“Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth” – Jean-Paul Sartre
So I’ve been spending a fair amount of time debating people of the subreddit changemyview recently and I wrote a response that I felt was worthy of posting here.
The basic view that I disagreed with is one that I see among a fair number of atheists. They argue that religion is the cause of all of our problems and if we were to simply do away with religion things would be so much better.
You realize when you’re saying this you’re suggesting that flaws in human nature like greed and the love of power are irrelevant right? If religion is truly the source of all problems, then not only does human nature not negativly affect society, but resource inequities, especially access to water for crops and drinking, also aren’t a major cause of disputes. As an example, Islamic terrorism is generally, I don’t want to assume your position on it but I’m going to for a second, to be a problem with Islam, but if that’s true then the legitimate grievances of people that have been pushed around by the economic imperialists, the US and the rest of the western world that uses a disproportionate amount of resources, would just do nothing about the abuse they’ve taken. I honestly don’t see how someone can hold that position if you consider how little pushing it takes for many people, religious and secular, to get violent. I suppose you’re probably thinking that while religion isn’t the only cause it could still be the root. Let’s consider the Russian revolution for a second, during the Russian revolution poor and often abused peasants and the new industrial working class exucted the bourgeoisie and the tsar. Is there a religious root to the conflict, the I’ll remind you was extremely bloody and bordered on genocide if you consider the rich a group you can commit genocide on? Well the upper class of Russia certainly was religious, but so were most of poor peasants and industrial workers, they were mostly believers in the same religion, so it can’t be seen as a clash between religions or between religious and nonreligious. Was religion the root of the economic disparity in Russia? Well probably not because while religion possibly helped enrich the upper class in Russia there was nothing stopping them from enacting liberal reforms that would’ve contented enough people to avoid the war, there especially wasn’t any religious tenet stopping them from doing that. No, these are people that were used to a level of power and wealth and wanted to keep things as they were out of self-interest. So to suggest that religion is the root of all problems in society ignores obvious flaws in human nature.
Religion is a symptom of human frailty.
I recently had the fortune of a piece of my writing hitting the top of the recently exalted, raised to default status, /r/history after posting it to Medium and then to Reddit. I was happy that people viewed it, but it did give me a bigger window into something I’ve been wondering since I started posting pieces to Medium. Unsurprisingly, there’s a disparity between views and reads. I haven’t been able to find how Medium differentiates between a view, which I assume is someone loading the page, and a read, but I’m going to assume that as you read and scroll down you hit a point toward the bottom that counts as a read.
Before I posted the Medium link to Reddit my piece had ~40 views and 9 reads, which for a twenty page long history paper isn’t horrible. One of the reasons I’m writing this is to try to find a sense of where everyone else is on their view/read ratio. I’ve heard multiple journalists mention it so I know some publications use this metric, but for now I’m going to have to assume that 9/40, 22.5% is average. I can already hear warning bells going off in your heads, so let me address the problems I see with my assumption and why I still think I’m alright using it. The biggest one is the source of the traffic; outside of the obvious fact that the numbers are tiny. Presumably, almost every pre-Reddit view I had, came from people seeing my paper listed on a couple of different sections of Medium, which is a site for writing, so everyone came to it expecting to read. Reddit’s traffic, while coming from a history sub, which I think is nearly equivalent to a history section of Medium, doesn’t necessarily have the same expectation. Why not? A title/link on Reddit doesn’t necessarily imply a lot of writing, I could have been telling the story in the form of pictures; in fact, one of the Reddit comments seemed to bemoan the lack of pictures. I admit that’s going to affect the read/view ratio, but the difference is so great that I’m not sure it’s a complete explanation.
Let’s look at the numbers, pre-Reddit (9/40, 22.5%) and post-Reddit (1515/68338, 2.2%). I already admitted that my numbers are small and my sample size, given that it’s one, is small to point of being nearly pointless, so I’m asking you if you have any experience with whether or not Redditors read more or less than other traffic to your writing?
If this is a real effect, what does it say about the users of Reddit?
I’m sure this isn’t an original idea, but I think you should only be able to donate to political campaigns that you can vote for. This solves a number of problems. The most obvious is that corporations can’t vote, so they can’t donate. There’s also the added benefit of keeping people like the Koch brothers from buying the entirety of congress, though obviously there’s still a risk that different rich assholes will pay for their own individual congressperson or senator. It also leaves the presidency as a free for all. The solution to these problems seems to be limits on how much you can give to each candidate. I know most of us already support limits on campaign spending, but I really think it would be good for the political process if only the voters that are going to vote for a candidate can give them money. It would keep the politicians grounded to their constituency. Politicians are inevitably going to support businesses and corporations that employee large numbers of their constituency, but by keeping a corporation’s politically inherent supporters limited to politicians that are elected by voters in an area where the corporation employs people there would be real debate over legislation that only really helps that corporation. That’s a unnecessarily complicated sentence, so let me give you an example. Imagine that Microsoft wanted to pass a bill that would open a tax loophole specifically for them. Presumably the senators from Washington and the members of congress that are elected in areas where there’s a concentration of Microsoft employees want to support Microsoft, so they’re likely to support the bill. Microsoft also runs massive data centers around the country, I know they have one in Texas and Wyoming so let’s just assume a few politicians in those states will support the law as well. These politicians are the inherent supporters of Microsoft. Most other politicians would question the value of passing a tax loophole for one specific corporation, even if they generally support cutting taxes; I’m hoping. Compare my hypothetical to what happens now, Microsoft lobbies and gives money to, I assume, almost every elected politician. This tax loophole would be passed as a un-debated amendment to some random bill. There’s obviously one major problem with my idea.
The supreme court has ruled that we basically can’t keep corporations from spending money and speaking within the political process. To bring my idea to fruition we need a Constitutional Amendment. I know there’s a wide array of people fighting for just that and I definitely encourage everyone to support those groups. I’m just tossing an idea I had on how to frame the amendment, assuming we ever manage to get it passed, onto the pile of ideas; a pile that I’m aware has ideas from more educated and intelligent people than me.
Now I come to my most difficult post of the day. Let’s start by saying I don’t really expect anyone to like this picture. Here’s a link to the rest of the series http://imgur.com/a/l0Ikv. I don’t particularly like defending my pictures, but suffice to say I intentionally made Ms. Monroe ugly as all hell. Because objectification is fucking ugly. Image was made with GIMP and is 2560×1440.