Robot-Enforced Religion: Would you feel safe?

This is probably going to be one of the most random posts I’ve ever written (arguably) and it’s going to involve the use of your imagination. Whether you’re religious or not, I hope that this post causes you to think not only about your own actions but also about the influence of interpretation within religion. I feel like this could be an interesting movie or book but since it sounds like a more religious and AI-oriented version of 1984, maybe not.

The Premise

holy book

image via Geek Tyrant

So imagine for a moment that we live in a more technologically advanced world. AI has long been a functional part of our world. If you’ve ever seen I-Robot with Will Smith, imagine the robots are basically the same as that. They are almost like drones controlled from a central AI hub, so to speak. The key difference being that in this world, these robots serve only one function: upholding a holy book.

I’m going to try my best to avoid using a specific holy book, just for arguments sake. Obviously each holy book has varying sins and punishment. There is no room for interpretation by these robots. They are fed the closest to the original holy book texts as possible and that’s it. Humans don’t get the opportunity to add in “oh we think this means X” or “it’s long been known that Y is an exception”. All sins are punishable exactly in the stated way. If no punishment is stated or the deity within the holy book is the one to judge, the robots make an informed decision based on the crimes/sins and corresponding punishments that are mentioned (more on that in a moment).

For example (and I’m going to make this ridiculous rather than use a real-world example): If it was stated that naming your dog Brian was to be punished with head shaving then that would be one of the functions these robots would carry out. If they witness someone calling their dog Brian, they’d gather enough evidence and then carry out the punishment. These robots wouldn’t be law enforcement or do anything related to society’s laws. These robots would uphold only restrictions, laws, commandments, etc mentioned within a religion’s holy book.

Exceptions

holy book

image via IT Business

There would be some variations of course. There are many sins or crimes within holy books that God can forgive if he so chooses. As such, this worldwide AI would possess a database with profiles for every single person. One of the many things within this profile would be your sin sheet. This would contain all the sins you’ve ever committed. Sins which aren’t punishable by anyone other than God would be tallied up and after each new sin of this type, an equation would be used to determine whether a punishment should be carried out.

So, for example, let’s assume that calling your cat Simba is a sin which isn’t punishable by anyone other than God. This AI has evidence of you doing it 4 times. What would happen, is that your odds would change each time and essentially a dice roll or coin toss would decide your fate. Just to keep things simple, you earn 10% each time such a sin is committed and now you’re on 50%. A random generator within the AI would determine whether you’re to be punished or not. Almost like a coin toss. This is the AI’s way of letting God decide. If the random generator (which is weighted based on your sin percentage) decides it’s punishment time, then the AI views God as allowing that outcome to take place.

The odds would never bee 100% in favour of punishment. That way there would always be the possibility of that 1% being chosen through divine intervention. It’s also worth noting that there wouldn’t be multiple holy books used. Worldwide there would just be one: whether from Christianity or Islam or another isn’t important. If you’re thinking of answering this question, you should use your holy book or the holy book used most within your society.

The Question

holy book

image via ITpro

My question to you is this: would you feel safe? I’d particularly love to hear your point of view if you are indeed religious. If all interpretations that you attach to your faith were removed and all that was left was the holy book, would you feel safe in such a society? Would the world be a better place than it is now or would it be worse?

To be clear, these robots aren’t like those in the films. I’m not talking about Skynet or Ultron or anything, these robots are doing EXACTLY what they were programmed to with no misinterpretation. They aren’t malfunctioning or making decisions outside what they’re programmed to.


Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts and opinions? Let me know down below! 

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Peace!

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Lust, Longing and Bouts of Anxiety

“If you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”

– Random quote apparently from a Buddhist

 

Until recently I don’t think I would have appreciated the value of this quote: we see in films people talking about their hearts racing, how they’re so nervous that they’ll make a mistake, that they go weak at the knees when they see someone they “love”. So when we feel these similar emotions we believe that it’s a sign that we’ve met a compatible partner, someone to whom we are physically and emotionally attracted to. For me, the idea of having weak knees, shaking hands and a racing heart sounds a lot more like something negative (my first thought being an anxiety attack) rather than a moment I’d look back on fondly. This is ultimately what I want to talk about today: “love” or at least my own version of it and the effect this has on anxiety (based on my own experience).

 

I always feel a bit hesitant to use the word “love” (never mind discussing it on a blog) because I feel like it has certain connotations that should be positive but are often perceived as negative. I mean you can love a dog, love a family member, love a friend, love all people, a band, a food, a drug, the fact that it’s not raining, sand, you can say you love pretty much everything in the world until you get to someone with whom you are romantically involved with and then it becomes this weight of pressure. It’s almost like using the term “love” is a quicker way of saying that you want to marry someone, have children, spend your retirement gardening together before being buried in the same plot of land that you’ve already purchased…maybe it’s the fact that I hate the idea of doing all those things but I’d like to think that I’m not the only one who sees it that way. As soon as the word love is used I find it creates complications or can cause the same feelings as being stuck in an elevator (when it’s not completely mutual that is). I think that love is tricky to discuss because not only does everyone have their own image of what “it” is but we’ve all experienced it in different ways from different sorts of people and our own experience of it won’t always be positive. Some people fall in love instantly, some never do, some people think they’ve loved only to realise they haven’t and for some it’s the opposite way around. I think love in itself is a combination of emotions which makes it more difficult to pin down because one might feel different emotions when in love than someone else would. I’d say that love is trust, happiness, comfort, lust, etc. Is that all love is though? Love can involve sadness but you’re not sad because you’re in love, you’re sad because you can’t have love. Maybe the person you love is with someone else or maybe they’ve been chosen for the first mission to mars. Anyway, I’m getting off topic here so let me get back on track: how does all of this relate to anxiety and mental health in general?

 

I’ve mentioned previously in a post that I suffer from varying forms of anxiety: I have incredibly debilitating social anxiety (slowly improving) as well as anxiety attacks that can be triggered by certain situations. Physical contact with other people used to be a challenge for me as well but I’ve mostly overcome that now. I’ve been in relationships before where I’ve initially felt anxious but quickly got past it only for my anxiety to still be rather prevailing in any other situation, even when with this person. So it came as quite a shock to me recently when I met someone, a complete stranger, with whom, from the get go I seemed to just feel comfortable. I mean there is always going to be that initial awkwardness of having to use the typical starter questions but once we were past that we got on like a house on fire. The real challenge was meeting friends of this person in social situations that would usually have me sweating and feeling at my most uncomfortable but nope, I felt fine and actually felt confident to a degree. Something about being with this person and knowing that they are there just removes some of the fear. I mean I’m sure a therapist would probably tell me that most of my anxiety stems from a fear of humiliation; I mean I can even think of examples off the top of my head quite easily of when this deep-rooted issue would have been cemented in place. So I guess when you are with a group of people and know that the person there who means the most to you isn’t going to put you down or view anything you say or do as weird, stupid or abnormal then you can just relax and be yourself. Perhaps it is the societal pressures to conform to the norms that lead us into these anxiety-ridden black holes.

 

This change isn’t just limited to situations involving that person though. I started noticing it in other areas of my life: at work I have a supervisor who other than being a racist, homophobic, bigoted alcoholic, caffeine-addicted chain-smoker is also just a bit of a dick. When I first started working there I would put up with it, I’d pretend to laugh at his awful jokes, I’d agree with his narcissistic and ego-inflating statements about his “skills” and my hatred for this man just built up with each day. Along comes this person and without even being aware of it I start taking on the views and opinions of this fossil to the point where he starts saying things like “you need to go back in your shell” and “I’m not liking this side of you”. Areas of work that I used to dread and actually fear became sort of “meh” and I quickly adjusted to them being part of the job. People who I used to avoid talking to I’ve since became quite friendly with simply because I found it easier to talk to them without freaking out about what to say. Most of this took place without me even being aware of it and I believe that it’s down to not only the physical side of being with someone (I don’t mean just the sex, although obviously that does play a major role in altering brain chemistry in such a manner) but also the emotional side. It’s not often that I can spend time with someone and be completely myself. I mean I’m exaggerating a little bit here but it’s certainly true that I usually have to keep some things locked up inside my brain or at least control certain aspects of my personality. SO I guess just being able to release all my built up “me-ness” is therapeutic to such an extent that I am able to relax a bit in other social situations.

 

I am of course not implying that you should be with someone just because they make you feel more confident and comfortable than you usually would but I am saying that for me, this is an incredible feeling to experience and it is certainly a lot more enjoyable than being with someone where you are constantly worried that you might fuck up. I mean isn’t that the dream relationship? I remember it being said pretty well in How I Met Your Mother when the mother (whose death was some of the most ridiculous writing ever and led to the worst ending of any TV series) says that she wants someone who not only tolerates or accepts her quirks but wants somebody who actually enjoys them and encourages them (I’m paraphrasing but it’s something like that). As any of my fellow introverts will know, there comes a time after socialising where you just need to be alone for a little bit to recharge. I can get to the stage pretty quickly given the right situation and often if I can’t recharge my social battery, I struggle to function and ultimately just get a bit irritable. One thing I did notice with this person is that I could spend days with them and I didn’t once think that I needed to leave to be alone. I mean it’s not like we were just in the same room for that time either, we were in each other’s personal space for prolonged periods of time. I remember leaving a party we’d been at and going back to the flat to just relax and that’s exactly what we did: relax. I left for work the next day without feeling even slightly exhausted (at least mentally) and didn’t need to hide in my cave for the next two days to recover from an evening of social interaction.

 

There is another issue that i’d like to mention quickly that i’m sure some, if not all of you have experienced at some stage. Remember when you’ve been attracted to someone and you start messaging them and every time your phone goes off you get a little wave of excitement run through your body then one day you send a text that might be a little risky or might be “make or break” and you get more nervous than you thought possible. Your phone goes off and you don’t even look in case it’s the reply and when it is you can’t even bring yourself to read it because you’re genuinely terrified of what it might say. Know what I’m talking about? Well there is also the opposite of that: where you enjoy chatting to someone but you’ve kind of grown weary of the conversation and when you see they’ve messaged you, you swipe away the notification usually to forget it was even there. I have great news: there is a middle ground and it’s a lot more enjoyable. You might say you like the “thrill” of the first option but I absolutely hate it. I get more stressed with stuff like that than anything else in the world. I nearly got kicked out of university on several occasions because I literally couldn’t open my e-mails out of fear i’d been kicked out…ironically enough the fear of being kicked out was the real cause of me nearly getting kicked out…anyway, back to the point: the middle ground is getting the thrill of that person messaging you but also not feeling like you need to respond straight away. You can send somewhat risky messages but still not feel like the Earth would be doing you a favour by opening below you and swallowing you up. This was just a minor point I wanted to add that doesn’t really have any relevance but still seemed worth a mention.

 

Anyway, this is a different sort of post from what I’d usually write about but what can I say? My brain took me in this direction today and I’ve just sort of let it type until it feels like it’s got it at all out. As usual, if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to ask. I love responding to any queries and comments and knowing that at least one person reads a post of mine and enjoys it or takes something away from it just makes it worthwhile.

 

 

 

My Adventure: The Good, the Bad and the Unforgettable

So having made it back home, all be it rather reluctantly, I figured I may as well update those of you who are interested on my recent trip to Thailand. I’ll admit that it wasn’t as much a trip to Thailand as it was a trip to Cambodia but I’ll get to that later. Ultimately there were some high points (in some instances quite literally) and some low points but I have survived. Don’t worry, I’m going to try to avoid simply writing about every tiny little thing I did. I mean I could discuss the temples i’d visited or the complete shock of visiting the killing fields or any number of things but instead I want to focus more on the experience and the emotional ups and downs that were part of the journey. Anyway, here we go…

So as I already mentioned, my trip to Thailand was rather short lived. My first day there was a bit overwhelming and if I’d written a post on that day it would have been largely negative. Ignoring the 14 hours of travelling, the lack of food, the tiredness, dehydration or the fact that it was more than 30 degrees hotter than where I’d left, I was in pretty good spirits when I landed. I liked that I was on a little adventure and looked forward to kicking it all off. That didn’t last too long though as I quickly got crammed into a train to the point that I didn’t even have space to pull my phone out of my pocket but getting off only added to my general discomfort: even with google maps I was incredibly lost and had 6 hours to kill before I could check-in to my hostel. I won’t write about every single day of my trip but I feel like I need to take you through this one as it was quite an experience. I got talking to a very nice local man who gave me suggestions of what to see and where I could go to kill some time and who ultimately bargained with a tuk-tuk driver on my behalf. He had suggested that I visit the ARC reservation centre (or something similar) where I could ask about booking buses and other such things. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was somewhat foreshadowing for how my day was to go. Arriving at this place, I was greeted with an open door which I immediately walked away from as I had zero interest in booking anything right there and then. Instead, I chose to walk to my hostel which was about an hour away. Along this journey I met another friendly local. He began telling me all these things I could see such as the lucky Buddha or the Standing Buddha, both of which intrigued me. He then started telling me about this fabric shop that for one week was allowing members of the public to go in and see how everything was made, he also recommended a tourist information as they apparently would help me see what else I could do in and around Bangkok. This man waved down a ride for me and for only 30 baht (less than £1) he would drive me to all these places. So I went to the lucky Buddha and then the standing Buddha and even though I was supposed to have two stops in between, I told the man that I wanted to go straight to the Golden Mount which was pretty near to my hostel. Apparently that wasn’t really an option for me and I was practically kidnapped to this random factory shop which in actually was a suit store. Suffering from exhaustion and dehydration, my brain was not at its most functional and it didn’t really click what was going on so on I went into this “fabric factory” with no idea what to expect. What I got was a man trying to make me a suit. He gave me a nice cold bottle of water and started asking what colour of suit I wanted. I tried my best to explain to him that a) I was clearly very confused as to what this place was and b) I really had no interest in buying a suit. Of course “no” doesn’t mean no in such instances and so he kept selling and kept selling. When he did finally realise that I was never going to part with my cash, he went off in a huff. He didn’t say goodbye, he didn’t even say he was done talking to me, he literally just wandered away; taking that as my cue to leave I went out and continued my Bangkok tour. The next stop was the tourist information and once again, despite my protests, my driver insisted that I go and get “free information”. I was beginning to wise up a little at this stage and as I entered the tourist information, I knew what to expect. In fairness, the women here were actually pretty helpful and were a lot more understanding about the fact that I’d basically just been kidnapped and brought here and really had no intention of buying a tour to the jungle or a waterfall right there and then. Leaving, I was ready to head to the Golden Mount but nope, my driver insisted we visit a 2nd suit shop. This time he was honest with me and explained that if he takes customers to these shops he gets a fuel coupon and he assured me that it didn’t matter whether I bought a suit or not. Somewhat sympathetic and in all honesty just too tired to argue, I agreed to go to this place. I was however beginning to lose my patience and as I walked into this shop and had the man explain to me that their suits were amazing quality and super cheap, I told him the truth: “I have absolutely no interest in buying a suit right now. I’m not going to bullshit you because I don’t want to waste your time but I’ve only been here a day and I’ve been taken to two of these shops under false pretences and if you don’t mind I’ll have a look and see if there is anything I like but I’d be buying it another day.” Apparently honesty is not always the best policy as I was quickly thrown out of the shop and my driver did not get his coupon. He then reluctantly drove me to the Golden Mount and I gave him like 50 baht because I felt a little bad since he was after all just trying to earn some money. I’d never even heard of the Golden Mount (mainly due to the lack of research I’d done before this trip) but as I ascended the steps, I couldn’t help but feel that I was doing some sort of test. I hadn’t eaten since the start of my 2nd flight which had probably been about 8 hours ago at this stage, I definitely hadn’t drank enough water and I was carrying everything I had with me on my back. Each step made me feel more and more light-headed and by the time I reached the top, I really couldn’t appreciate how wonderful it all was. It was just too warm and so I made my way back down and decided it was time to get to the hostel before I fainted. Other than going for food with a Canadian guy from my hostel and then being shown around by a local woman, that pretty much sums up my day. I’ll admit, at that point 3 weeks felt like an eternity and in all honesty I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I would feel that way another two times on my trip.

Just to get the negativity out of the way, here are the other two times I doubted I’d survive the rest of my time in SE Asia: the second time was my final night in Bangkok. We’d been out on the infamous Khao San Road until everything closed and had then stayed up at the hostel for another couple of hours. We had to get up at 7 for a “9 hour” bus journey to Siem Reap in Cambodia and at 5 or 6 in the morning everyone in our room was awake because some guy had come back drunk and pissed himself in the bed (I’m still not sure if he was on the top or bottom bunk). At this time I felt awful: I was tired, a little nauseous and the thought of being on a bus soon just filled me with dread. I remember wondering if my whole trip was going to be like this? Should I just book flights home and call the mission a failure? I felt better in the morning but I still remember the feeling well. The third time I felt this way was for a much more valid reason: After staying on Koh Rong I made my way across to Koh Rong Sanloem with plans to attend a jungle party the night before the full moon party. I missed what sounds like the best party ever because I started being as violently sick as a person can be: Barely making it out of the room, id fall down the 4 or 5 stairs and just collapse to the ground as I threw up in the bushes, practically dragging myself in the dirt up the rocky path that led the 100 or so yards to the toilets. Most of the time I’d be done being sick by the time I made it there but every single time I’d be in extreme physical pain as my body contracted as if I were being dosed with high voltage electrical shocks. When I did end up in the toilet I’d be so nauseous and light headed, the world spinning around me as if I could suddenly sense it spinning through space, that I’d be physically unable to walk back to my room. On one occasion I had to actually ask two random girls if they could help me. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone and that was without a doubt the most ill I have ever been in my entire life!

So for those of you who read my previous post (and for those of you who haven’t) you’ll remember that I had a few major anxieties related to this trip, 3 in particular: 1) The social aspect. I wasn’t sure how well I’d cope being forced into social situations with lots of new people and having to live in small rooms with strangers. 2) The food. As a VERY fussy eater I had no idea how well I’d deal with having less access to my usual diet and it worried me that I might literally starve to death. 3) Spiders. Without a doubt spiders are my biggest fear and given what I’d heard about surrounding areas, it concerned me that I might have to deal with what would be giant, potentially man-eating spiders. So how did I cope? Surprisingly well actually! The only time I had any real issue with spiders was on Koh Rong when we were staying in little thatched huts that basically just had a mattress and a mosquito net inside. Walking past the toilets at one stage I noticed a massive spider on the wall which didn’t make me fully confident that I’d be able to enter those toilets the rest of the time I was there. As I reached my room just after this moment, one of the guys I was travelling with proceeded to point out that a pretty big spider had just ran under the bed. To top it all off, after a night on the beach that ended with me being drunk and high, I walked back to the room with the same travelling companion only to notice a massive spider on the net. If I had been sober, I would have freaked and probably wouldn’t have slept but that night I slept like a baby! After that, I wasn’t too bothered about spiders. I trekked through the jungle without any anxiety, I slept in the huts without worrying about any night time spider attacks, I even hung clothes on the hut walls and managed not to be overly concerned about the very real possibility of spiders crawling in.

The next issue was of course the food which I did try to get over as early as the flights. On each flight we were given an option of three meals and both times I went for something that I wouldn’t have eaten normally. I’ll admit that my first meal in Bangkok was French fries but after that I tried various street foods and ordered stuff in restaurants that I’d never tried before. Did I try every single thing? Of course not, there was still some foods that even just the sight or smell of made my stomach churn. That being said, I tried snake which I hadn’t expected at all. Did it taste bad? Definitely not, I actually seemed to be one of the few people who enjoyed it. The texture however was a little off-putting. I’m not sure all the chewing gum in the world could have prepared my jaw for how long I’d have to chew that snake for before I could swallow it. While I did try new food to begin with, Western influence is very prevalent and in some places it’s easier to find steak and chips or a cooked breakfast than it is to find a local meal. When you’re hungry, sometimes a little hungover and often feeling a bit lazy it’s all too easy to simply eat at your hostel rather than go hunting for some food that you may or may not like. There is one food that I did go hunting for though: a happy pizza…but more on that later. So spiders, check. Food, check. How about the social aspect?

Really my first hurdle to jump was the flight itself. In the past I’d had anxiety attacks not from the flying but from being crammed into a small metal tube with strangers who ultimately invade your personal space. The last time I’d been on a plane I’d taken propranolol and even though I’d brought it with me on this trip, I never had any need of it. So I view that as a mini success. I’ll admit that meeting new people wasn’t super easy but it also wasn’t difficult either. At the end of the day everyone is in the same boat and nobody really wants to sit on their own the entire time, not even me, so once you get talking to someone you pretty quickly feel like you’ve known them for a long time, especially if you truly connect with them (this does have its downsides though which I’ll discuss later). I met some people on this trip that were just incredible and I’ve never been surrounded by as many like-minded individuals in all my life. Being able to start a conversation about something rather controversial back home might raise a few eyebrows but out there it was encouraged. Sharing different opinions was just seen as part of the experience and as someone who loves to voice his opinions, I couldn’t have felt more at home. Nobody wanted to discuss football or who slept with who at work or whether we should go to the same pub or club that we spend all our time in anyway. Instead people wanted to talk about drugs, politics, religion, entire philosophies about life and the universe. I was travelling with a friend who arrived on my 2nd day in Bangkok and before the trip I hoped it would stay just the two of us for the entire duration we were travelling together. By the end, I can’t imagine how horrific that could have been. We amassed this group of wonderful individuals from all around the world who we travelled with at different points of our journey. It might sound a bit clichéd but they felt like family or like I’d known them my whole life.

In the nature of trying new things, I had my eye out for any new experiences that may be offered in Thailand or Cambodia. Considering I’d stopped off in Abu Dhabi where the penalty for bringing drugs into the country is literally death, I wasn’t sure how Thailand or Cambodia would handle the concept. On Khao San road I experienced “laughing gas” for the first time which to me was a bit of a stupid drug. I’ll admit, I had a lot of fun and probably bought 8 or 9 balloons while there but it felt a bit like a tease. As someone who has partied with MDMA, I found that laughing gas momentarily gave you the feeling of coming up: you get pins and needles in your extremities, your head goes a little fuzzy and you find yourself feeling a little euphoric. For someone who has never taken drugs I can see the attraction but for me it was a bit like being promised sex, getting a lap dance only to find out that that’s it over or being promised pizza, watching it being made and then being given a crust. Like I said though, it was fun just not that fun. It’s very obvious why it appeals to the tourists, especially on Khao San Road. While in Siem Reap, I encountered some wonderful people (one of whom was a doctor) who before we all left for an 8 or so hour bus journey had informed me of one major area that was rather lenient in Cambodia: pharmaceuticals. Now I’d never taken Valium and my only knowledge of it was based on US films so the idea of taking some had never really crossed my mind until it was explained that taking one before a night bus journey would help me sleep, something I have great difficulty doing while travelling. For $1 I got 10 10mg Valium pills and as we all got comfy on our beds on the night bus I broke mine in half (following the advice of my new doctor friend) and sure enough, I slept pretty well initially. After two hours we stopped for a toilet break which it turned out I was in desperate need of and after getting back on the bus, I decided to take the other half. I’m not sure how much everyone else took but when we all woke up, we’d already been at our destination for 45 minutes and the driver simply hadn’t told us. I did this another two times on my trip, one time where it had been essential as I had a “12 hour” (turned out to be 16 hours which was a common theme with Cambodian travel) in what seemed like a single night bus bed with a fairly large Cambodian gentleman. I do however see why Valium users have a problem with addiction. I binned mine before my flight not because of security but because I knew that it would be all too easy to take one whenever I was struggling to sleep or if I needed to relax. I’m not even sure what the risks are but it’s something I don’t plan on taking again anytime soon. One thing I wouldn’t mind taking again soon, however, is a happy pizza. I’d missed out on trying one in Siem Reap because despite searching I just couldn’t find anywhere until the day we left. Luckily, by the time we got to Kampot I was travelling with several people who were also very eager to try one. Finding a place wasn’t a problem and so we ordered a pizza and I also ordered a happy shake which didn’t taste too bad but involved more chewing than a typical shake does. A couple of hours after consumption none of us seemed to really be feeling anything. We were told that the happy pizzas here weren’t prepared properly and that Siem Reap did them better but having eaten at around 10, I found myself playing snap at 2 in the morning with one of the other happy pizza triers and we were both definitely very high. I remember lying on my back just looking up at the stars for an incredibly long time. I mean I do that normally so that isn’t an indicator of whether I’m high or not but the thoughts that were going through my head were: I was picturing all these different stars and what sort of planets they might have and whether there are little aliens on these planets that are also high and looking up at our star, wondering the exact same thing. There is a star on the shoulder of the constellation Orion known as Betelgeuse which gives off a red colour and could literally supernova at any minute. While looking at this star I was imagining what it would look like and how I’d react if it happened right now. There were even times I thought I saw the stars move which was probably more due to tiredness than anything else. So my experience with happy shakes and pizzas is definitely something I’d recommend and would repeat without hesitation. The one thing I would be less confident in repeating would be smoking the weed down there. While on Koh Rong we stayed at this lovely little hostel where the thatched huts and spiders were located and they sold big joints at the bar for $3.50. I hadn’t smoked weed in a while and this was before the happy pizzas so one day I bought one and decided to smoke it pretty early on in the day while we chilled at the beach. Only one of the girls I was travelling with wanted to partake so we shared this joint and decided to kick back and relax. I knew after just one toke of this joint that it wasn’t going to be all fun and games but by the end I basically knew how it felt to be a vegetable. Of course the rest of our group chose this moment to inform us that we’d be walking round to the next beach to get some food. The journey itself is a bit of a blur but I remember sitting at the bar ordering garlic bread which was the driest thing I have ever eaten. I rarely get paranoid when I’m high and I’m not even sure I’d describe this moment as paranoia so much as just confusion but while at the bar these two girls sat to my left, pretty close to me, while all my group was on my right. My bottle of water (which is of course as important to me then as air itself) was to my left. I’m fairly sure one of the girls drank from my bottle which threw me down this rabbit hole of asking whether that bottle was mine? Should I drink from it again or just buy a new one? If that isn’t my bottle then where is my bottle? I then started to think they were trying to steal my bottle from me because they thought it was there’s when in fact it was mine. It was a lot to deal with but after a nap on a hammock I felt a little better. That was until I learnt of the hour long walk to another beach we were about to do. The distance itself seemed bad enough but as we walked we ended up clambering over rocks (which I usually love) and walking through the jungle. It was all a bit much and eventually we had to get a boat from some sketchy hotel we’d come across and I didn’t actually feel completely there on a cognitive level until we arrived at our final destination. Maybe it was just strong weed, maybe it was because I hadn’t smoked in a long time or maybe there was something else in it but without a doubt that is the most high I have ever felt in my entire life and it’s certainly the longest lasting high. After the first hour or two it was enjoyable but I just didn’t think I could cope to begin with. I didn’t make things better for myself that same evening when after enjoying a happy hour and returning to our beach to drink, I decided to once again smoke a joint. This time I didn’t even smoke half of what I’d smoked the day before but combined with the alcohol it left my lying on the beach clinging onto the world as if I could fall off. I couldn’t walk or talk or function at all really but we had stayed up to see the glow in the dark plankton and my friends helped me up, practically carried me to the water and then left me there in awe as I pulled my hands and feet through the water. The sight was truly incredible as it gave the illusion of a sort of green, static electricity. The walk back to the fire which was probably only 75 yards away felt like a marathon but at least I’d seen the plankton.

Of course there were other new experiences out-with the drug category and possibly my favourite of these was the Thai massage (no they did not include happy endings, get your mind out of the gutter). I went for three in total, all a little different but all left me feeling pretty relaxed. A Thai massage is not what you’d expect it to be: if you want a soft, pain-free experience then I suggest you try something different because about 50% of the time you’ll be in pain. I actually witnessed a grown man practically sobbing after receiving one, much to the entertainment of the women that worked there. Despite the almost constant pain, I still found myself drifting off a couple of times while receiving one of these massages. You wear these comfortable pyjama-like clothes and it’s usually dark and the atmosphere just invites you to sleep. Maybe some people would find it difficult to drift off while having a grown woman walk across your spine or twist your limbs into unnatural positions but that didn’t seem to be a problem for me. Strange that I can drift off under such circumstances but can’t sleep on a bus or plane without taking drugs. Another new experience for me was receiving a henna tattoo which is basically just a temporary tattoo that is done in a substance similar to permanent marker. I had been told they lasted around 3 weeks but mine was completely gone in less than 2 and had already begun to fade in less than 1. I had been tempted to get a less traditional symbol such as the Assassin’s Creed symbol or something similar but instead I went for a sun with the eye of Horus located in the centre. Regrettably I never thought to take a photo of it and by the time I did it had already started to fade. Even after letting it dry for several hours, I woke up the next morning with about 3 different versions of it imprinted across my body as well as several on the bed. I had also gone to a tattoo parlour on one of my last days, picked out what I was going to get and then had been told it would cost $80 which was just ridiculous. Really the only reason you’d get a tattoo over there (apart from a traditional bamboo tattoo) is because they are cheap. You know that it might not be a work of art and you know it might not be 100% safe which is why it is usually cheaper. While I did consider the idea, I decided that I wasn’t going to spend that amount of money on what could potentially be an awful tattoo. One final experience that I’m certainly going to miss is the bum gun; what’s the bum gun? Well, the bum gun is quite simply a hose that you use to wash your asshole after taking a shit (to be blunt about it). At first I was hesitant but once you’ve grown used to it, you never want to go back. It’s cleaner and less time-consuming. If I could install one in my bathroom I definitely would. I know plenty of people who refused to use it while over there and I was part of that group initially but I have seen the light and switched teams. If you are ever in a country with such an incredible piece of bathroom technology I recommend you give it a shot. Be warned though: in some places the water pressure is drastically higher and you can get quite a shock when you basically use a water cannon to try and spray you asshole!

Overall it was certainly an experience and one that I would love to repeat. I considered quitting my job several times just to stay out there for a few more weeks but realistically that just wasn’t an option for me. While I wouldn’t change a single thing about this trip (apart from maybe the getting ill incident that caused me to miss an incredible jungle party) if I were to go on a similar trip I think I’d avoid party hostels for at least most of the journey. I mean they are insanely fun and a great way to meet people but going out to drink every single night is not only expensive but also pretty damaging. I also found that while I still managed to explore the temples and such, I would be tired or even just hungover in general and perhaps didn’t appreciate them or experience them to the fullest. I also think that if I were to do it again I’d want to set out with a group of people initially and travel with them for the duration. Why? Well partly because travelling with one person is always going to lead to tension just due to the stress. As an introvert, I need time to myself in order to recharge and that’s something you just don’t get while travelling around hostels and so I know myself well enough to notice it stressing me out. However, the biggest reason I’d prefer to travel in a group to begin with is because travelling alone or in small numbers leads you to meet new people. Is that a bad thing? Of course not, as I mentioned, some of the people I met on this holiday are some of the most wonderful and like-minded people I’ve met in my entire life but it all has to come to an end sooner or later and given that you’re meeting people from around the world, it is unrealistic to assume that you’ll see them again. I mean who knows, maybe I will see them again but you know it isn’t guaranteed. I’ve gone to funerals without crying, I’ve watched sad films without crying, I visited the killing fields and listened to a man discuss “the killing tree” without crying, in all honesty I actually don’t remember the last time I cried but saying goodbye to these people certainly had me close to it. When I said goodbye to the first group it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced: how could I meet these incredible people and then have them leave my life forever? I’d only known them for a few days but somehow it was like I’d known them my whole life. Saying goodbye to my final group as I left for Bangkok was truly painful. At first it didn’t really bother me: I said goodbye, hugged everyone, shouted some things as I walked away and it wasn’t until I was driving past them in the van that was to take me to the bus that I suddenly felt it: emotional pain, like the scene from Indiana Jones where a guy literally has his heart ripped from his chest, watching it beat in front of him. When I think back to that moment I still feel the exact same way and I’m not sure how often someone could repeat that moment before it started to take its toll. Does the positive emotions and experiences outweigh the negative ending? I’d say it does but it doesn’t make the goodbye or the memory of it any easier.

Journey into the Unknown!

For anyone who reads my posts regularly (which may be nobody) you’ll be aware that while my posts are usually rants (hence the name of my blog) that convey my opinion on some trivial matter such as a film or game series, I tend not to reflect on my own personal life.

Today I have decided to go out-with my usual post-type and share with you some insights into my mind and current life plans. Usually I try to introduce the topics I plan to cover but this is mostly going to be off the top of my head as I’m writing so we’ll just see how it goes.

 

I’m mostly going to discuss a trip I’m about to take but I feel like in order for you to understand my concerns and fears I need to invite you inside my little bubble of a life just to highlight how far outside my comfort zone I’m about to go. These pieces of information may seem rather random right now but I swear it makes sense in relation to this post. Let me briefly describe to you why I never really go out and experience life to the fullest:

For starters I have awful social anxiety…I’m not even sure if it’s limited to social situations, maybe I just have anxiety in general, but certainly a key component of it is social. It can sometimes takes me months before I feel comfortable talking to someone in a normal capacity so typical day-to-day situations tend to involve me going out of my way to avoid social interaction with strangers.

For a very long time I was unable to get a job because most jobs involved social interaction and the thought alone made me feel ill. I started having anxiety attacks in exams which soon spread to other situations (to be fair, I was at uni at the time and most of these situations also involved me being hungover so I think it was my mind associating feeling nauseous with certain situations). Suffice to say that several times while at the cinema I would spend most of the film trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up and leave which as a movie lover (possibly addict) was incredibly disappointing. I have improved a fair bit but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time. On top of my social issues, I am also one of the fussiest eaters you will ever meet. For as long as I can remember I haven’t eaten any fruit or vegetables which as you can imagine, limits my diet quite a bit. It’s not like I eat everything else either, I basically have the diet of a 15 year old that has been left to fend for himself.

To add to my already limiting characteristics I also have a phobia of spiders but not just your run of the mill phobia, oh no, I am absolutely scared to death of the little bastards. Let’s just say that I’ve fallen out of a lot of trees as a result of this highly irrational fear. You can therefore assume that I will not be visiting Australia any time soon (in fact Antarctica is looking all the more promising). I do understand that Australia really isn’t that far from Thailand and that I’m most likely walking into the real world equivalent of the Forbidden Forrest with its nest of extremely large spiders.

Again, I have somewhat improved on this over the last few years but if a spider is bigger than a thumbnail (for example) then chances are I won’t be able to deal with it unless it’s on the floor and I can drop a very heavy book on it. So this should hopefully paint a fairly clear picture as to why I have the time to sit at home writing blog posts about Star Wars, Assassins Creed, drug laws etc…now let me share with you how I’m about to be catapulted out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been working for the last 6 months and recently realised how badly I need a holiday. As someone who lives in Scotland, I’ve never ventured outside of Europe and even my trips out of the UK have been to areas where the lifestyle is pretty much the same e.g. Italy, Rome or Spain. My initial thought was Egypt because out of everywhere in the world, that is where I want to visit the most. I had looked at flights and hotels but quite quickly came to the conclusion that if I went to Egypt alone I just wouldn’t experience everything there was on offer.

I’d go look at stuff but not really immerse myself in the culture. Luckily, a friend of mine was planning a holiday to Thailand and some of the surrounding countries. I’d personally never even considered visiting anywhere near there for a whole host of reasons (primarily the spider issue) but when given the options of going there for three weeks or waiting months, taking time off work and ultimately going nowhere and doing nothing with my time, I felt that the first option was the one that would be most beneficial. So I handed in a holiday form, it just got approved yesterday and my flights are booked to head out on my adventure.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered not going at least 15 times today alone but you have to understand that I get cold feet with every single decision I make. Committing to any sort of party, event, holiday, anything will be followed by my brain giving me a list of reasons why not going could be the better option. Obviously the biggest ones that come to mind are things like giant spiders (or even just small spiders…really any spiders at all), the language barrier (but even just the social aspect with or without there being a language barrier), and of course the food. I’ve read that places like Bangkok are incredibly sociable cities and that the nightlife is amazing but I can’t imagine that being the case for someone who struggles to start and hold a conversation.

So why am I going? I feel such a trip could be make or break: No matter what, I’m going to be forced out my comfort zone so it’ll either push me to evolve or it will snap my psyche and leave me in the foetal position on a foreign continent. One of the biggest comforts (which is also somehow one of the fears) is that I’ll be just under 6,000 miles away from home. I’m going to feel like Sam and Frodo leaving the Shire. Strangely enough, one of the best ways for me to motivate myself in any situation is to relate it to a game or a film.

I guess it’s sort of my coping mechanism that also acts as an incentive. Different games/films make me want to do different things, for example: Far Cry 3 makes me want to try skydiving or get a tattoo or explore new cultures; 127 hours makes me want to explore and climb, to find adventure where I can, even if I’m doing it alone; Warrior makes me want to go to the gym…you get the idea. We will of course ignore the fact that the first two exams have pretty horrific outcomes for those involved and should really be adverts against exploring rather than what I use them for. So in order to prepare myself for this “adventure” I have started playing Far Cry 3 again (which happens to take place on an island in the area I’m visiting, although whether it is based on a real island or not is beyond my knowledge).

So why am I writing this post? I guess the same reason that people talk about their problems: it’s therapeutic. If I share my fears with random strangers on the internet then in a sense I’ve acknowledged that these fears are indeed real but that they shouldn’t hold me back from enjoying life. I mean we only get one, right? So what if a giant, face-eating spider jumps out of a tree and proceeds to chase me down the road…I should just look at it as life experience or inspiration for my book.

I mean if I stay trapped inside the boring little town where going to the pub to watch football is the highlight of everyone’s week then how am I ever going to look back on my life with fondness? Another way of looking at it: what if the Animus from Assassin’s Creed becomes a real piece of technology and someone tries to look back on my life (not that I plan on having children but that’s not the point). All they would see is me sitting at home watching films or reading. Would I rather they see that or would I rather they watched as I walk with elephants or visit ancient temples?

If I survive and make it back to bonnie Scotland then I’ll be sure to update this or write a new post which shares me experiences. If this is my last post then just assume that I died either by being killed by a spider or trying to escape one!

Consciousness: Our Journey Through the Multiverse

Imagine for a moment that you’re driving. Maybe you’re going to work or to the shop or just driving for the sake of driving. You’ve got some music playing and you’re momentarily caught up in whatever song is on, to the point that your concentration has begun to wander and without realising it, the car has just drifted over towards the side of the road a little too much. You’re nothing more than a few inches away from driving down the side of what would be a fatal drop. You notice just before you go over and straighten the car up on the road as your heart begins to race due to your near death experience…but what if it wasn’t a near death experience? What if you did actually die in that car accident but your consciousness instantly manifests itself into a reality where your car didn’t tip over the edge.

I’m going to assume you’ve heard of the multiverse theory and the many worlds interpretation? If not, then just understand that it is possible that there are an infinite number of universes that exist out-with our own and every time you make a choice or decision, there could potentially be another version of you in a different universe/reality where you made a different decision. That’s probably the easiest way to summarise it but I’d still advise you go read about it somewhere else or even just go watch a YouTube video about it…anyway, you’ve just been in this car crash but suddenly you are alive and as far as you’re concerned, you didn’t die but you nearly did; one second longer and you would have been over the edge of the road. Luckily you managed to notice in time. There may be a term for this idea already but if not, I’m going to call it reality jumping or consciousness-host magnetism.

When you think about how little we understand about consciousness, is it really a stretch to imagine that such a thing could be possible? Graham Hancock once said during a podcast that he views consciousness like a radio signal, in that our bodies are receiving the signal (similarly to a radio) but we have no knowledge of what the source is. Perhaps there is some hub out-with our universe and all universes that sends out a stream or signal so that we are always aware in one universe or another. Maybe we are aware in every universe but just at different times or perhaps we’re aware in every universe at the same time but we are simply one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively (as Bill Hicks once said). I don’t think there is ever any way we could discover such a thing but it’s certainly an interesting topic to think about.

So you die and then before you know it you’re nervously laughing in another universe about the fact that you almost died. Then again, maybe it’s not instant at all. I mean without anywhere to store memories, why would we have any recollection of the journey from one host to another? Perhaps we’ve actually spent billions or trillions of years floating through some dark void between universes but we simply can’t remember it. I guess time might not even exist in that dimension so you’re just an awareness floating through nothingness. Ever zone out and feel like you were a million miles away? Maybe it’s because you just died in another universe and your consciousness has only just re-emerged into this new body. That feeling of having drifted miles away could be like an after-image of the journey you just took. Why would we even be limited to one consciousness? Maybe there are hundreds, thousands or even millions of “you” inside your brain. Since there are potentially an infinite number of universes where the same events, there are theoretically an infinite number of versions of you that have had the exact same experience as you. So perhaps your consciousness just merges with theirs and you’re none the wiser. I mean why would you be? It’s almost like syncing up sound with video. When it’s done perfectly, you can’t notice that the two are in fact separate things. They become one functioning film or TV show. What if mental illness is merely the result of an incompatible consciousness trying to merge with the others? Imagine for a moment that your consciousness is like an item in a shop: it has a bar code on it that is unique to all those items not just that one, individual item. For example, all the white chocolate chip cookies would have the same bar code. What if in some weird, cosmic sense our consciousness (which for the purposes of this post I’m viewing as similar to a base soul or spirit that has no experiences or memories other than the ones that the host body has saved in its brain) has a bar code of sorts; Some unique pattern that allows it to find and merge with others of the same code. The only comparison I can think of is that ridiculous game where you fire coloured bubbles at other coloured bubbles and after a certain number are touching, they pop. What happens then when a slightly different or maybe even completely different code is combined with the others? I can’t think of a better example so I’m going to stick with this bubble pop (or whatever the game’s name is) comparison. If we view your consciousness as a circle or bubble, and everyone else in the entirety of human consciousness has a completely different shape to yours, then we can use the colour of the bubble to distinguish between one compatible bubble and another. So what happens when 5 red bubbles suddenly get joined by a green one? Well, that consciousness believes it is in the right place. It joins the others but the host body doesn’t have the compatible memories or experiences, it doesn’t like the same music or write with the same hand. While the consciousness has no memories, maybe it is programmed or has some sort of hard wiring that stops it from just merging with any host. To begin with it may just observe but soon it would naturally try and control the host body which goes against what is already happening. Maybe this causes a tear of sorts in the psyche and ultimately leads to mental illness. Maybe this also explains why some people feel like they are the wrong sex: perhaps in another universe they are a different gender. They are the same person in every other way but just were born a different sex. If we use the bubble analogy again, what if the host was initially a blue bubble (or several blue bubbles) but a pink bubble (yes I’m using gender stereotypes for the colours) latches on, then another, then another. Would the pink bubble eventually become the controlling force within that host body?

Maybe we could even take this a step further: I remember reading this short story of sorts online. I’ll try and find a link to it so that you can read it (here you go: http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html )…anyway, to summarise, this story suggests that when we die we come back as somebody else. Time is not important, you may die now and come back in 1450 but basically you are everyone else that ever has lived and ever will live. The story suggests that this is some form of maturing and that eventually you become a God-like being but you require the experience of all these different lifetimes before you can reach that level. So what if we take my consciousness idea and combine it with that: we could be a being that is living not only a potentially infinite number of versions of one life, but in fact a potentially infinite number of versions of every life. Maybe the code for each consciousness changes in a similar way to a counter. Perhaps you start out with 00001 (I’m of course simplifying this for the comparison) and the first 9 are the same life but after that one, you change to 00010. Each space could represent a new life that you’re to experience. Of course it wouldn’t be as simple as that or perhaps even as organised.

There is of course another way to look at this: Imagine that we don’t experience every universe but a select few. If there are an infinite number of universes then perhaps we experience a billion or a trillion and while we might not live in every one, when we die we have the option of restarting from that point in another universe that is the same. What if this group of universes is like a school or university or gym but in a crazy way that we can’t remotely comprehend while in it? Kind of like not realising you’re dreaming until you wake up. When we finish the combined experience of all these lifetimes, we emerge and can remember everything we’ve seen, learnt, touched, felt, etc. I guess the question then would be: what are we training for? To become Gods? Or are we merely foot soldiers in some sort of whacky alien training programme, preparing ourselves in a simulation for our upcoming war with humanity: Living a ridiculous number of lifetimes in a few weeks to learn their weaknesses and strengths? This is perhaps taking this train of thought a little too far outside the box but it’s fun to think about. Would our experience as humans alter our view on the war we’re about to have with them (now there is a film idea: aliens who live the lives of humans in a simulation that creates realities identical to the one true reality that they live in, only to ultimately find that they sympathize with us).

Of course I can’t imagine it being possible to ever prove or even theorize in any detail about such an idea. There would be something wonderfully relaxing about having such knowledge though. Would we fear death at all? Would we be sad for the deaths of our loved ones? I know religious people must be reading this thinking “well isn’t Heaven the same thing”. Maybe to you it is but as someone without not only the means to get to heaven but also the desire, I’d choose universe hopping over eternal suffering/bliss without a moment’s hesitation. There is also no need for any higher being to exist for such a theory to be true. I mean we know that electrons and such act in really crazy and mysterious ways so why not human consciousness? I mean isn’t it far more mysterious even without this theory?

This would undoubtedly lead to the moral dilemma of whether or not the new you in each universe really is you. I mean who are you? Are you the one, physical body or are you the experiences and memories that that body transports within the memory centres of the brain? Not that it would matter because you would always think that you are you due to being unable to remember your previous life/lives. For instance, I could have died in thousands of different ways already or perhaps this actually is my first life and I’ve been one of the lucky ones who just hasn’t died yet.

We would then also have the question of what happens when you die naturally? Do you just go to a universe where you live longer? There has to be a point where you quite simply do not live any longer in any universe in existence so what then? Do we just restart with no memories in a new, random universe as a baby? That part of it sounds more like hell to me: living longer and longer in each universe while being physically and mentally unable to take care of yourself and probably spending the majority of your time alone, practically begging for death. Not the most cheery note to end on but oh well!

Any thoughts on this post? Feel free to comment them below!

Drugs: A Logical Step Towards Legalisation

I’ve written a few posts on this blog relating to drugs and my opinions on them and for those who have read them before, you’ll know that I stand very much on the side of legalisation. Very little infuriates me quite as much as being categorised as some gutter-living criminal just because I think drugs have many potential benefits (physically, mentally and spiritually) while these same people binge cheap alcohol and smoke cancer sticks while practically injecting high concentrations of Starbucks coffee directly into their heart. That being said, this post is not meant as a rant (although there certainly will be some of that) but more as a proposal or suggestion that looks at reasons why I believe drugs should be legal as well as a potential solution to get this ball rolling. This post is NOT like my other ones where I heavily reference statistics, peer-reviewed scientific papers or books. Instead, this post is nothing more than opinions and ideas which should hopefully make it a bit more interesting to read than my essay versions.

 

So let me start off by admitting several things in order to remove any presumptions that you may have already. First of all, I am fully aware that many drugs are harmful, addictive, destroy lives, drive people insane etc. If you think harming people physically is enough to make a drug illegal then why are cigarettes still legal? If you think any drug that can impact you mentally should be illegal then why is alcohol legal? The reason I HATE these drugs is because they act as a reminder of how hypocritical our society truly is. One day we’ll look back in sheer disbelief at the fact that our species used to poison itself for entertainment and out of boredom; that we ignored figures, statistics and evidence because taxable products are more important and that nature itself was branded illegal. I mean nobody drinks alcohol or smokes tobacco for their physical or mental health other than to end the addictive cravings that they may have. Following on from that, the drugs that I’m mainly going to be referring to here include weed, MDMA (including its various forms such as ecstasy), LSD, magic mushrooms (specifically psilocybin), DMT and Ayahusca. You may have noticed a pattern or two forming in terms of my drug choice and we’ll get to that later.

 

So why do I take drugs? At this point, that would be a very fair question…but first let me ask you one: why do you (or people you know) drink or smoke? In my experience people might drink for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are bored and need a source of entertainment, it’s someone’s birthday and that’s how we celebrate, it’s Christmas and that’s how we celebrate, it’s New Year’s Eve and that’s how we celebrate, it’s sunny and that’s how we celebrate, it’s a social norm and therefore if most people are doing it then the rest of us feel out of place and in many cases are even belittled for choosing not to poison ourselves. Want to know what that sounds like to me? Peer pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some incredibly fun and entertaining times with alcohol but I’m using it as my example here simply because it is legal while still being a psychoactive substance. I view alcohol as like a stepping stone that allowed me to turn off my brain to interact with people in a manner that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Now I barely drink because that feeling of losing control or becoming someone that isn’t me is just no longer fun. I often hear people making claims such as “everyone is more truthful when they are drunk” but I find this not only to be moronic but also completely wrong. I mean alcohol can turn you into any sort of person depending on a wide variety of variables. I’ve seen lovely people become angry, bitter and violent just as many times as I’ve seen the opposite event take place. I’ve seen shy people become confident and confident people become Gods (at least in their eyes). I mean alcohol after a certain amount changes who you appear to be, it changes this outer version of you to anyone who is there to witness it. Why is “sorry, I was drunk” now an acceptable excuse for most acts that would otherwise not be so easily forgiven? I’m going off topic here…the point is that you have to keep in mind that alcohol is still a psychoactive substance and it alters the way you think, sometimes drastically. I mean alcohol accounts for most of the violent crime in Scotland (at least in 2011/2012) and nearly half of violent crimes in England and Wales during the same time period. In many cases it removes the need to think all together and turns your evening into nothing but darkness that leaves you waking up the next day with questions that you don’t entirely want to know the answers to. So why do I take drugs? (To get back to the point I was trying to make) Well, in some cases I take them for the same reason as anyone else drinks…I’m bored. For the most part this is only true of weed with the exception of one summer when I’d first accepted the thrills of ecstasy and went a bit crazy…but I view it as a learning curve. Since then weed is the only drug that I’ll take simply because I can. The reason I take any other drug now is for a purpose. For example, the ideas for many of my posts have come to me while smoking weed. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 posts on this blog (I believe). These are only half of what I’ve written which is only a fraction of the ideas that I’ve originally come up with. The notes pad on my phone is full of folders and pages relating to film theories or rants or just random ideas. MDMA can be used to improve a typical night out but it can also be used for exploration of your own mind and consciousness. Taking some MDMA and meditating is incredibly peaceful and spiritual and you can often find yourself in areas of thought you’d never even have imagined. I won’t go through all the drugs I mentioned one by one but ultimately what I think it boils down to is this: Why do I take drugs? I take drugs because in many cases they provide an experience that may not be possible to have otherwise. I think that when used correctly, drugs can make us see ourselves, others, the world or even the entire universe in a whole new light. I take drugs because I’ll never be an astronaut or a sailor, I’ll never be the first person to reach the top of a mountain or plant my flag onto undiscovered land. Yet my need for exploration drums away in my mind as a reminder that there are places that literally nobody else has explored: the deep, dark pits of my consciousness.

 

 

So what is my idea? Well, I agree with the claim that the war on drugs has failed spectacularly. Isn’t it funny that the anti-drug campaigners appear to be the paranoid and delusional ones of us all? At the end of the day, people are always going to find a way to take the drugs they want to take. We saw it with the prohibition when moonshine and other such spirits became available to those who felt their freedoms and rights had been taken from them unfairly. Same thing happens now with other drugs. The issue is that most people realise early on that all those anti-drug campaigns the schools run are bullshit and that when the police and your educators are lying or misleading you that something is up. It dawned upon me that legalisation of drugs might not happen in my life time. Even the legalisation of weed is looking more and more doubtful. The issue, however, is not the drugs themselves, but the education of said drugs and the reasons why people take them. I mean anything can be dangerous depending on whose possession it is in. A hammer can be used to build but it can also be used to bludgeon someone’s skull until their brain leaks out. People use cars every day and yet at any given moment someone could drive one metre to the left and hit 10, 20 or 30 people with a speeding, metal death machine. Maybe we just need to look at drugs for what they truly are and stop viewing them as either holy, lifesaving plants or tricks by Satan that lead to an eternity of suffering. Drugs can be positive and negative. So why not educate people in such a manner that as an adult they can choose whether to take them or not? I mean I can choose to eat McDonalds for the rest of my life or smoke until I can’t breathe or drink until my organs fail. How much money would be saved if after a certain number of hospital visits for binge eating food, drowning your sorrows with alcohol or smoking like a chimney the police got involved and made it actually illegal for you to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or eat shitty food? I guarantee that these people wouldn’t be labelled criminals. They would be seen as sick individuals who required help. That doesn’t mean that nobody else should be able to go buy a happy meal just because some people have never heard the term “moderation”. I mean if our health is really the main issue then what’s the deal with all these other areas that cause such suffering and death? When you see the statistics for alcohol-related deaths, it’s actually insane! I seriously advise you to go and look for yourself. (There is a link to some of these on my weed legalisation post but you may find more recent statistics through ONS). What if drugs were legal but similar to a gun or a car, you needed a pass or licence in order to legally use them? And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads us onto what would be involved in gaining access to this pass.

 

In order to be granted access to drugs, I think it would be important to view the risks. With some drugs there is a risk of addiction. I mean if we allow people to use meth then we run the risk of them becoming addicted to a highly destructive drug. So how do we show people the effects of drugs? Well, we arrange talks or interviews with people who have taken them. I mean how many people would come forth and claim their lives had been destroyed by weed? Not many I’d imagine. Would every single person who has taken DMT be lining up to scream “BEWARE!” at all those would-be trippers? I doubt it. Like any form of education, I think the first step would be attending a lecture or seminar which would look at the specific drug(s) you planned to take. It would run through some basic information such as what the drug was, how it affected you, how it’s taken, etc. It would of course also explain some of the risks but not in a “YOU TAKE THIS, YOU DIE!” sort of way but more in an err on the side of caution manner. For example, with MDMA it would be explained that your body could overheat causing your brain to swell up…BUT that by drinking water throughout the night in small doses you can help to keep your body hydrated. These lectures would also discuss what situations are best for certain drugs. I mean you’re probably not going to take DMT with a large group of people but you might smoke a joint in one. Ultimately you would then be tested in some form to see if you were aware of basic safety measures to take and understand the risks. These tests would also attempt to understand why you want to take the drug. Perhaps you have to submit an essay of some form explaining your reasoning and motivations. This way, we rule out anyone taking them just for the sake of it or out of boredom or because they are being forced to. I mean sure, drugs would still be available in the same manner that they are today but I know plenty of people who don’t take drugs now but would if they could do so legally. By creating this hurdle or wall that would have to be passed, you would immediately exclude a large number of people who perhaps shouldn’t be taking drugs in the first place. Of course the important aspect of this process would be that it wouldn’t be controlled or monitored by solely anti-drug people but rather by those who see the dangers of drugs but also acknowledge that they have potentially beneficial uses as well. I mean if you had the current government in charge of such a process then nobody would get one of these passes/licenses and the entire endeavour would be pointless. Similarly, for the process to have any validity, we couldn’t just be handing passes out to everyone (although that would essentially be the end goal).
I think the best way to look at it is like this: people who want to take drugs are going to take drugs, regardless of the law or potential consequences of being caught with an illegal substance and more often than not they will do so either unaware of the dangers or just ignore them completely. Is it not a much smarter solution to educate any would-be drug users so that they can decide whether they still want to participate in such activities after being given all the necessary information but also so that if they do take drugs, they are better equipped to do so safely? I mean the dangers of alcohol are known but people still go to schools to explain how to drink alcohol as safely as possible and what precautions can be taken to reduce risk. I mean you can’t buy a packet of cigarettes without seeing photos of black lungs or throat cancer, yet you still have the right to smoke them. Not only would education serve a tremendously beneficial purpose but alongside it, we could have the same organisation supplying drugs that have been tested and are as safe as can possibly be. These would be taxable and as we have seen from areas where weed is not legal, this taxable income is incredibly beneficial for the whole society. We already have many communities set up to offer such guidance because the drug-taking community isn’t a grim, dark place where dreams go to die. For example, Pill Report supplies user-reviews of ecstasy pills and gives other information such as strength, effects, what ingredients are included, not to mention whether there are any warnings for a certain pill. Leafly, a site for weed, supplies information on different strains and includes information such as the levels of paranoia or dry mouth you are likely to experience from smoking it or whether you are likely to get the giggles.

 

Of course this would only be the first step. Legalisation (or semi-legalisation) would be the beginning of a new era of human spirituality. Imagine what it would be like if you could go to a nearby city within the Western world and stay at an ayahuasca retreat for 10 days. People who regularly go on ayahausca trips have higher levels of serotonin than the average person. Basically, they are producing more happiness neurotransmitters than the rest of us. If some huge pharmaceutical company created the exact same benefit with a pill, it would be seen as revolutionary and ground breaking but because it’s ancient and involves hallucinations, it’s immediately ruled out as dangerous and negative.

 

I believe that as an adult, I have the right to choose what I do with not only my body but also my mind. Nobody stops me from getting tattoos or piercings that I could come to regret in later life. I can risk my life in the army from the age of 16 where my legs could be blown clean off or I could return with PTSD that makes my life unbearable. I mean did you know that more US soldiers have killed themselves than have died fighting in Iraq? Something like 22 veterans commit suicide every single day! Yet that trauma is seen as more acceptable than enjoying what nature created? Even then, MDMA has been shown to be hugely beneficial alongside therapy for soldiers suffering from PTSD and even they can’t use it. So you’re literally telling me that our governments view it as acceptable to enter a warzone where you could die at any moment, where your morality is tested and your faith in humanity destroyed, where you might see your friends be blown to pieces and even injured in such a way yourself…but that a drug that could potentially help you cope or recover from that very same conflict is too dangerous for you? In some countries you can get less time in jail for violently attacking someone than you would for being caught with weed. So a victimless crime is now as bad, if not worse than assaulting some stranger? If I can choose to go to war or choose to get so drunk that I fight my friends or choose to smoke 43 packets of cigarettes a day, then should I not have the same choices for drugs that can actually positively influence not only my life but the life of those around me? Isn’t happiness the main goal for every single thing we do in this life?

 

So there you have it! My idea for how we can best tackle the current drug dilemma that is facing our countries. Education, education, and education are the main components for how to reduce drug-related deaths and as a way of encouraging potential drug-users to take their drug of choice for the right reasons. Of course in our current political climate, it is unlikely that anything of this nature would ever make it through the doors of parliament but it’s a nice thought all the same. Until then, I guess we’ll have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon and make our way to the nearest watering hole in order to overindulge in alcohol for the third time in one week. As always, I love reading any feedback or comments!

Simulation Theory: Are We Simply a Game for Aliens?

I’m sure most of us have played The Sims or seen The Matrix and therefore have at least a little understanding of the idea of a simulation: where the reality is nothing more than a computer generated world and those who dwell within it are completely unaware of this fact. I can’t claim to have any in-depth knowledge regarding simulation theory but this post is going to cover what I know so far and why I wouldn’t completely rule out the idea that we are in fact living in a simulated reality. I’ll also look at some potential uses these simulations would have.

 

It would be illogical to begin this post without first mentioning the famous philosopher Nick Bostrom, who is responsible for the simulation argument in the form of his trilemma:

1-The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage (that is, one capable of running high-fidelity ancestor simulations) is very close to zero;

2-The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero;

3-The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.

This essentially proposes that the chances of us reaching a post-human stage and running ancestor simulations is unlikely, unless we are already living in a simulation. (At least that’s my understanding of it). When I initially encountered the idea of simulation theory, it was presented to me in the form of a series of questions meant as a thought experiment:

-Do you believe that at some point in humanity’s future we will have advanced to such a technological level that we are able to create or at least imitate consciousness?

-Do you believe that if we can create consciousness, we will be able to run simulations in order to see how people are likely to behave under certain situations?

-Do you believe that some of these simulations may aim to recreate human history, possibly from start to finish (or until the present day from their point of view) as well as creating simulations of worlds very similar to ours but with slight differences (e.g. JFK not getting assassinated)?

-If we have then created many, many simulations that are identical or very similar to that reality and we have made them as real as possible, spanning for thousands of years (within the simulation) with each individual within these simulations believing they are conscious beings, what is more likely: that you are one of many generated simulations or that you are living within the one true world?

 

The way I look at it is like this: what if in the future these computer generated realities or simulations are not only used for scientific purposes but also as a source of entertainment? For example, when people play video games, you know that characters are programmed to act a specific way e.g. they have limited chat options, they won’t leave their designated route or path within the game, some characters you can’t kill because it will impact the storyline. Even when you play online games with other real people, it isn’t realistic because the motives of people are based on the idea that it is just a game. So imagine the enjoyment of entering a realistic simulation where say Nazi Germany conquered the world and you are part of a small group trying to revolt against the Nazi regime. These people aren’t simply characters that will behave a certain way, they are instead generated consciousness that behave certain ways based on their life experiences, biological and chemical reactions inside their body (if you could call it that), they react differently to drugs and they experience the full array of human emotion. To these “characters”, you aren’t a player within a game, you are one of their comrades who has been with them since the beginning (you’d probably start this game at a young age). If you die in this game, that’s you done, game over. Would this be the end of the game? Not at all. Since it is a simulation, you could load it back to a previous point like any other game (whether this creates an identical “reality” or carries on the same one is a whole other question). If you made a decision you didn’t like then you could go back to that point and choose a different option. Not to mention that your actions would have the most realistic outcomes possible. I mean as someone who enjoys games where choices impact the world around you, I can only imagine the excitement of making decisions that have an infinite number of possible outcomes.

 

Along with being able to change the actual history of our world, we could change the physics, the technology, the species, the layout of the universe, anything. I read somewhere online during my initial discovery of the simulation theory, that someone had proposed the idea of religions being involved in the process. Imagine that you wanted to prove that religion was based on nothing but the lies of man. You could load up a simulation and produce a holy book. Perhaps we live in a simulation where the bible has been created to see what people do with such knowledge. Do they love and care for each other or do they create violence and hatred? I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusion on that one…but this could be taken a step further: you could create worlds where God(s) did exist. Imagine a world where the ancient Egyptian gods existed exactly how they are described. At the end of your “game” you die and get taken forth for judgement where you are deemed worthy or unworthy and advance accordingly depending on whether your heart is lighter than a feather or not. Maybe in a reality where the Judeo-Christian faith is accurate you basically get bonus levels: if the choices you made during the simulation where along the guidelines laid out by the bible then you’d go to the heaven level where you can bounce on clouds or whatever. If you lived a less-bible-like life then you’d be sent to hell where you would have to endure the tortures of hell.

 

This is all on the basis that it was in fact humans who initially ran these simulations but what if it wasn’t? What if homo sapien sapiens have literally just come into existence and there is a far more advanced alien species watching us, the same way we might watch sea-monkeys or ants. Perhaps this simulation technology is as basic as the wheel is to us now or shoes and they want to see how our species is likely to develop. Of course it wouldn’t be a way of predicting the future because there would be individual consciousness that would appear and alter things dramatically. It could, however, give you a basic idea of whether we would destroy ourselves or not as I’d imagine that all intelligent lifeforms go through similar stages of discovery. Perhaps it is simply a test to see whether our species is worthy or not. In a matter of minutes this alien species could run thousands of simulations, changing certain variables in an attempt to see how we act in any given situation.

 

This simulation idea can also be viewed from a completely different angle: what if everyone else within this world is merely a computer generated consciousness and you are the only “real” person. You’ve become far too lost in your game and rather than take a break or leave, you’ve become trapped, living the entire life of the character you’ve created, eventually convincing yourself that this is in fact the real world. I mean it has to be, right? The difficulty is that we can never confirm that anyone else is real, that they are aware of themselves or actually have consciousness. For all we know, they’ve been programmed to act a certain way or even worse, they are simply a computer generated consciousness that believes it is real. If we were to accept the fact that we were in a simulation, would we kill ourselves to get out? Of course not. We may be one of the computer generated minds and this could be the extent of our reality. Not to mention that films like Inception, The Matrix, even Wreck-It Ralph have warned us against dying in a dream/simulation/game. Could these be warning messages that appear in the form of films? A game such as this wouldn’t have a pause menu in which to read instructions or change settings. That doesn’t mean that information couldn’t be passed on through some form of media though.

 

This doesn’t even take into consideration a fairly recent discovery that physicist James Gate and his team made: that deep down within the mathematical equations of super symmetry were 1’s and 0’s i.e. binary code. I wish I knew more about this topic so that I could explain it more in-depth but I will post a link to a video where he discusses the discovery. From my brief reading on the topic, it seems that the binary code that was discovered isn’t just random but in fact relates to “Block Linear Self Dual Error Correcting Codes” which in essence are necessary for the correct exchange of code and information.

 

This leads to the next questions: If we were to work out that we’re nothing more than a computer simulated reality, what next? How would this alter our views of the world and the universe? Personally, I can’t say I’d mind too much. I mean on the one hand, at least if we’re simply computer generated then the survival of the human race and planet Earth doesn’t depend on us. We haven’t exactly been doing a stellar job so far. It would however raise some annoyingly impossible questions. Firstly, I’d want to know what the real world was like and what the species that created the simulation was. Would it be possible for us to communicate with this super-race? Maybe crop circles are messages from them that we haven’t been able to decipher as of yet. Secondly, I’d want to know the purpose of our simulation: was it there just to observe or were we a test for a specific variable? How many other simulations are there like ours? What happens when the simulation has ran its course and the questions have been answered, do we just get shut down? I can only begin to imagine what the answers to these questions would be. The impact it would have on us would be insane though. Ethics would have to be completely re-examined. I can only assume that all mainstream religions would suddenly change their tune to “We were right all along, God created this simulation for us to live in as a test”. What about our rights as simulations? I’m not a huge fan of this film but for those of you who have seen Source Code, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. Perhaps this race of intelligent beings who create these simulations think that they are simply imitating consciousness and that we are nothing more than computer simulations. They could be completely ignorant to the fact that they are creating any number of new realities that exist within their own. Would we have some variation of the Turing Test that would compare our answers to specific questions to that of a “real” being? Does it make us any less real if we are in a machine but to us it’s an entire universe with life and memories and emotions? Is murder still murder if we aren’t actually living?

What if one day you were playing The Sims and your characters started doing things entirely on their own, carrying out tasks or actions that hadn’t existed in the game before. How would you act? Initially you’d probably ignore it and view it as a joke or some update that you’d missed. How would you  act if your sims carry on their lives even when you’re not watching or you return and there is a war going on? Let’s take it one step further: how would you act if one day you watched as your sims drew illustrations of simulation theory? You perhaps would be unable to understand their languages but a diagram could be quite clear. I’m not sure any of us would pay much attention to it and I’m sure we wouldn’t actually believe that these characters had become self-aware. Perhaps God is merely a teenage alien who created this planet and then got bored; left his game running, completely unaware of what has gone on in his absence.

If you guys seem to enjoy this post then i’ll come back and add a bit more where I can discuss the idea of the world or universe only rendering when the key character is nearby. I’ll also discuss the idea that certain drugs could let us see past the basic layout of this universe into what goes on behind the code. As well as how this simulation idea could fit in with the many worlds interpretation and the multiverse.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgSZA3NPpBs&list=WL&index=96

God: Everything You’ve Ever Wished For?

So I was discussing the similarities between certain drug trips and early descriptions of God-encounters in the bible when I somehow ended up on this train of thought: How would you know that anything in the bible was the work of God and not the work of the devil? As I have mentioned before in one of my posts, I’m not remotely religious. In fact I often describe myself as being an anti-theist. That being said, this post isn’t meant to reflect any personal dispute I have with religion. For as much as I utterly despise religion, I do thoroughly enjoy talking about it as well as looking at all the different points of view.

Now, even though I’ve heard the stories in the bible many times and read a large portion of it myself I’m certainly no expert so if you see an error or a misunderstanding, please point it out to me. It seems the obvious place to start this post is with the main man himself: the devil.

The Devil

My understanding of the devil is that he just wants chaos. He wants God to fail by luring as many of his creations to the “dark side” through temptation and lies and other devilish things. To give some examples that the internet quite helpfully supplied me with:

  • He casts doubt on God’s goodness (Genesis 3:1-5)
  • He distorts and prevents effective Gospel message (Acts 13:8-9)
  • He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage (Hebrews 2:15)
  • He suggests ways that don’t involve suffering (Mt. 16:23; Mt. 4:1-11)
  • He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22)
  • He brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31)
  • He brings dissension over doctrine and causes rifts (Rom. 16:17-20)
  • He imitates religious roles (2 Cor. 11:14-15; Mt.13:28,30; Rev. 2:9).

According to the bible, these are just some methods the Devil uses to trick us into following the wrong path. You may be wondering to yourself why the devil (if he is responsible for certain parts, if not all of the bible) would tell us the tricks he himself uses? He is the Father of lies (John 8:44). The Devil apparently only uses the truth when it would add to his deception. What better way to remain undetected than to throw all his cards on the table and carry out the biggest bluff in history? As the famous quote goes “…the Devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape with pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for…” Many view this God as being all-loving, all-powerful and willing to forgive any sin (apart from one), tell me that isn’t what a lot of people wish for…

But The Bible Says…

I am going to take some time to look at a few prime examples of stories from the bible that reflect this potential truth about the devil (and when I say truth, as a non-believer I mean within this completely hypothetical scenario). First I want to take one of the points I raised earlier regarding the devil: it is said that he likes to cause dissension over doctrine and cause rifts (Rom.16:17-20). There are estimated to be somewhere between 33,000-50,000 denominations of Christianity (or if we want to be generous, 6 major groups e.g. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants etc). One of the many flaws of Christianity (or any religion) is the differing number of viewpoints. If this faith was supposed to be guided by God then there shouldn’t be this much disagreement over issues such as suicide sending you straight to hell or the existence of purgatory.

These things should have been made clearer because an all-knowing God who exists out-with our view of time would know that these rifts would be created leading to a less unified religion which is ultimately becoming weaker and weaker within Western societies. This is of course ignoring all the other religions that have existed, currently exist and will exist which is a conversation for another time because that opens up a whole other can of worms. Let’s imagine for a moment that the devil wants to divide humanity up in terms of belief so that there is more dispute, violence, hate, questioning of faith etc. What better way to do that than by creating these rifts?

Mental Health and Religion

Before I carry on to my more literal views of the bible, do you know how the church used to (and in some areas of the world still does) view people suffering from schizophrenia? The church viewed/views these people as possessed by demons as a result of their sins. The mental illness was viewed as the work of the devil and was often treated with exorcisms and an encouragement to pray or repent one’s sins. Before we began to fully understand mental illness, schizophrenia (as one example) was seen as a sickness of the soul rather than a sickness of the mind. Often these people were locked up in horrendous conditions and left to die. For those of you unaware, schizophrenia has two major symptom groups: negative symptoms (which tend to be forgotten about but include things like a lack of emotions or an inability to make eye contact: basically things that make day to day living more difficult) and positive symptoms which includes hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thinking. You may be wondering why I mention this but the idea of hallucinations and delusions being the work of the devil himself or of his demons will be relevant later on.

Moses

The first bible character I’m going to take a look at is Moses. Probably most famous for freeing the slaves of Egypt (mainly thanks to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, at least from my experience) he is less well known for being outraged at his generals for allowing all the enemy women to live, before turning his attention to the children and saying “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:17-18).

Now we could speculate all day about what Moses and his generals had planned for the virgins they were allowed to keep for themselves. It isn’t hugely relevant to the point I shall be making momentarily. Moses first encountered God in the form of a burning bush: “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up”. Now to me this just screams “devil”. I mean if there is one thing we associate with hell: it’s fire. Out of all the ways God could have chosen to communicate with Moses, he decides to appear in fire itself in a bush that is burning but not being burnt. We know that the devil wants to manipulate mankind to turn their backs on God. This can be seen as early as the Garden of Eden when the snake (A.K.A Satan) is introduced as “more cunning than any of the creatures of the field that the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).

Gods of Egypt

So this cunning creature or being has already by this stage caused the suffering of man-kind by convincing Adam and Eve to go against the word of God by eating from the tree of knowledge. Does it really take a stretch of the imagination to think he could do the same to a Shepard in the desert? I wouldn’t say so. Now, at this time in Egypt the Egyptians worshipped their own Gods such as Ra, Osiris and so forth but the slave population who were apparently building monuments for the Pharaoh (who was seen as a God-like being himself) consisted of Hebrew Slaves (or Israelites) (allegedly, according to the Bible). Why would the devil be interested in them, you may wonder.

Well, apparently the Israelite population in Egypt (just of the families that are mentioned) number a mere 70 but within only 4 generations they have 600,000 men of fighting age. Therefore we could assume they had at least double that in their overall population so 1,200,000. Now maths was never my strong point, especially with something like this but from what I’ve attempted to work out, even if each couple in every generation had 20 children, it wouldn’t add up to this many. For arguments sake, let’s say that this was accurate (since my maths could be very wrong), this population leap would be spotted by anyone who had need of an army.

The Devil in Egypt

Moses one day kills an Egyptian and flees as a fugitive into the Sinai desert. It isn’t until Moses is 80 (yup, 80) that he is contacted by this fiery bush demon. Perhaps it takes a certain act to allow the devil to contact you. Maybe Moses killing the Egyptian created the conditions under which Satan could call out to him. I mean regardless of whether the Egyptian deserved it or not, Moses would have been plagued by guilt over taking another man’s life. So the Devil then appears in this bush and tells Moses that it is time for the slaves of Egypt to rise up and escape. Of course the Pharaoh refuses to allow the slaves to be free which is where the ten plagues come in. Just in case you are unfamiliar with them, here they are: water into blood; frogs; lice; wild animals; diseased livestock; boils; thunderstorm of hail and fire; locusts; darkness for three days; and the death of the first born.

Once again you’ll notice that fire plays a role in “God’s” work. Ignoring the first nine of these plagues, I’m going to look at the last one. God killed any firstborn son from any household that was not marked with lamb’s blood (why an all-knowing God needed to be given a sign such as this is beyond me) which resulted in the death of Pharaoh’s son along with many more in Egypt. Now if this God was truly God, he is all-powerful and all-knowing. So he would have known that the Pharaoh wouldn’t release the slaves until the tenth plague. If we assume that the Pharaoh needed to see his own son die as a result of God’s will, why would all the other children have to die as well? The bible doesn’t mention that the Pharaoh was even aware of the mass infanticide that had just taken place when he decided to let the slaves go.

I propose that within this idea that it was the devil carrying out these deeds, he needed there to be a rift between the slaves and the Egyptians. More so than merely by their class, he needed them angry and at war. By killing many sons of Egypt, the devil allowed the slaves to feel like justice had been carried out (although I can’t say I fully understand the idea of killing someone’s child for their actions) while the Egyptians would ultimately feel sadness followed by rage. After all this, there was no reason for them to believe that their Egyptian God’s did not still exist. So they would see these murders as an act of another God, of the slave’s God. They would want vengeance which is ultimately what this led to. The ten plagues were meant to invalidate the Egyptian Gods.

To recap: He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22), brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31); he imitates religious roles (2 Cor. 11:14-15; Mt.13:28,30; Rev. 2:9). Sounds like it could be the devil to me. Although Moses and his encounter with God (or the devil) is certainly an interesting on to look at, I couldn’t leave out possibly the most important character in the bible: Jesus.

Jesus and The Devil

He imitates signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22). I have two ways of looking at Jesus in relation to the devil. If we imagine for a moment that the devil can interact with the world but God cannot. Perhaps he can send things in but he can’t just change things as he pleases or send messages whenever he wants. What if Jesus truly was the son of God BUT while Jesus was on Earth he never actually interacted with his father. Instead the entire time the devil was simply leading Jesus to the cross. Perhaps Judas was simply doing the work of the devil. I mean Jesus being the true son of God or not creates a whole new divide among the religious community. Not to mention that since Jesus being the son of God is really just God in mortal form, what better way to deal with him than to get him crucified?

My other point of view for Jesus is this: Jesus was never the son of God. He was either the devil himself or one of the devil’s demons inhabiting a body. I mean everyone followed a star which is always seen as so holy…but what is a star? A giant burning ball of gas, that’s what. Hell doesn’t seem too far off what you’d experience by being near a star. I feel like there is too much that could be discussed here so I’ll try and stick to the basics.

The Miracles

Let’s look at a moment at the miracles performed by Jesus: sure Jesus did some good things such as giving everyone bread, healing the blind and curing the sick…but he also carried out some miracles that I find highly questionable for a holy figure such as creating wine “for all to partake of”. I mean let’s not ignore the fact that alcohol is poison. While I’m sure you may argue that drinking is normal, it’s a social custom, they weren’t getting wasted etc. I can’t help but feel Jesus could have conjured up a more healthy substance than poison. Another famous miracle that Jesus performed was raising people from the dead. From what I can see he raised at least three people (himself not included): “The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:15); “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep…he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.” (Matthew 9:24-25); “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” (John 11:44).

I mean don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that an all-powerful God would have the power to raise people from the dead…but, why wait until Jesus is there to do it? I mean Jesus asks for his father’s help when raising Lazarus from the dead, yet as far as I’m aware Jesus is the only one to raise people from the dead in the bible. Let me just quote a small part of the bible that I feel relates to these points:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, …”

A necromancer? Sounds a lot like our old buddy JC, don’t you think? Tells fortunes or interprets omens? Once again, Jesus fits this description pretty well. Not to mention many other members of Bible Club. So is God telling us that Jesus is in fact sent from hell itself to trick us all OR is the devil trying to trick us into thinking that Jesus should be seen as a witch when he is really the son of God? I mean what really is the difference between magic and miracles? Rather than use my own definitions, here are literally the first definitions of each after a google search: Magic: “the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces” and miracles: “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency”. It sure seems like both Moses and Jesus could be accused of magic. Of course our definitions are different to those back then but I believe the point could still be made that there is no real distinction other than your belief that one comes from a holy, Godly place while the other is used by witches and wizards to cast their evil Satan-summoning spells.

Fuck, This is a Long Post…

He casts doubt on God’s goodness (Genesis 3:1-5). Of course one of the big goals of the devil is to tempt people away from God. By making them doubt just how good God really is they will begin to question him and his existence. If we continue on the assumption that much of what is in the bible was actually the work of the devil rather than God, we can see a clear pattern beginning to form, particularly in the Old Testament (but by no means limited to it). So let us take a look at a couple of examples that have different meanings depending on how you look at them.

Noah and the Flood

Noah and the flood: Of course a famous story we hear is about how God chose one man and his family to be the only surviving members of mankind after a flood meant to wipe out humanity and land-based creatures. At this time God regretted creating mankind for they had turned evil and thought about committing evil deeds all the time (how an all-knowing being can have regrets is a bit beyond me since nothing happens that he doesn’t want to happen) and God decided to wipe mankind and all land animals off the planet with a giant flood. Noah appeals to God and basically saves himself and his family by building a giant ark.

I’m sure you know the rest…two of each animal…rain…bird with a branch…Anyway, this is often viewed as the tale of Noah rescuing the animals. What about the other animals and the other humans? First of all, most of the aquatic life would be wiped out due to the salt and fresh water mixing, not to mention the change in the temperature. Secondly, every single animal that couldn’t fly would be killed which is a lot of animals and ultimately a lot of death. Thirdly we have the humans who are also drowned by the actions of God before undoubtedly being sent to hell for all eternity. I can accept the logic behind humanity being wiped out. They were evil and didn’t worship God or respect him or beg forgiveness. Why did all those animals have to die? Were they carrying on some sort of evil that would keep humanity evil? Were the animals evil? Did they have sinful thoughts on a regular basis?

I don’t believe that everything in this story could be the devil. I think either God planned on wiping out all of humanity and land based animals but the devil saved them so that even though most of God’s creatures would die, there would continue to be human souls to corrupt OR the devil caused the flood and God was the one who got Noah to save two of each animal. My reasoning for either of these being true is that God (being all-powerful) must have known the evils that would still come from allowing Noah and his family to live. I mean if you look at just the bible stories that take place after this they are full of evil. I mean he had to intervene many more times after that.

The Brutality of Flooding

Just look at the present day: Where is our flood? It seems to me that God didn’t stop things being much more evil than they were back then. Furthermore, if God (being all-powerful) needed to wipe out humanity, he wouldn’t have needed to kill all those animals. I mean even if you believe that animals do have a soul or don’t have a soul, we all know that animals can suffer. They can feel pain and they can feel fear.

I honestly cannot imagine many things more terrifying than the world beginning to flood when you can’t swim very well or at all. I mean you’d try and maybe you’d get by for a while but eventually your muscles will start to ache or the cold temperature will slowly kill you or maybe you’ll drown straight away or simply be eaten by some of the aquatic animals who are now floating above land masses. We know from other bible stories that God can unleash plagues that kill specific family members. We know he can cause thunderstorms of hail and fire or cause animals to become diseased. Are we really going to ignore the fact that he didn’t just make a virus for humans that could wipe them out? As I mentioned at the start, this isn’t meant as a rant at religion but you need to understand my point to see why it makes more sense that the devil was involved in this in some way.

Father Abraham

We all know this famous story. Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his own son as a sign of devotion (or something along those lines). One way or another, Abraham was meant to kill his son. As he went to do this, he led his son (who was 37 by the way) and two servants to the place God wanted him to go. Just as he was about to stab his son with a knife, God stopped him. Apparently Abraham had shown his willingness to obey God and he was not to kill his son anymore.

I find two things very interesting about this story. The first point is why did God need Abraham to prove his faith? God knows everything that is going to happen: he knows what we think and how we feel so he already knew that Abraham would be willing to sacrifice his son so this entire story is in itself unnecessary. That is unless it wasn’t God that wanted Abraham to kill his son. What if this being that contacted Abraham (which from the description in the bible it appears only he could hear) was in fact the other guy: the devil.

As I mentioned with Moses, he couldn’t act as a vessel for the devil’s magic until after he had killed a man. We often hear of sacrificial elements in most religions but one in particular is devil worshipping. What if the devil requires an act of an immoral nature? Moses kills a man just as Abraham showed a willingness to kill his own son. Perhaps all it takes is this act and then the devil gains entry to that person’s life. Perhaps at this point he is able to manipulate the physical world more so than usual.

The second point I wish to raise is from the same section of Genesis just after “God” stops Abraham from killing his son: “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:17-18). To those of you who believe, do you think your God would give those who obey him the numbers to conquer the cities of their enemies? I think this relates back to my earlier point about the devil trying to create an army of the damned.

Back to Moses Momentarily

Moses and the plagues (in particular killing the first borns): I already mentioned this but I wanted to mention it again simply because it is relevant to this new point. Many look at the plagues as being a way of freeing the slaves of Egypt but is there ever really a justified reason for killing children? I mean no all-loving good would carry out such a deed. Unlike an evil figure who may be trying to create tension and hatred among mankind in an attempt to lure them down the path to hell.

Rain of Fire

I have two final examples that cast doubt on God’s goodness in a way only the devil would use. Nowadays we hear that even though sinners succeed in this world they will be punished in hell. This hasn’t always been the case in the bible as there have been times when God has intervened in such a way that I could only suspect someone else pulled the trigger: “Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.” (Kings 1:10) and “Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:24). I mention both of these for two reasons. The first reason is quite obviously the fire element to these brutal deaths. The second reason is a little more related to modern day. Although they are differing beliefs among Christianity, one thing I often hear is that God doesn’t send us to hell, we send ourselves by sinning. Yet here God is quite literally bringing hell down upon these men and cities.

Persecution

Brings persecution (Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31). Just to define the term so that my points makes sense, persecution is defined as “hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs; oppression”. The following points that I’m about to mention couldn’t fit that description any better:

My first example would be the crusades. Regardless of what your view of the purpose of the crusades may be (I’ve heard people argue it was a series of defensive missions while others argue that it was similar to a religious “cull”), the fact remains that the crusades are a brutal example of religion being used to rally troops. The Pope at the time made it clear that those who fought and killed enemies during the crusades would be forgiven their past sins in the eyes of God. Basically it was like a get out of hell free card.

Now you could blame the Pope for making such a claim, you could blame the Vatican, you could blame the soldiers who raped, tortured and killed innocent and often unarmed people all in the name of defending their peaceful religion…regardless of who you choose, from the devil’s point of view things are working out pretty well. We have clear hostility and ill-treatment because of race or religious beliefs. Is this not exactly what the devil brings? I’ve tried to find an actual estimate of the number of people that died during the course of all the crusades but the numbers seem to vary from 1 million to 3 million to 5 million. So let’s just leave it open at 1-5 million.

The Inquisition

Of course we couldn’t talk about persecution without mentioning the several inquisitions that took place throughout the Catholic Church’s history. For those of you unaware of what the inquisitions were, I shall try and sum them up to the best of my knowledge. There essentially reached a point where challenging the doctrine of the church could lead to you being put in prison for life or simply executed. The accused individual would have to testify against themselves and lost certain rights such as the right to face your accuser or the right to counsel. While initially all it took was two witnesses to “open a case” so to speak, new methods began to be used during the 13th century to extract confessions out of the accused (I’ll give you a clue, they didn’t hug them until they confessed).

Penalties could result in small consequences or as was often the case: being burnt at the stake. Anyone who was executed for their “crimes” would also have all their property seized by the church. I can only imagine the fear and paranoia at that time. During the 15th century, the Spanish Inquisition became independent of those going on in Rome.  For anyone who watches Game of Thrones, you will probably be aware of the Faith Militant in King’s Landing. That is pretty much what the Inquisitions were. They would hold you, put you on trial, make you repent as a sinner and if all that failed they would burn you alive and steal your things.

Distortion

He distorts and prevents effective Gospel message (Acts 13:8-9). I did have a whole section I was going to write here about missing/destroyed gospels but I can’t seem to find the information again as a point of reference. I do wonder though, how different the meaning of the bible is now as opposed to its early editions or even to its original passages and gospels. I mean what you have to take into consideration is that the bible has  been re-translated more times that anyone would be willing to count, it’s been edited by kings and it’s been edited by popes. Not that anyone would want to admit it but the bible is an ever changing publication.

Words gradually become emitted, translations over time become forgotten (for example, I’ve heard people mention that the original word for “apple” in the bible also translates to “mushroom”, while “eden” translates to “red” which has led some to believe that the original stories were referencing mushroom trips). Certain gospels have been ignored entirely because they contradict others such as the gospel of Judas which paints the picture of Judas being one of Jesus’s most devoted followers. If the devil really can tempt us and lure us, then I’m sure he could plant the idea that leads to the bible being altered.

The End is Night!

In summary, I believe that when using the bible as a teaching or historical tool, there are certain assumptions that never seem to be considered in relation to these beliefs: Firstly, that many of the experiences relating to the main biblical figures could quite easily be the work of a cunning creature who God cast out from heaven. This can be seen simply by looking at the effects that these people had on humanity while also looking at the various mentions of the devil within scripture. It would seem bizarre that people or passages that are meant to guide humanity on the right path would have such disastrous consequences. I mean we’ve seen the people of the world divided, persecuted, tortured, raped, murdered, drowned, burned, deceived, suffer plagues and been made to doubt the beliefs they hold so dear. Does this sound like the working of an all-loving God?

My second point is more philosophical: how would you ever know that it was God and not the devil? If you pray and feel like your prayers have been answered (either by action, thoughts, voices) there is literally no way you would know for certain. Some of you might say “I just know it is God. I can feel it.” While your personal feelings may convince you that this is true, don’t you think the devil could trick people the same way? I mean the serpent in the Garden of Eden convinced Adam and Eve that God didn’t mind if they ate from the tree of knowledge. Furthermore, any visions that any individual has had throughout history whether documented in the bible or mentioned at church could quite easily have been the devil as well. This seems even more likely when you consider that hallucinations and delusions were considered signs of possession by demons; demons of course being the devil’s version of angels who drift around doing his bidding.

Perhaps the devil’s influence over the years has faded, I mean humanity is beginning to realise that it’s unacceptable to own slaves, to stone people to death, to sacrifice people, etc. Yet in many parts of the world, Christianity is being used for evil purposes such as extortion, child molestation, homophobic and racist attacks (and these are just in Western societies). In parts of the world such as Africa, the crimes and atrocities being committed in the name of Christianity are awful. I’m not seriously claiming that your religion is run by the devil (much like Hydra running Shield in the MCU) because as far as I’m concerned it’s all a story anyway. But it’s fun to theorise.

For me the ideas that God allowed Christianity to happen or that the devil has been running it all along are both equally ridiculous. I do however wonder what makes you think that my point is inaccurate? I’d be interested to hear how YOU know that everything that the bible mentions and everything you believe today are the work of God and not Satan. I’m fully aware that my information could be inaccurate or perhaps I’ve taken things too out of context or misunderstood them entirely. As I mentioned at the start, let me know if that is the case. Even if all my points are backed up by misquotes and misguided understandings, I fail to see how my point wouldn’t still be possible.


Thanks for reading! Do you think I missed anyone out? Who are your favourite actors from your country? Let me know down below! 

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Peace!


“ With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion”

-Steven Weinberg

Are We Simply Thoughts An Alien Is Having?

So I’m currently working on a book and even though I’m still in the very early stages, I’m definitely beginning to make some progress. Rather than force ideas, I tend to just let them come naturally to me and then I see if I’m able to work on them. For example, if I go to bed earlier than usual, I’ll put some headphones on and listen to a playlist (which has since been named “Creativity”) and just see where my mind takes me in relation to my characters and events. When something interesting begins to form, I follow it in my mind much like Alice and the White Rabbit, leading myself down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Without going into too much detail about the book itself, I will mention that there is a religious group that has formed largely based on misinformation and corrupted ideas/beliefs. I’m still working on their overall belief system and while it’s almost fully formed, it’s constantly changing and evolving.

While listening to a particularly inspirational piece of music by Ludovico Einaudi I had this rather bizarre train of thought involving a collective consciousness, different planes of reality seen through different dimensions and grand beings that come together in a way which nobody could ever truly understand, like giant, multi-dimensional jigsaw pieces. While I’d love to talk more about this thought, it is not actually the topic of this entry today: instead I want to discuss the thought that followed.

As I mentioned before, I tend to just get in “the zone” as it were and let my mind and music guide my thoughts. I find that I now have music that applies to certain events or characters within my book and that while listening to it I’m able to quite clearly picture what is happening. It’s like having a film in my head that shows scenes where the music fits: much like the infamous music played during Darth Vader’s arrival in Star Wars.

My characters are still largely undeveloped in terms of personality but their actions are already beginning to define them within my mind. Anyway, while I was continuing on from my dive into potential additional religious beliefs I realised just how insane the human mind can be: Within my mind I’d created this new world that doesn’t exist anywhere else and without my mind it would simply fade from existence. When I close my eyes I can look around this world, I can see the characters that I’ve created and even when I’m not entirely sure what they look like, I know that they are there. It’s like I can see the space they should be taking up. I can watch as my characters interact with each other and with the world around them.

Even more than that: I can travel through both time and space to any moment, anywhere. With a simple thought I can watch different events happening in different ways with different people at different times. These characters aren’t always moved by my thoughts, sometimes they simply act, much like characters in a film.

At this point, I found myself wondering: ‘Is this all that god is?’ I began to wonder if we are simply an idea, a creation that is simply floating around inside the mind of a being greater than our level of understanding. How is any god deemed a creator any different to exactly that? We can never prove or even really investigate whether or not anyone other than ourselves has consciousness. So are we each just the main character in some higher beings created world? Simply a thought that is following a path that it’s been set on?

I remember a comparison that I always found interesting (I believe it was brought up by Alan Watts but that could be wrong) where he questions whether the rest of the world and everyone else in it actually exists out-with our interaction with them/it. He compares this to a video game. When you are playing a video game (take Assassins Creed for example) you can’t see the entire map all the time but as you travel from one side of the map to the other, the area renders and essentially comes into existence. Are there characters at the opposite side of the map from you walking around the streets of Rome? No. But as soon as you move near enough to them, they come into existence and begin to carry out whatever function they were put there to complete.

Once you leave that area they simply fade from the world until they are needed again. You tend to have differing types of characters in this comparison: you have the main/playable character who would of course be you in the real world; you have the story-related non-playable characters, who would be the people you interact with; then you have the secondary non-playable characters who are more like drones, who simply go from one spot to the next to perform whatever task makes them fit into the world.

I don’t believe in a god or gods (I’d actually describe myself as an anti-theist) but I thoroughly enjoy thinking about such matters, especially those that are out-with the typical structure of the modern gods. I feel like IF we were created by higher beings, they wouldn’t have created us simply to sit and watch as we tear ourselves to shreds, they would have created us for a purpose that we just can’t fully understand because it takes place in a dimension not available to us (which is what the religion within my book believe and in fact use to justify any immoral act they may commit). I’m being careful not to turn this into a religious post because its purpose is simply to show that insane ideas are just as likely to be real as any current religion.

This is of course much shorter than any of my other posts but it seemed like an interesting topic to bring up. I’d love to hear any opinions or even any other bizarre ideas that could potentially be a reality. Discussing crazy theories and ideas is incredibly enjoyable. I might make another post in the near future to introduce my fictional religion and the belief system it embodies as well as a brief look at their origin and how that relates to the rest of my book.

Choice: Can We Make The Right one?

 

“People have a great deal of anxiety about making decisions. Did I think this over long enough? Did I take enough data into consideration? And if you think it through, you find you never could take enough data into consideration. The data for any given decision is infinite… But worriers are people who think of all the variables beyond their control of what might happen” – Alan Watts

Is this an accurate representation of choice and decision making? For those of you who have seen the film Mr Nobody (2009) starring Jared Leto, you will have seen the possibilities that can arise from one simple choice. I’m unaware if Mr Nobody is a popular film or not, but for those who have not seen it, allow me to summarise in a way that keeps the film relevant to this topic:

(Warning: There are potentially spoilers here but I shall try and keep them to a minimum) In Mr Nobody, we are told about the life of Nemo (not the fish)…or more importantly, the lives of Nemo. After his parents get a divorce, Nemo has to choose between staying with his father and leaving with his mother. This is where we embark up the many different paths that Nemo could choose. Just to sum up quickly: If Nemo stays with his father, he falls in love with a girl called Elise and as a result, there are 4 potential futures he could face depending on his actions:

1) Elise doesn’t feel the same way as she has feelings for someone called Stefano and as a result Nemo crashes his motorbike at full speed, ending up in a coma. On the plus side, his parents get back together.

2) Elise doesn’t feel the same way as she has feelings for someone called Stefano and as a result Nemo falls in love with a girl called Jean. They get married and have children but despite being wealthy, Nemo feels miserable. Eventually making all his decisions by tossing a coin, he ends up in an unfortunate situation where he is mistaken for someone else and is killed by a hitman, before being buried in the woods.

3) Nemo marries Elise and they have kids but Elise is suffering from some sort of mental disorder and is constantly depressed or having mental breaks. She divorces Nemo to go pursue her one true love: Stefano.

4) Nemo marries Elise and on the way home from the ceremony, a tanker explodes and kills Elise while badly burning Nemo.

If he chooses to stay with his mother:

1) Meets a girl called Anna but after insulting her friends, he ends up alone.

2) Nemo doesn’t insult Anna’s friends but after she moves away, they lose touch. Bumping into each other years later, Anna gives Nemo her phone number but a raindrop lands on the paper just after she leaves, smudging all the numbers.

3) Nemo doesn’t insult Anna’s friends and they get married and have kids. Nemo stars on a science TV show but is killed after driving off the road into a lake on his way home.

So in as little detail as possible, this sums up the multiple paths that Nemo could take depending on that initial choice of whether he stays with his father or mother. I’ve missed out certain aspects of the film in order to avoid spoiling it.

Nemo can think about all the data regarding each of these decisions but following them one path at a time, he has no idea what the end result will be. We can see the outcome of a decision as good or bad but over time that can change.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine that you have a time machine or the ability to time travel. Ignoring any sort of logic or physics in relation to time travel, let us just say that you can travel as far as one year or less into the future. You can travel back and forth, altering things until you get the outcome, one year from now that you want. You don’t have to worry about timelines or bumping into yourself. Just assume that that can’t happen. What would be the best outcome you could possibly desire? After that year is up, you are stuck to live with whatever follows, dealing with whatever consequences may follow.

Perhaps you’ve gone for the conventional lottery win or perhaps with your knowledge of future events you’ve become a psychic. Regardless of what you would change, you end up one year from now in what you view as your perfect situation. From that point on, you have no idea of what is going to happen. None whatsoever. You can set yourself up to the perfect spot but what’s to say that an asteroid doesn’t crash into your new house or you get struck by lightning walking home. You have no idea what the right choice is, so why do we spend so much time stressing about it? Of course this time travel situation is completely hypothetical. That doesn’t take away the meaning behind it.

Let me explain this idea in a different way, using a Taoist (ancient tradition of philosophy and religious beliefs) story:

‘There was an old farmer who had lived in the same place for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing of the sad news, his neighbours visited the old farmer: “Such bad luck” they said sympathetically. “Maybe” replied the farmer.

The next morning, the farmer’s horse returned, bringing with it 3 wild horses. “How wonderful” the farmer’s neighbours explained. “Maybe” replied the farmer.

The following day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the untamed horses and was thrown from the horse, breaking his leg. The neighbours visited the old farmer again to share their sympathies for his son’s misfortune: “How unfortunate” they told him. “Maybe” replied the farmer.

The next day, military officials arrived at the village to draft young men into the army. Upon seeing that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, the officials passed him by. Once again, the farmer’s neighbours visited him. “What great luck” they told him. “Maybe” replied the farmer.’

I think this story does a better job of illustrating my point. I’m finding it very difficult to stay away from certain topics while writing this: the multiverse theory comes to mind, as does the idea that we don’t actually make the decisions, but rather our brain at some sub-conscious level makes us believe that we have in fact made the choice. Not to mention the idea that every choice we are going to make has in fact already been made, we just haven’t experienced it yet as human beings are only capable of moving through time in a linear fashion. I could talk endlessly about these areas. Not from a scientific point of view mind you. Alas, these are areas I will have to delve into at another time.

So if we do follow the notion that making a decision by attempting to analyse that data related to each choice is actually impossible, should we stop making decisions the conventional way? Is it time to end the idea of using logic and instead leave our decision to the roll of a die or the toss of a coin? If we remove the ability for us to think over a decision, then we have to face whatever the outcome is. How often do we make decisions based on emotion or logic that end up being the completely wrong choice? Decisions made during certain emotional states tend to be illogical. For example, I’m sure we have all been in the situation where someone makes us angry and as a result we make a decision out of spite that only ends up affecting ourselves individually. Of course the opposite is also true as I have already mentioned: weighing up pros and cons can quite easily lead to a bad decision. Maybe you’re running low on money and your friends are going out. You decide it would be irresponsible to use the remainder of your money in such a way, so you stay in. The next day you hear stories about how great a night it was. You start regretting your choice, kicking yourself that you missed out on such an adventure (I say adventure but there are definitely much better examples of this than a night out, which tends to be rather similar to any other night out).

Perhaps we should follow in the footsteps of Jim Carrey’s character in Yes Man (2008). Whenever we are asked to do something, we can only give one answer: YES! This may be worth experimenting with at some stage (watch this space) but I have read a few interesting success stories in relation to this idea. The biggest issue most of us would face with it, would be that eventually we’d be asked to do something that we just couldn’t be bothered doing. We would say no to that one thing and before we know it, we’re right back where we started.

Another angle to take is to actually look at the choices we make. What better way to illustrate this point than with a quote from George Carlin:

The things that matter in this country have been reduced in choice, there are two political parties, there are a handful of insurance companies, there are six or seven information centers…but if you want a bagel there are 23 flavours. Because you have the illusion of choice”

There is nothing I’d be happier writing about than our society and its messed up views. Western civilisation thrives by spewing out unnecessary garbage that people buy. What sort of society needs a new phone every 6 months just because Apple decide to add an ‘s’ to the model number and maybe give you an extra font option for your texts? I mean look at the choices we make as a society: Bush was president, Tony Blair was prime minister, we invaded Iraq (for no real reason other than fear and confusion), we vote to keep governments in power who did nothing but go back on promises, we allow poisonous drugs to be legal while safer ones are outlawed…the choices we make as a society tend to be even more negative than our individual choices. Why? Perhaps it is because as a society, we conform our behaviour to fit in with the social norms while allowing our emotions to be manipulated by the media, our families and our friends. We aren’t even aware of this happening. We all like to believe that the choices we make are our choices, made by us only, without being influenced by anyone or anything…I’m going off topic here but allow me to get back to the point: choice is overrated.

While choice may be overrated, I’m not saying we should be limited or restricted in terms of the choices we can make. What I mean is that we should put less thought and less effort into our choices and instead go with a random decision and see where it takes us. I think it is safe to conclude that a lot of us will not experience everything life has to offer unless we are thrown into the deep end and out of our comfort zones. We can’t spend our lives weighing up the pros and cons for every decision we make. Likewise, if we let our emotions be the decision maker, the outcome could be just as negative…or it could be positive. It is however, likely to always have the same trajectory. Humans enjoy patterns and routine and that is likely to be true at a sub-conscious level as well. So why not rid ourselves of the burden of choice entirely? The next time you have to make a choice, why not try tossing a coin, or if there are more options: roll some dice? No matter what the outcome, don’t look back in hindsight and wonder what could have been if you’d only made the decision yourself. Instead, see it all as an experiment. You’re not always going to get positive results but if you give up after the first attempt, who knows what you might miss out on discovering.

“Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice” – Unknown