The human animal is a species of lunatics.
Five in seven people believe in deities. And not all the same ones. A couple billion makebelieve Jehovah the Solar Bogeyman; another billion or so makebelieve Al’lah the Lunar; some people worship cows; some people juggle geese. I’m told.
Swipe those to the side. Now we’ve got a couple billion people, a large percentage of which believe in reincarnation. Lose those.
Maybe a billion people left. And some believe in karma, and/or ghosts, and or Bigfoot, and/or alien invasions, and/or whatever people believe, dogs evolving faster than humans.
True story, by the way. Once upon a time, it was beneficial to makebelieve stupid things. Your ancestors lived long enough to reproduce by being more inclined to makebelieve wolves which weren’t there than their contemporaries who were more inclined to disbelieve in wolves which were. These days, for the most part, C.lupus has been all GMOed into C.l.familiaris, feared only by the odd mailman [and any retard convinced that any animal with more than two legs is a pitbull]; H.sapiens, meanwhile, are still H.sapiens, and all full of wound up potential makebelieve which no longer warns them of canines at the treeline.
People are psychotic.
I’m not sure that anyone’s actually sane. I mean: we consider people sane, when their lunacy sounds the same as ours; but, technically, the mere pareidoliac ability to see bunnies in clouds is that same form of psychosis. I don’t doubt that, once upon a time, your ancestors looked up and saw wolves in the sky.
I’m getting to the point that I’m having a harder time denying that statheism is a religion. I’ve heard credible arguments that, while a religion is by definition a bond between men and deities, the liberal wingnut worship of government damned near counts: they pray by voting; they shun those in competing religions; government itself is an abstract concept which these people are about one temporal lobe seizure away from claiming to have a personal relationship with. And the more actual theists certainly treat statheism as a religion, usually with hilarious hypocrisy: ‘Them liberals need government, because they can’t take personal responsibility,’ said the republican whose imaginary friend fixes football games for him.
I’ve been thinking about all this lately, because I’m writing a novel. Which, I suppose I can now announce, is called Ghostbullies. The basic plotline is that a couple of scientists, and a couple of whatever the polar opposite of scientists is, group together to startup a ghostpretending show, to…you know…results. I could expound, but: spoilers.
Still, if you really wanna know, I’ve got the first bit online now, at ghostbullies.com. That’s around a hundred pages. Call it a sample chapter.
Some of that sample chapter thing may seem redundant, since one of the scientists happens to rant about people being psychotic and seeing cloudy bunnies:
‘Technically, it means oodles,’ Snyder said, ‘It means that the human animal is awesome at seeing patterns. Even when those patterns barely exist. People can see rabbits in clouds. Or faces in toast. Or whatever. People are adapted through basic natural selection for things like facial recognition. For noticing that the stars above have moved, signalling the beginning of optimal farming seasons. It’s a long story, and at this point a boring one. The nutshell is that those among your ancestors—the ones who lived long enough to reproduce and become your ancestors—lived that long by being better at spotting wolves peering in from the edge of the clearing than the people alive at the time who sucked at it.’
‘So, by seeing a pattern here, I survive,’ Tommy said.
‘Not really. Not anymore. The downside is that humans are so damned good at seeing patterns, even when they’re merely imagined, that people today are basically just afraid of everything. You could look in any direction and see a wolf in the distance, if that’s what you were expecting to see. A wolf, a vapour bunny, a bread group messiah; whatever. People—and I’m saying this as a neurologist—are on average hilariously psychotic. We just tend to forgive them, because most of us are psychotic too. Maybe you see Toasty Christ and dismiss it as the tyranny of statistical certainty—a finite number of breadcrumb megapixels guaranteeing that the face of Frank Zappa will eventually become approximated in Wonder Bread—but then fall for Rabbit von Cumulus up in the sky. It’s a common thing; it’s called pareidolia, and it’s actually uncommon not to suffer from it.’
‘But, if I know that the cloud only looks like a rabbit,’ Tommy said, ‘then that’s not really crazy.’
‘Seeing it at all kinda means that you’re crazy enough to mistake random shapes for specific objects,’ Snyder said, ‘But, yeah: we won’t generally see you as a problem lunatic until the bunny orders you to bring it human sacrifices.’
‘No,’ Tommy said, ‘I mean that just noticing that a cloud looks like a bunny isn’t crazy; it’s just having an imagination.’
‘Imagination,’ Snyder echoed, ‘Okay. Imagine this: we go upstairs and fill a bathtub with water; I give you a bucket, a coffeemug, and a teaspoon; then I tell you to get the water out of the tub. Any thoughts?’
‘Um…I’d use the bucket first,’ Tommy said, ‘Then, once there wasn’t much water left, I’d use the mug and eventually the spoon.’
‘And I’d just open the drain,’ Snyder said, ‘Because I’m not crazy.’
What’s not in the book, as yet [I might add it in, at some point], is that even the ability to write a novel is kinda crazy. No other animal can evidently do it. I assume—as probably most people do—that, by writing down a crazy idea instead of believing it, you at least get that the idea is crazy. That’s what Work of Fiction means, after all: Collection of Crazy Ideas. But, still, that people can write books—and, maybe worse, that people can read them—implies that people are a little less grounded than animals capable of sticking exclusively to reality.
I’m actually kinda dreading ahead at the moment, because I wrote this into the book:
‘And, by the way,’ Snyder said, ‘did Scooby ever have more than just that one cop? They went town to town, and the arresting officer was always that same guy. I think they went to Scotland once; and there’s that same cop again. What is he: Interpol?’
I’m not sure that that’s true. I don’t think I’ve watched Scooby since about 1975; there may have been more than that one sheriff. I wouldn’t care, because it’s not part of the narrative; characters can say Wrong Stuff and have nothing to do with me. But, humans being narcissistic lunatics, I’m already predicting feedback from a [nother] BrainySmurf twat onestarring the book because, lawl, the guy writing it hasn’t seen scoobey doo!!!1
I’ve mentioned that I hate people. Right?
Readers are on average crazier than writers. I’m convinced of that. Don’t worry: editors are crazier than either of us.
So. When I write a novel about zombies, I get that I’m just making it up; when you—you being a part of the amalgamated readership, a percentage of which are obstreperously psychotic—read a novel about zombies, you might feel compelled to be one of the first million people to tell me that scientists just found a prehistoric virus buried in the ice. Even if the novel itself explained why that was an eventual certainty, making it not any form of magic.
People are crazy.
Some people bow to deities; some bow to governments; I’m stuck in the middle, with you.
There’s a big deal [read: minor story we'll all forget about by May], right now, about the CEO of Mozilla being sacked for having supported Proposition Eight, six years ago. And the whimpers and the hypocrisy are flying from all sides.
The statheists find it hilarious that a christworshipper is getting kicked out for his proclivities, three seconds after the story was dying down on Arizona’s antigay bill [because, see, karma must be a thing]; the christworshippers find it obscene that he’d get sacked when all he ever wanted was to be as antigay as Arizona; everyone’s an idiot—just ask everyone.
Of course, the whimper is shifting a bit, moving over to reflect the HobbyLobby thing I mentioned the other day. Meaning that, so far as I’m concerned, nothing’s changed.
My position is simple. I don’t consider theism to be a protected class. I don’t even see atheism as a protected class. One’s obvious: theism is by definition a choice. You might not know how to unchoose it, but you got there in the first place by making some sort of decision to believe in something someone lied to you about. I wouldn’t quite call being atheistic a choice, any more than I’d call nonsmoking a choice: faced with an option, you turned it down; you really just stayed the same as you always were. Atheism isn’t a choice, because it’s what people start with before they learn to choose things.
Still, it’s not a protected class. To my thinking. Because it’s invisible.
We don’t protect classes to preserve feelings, as such. I’m good with protecting colours and genders [provided they're all protected equally], because, despite stories of blacks in the forties looking light enough to walk among the real people, I don’t think you should hafta camouflage yourself just to hit the good waterfountain.
Being theistic or atheistic is invisible without any effort. It’s actually something of an omission of action. You hafta put kilocalories into telling people which you are.
I don’t care which you are. Meaning, really, that I don’t wanna know.
If you’re black, that’s something I’m gonna detect. If you’re white, I’m not gonna hold it against you. It’s just looks; they can barely be controlled, and certainly needn’t be.
But, if you’re theistic, or atheistic, or gay, or straight, or anything I can’t tell from across a quiet room, then I don’t see the need to protect you. Because there’s no way that your condition, whatever it is, can be detected unless you blather about it.
Here are two statements. One of them is true.
- I don’t mind gay people, as long as they act straight in public
- I don’t mind gay people, as long as they act normal in public
Didya spot the difference? Just act normal. Act acceptable. Act quiet. I don’t want gay people to act straight, because I don’t wanna know when people are straight. How do you even act straight? I don’t wanna see straight people macking in public either. I don’t wanna see any two people sashaying along all cutely, holding hands and singing with the damned bluebirds.
Of course, that’s not up to me. Out in the world, you can mack on bluebirds all day; and I can roll around on a skateboard, helping to convince you that you’re better than I am. Great.
But, when I run an office—and I’ve done that—Thou Shalt Not Mack. Thou Shalt Not Proselytise. Thou Shalt Shaddup.
What Eich did wrong, apart from believing in a stupid, hilarious, bigoted deity, was making a publicly visible donation to Proposition Eight. He was allowed to; it was his right as a Duhmerican. But it was his mistake. He’d have made the same mistake if [and for all I know when] he’d blathered daily at Mozilla about his imaginary friends. Not because christworshppers are inferior and crazy and stupid [though we could talk about that], but because any such blathering is disruptive to the company.
Mozilla aren’t sacking this twat as Phase One in their plan to televise Christians v Lions: the Rematch. Mozilla are sacking him for being a disruptive liability. His presence at the company is harming the company’s public image. We in capitalist societies call this Bad.
Mozilla didn’t throw Eich under the bus. He got there on his own; Mozilla just stood back to avoid getting splattered by the sinew.
So, I have no sympathy for Eich. I have no sympathy for anyone, but Eich’s a name I know.
Of course, I have no sympathy for his opposition.
I’m not strictly in favour—and, read this whole sentence before thinking you know anything—of gay marriage; I’m not in favour of any marriage; to me, a theist asking a deity for permission to get married, and a statheist asking a government for permission to get married, are equally silly; that said, talking people out of getting married is of less immediate importance to me than preserving the equal rights of all to do this stupid thing.
That’s where I am on the patriometer: you’re all free to be exactly as stupid as each other. Rejoice.
Also, have a webcomic: