live in peace, but we keep getting attacked for being Jewish, the Palestinians want us dead..”
What they omit is the taking of Palestinian land by military force, as I described above and converting it to new Israelis settlements. They do this by destroying homes and farms, then pushing out the Palestinians by controlling their economy to force Palestinians to live in extreme poverty, so they have very little recourse on fighting back or rebuilding any destroyed homes.
Then to solidify this propaganda, anyone who argues against the Israelis narrative it is labeled as anti-semitic, Jew hating Nazi loving dirtbag who deserves to die along with the evil Arabs/Muslims.
But when groups of Palestinians do manage to get weapons and fight back, their labeled as terrorists, because Israel wants to live in peace, rinse and repeat until believed by the masses that Palestinians are the aggressors.

That is what Palestinians are living with on a daily basis, to not take sides in the issue is advocating people should not have basic human rights, and that apartheid is perfectly ok and acceptable. 
Blaming the Palestinians for defending their land, their livelihoods, their families, their farms, their communities, their culture is offensive to say the least.
My heart goes out to the thousands of innocent civilians who have family members and friends who die, just so Israel can have more land and resources. 

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Raising minimum wage is a really bad idea.

I totally understand how many people enjoy pushing what they believe is social good, and I know that feels wonderful to advocate for the less fortunate, I get it, I really do.. I don’t want people to suffer any more than anyone else does. I’m a humanist, I despise waste, corruption and suffering and believe in sexual dimorphic equality, but pushing political propaganda that is founded in absolute nonsense is not helping anyone, it actually hurts people, especially the poor.

So I’ve seen some “raise the minimum wage” memes and each time I scratch my head, thinking I guess research and history escapes these people with these flawed ideas of social good. So I decided to do a quick bit of research to explain why raising the minimum wage is a really, really horrible idea.

In the first graph I posted, the blue line is the Amount of minimum wage since 1938, the red line is minimum wage compared to 2014′s value of the dollar, that is how much is minimum wage worth in a particular year compared to 2014. and the green line is how much buying power $1 in a particular year is worth, compared to 2014.

Inflation (2014)

As you can see, the value of $1 has dropped since 1938, crossing minimum wage in the late 70′s and on down. This is a result of what economists call “inflation”, and is what happens when you create a regulated pay floor, it then pushes the cost of labor up from the previous pay floor, thus increasing the price of goods and services. Now if this is done once, wonderful, but each time it is raised a cycle is created. So each time this happens, the cost goes up, the price goes up, each time dropping the buying power (value) of the dollar.

Raising minimum wage, although it sounds wonderful, and makes one feel like their actually doing something to help those who don’t make as much, just for the “feels” of social activism, but what they’re actually doing is advocating for a horrible idea, making things worse by continuing the inflation cycle which has been going since way before 1938′s minimum wage act.
We’ve had minimum wage since 1938, and it has been raised about 22 times, and in all those 22 times, did it solve poverty? did it even put a dent in poverty? no it didn’t, it actually has made things worse over time, widening the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”, how can people not see history staring them in the face? it is like each time minimum wage increase is proposed the previous 20+ times it was raised is totally forgotten as if “well this time it’ll work to help with poverty!!”.

Inflation is why the middle class is disappearing, a family who’s income is $30,000 won’t get a pay increase when minimum wage is increased, but when the cost/price goes up for goods and services as a result of increase minimum wage, how much that $30k a year will buy decreases, this is a basic economic fact. Raising minimum wage only creates an increased pay floor, it does not increase everyone else’s pay who is making more than minimum wage, it doesn’t improve the buying power of the poor, since the costs/price of goods and service goes up with it. So each time we increase minimum wage, we cycle inflation. See the problem yet?

In the next two graphs, is comparing a single minimum wage income with poverty levels for 1, 2, 3 and 4 person households adjusted to 2014.
A single person income at minimum wage has stayed above the poverty level for a single person since 1950, while a two person income at minimum wage household has always been above the poverty level for 2 persons. You start adding children, a two income family with one child has been above the poverty level for a family of three since 1950 as well.. When a second child is added, it too has been above poverty level since 1950. Poverty levels is calculated by the Department of Health and Human Services based on many factors.

MW vs Poverty (adj for 2014)

MW vs Poverty by Year

So where does the term “living wage” come from? the living wage is a result of the socially accepted level of living conditions in a consumer based economy. This term is used to muddy the waters so as to infer the inability to survive on minimum wage, with a life style that is far more costly than what minimum wage can provide. The problem in this is that people make bad financial choices as a result of a lack of education and proper financial decision making skills. Raising minimum wage will not fix a lack of skills, it only pours more money into a consumer based economy at the cost of the middle and poor classes.

An adult making minimum wage, working 40 hrs a week makes approximately $15,080 a year.. ($7.25*40*52=$15,080). With an apartment costing $600 a month, costs about $7200 or about 47.7% of their yearly income ($700*12=$7200) and ($7200/$15,080=0.4774) that’s if they choose a $600 apartment.
That leaves approximately $7800 for all other bills and expenses ($650 a month), so please explain to me how minimum wage isn’t enough IF a person is being responsible with their money, and explain to me why I or anyone else should be forced to pay a higher price for goods and services so people can continue to live reckless lifestyles that are above their means. Now I understand, that isn’t very much, but when did lifestyles beyond one’s means become an entitlement?

I am by no means advocating that people should remain poor, far from it, by cycling inflation through increasing minimum wage, we can see from history that the poor are becoming more impoverished as a result of social wage engineering in order to “feel better the poor have advocates” when in reality most people don’t take the time to educate or research what happens when we raise minimum wage, only that is sounds like a good idea for the poor thinking “higher pay means more money, yeah that will fix it, then they’ll get out of poverty”.
We need to focus on education, training and skill development in order to stop the cycle of increasing the number people falling into poverty. It won’t be done by making the rich more money via the ability for people to spend more money recklessly.

It is often said that insanity can be defined as “doing the same thing, over and over and expecting a different result..”
Please stop the insanity, there ARE other solutions to reduce suffering of the impoverished class in the US, but inflation (aka raising minimum wage) isn’t one, it only makes things worse.

Data from The US Department of Labor – http://www.dol.gov/
and
The US Department of Health and Human Services – http://www.hhs.gov/

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The Religious Paradox: Purpose of The Universe

Ask anyone who is religious, that if the universe and life had absolutely no purpose what soever, would they behave any differently in their own lives?

If the answer is no, then why do they need religion because if there is no purpose, then they cannot ascribe any use of religion as a premise of “higher” design. We personally assign purpose to our lives and that is what we all do in reality, this can be documented in the choices we make in our lives.

If the answer is yes, then they are saying without religion they cannot control themselves, that they are in fact dangerous without their influence from religion. This is a scary proposition, because religion advocates slavery, genocide, bigotry, sexism, racism, etc.. If they cannot be good people without these things, how are they good people with those things?

When people say the question is a non-sequitur, and “a setup” that most people will not behave differently, my reply is that not asking questions like these doesn’t allow change, in fact it inhibits it. The church has a very long history of trying to inhibit thought and behaviors that run counter to the particular religion, as well as outside of religious dogma.

But here is the thing, most religious people would act differently, more specifically in regard to the idea of life after death. If life after death was not true, people would not be so quick to send, or go themselves off to fight wars and die or even kill people. People would value life far more if they were not promised immortality as religion promises them, this only requires a bit of thought. A simple thought experiment demonstrates this idea quite well. Start with the idea, death is the absolute end, then your actions, your choices while you are alive become critical to the survival of humanity.
Or one can look at the level of bigotry against gays, or not to mention how creationists have spent millions (billions over the course of history) on trying to get intelligent design into science classrooms, completely ignore doing that corrupts the process of science itself by teaching things that cannot be tested, cannot be observed and has zero evidence to support it. 

The problem we have in our corrupt government is a result of religion, how? by allowing people to get elected and create laws that are credulous, the masses in the majority also being credulous as a result of religion don’t question bad laws or corruption because evidence isn’t important as “just believing” or “just trust your leaders”, because that is what the church teaches, it demands it that you just “Believe and trust your leaders, even in the face of opposing evidence, faith has more value than evidence.”
Every church in the world works on that premise, otherwise the church or religion itself disappears.

The another response is the ad hominem that “I’m just jaded” and that doesn’t hold water, because I question religion and find it to be a corrupt system of control, created by humans and forced upon children since birth, shows religion is bad. People don’t wait for children to get to the age of reasoning to introduce religion, they do it when children can be scared into believing, if they didn’t use fear of hell, etc on children, they wouldn’t believe it, the process they teach is called “learned helplessness”. This simple act of indoctrinating children, teaching them to believe and NOT question religion demonstrates how bad religion is for society, questioning things is how we advance knowledge.. 
Children have a natural curiosity, but when religion steps in it is crushed with being taught to be credulous, just believe what the leaders say and never question religion teaching them “learned helplessness” which harms society, slows down science finding solutions to world problems.
How much money is spent, wasted on religion as opposed to finding environmental solutions to critical problems we face? 

Another response is that throughout history, humans have corrupted the message that (insert religion here) was supposed to carry, but his is problematic in that it reflects how human religion is, that is who really created it because surely a perfect deity would be able to create a perfect work of literature, that could not be misinterpreted.
So how do simple humans corrupt God’s word? surely God being a perfect being, far more enlightened would have written text which should be resistant to any corruption throughout time. But it is obviously not the case when put to the test..

Other possible responses is one cannot compare science and faith and one needs to get beyond the difference. I am totally aware of this, science is a proven methodology to figure out how the universe works, it creates models of predictability, a system that produces results like no other system of philosophical thought, the other is a system of control, nothing more.
And I did get beyond religion, and am so much happier for it, I’m free from the thought police, or the creepy idea some entity is constantly watching me. Science methodology doesn’t work proving negatives, but making that statement shows how deep religious indoctrination runs, that is religion is somehow exempt from being tested, by simply trying to pass of the burden of proof to the negative. The burden of proof is on the original claim, that God does exist.
So Have at it, waste time proving something that as I said in the original question and you supported there wouldn’t be any difference, then the existence of God is irrelevant to humanity, so why waste time messing around with spending so much resources indoctrinating adults/children into believing something that they’ve claimed to be irrelevant through saying they would not behave any differently.

People will be believe what they choose, and I am 100% ok with that. 
But when people indoctrinate their children and want to indoctrinate other people’s children into a system of belief, when they impose it on children using fear, those children are not allowed to choose, they are forced, why not wait till they are at the age of reason? why take advantage of the ignorance of children in impose a “belief” if everyone was truly allowed to believe what they choose? forcing children to believe creates a predisposition, which only gives religion the advantage, thus disproving the position people are free to believe resulting in changing the behavior of people through articulation.
Continue this over hundreds of generations and you get a system of oppression, used by the elite priest/ruling class to control the masses. If you advocate for religion, you advocate for an elite class. In every step of religious indoctrination education is opposed because if you give people logic, reason and critical thinking you undermine the goals of religion, that is thought control.

This thought police can be seen in every element of religion, look at the pro-life camp, on one hand religion claims “people should be free to believe”, but fights against people’s right to believe what they want and have choice in what they may be allowed to do with their own bodies. Or how homosexuality is a sin, or how if you opposed religious non-sense that somehow they’re jaded or was harmed by somebody religious rather than accepting religion is harmful and that person may see that. 
My views change with knowledge, the more I know the better decisions I can make, religion runs counter to this, it states that God knows and trust in God’s plan, even if it allows millions of deaths of innocent children, slowly suffering the most cruel death by starvation.
Religion claims people should be free to “believe”, well as long as it is that same thing that they believe, if you believe something else, then you shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

The universe has no purpose, it doesn’t care if we survive or not, be successful or not, or if we suffer or not. We can only choose to improve the conditions we have available to us and to civilization. We choose our purpose, we choose our path. why are people so worried about their “purpose”? Enjoy your life and stop worrying about “purpose”.

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Leaving Logic, Reason and Evidence Behind

It appears that the Atheist and Skeptic communities are in full meltdown mode as a result of one small group of activists and bloggers who have been pumping propaganda into both communities for the past few years. So in the recent weeks the claims from the Free Thought Bloggers, namely Paul Zachary Myers has gone from promoting rumors like Elevator-Gate to now claiming a famous skeptic is a serial rapist.

So here is my ongoing issue with PZ Myers, as a university professor and biology researcher his academic career is based on evidence through research. Then he’ll get on his personal blog and say all kinds of things without supporting them with evidence. So why is it that PZ can get his scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, but is so quick to submit stories and claims that lack the same academic integrity on his own website? I can only come to the conclusion that either he has zero integrity or is a total tool because he chooses the lack of integrity as a personal policy.

In this last case of accusations the evidence is not only hearsay, but 3rd party hearsay, seriously? yes, this shows that if given the ability to ignore evidence in his writings in academia, he most likely would because being famous and controlling minions seems to be his motivation. If it wasn’t his motivation we would see a level of academic integrity that would match his peer-reviewed papers. We can obviously see that isn’t the case.

I would like to see PZ put up or shut up, either put the evidence out there or retract the nonsense till he can put the evidence out there. Let him name names, if their name is out in the public, then any threat would also be made public. Because if you are going to publicly attack a public figure, be prepared to deal with the craziness of being in the public eye. If you want to take legal action, then do so quietly and take a chance. Not to mention that if the Skeptic in question is suing for slander and the claims are true, would run counter to each other. If the claims are true, then he knows the claims are true and suing for slander knows that the truth will come out publicly. but for some reason I don’t think this is the case. So why are these claims being made?

It is very important to support our claims with evidence, otherwise we descend into the faith based realm, where dogma and unfounded beliefs rule over evidence based science.

On a similar note, I want to be absolutely clear that attacking the victim is not only offensive, but flat-out 100% wrong. The victim never, ever deserves what happens to them, ever. But here is where I draw the line, in that if you choose to interact with famous people, be prepared to get thrusted into the public eye for your actions or inactions. People need to learn on both sides, both the victim and the perpetrator, that choices in where you go, who you associate with and your actions play a role in the outcomes in many different situations. Predators don’t care about event policies, convention rules, social protocols, etc. So it follows that people need to be adults and take their own safety seriously. Other people aren’t going to babysit you so you can avoid responsibility. So if you don’t have a backbone, don’t go to events, if you can’t be responsible for yourself, don’t go to events. I don’t want to be treated like a child just so you can act like a child.

To me there is a difference between blaming the victim and addressing the lack of critical thinking skills and bad choices that people make. My blood boils when people try to argue that somebody else is trying to say ANY victim of sexual assault deserved it. I have never come across a single person in my life who would argue rape is perfectly ok in any situation, let alone advocate that ANY person really deserved to be raped. Yes I know, trolls will say some messed up stuff to some women online, that they need to be raped, but I’d wager unless you’re talking to a sociopath, that if pressed on it, they would say it is a figure of speech, yes a very bad, horrible figure of speech. But trolls are trolls, they’re only out to emotionally hurt people. The predators are the ones out to physically hurt people.

So let me explain my position on responsibility versus blame. If I wear expensive jewelry and have money hanging out of my pockets and go into high crime rate neighborhood my chances of being a victim goes up exponentially, and if I get mugged and attacked, I am partly responsible because I ignored logic and reason and made a bad decision by disregarding my own safety. However I still did not deserve to be mugged and attacked. Am I to blame? no, but I am partly responsible. The problem comes in confounding responsibility for one’s own actions and “deserving” something bad happening to them. Nobody deserves to have bad things happen to them, but they still happen to people, why? because there are evil people in the world.
Look at it this way, somebody living in a house without locks and complaining they’ve been robbed several times, yet will claim each time they shouldn’t have to install locks on their doors because “no” means “no” in regards to people illegally entering their home and taking their possessions. And if you suggest that they put locks on their doors will be met with, “I shouldn’t have to worry about what I do, I’m the victim, why are you blaming me?!?!” followed with “no means no..” Well I have news for those who think that making suggestions to people who are victims is somehow “blaming” them, is you are ignoring that criminals and predators don’t care if “no” means “no”, they’re going to do what they want regardless of rules and laws. With this in mind, it becomes the responsibility of every person to take necessary measures in order to minimize the exposure to situations where these predators can take advantage of you. If that means not wearing expensive jewelry or revealing clothes, then so be it, why shift the odds against you if you can avoid it? oh I know, no means no and people should be safe without the fear of criminals and predators, but seriously, they are out there, be smart or be a victim, your choice. Please feel free to take your own safety into your own hands, but try not to complain too much when you ignore your own safety and something bad happens.

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An Open Letter to Community Leaders and Moderators

Dear Administrators and Moderators of any social forum.

Since the beginnings of our country, we found that freedom of speech above all other rights to be one of the most important things we posses as a human being. So important, that it was ranked as the 1st Amendment in our constitution.  It is also the first violation of our personal rights that we will scream, kick and yell if somebody attempts to take it away, even in some small trivial way, we’ll complain, why? Simple because we want to be able to voice our opinion, our argument if you will, why something is or is not liked, when we like or dislike it. We want to have our say, our input into our community.  We want to take part in the governance of what culture, subculture and community we self identify with.

We are a very social species, and as the internet, technology and society shifts to a paradigm that is radically different from how our society and culture used to work, we begin to find problems where they never existed. As we find ourselves too busy on a daily basis to seek out social situations where interpersonal communication gives us emotional satisfaction, we seek it out on social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and a host of all kinds of subculture social forums. These forums and websites allow us to maximize our social time and avoid people at the same time, unfortunately that seems to be the new social norm. But there is an inherent danger lurking in this new paradigm that ignores how real societies and cultures work psychologically.

There are several psychology effects in play in social dynamics, either online or off, one of the most critical ones is how we self-identify, that is who we are, how we declare our own identities to be. It is not enough to say my name is (insert name here) and that is it, we have to add who we identify with, either work, community, family, education, music, political beliefs, achievements or ideology. This can be seen in how people politically identify themselves as democrat, republican, or independent. We do this as a way to constantly be a part of a social group. We will even do it if it means we have to deceive or change who we are or our ideology. A psychologist named Solomon Asch discovered that the overwhelming majority of people in small groups will refuse to dissent and go with the consensus of the group in order to avoid being the outcast. This effect runs very deep, evolutionary psychologist believe that it is a result of millions of years of survival, where our tribe, clan or community grants us certain protections and advantages. Without those protections our survival on our own takes a dramatic drop. This creates the paradigm that we see today, where we are incredibly social beings who rely on the community for survival and fear social exile.

As social beings who have the necessity to self-identify with a social group, community or clan we also find that any attack to our group poses a threat to ourselves even if there really is not one. We feel threaten when the group is threaten, this effect also follows evolutionary psychology as I mentioned before. But here is where it gets tricky, is how we determine external threats versus internal threats to the group.  An external threat is quite easy to deal with in social groups. We simply don’t allow them access to our group. However the internal threat is a problem. Until now we always dealt with it using peer-pressure and/or with what Solomon Asch pointed out, we will conform, if necessary to avoid being outcasted. This can created anxiety in groups if there is not a method of keeping group balance or cohesion. One of those things is the ability to voice our opinions, which draws in the importance of freedom of speech. The founding fathers kind of knew the importance because if any group or society is to be successful it has to be able to balance itself out socially. As things change so does the culture and the rules within. We can see this in action from the days of Women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement to gay marriage rights today. So what takes us so long to change? I think it is that we have become many subcultures in our American society, which on one hand is a good thing, collectively we can do many great things, but on the other, things are slow to change and we will argue the most trivial of things such as who can and cannot get married, when really it is only the business of the individuals getting married and nobody else.

Another effect in play is how we perceive social threats, in social situations either online or in real life, anyone from outside our group giving a dissenting opinion or argument against our group is quickly determined as a threat. This is due to the evolutionary psychological effect of wanting to protect the group from external harm, even if it is only perceived as a threat and no such threat really exists. An example of this can be seen clearly if one challenges a feminist argument, more times than not the member of the feminist group perceives the challenge as a threat and quickly labels it a threat to their group, and then labels the person a misogynist as a clear way to attempt to socially exile the person challenging the feminist argument from their group. Remember external threats are easier to deal with, make somebody an external threat and there is no need to hear their “external” argument. It is really just another form of social coercion, rather than make an academic or philosophical argument.

One of the most important things we have to avoid in slowing down of social change is the restriction of speech. This is something that those in political or social power, who do not believe in change and/or don’t have the desire for the group to be successful, as a result of those in power seeking success for only themselves or their friends, as a form of harmful greed, is to stifle freedom of speech. If they can control what is being said within the community or culture, they can control the rate of change. They can also control what changes are made and how it changes. Simply by controlling who gets to speak and who does not, or what is allowed to be said and what is not. Most leaders know that people in their group are in some ways slaves to their culture and in most cases again as Solomon Asch pointed out, will alter what they think and believe in order to avoid being the outcast. These leaders know once a person is made an outcast within a group or community, they become easy targets by those in power to be made into an external threat. And as I mentioned earlier, external threats are much easier to deal with. And more grossly offensive is the use of peer-pressure to secure the boundaries of the group to exile the voices of dissent as directed by those in power. Silence the dissonance, and the group’s self-identification remains perfectly intact. And that makes for an easier group to control.

We as a culture know that a very important balance must be maintained between those in power and those who collectively give that power. That there must be some type of system in place to keep those in power from using social pressures, coercion and the treat of exile from the group to their own benefit, even if they are unaware of such dangers. The saying goes “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely” is true, and we can see in many cultures, communities and social groups that power wielded without some type of balance to keep those in power in check, will result in a disintegration of the community or culture. It can be seen throughout history, from ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire. If left unchecked communities and cultures will at some point break down, and will either break up completely, they will fragment to the point people will migrate to other communities or social groups or there will be a coup d’etat. We can clearly see this in action today as we have watched the Arab spring, spread across the middle-east like wildfire. There people are sick and tired of corruption by those in power, and will reject the ideology they must give up their voice in order to gain security and stability.  In order for people to feel safe within their own community, they must be able to voice their opinion, their dissent of those in some political power over the group.

In psychology, we can observe the dynamics of social norms, self-determination and intrinsic motivation within cultures. We can observe how we interact in regards to what Garrett Harden called “the tragedy of the commons”, where people within a community will without knowing it consume all of the resources till the resource itself is gone. If we do not have some system in place to avoid such problems we are left to our own demise and we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. We can observe governance and the importance of how we collectively solve problems rather than trying a one size fits all panaceas at the direction of those in power, where often the solution really benefits only those in power. We have to as Nobel Peace Prize winning researcher Elinor Ostrom points out, that we must focus on the threats to sustainable communities through recognizing how governance and social dynamics works in regards to our own resources. Our resources include our valuable time, money and what Pierre Bourdieu called social currency, or social capital. We spend our time doing the things we find beneficial to ourselves or what we enjoy. If this resource is exploited by those in power, we see the same results as we see in the tragedy of the commons. Meanwhile out of fear of social exile or being socially ridiculed, we may not chase the things, hobbies and careers that we truly want. Fear is a powerful thing, not only to subjugate others, but ourselves.

In social psychology we also see problems and restrictions for those who wish to be involved in governance and must climb what Sherry Arnstein calls the “ladder of citizen participation” where certain obstacles exist at different levels of participation within any social group or culture and those obstacles themselves create issues. And knowing this is important because freedom of speech, being the most critical of all the rights creates the largest obstacle if suppressed.  That obstacle for those within a group or culture who wish to participate in governance becomes almost impossible to overcome if the threat of exile exists. Those in any type of political power know that participation in governance is much more difficult if dissension is suppressed. Again add the threat of exile from the group or community and often it is easier to accept being oppressed than to fight to just be heard, let alone make any changes.

Here is where it gets tricky, for those in social power such as moderators and administrators is “drama” and the “forum troll”. This is why I discussed the topics that I discussed before bring this topic up. As a social species, we have a need for drama, why? Well in order to measure any emotion we must have the ability to measure our emotions, anger, happiness, sadness, regret, contempt, humor, etc. against other emotions. We are able to do this through observing drama within our group or culture. We can see how it begins, how it is handled and how it is resolved. I personally believe that how we resolve drama either personally or socially reflects our personal desires. That is, if those who want to crush drama entirely also want a neutral, emotionless group, which does not argue, which basically complies with the wishes of those in power or the consensus of the group, the old “don’t rock the boat” adage. I know people have used the term “sheeple” and this is ever so clear within groups that have leaders who wish to suppress people’s ability to vent, complain, and participate in governance. People are forced in situations to have to decide self imposed exile over challenging the entire social group if they find something that may go against the group. Who wants to be a threat to the group’s cohesion when social exile is held over people’s head?

This psychological dilemma of self versus the group creates anxiety if left without some type of system in place for a member of the group to exercise their voice of dissent without the threat of exile. This creates a perfect storm for what most people call “drama”. In many situations the anxiety of not being heard within the group leads to people retaliating against the groups social norms just to get attention, so that their voice may be heard above everyone else. Then they in their own mind would be able to voice their opinion to the original problem since they have everyone’s attention. This could be a good thing and it could be a bad thing. Depending on the group’s governance, and those in power, they may be declared a “drama queen” and made to be a point of jokes and ridicule or they may be labeled as unstable or a caner of the group. It becomes virtually anything goes, because it is easier to label things as defined by personal perspective than to stop and use reason to address, why is drama being employed to gain attention to begin with. We often forget people have different perspectives within our own group. It is easier to associate difference of opinion with outsiders than it is to accept dissonance within the group.

So we all love drama, it can be seen throughout history, in the stories we write, to the plays, the music and now unfortunately the reality television shows. We feed on drama, as can be seen with the level of success in reality television shows. They range the whole spectrum of human existence from politics to sex, sports to business and beyond. But what is odd is we don’t like to be in any proximity to the drama, unless we are the focal point and it is a result of our exercising our freedom of speech to voice dissent, then hey it is perfectly okay. So drama is not so bad, unless it is being used to manipulate others or to take advantage of people. But then people ask, what about unnecessary drama? Who is to decide what is or is not necessary to others? This brings in the topic of governance and the ladder of participation that I mentioned earlier. How people deal with other people’s drama is important, when dealing with other people’s drama you can either create an obstacle for them or facilitate a resolution. This can only be done using reasonable thought to approach their dilemma, which is the source of their drama. Thinking in any fashion that you “know why” only compounds the issue by openly ignoring their perspective and replacing it with your own. This always leads to more division and more anxiety, and if enough people are included in the drama, a threat to the group is created. Once a threat is created then open division occurs and it becomes the “them versus us” paradigm.

The “them versus us” paradigm can be seen in our culture more and more, an example is feminism, xenophobia and gay rights. Those groups of people became “them” from the rest of society’s perspective when enough individuals who had their voices suppressed by those in power in our culture, decided to create social drama as a means to voice their opinions of dissent. Those in social and political power who fear change, used the successful method of dealing with dissent by creating the “them versus us” paradigm to force social exile on those who dissented with social norms. The problem is they are “us”, there is no “them versus us”, we are all part of the human society, one giant tribe, one clan. The use of the “them versus us” paradigm only exists to serve those in power. They are simply the same people within our group who chose to speak out and voice dissent. Once we speak out, and voice dissent, we become the “them” for the group we were forced to leave due to our dissenting opinions. How can this fracturing of any social group be productive to itself? We are naturally multi-subcultural, as we often shift groups depending on interests and beliefs. The group of people you may watch sports with may not be the same people you work with or go socializing with at museums fund raisers. This is where self-identification, in using groups to define one’s self can get dangerous and more often than not can be used as a tool to manipulate you. Think advertising products on television, radio and print and worse of all religion.

So what about the trolls you may be asking. Well trolls are few and far between, that is real trolls. Trolls are people who feed on or enjoy making others miserable without dealing with the emotional fallout. I add the second part of not dealing with emotional fall out, because it is important in recognizing the difference between a person with a mental illness who is not aware of their enjoyment of seeing others in misery and somebody who has no argument against not caring about others emotional states. The first, the person with a mental illness may not have the ability to care or suffers from a verity of personality disorders that create the appearance of not caring. I mention this, because jumping to the conclusion that somebody is a troll without examining the possibility of a mental illness or other possibilities is using their own perspective as fact in any given situation, which depending on the situation may pose to be a greater problem than the perceived troll. The trouble in moderating any social group is between recognizing drama from trolling, if you mislabel drama as trolling, or trolling as drama, you’re going to have a bad time. Moderators and administrators in any social forum must learn and develop psychological tools to create a positive system for its community. This positive social system must collectively marginalize trolls rather than the use of “banhammers” and “censorship”, because if you use either of those tools against legitimate dissent, again you’re going to have a bad time. And if misuse occurs enough may result in a tragedy of the commons situation, where all the social resources are destroyed within a community.

I know it is easier to banhammer and censor comments that you disagree with, I’m guilty of it myself in the past moderating forums. Now what I found in learning and research in psychology is by watching and observing successful social groups is the availability of the ability to voice dissent without the threat of social exile. The United States is an example of this success, however once people learn how to censor dissent, as it has been in recent years, those in power will more often than not want to continue down the path of censorship in the name of “saving the group” from the trolls or “them”. I say “let the trolls come!”, let them voice their opinion, their argument and once they do, they’ll be marginalized for their actions as trolls IF they really are trolls. If it is legit dissent, then the issue can be addressed in logical, cogent arguments. But you cannot rationally argue that banhammers and censorship result in a more harmonious, happy, go lucky group or community. If you are not allowing individuals who may be bad at forming cogent arguments to voice their dissent, then you are not a good moderator or administrator. If perceiving their comments and actions as trolling, you are in that situation replacing other people’s perspectives with your own, and you have to ask, who does that really serve, you or the community?

The best way to sort through drama, trolls and every other possible issue within a community or group, is to simply ask questions and keep asking question till the true issue is found. Then and only then can the group, society or culture deal with the issue in a manner that really is productive in a positive way. People who want to censor and banhammer, usually have an ulterior motive, and in most cases I have seen participate in cliquish behaviors that should be examined and questioned. But most importantly always keep in mind, to reassure people that the group on all levels is inclusive, by allowing anyone to climb the latter of participation as much or as little as they want, because when there is an elite, exclusive clique within any group, it automatically becomes “them versus us”, and power always corrupts.

We all have been at some point in time, one of the “little people”, without a voice or unable to be heard in a sea of people trying to voice their opinion, go beyond and listen, ask questions and most of all, show compassion by understanding you don’t know what other people are honestly thinking and feeling. And as Neil deGrasse Tyson once said For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

Thank you

JustNorrik

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Government Healthcare Debate

Got some easy “government” math for you.

If healthcare costs for one person is (just for argument sake) $10k a year per person, and with 260 million US citizens and everyone is covered, that is a total cost of $2.6 trillion, yeah trillion with a “t”.
If everyone pays for themselves, that is only $10k per person.. now I know, quite a few cannot afford it, I get that and there needs to be methods to solve that problem, but lets look at the cost if government handles it.

If healthcare costs for one person is (again just for argument sake) $10k a year per person, and with 260 million, and everyone is covered, that is a total cost of $2.6 trillion, but we have to add-on the cost of government bureaucracy, so lets use the IRS as a baseline government agency as opposed to say the department of defense..
the cost of the IRS (in 2005) was about $10 billion, with yearly growth it always increase.
(http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/compliancestats/article/0,,id=132165,00.html)
So lets add that to the $2.6 trillion and we get $2.61 trillion.. divided back into the public that is $10,039 per person.

Please explain how government-run healthcare is cheaper than private ran healthcare? because elected officials told you it was?

But wait there is more, lets say for argument that the bottom 1/5th of the populations doesn’t have to pay for government healthcare.. so that is 260 million divided by 5, that means 52 million people would get free healthcare, while the other 4/5th get stuck with the bill being $12,548 per person as opposed to $10k without the government.
This simple math is why people don’t want government-run healthcare, by forcing people to pay $2.5k more for the same healthcare as other people get for free. just because they make above the bottom 5th in income. and what about those who make just $10 above their counterpart who gets free healthcare? or $1 more? how is that fair? solution is sliding scale you say?
Please keep in mind that these numbers are based only on $10k in expenses, what happens if that amount is doubled, tripled or quadrupled? If the cost is $50k+ you can easily see a tax burden of $62,740 over the $50k, being $12,740 more.

But lets add another variable to this mess, it’s been shown generally, that the higher the income , the better the health of individuals. So people who make more have lower healthcare costs overall or throughout their life. So why should people who use the healthcare system less, pay more than their lower-income counterparts? because they make more? That doesn’t sound “fair” does it.
But lets look at that “sliding scale” mentioned earlier, so basically the more you make, the more you should have to pay, even though the more you make the less you use in healthcare, wait that is like forcing car dealerships to sell the same $10k car based on income, if you make under $30k, the car is free, if you make $30k, the car costs $12.5k and if you make $100k I’d wager it’ll be obscene in price.
But in this economic model, value of a good/service is destroyed and the desire to make/provide a product/service is also destroyed. Why should people worry about getting promoted, making more money, or worrying about providing for their families if there is no incentive to do so, because any increase is offset by a higher tax burden, because the sliding scale is fair right? hardly.

I hear the argument that the poor pay the bulk of taxes through sales tax, government fees, etc and if that is true, then the poor are the bulk of consumers in our society, so how is the poor the bulk of the consumers if they are poor and cannot afford healthcare? In our society people do not have a single issue with running up tens or thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, car and home loans, if approved to do so. So if the poor are the largest consumers of products and services, where does that money come from? more debt? but who holds that debt? and who loses when they can’t pay that debt back? but it gets worse, ask people to pay for healthcare over buying goods and services, and people’s heads explode. The opinion shown in choices people make shows lower-income people choose to spend money on luxuries over healthcare. And then when they have no money, ask those who are responsible in society, who make better choices to flip the bill for their healthcare, all the while taking less care of themselves. So irresponsibility is a better choice in our culture.

These creates a situation where the number of “have-nots” increase and the number of “haves” decrease, and this is exactly what we see to today… This isn’t a result of “the rich getting richer” only and not people giving up, and how do I know this? the dramatic increase in depression diagnosis and the increase in anti-depressant use… People are getting tired of fighting and going nowhere because of the “sliding scale” in taxes vs. income.. Of course there is a point where a person would make enough to ignore their tax burden, but how many people achieve such a level of income?

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The Religious Paradox: Religious Dating Websites

According to christianmingle.com God has time to help find its Christian members their soul mates, but for some unknown reason God doesn’t have time to save millions of starving children around the world, letting them suffer a horrific death, as well as not a single intervention by God in the search to find a cure for: cancer, HIV, SIDs, or any other deadly disease. Seriously God what the hell?!?

But I have to be honest, thanks to Christian mingle and its members for letting me know what God’s real priorities are. So if you believe in God, and think this website is legit and feel God really is helping you find a life partner on that website, you are either a serious sociopath or a world-class narcissist. Because if you are more about following a sociopathic deity that concerns itself with rewarding its followers over being compassionate to helpless, suffering, starving children, people who suffer from cancer, people with HIV, victims of murder, rape, robbery, violence, etc.   etc.   etc.    etc.    etc. then you follow the idea of being a sociopath or a world-class narcissist.
Believing in any god who allows these things to happen, all the while rewarding you in helping you find a “soul mate”, well that gives the rest of us a good view into how you think.

Your rewards from God via a website > children/people suffering.

So seeing this I had to investigate it further
click here to explore it yourself www.christianmingle.com

In the process of signing up, you have to answer quite a few questions ranging from height, weight, race, hair color, do you smoke, do you drink, do you want kids/do you have kids, your zip code, what church you grew up in, what church you attend now as if any of that is relevant to God helping me find a “soul mate”.  Not to mention having to fill out a CAPTCHA, as if God can’t tell the difference between human’s and machines.

But wait it gets even better, once on the site, you’ll see a banner that quotes a bible verse:

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalms 37:4″

I guess you have to delight yourself at a cost of $29 a month, $18 for three months or  $13 for a six month subscription in order to be able to message somebody. Yes, you must pay for God’s help in finding your “soul mate” otherwise you can delight yourself somewhere else. Just think, if there are just one million users paying $13.99 for six months, that is almost $28 million income a year just to help people find soul mates, but that is the high end of the spectrum, lets say half of a million really pay, that being “men” seeking women, except for the few gay members, that is still $14 million a year.

We’ll never know the operating cost of such a website, but surely God would find donors to fund a website like this so it would be completely free to all who use it. Wouldn’t God want Christians to “mingle” and hook up at a better rate than say non-christian, non-paying websites? wouldn’t churches want to help fund this site so its members could find soul mates that may attend other churches? oh wait that doesn’t work, a church may lose members doing that, nevermind that thought.
I also can’t forget people can upload photos of themselves, because how somebody looks is important in religion *wink*. I guess with photos online they can judge each others appearances from the safety of their own homes, no, no, they really can’t ignore how each other looks now can they?

This is a nice example of how religion is more about money, than it is about God.

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Law Enforcement has no desire to protect life.

The Gun Control debate continues.
After some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion, law enforcement has no desire to protect life, either innocent or guilty.

Cops would prefer to use lethal force over any other force, they choose to carry harmful weapons over any other technology.
They have no desire to apprehend, but instead prefer to terminate a human life at the drop of a hat, even if that life poses no real threat, but only a perceived threat… And when their judgement is wrong, a person dies without any consequence to the officer for their misjudgment.
You may now ask “how do you know this?” or “what possible facts do you have to support this hypothesis?

In the pursuit of neutralizing wild animals by animal control officers, the use of tranquilizing darts is deployed to avoid harming the animal.. This method allows animal control officers to safely deal with the wild animal and return the animal to a location where it poses no harm to anyone.

Law enforcement has no desire to deploying this technology, which would save the life of 100% of innocent victims of police wrongful shootings and wrong arrest violence and 100% of criminals who do intend harm to others where they can properly prosecute the criminals in court where they can properly defend themselves.
Knowing this technology exists and that law enforcement ignores to use it, I can only come to the conclusion they have no desire to protect and serve, but to police and terminate without personal consequences.
This effect is also supported by Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, where an individual who enforces laws/rules become more sadistic as time passes as a result of the mindset of authority, while serving in positions of law enforcing authority.

Want gun control? start with the police…

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A bit of Prayer

Wow, it has been a while since I posted, I do have quite a bit in the works, research, school, work, family and on rare occasion, a bit of music.
I was in a debate recently and got to doing some thinking, so here are some quick thoughts on that debate.

Whenever I read any theological explanation of prayer it reads as if “something” is known, that the person questioning prayer doesn’t know, as if to say “you just don’t get it” OR contrive some extensive, mental gymnastics of an excuse that produces the exact same results as chance alone..
It is such an obvious dismissal of the entire argument in order to avoid dealing with the truth, that uttering a few words can heal your dying grandmother, or you get the job you wanted, or find the love of your life, etc. is nonsense and only serves to comfort yourself, no more than children creating an imaginary friend to comfort themselves when they are lonely.

But wait I have more, surely if scientists can find thousands and thousands of patterns in the universe from physics to chemistry, to biology to psychology and mathematicians finding all kinds of patterns in math, that has led to such improved conditions in the world, some wonderful technologies, that with the billions of people who have prayed over the past 2+ thousand years we would have seen a pattern in how God answers prayers, surely some pattern outside of random chance would have emerged that shows prayer does work over not praying, but there isn’t one and to explain why we have not in some convoluted way shows the problem itself. mental gymnastics is far more fun than altering an internal belief system and changing who we thought we are.

I think it is easier to just dismiss somebody questioning how you arrive at a belief system, rather than challenge it internally and possible arrive at an improved belief system that is more grounded, more effective in helping a person arrive at better decisions for themselves, their community and humanity. This effect of believing irrational ideas or concepts has been shown to be true in a verity of psychological studies. People will in groups of like minded or agreed philosophy become more polarized in that belief (from Asch to Myers/Bishop) than a group of mixed beliefs and opinions. So religion creates this extremely large group of polarized people who use this as a foundation to base their own personal belief system and it’s strength, they also use this group as part of their own self-identification, THEN to make it more effective they use peer pressure to keep the locals in line.. which makes changing an internal belief system that much more difficult. Compare Christians, Jews and Muslims in mixed and isolated communities.

When we as non-theists address religious issues such as prayer, religious minded individuals will either pull away or go to the extreme in defending their self-identification as being a “religious, God fearing person”. We must if we want to succeed in liberating people from religion must untangle these individuals from their religious beliefs.

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The Religious Paradox: Interpretation

I’ve seen this said, probably more times than I realize or could ever count, the following statement:
“We get what (God/Jesus/Muhammad/Yahweh/Allah) is saying from interpreting this (points to any passage in a text) passage as a specific message from (God/Jesus/Muhammad/Allah/Yahweh), which says..” And then the person inserts what they think the text says after that.
But there’s two problems with this, both creating a serious religious paradox.

The first problem is this, the person who wrote the text is a human being, and thus this person wrote down what they “interpreted” to be a message from “God”. But what if their wrong? what if what they think is a message from God is not a message at all, but just ideas and concepts from their own mind. This holds to be far more true than a “message from God” due to the fact these messages are always limited to the current knowledge of the time of the “message”. Had any messenger from God 2k+ years ago included maybe the space shuttle, E=MC², or any secret to modern medicine, like the cure to cancer, I could see as possible evidence that the message was from a “high being”. But again we know this is not the case. So in order to interpret the “word of God”, one would have to take the chance that they are interpreting what somebody else was interpreting as being accurate and non-bias. How dangerous is that? making the claim that any person can interpret heresy in a manner that the original message is recovered is in itself a paradox. How does one know any message is accurate based on it passing through two human beings, who as we know have biases, prejudices and opinions based positions that are based on one’s origins. That is depending on where a person grew up and what type of religion their family holds, then their bias and prejudices would have a serious impact on interpretation of heresy.

But what does all that mean right? well in science, we have the peer review process to sort through the junk science and those ideas, hypothesis and theories that are grounded in evidence and can be tested, observed and survive through repeated trials ends up as scientific knowledge. These then are used as predictive models that produce technology and medicines. The scientific method works, because it removes the bias, prejudices and opinions leaving only facts, data and pure observations that can be tested by anyone.

Now back to interpretation, how does one test a bias, opinion, or prejudice interpretation? you can’t, but that’s the original point. This system of “I can interpret the text better than you!” allows human beings to manipulate any religious text to basically say what ever they want. They don’t even have to defend the original interpretation of the person who received the “message” from God or how accurate it may be. So, they knowing this, that people can interpret religious text differently, ignore that the original person may have misinterpreted God’s message and created a religion that is self-serving to just the original person. Which means, they could have made the whole thing up. So how do religious theists deal with the possibility religion is just a made up idea to benefit a few people early in human history IF “interpretation” is allowed? oh oh, let the spinning begin.

Now the second problem with interpretation of texts. How does anyone know the information contained was edited, added, deleted or changed to fit a bias or prejudice?
In the bible people are slaughtered for being different not believing that same thing as the ones who claim God’s word is infallible, which is a result of prejudice. We know in modern society that prejudice and racism is bad, yet most religious text contain bias and prejudice AND explain why in their case it’s ok to practice. But again interpretation get’s ignored, that the original person may have edited the message to serve their bias or prejudice. Can the Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindu’s or any other religion safely say that their religious text does not contain bias, prejudice or racism? I know from reading the bible it definitely contains all three, and I’d wager the others are too.

So what doe all this mean? well theists have a serious issue, that is with all the interpretation floating around, all the denominations of different religions, which are based on different interpretations of the same text, one has to concede that the possibility of the original message not being interpreted correctly is huge. But I’ve sort of heard a slight counter argument, that God made sure the message to that one person is correct. But why not give every human that same message? the reply goes something like this, “because we’re being tested on our faith..”, what? why did the person who got the original message not get tested on their faith? but hey, the mental gymnastics after that will ensue and they’ll end up leaving the debate rather than face the paradox they’ve created where interpretation is ok, but not ok.

Religious people by nature are bias, their religion insures that they maintain the same system of interpretation, that is, it serves the leaders of the church rather than the masses. This also shows when church leaders use quote mining tricks during church services to teach a biased, prejudice message that serves the church rather than taking care of the poor and needy. The bias language used by those who manipulate the message of their religious text shows through in how vague statements are, allowing a quick change to its content if challenged. But if this is the case with interpretation of religious texts, what is the point of having religious text?
Next time you hear anyone speaking for the church or religion making any claim, ask how do you know that you are not being bias, prejudice or how much of your message is your opinion rather than a religious message via divinity? and how can you prove its solely a religious message or not? or better yet, ask them to show you where it is written that it is ok to interpret their religious text how ever they feel.

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