Disperser Writes Opinions — The First Four Years

Another post covering the first four of the ten years I’ve maintained this blog . . .

. . . but this post is doomed from the get-go since in this day and age people have zero interest in other people’s opinions. Especially when, as is often the case, the opinions challenge one’s own opinions.

And, especially when I’m doing the challenging. What’s interesting with this post (and more to follow) is that it feels as if I wrote more opinion and editorial pieces than fiction.

And, none of that writing accomplishes/accomplished anything.

I could be wrong, of course. It could be the majority of people have a deep-seated desire to always better their understanding of the world they live in and are open to knowledge and learning derived from a free exchange of ideas even if it upends their current ideas.

OK, OK, I’m kidding. I can’ find anyone who argues to learn; everyone argues to win, and that means literally shutting one’s ears and minds to any opposing views. Even if, by some chance, someone reads/hears something that challenges their beliefs, the first and — these days — only acceptable response is to call it a lie (fake news, as it were).

Now, there are some things that really can’t be argued with absolute certainty. Usually, it’s the big ones: politics and religion are the main players and from there stem all the peripheral issues such as guns, sex, abortion, and so on.

But here’s the thing . . . we fail at those kinds of things because we argue the wrong thing.

Take abortion, for instance; pretty much, everyone can come to some consensus that abortions aren’t desirable . . . but we’re arguing about the wrong thing when we argue about abortion. The problem isn’t abortions; the problem is unwanted pregnancies; abortions are the result of unwanted pregnancies.

When was the last time you heard a discussion about how to stem unwanted pregnancies? Rarely, because you can’t get people riled up about preventing pregnancies. I mean, yes you can a little. But, the arguments against preventing unwanted pregnancies are so stupid and hypocritical that they seldom have any traction.

Anyway, I hold opinions about many things, and I used to express them regularly, mostly to clarify my thought; a self-check, if you will.

Not so much anymore because of what I said in my opening statement. Namely, you can’t discuss a subject or argue a position with people who assume you are evil and should be put down because you don’t march in lockstep with them.

When I was younger (a few years ago) there was still the possibility of getting into an honest discussion and exchange ideas with thoughtful and intelligent individuals. Not aiming to change someone’s mind, but to learn why people hold a position different than your own. In the process, maybe you change your mind or modify your position to encompass a broader view. At the very least, you understand more than you did before.

For instance, one might learn the argument isn’t about different goals, but about how those goals might be achieved.

Anyway, here are a few samples from numerous opinion pieces that graced this blog.

Some of these pieces are fairly innocuous; basically, me pondering on life or reviewing a movie. Others . . . well, I don’t mince words and I don’t shy away from calling people out. The following is a mix that ranges from personal musings to criticism of institutions and beliefs, to movie reviews, to just about anything I felt like commenting on.

One special note: my beef is with institutionalized and unquestioned beliefs, and I’m not just talking religion.

We begin with one of humanity’s main preoccupation and the source of much anguish:
Of Life, Death, and Immortality

Next up, I take issues with the idea that we “can’t know” certain things. Basically, I differentiate between practical and absolute knowledge.
Evidentiary Skeptic

Next up, a short piece on banter. It also looks to be the earliest instance of some of my regulars coming on board (one was LordBeariOfBow — ElBoB for short —  who sadly left us last year).

When I started the blog, I was fresh off the Skepticality Forum which was having technical difficulties (many brilliant discussions were lost when their database went kablooey). As a consequence, I wanted to continue discussions and thoughts about religion. These are as much for me as anyone else, but I’m open to discussions with anyone who approaches the subject honestly and with an open mind.
Atheist, am I
Complicated Issues
Militant Atheists
Choosing a Religion
Atheism and Skepticism
Atheism and Skepticism Redux

And, yes, I would occasionally comment on politics . . .
Pundits: Impeding Discourse (nine years ago I had no idea it would get as bad as it is today.)

I also had no problem attacking my heroes when they said something I didn’t agree with (I still have a problem with Harris’s argument that meditation gives a glimpse of something “better”.)
LSD and other drugs (It should be noted recent research shows lots of promise for treating various disorders with a controlled administration of certain types of hallucinogenics. However, that’s different from what is claimed regarding insight into the human condition.)

There are many entries from my time as a writer for Slice of SciFi. Some of my pieces are still on their website (HERE) and if you click on the first link, you will see the only instance I know of where my name appears on Wikipedia. They even have the bio I wrote when they brought me on. Anyway, here are some of the stuff I used to write for them, all of it relating to entertainment.
Science Fiction vs. Fantasy
One of my Slice of SciFi editorial contributions: Time Travel
Terminators Musings
Interesting Machines
Another Slice of SciFi Article – Time for Who (this has a link to the original piece)
Another Slice of SciFi editorial contribution: Steady There, Fella
Multiple Choices
The Pioneering Spirit
The Star Trek Universe
Dangerous Geniuses
Blast from the past
Blast from the past – Prequel
Humble Contribution (this has a link to the original piece)
District 9 Review
There may be others (probably are) but these are the ones I found.

The thing with grouping my opinion pieces is that it doesn’t reflect how they were written. Meaning, one day I might do a movie review, and the next write about Agnosticism – the non-neutral position.

You know what? There are too many, so I’ll just present them with small blurbs and readers can decide what to ignore. It could also be I missed some.

The End of Poverty (a few thoughts about the human condition and what we do about it)

The whole issue of Free Will is mired in religious, sociological, evolutionary, and other arguments. Here are two posts pondering potential pitfalls. I’m fairly confident on where I stand on the matter, but can easily see different opinions.
Scientific Naturalism and Free Will
Free Will Redux

Things I Learned from Experience and Observation is self-explanatory. . . and nothing earthshattering. People younger than me will dismiss most of it. People older than me will dismiss most of it. People not me won’t agree with it. Mainly, a reminder for myself.

Empathy, or Lack Thereof is a quasi-rant about evil Christians doing mean things. Words aren’t minced.

Religious, Spiritual, or . . . Something Else? is a post I wrote on my blog after a blog I used to follow didn’t like my response and deleted it (and I unsubscribed in response). To be clear, they asked for input but they expected mostly religious people to chime in.

These should be self-explanatory:
I Am Not A Movie Critic – 04FEB2009
Movies Reviews Redux – 09FEB2009

I long for Serenity . . . came about because, occasionally, I miss Firefly . . . and write something about it.

Tackling the tough subjects . . . my take argues against exculpating religion as one of the reasons for many of humanity’s problems. That religion does some good doesn’t excuse all the bad it brings to the table.

Awesome stuff . . . again introduces videos that are breath of fresh air in an increasingly stinky world. I watch these when I’m particularly depressed about humanity.

Vitriol is where I introduce the Pinky Tip Rule (PTR) . . . it never caught on, but it should have; we’d be in a better world today if it had.

Death – Part I, Do Not Mourn Thyself (some of my thoughts on the subject)

Enough is Enough (booze is a problem no one wants to seriously address)

Reflecting on Tragedies (I can’t help think that many tragedies are little more than opportunities for scummy people to force something or other on the rest of us)

I like guns — and cars, and sugar, and other deadly stuff — and I talk about it on the blog just a bit:
My Opinion . . .
A thoughtful Comment, and My Respectful Response
Why We Have No Discourse
We must do something (Warning: lots of swearing)
Perceptions, or “Call me stupid, but . . . “

If you do nothing wrong, you don’t have to worry. (my opinion of surveillance for “security’s sake”)

Some will be tempted to read this next piece. Do so only if you want to spend a good 30 minutes reading points and counterpoints. That’s because the comments are nearly as long as the post, if not more. I might regret this, but if you are religious, I urge you to read it all and then comment if you think you can make a cogent argument for your position. The only one I will accept without argument is the admission you don’t know any more than I do and you just choose to believe because of reasons. Fair enough, that. Just don’t tell others they should believe as well.
Religion . . . still fun to discuss (occasionally)

Pacific Rim Review – Disperser Weighs In (self-evident)

Disagreements are seldom a reason to end a friendship . . . until they are.
Ask me how many friends I have

Thoughts on Blogging is a realist’s view of this activity.

I’m going to group a few movie review posts here for convenience but know that the post linked in the next paragraph was in between these reviews.
 2013 Movie Recap – Part I
2013 Movie Recap – Part II
Movie Review – “I, Frankenstein”
Movie Review – “Elysium” and “Kick-Ass 2”

Some might get the idea I write a lot of opinion pieces. Well, this next one is the only one for the first three months of 2014 and it covers topics from the serious to the banal.
Stuff I think about . . .

So, yes, this closes the first four years of editorials, opinions, reviews, and otherwise me putting thoughts down on virtual paper.

I mentioned above that you can’t convince people out of stuff unless they are opening to questioning themselves and what they believe. So, why do I write all this stuff?

It’s primarily for me. Writing about a topic helps me focus on the reasons I have an opinion about something and at the same time exposes flaws in my opinions. Think of it as a way to self-check that what you believe doesn’t sound like pure bullshit once it’s written down in your own words.

Really, everyone should try it; when you have an idea swirling around in your mind, you just accept the beauty of it precisely because it’s not defined, not limited, not exposed to the harsh light of critical examination. Write it down — the what and the why — and then see how confident you are about what you believe, but more importantly, how confident you are about why you believe.

This is independent of the topic; belief in anything should be scrutinized to ensure you’re not just a parrot repeating noises you hear without understanding what they mean.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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