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THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS

The word “radicalized” is used in the media as if it’s a fact that can be verified by scanning their brains with MRI. Someone joining ISIS or Al-Qaeda is a fact, but apparently, that isn’t enough for them. They somehow feel the need to alert the audience to the danger of someone’s inner transformation.

The use of the word “radicalized” seems to imply that anyone having radically different ideas about our society should be weeded out. The people who use that term must have some degree of unconscious (or even conscious) preference for normalized people. So, when they see a terrorist, what draws their attention is the fact that he is radically different from them. It’s a xenophobic expression. The media and our government are subliminally injecting a normative ideology by associating the idea of being radical with terrorists. We can be radical and be peaceful. Gandhi was radical. The media should just stick to facts.

Not that I was ever so into watching the Olympics but I’ve now completely lost interest in it. The thing is, human bodies have limitations. It is never going to be possible to run, say, 100m in a second. So obviously, we humans are going to hit a wall sooner or later. We cannot keep pushing our bodies. I think we have already hit the limit in most of the categories. So what is an athlete to do? Enhance their performance by unnatural means, whether it’s drugs, cutting edge science, or some sort of expensive technologies. It seems rather dehumanizing. 

I think everything has its natural end beyond which it is counter-productive or meaningless to keep going. 

When the first iPhone came out, it inspired our imagination and opened many possibilities for improving smart phones. Now it has reached a point where they are good enough for most things. It’s time for Apple to move on to something else. They can’t keep perfecting the same thing. 

What makes human beings unique is creativity. In a field where we are expected to keep improving the performance given a rigid set of rules, creativity can’t flourish. If our bodies have hit the limit, then the only way that our creativity can be applied is towards something other than our bodies, like inventing performance enhancing drugs. But then It would turn into a drug war. So, it seems, at this point, a reasonable thing to do is to move on to something entirely different.

The older I get, the less I care about friendship. What is interesting to me is our urge to define “friendship” or “friends”. Why do we want “friends” and why does this categorization matter to us? Why do we want to differentiate “friends” from those who are not? In my 20s, I cared a great deal too. Now I find it ironic. Just like the desire for “peace” is what incites “war”, our desire for “friends” is what induces loneliness, which in turn makes us crave for “friends” more. 

So, one way to solve this problem is to stop categorizing and ranking friends. This is a good example of how language creates unnecessary problems. Thinking is the wrong tool for solving many of the problems we encounter in life. Not only that, in many cases, thinking is their cause. You cannot solve the problem of friendship by thinking; it creates the problem.

We walk funny if we start thinking about how we walk. When we start thinking about “friends,” we start acting funny in front of them.

For most specialized topics, we are not capable of evaluating any ideas or opinions on their own merits because we do not have sufficient understanding of the topics. So, credibility is not earned from making sense of things. Things make sense when they come from someone credible. We fool ourselves into thinking that what we heard was credible because it made sense. We don’t actually have that ability in most cases.

In order to become an authority, you have to gather your credibility first, like degrees, licenses, awards, endorsements, and institutional affiliations. Whether you actually know or understand anything is secondary. In short, fake it till you make it.

It’s superficial but there is no way around it as we cannot know everything to evaluate everything on its own merit. This is why politics is so superficial. We are making decisions on issues that we do not have sufficient knowledge of, yet we pretend like we vote based on facts and reason. I find this the biggest flaw of our political system.

“How do I look? Tell me the truth.” In this context, what do we mean by “the truth”? We mean we want the person to set aside her concerns about feelings, and tell us exactly what she sees and thinks. We do not mean the universal truth. There is no such thing anyway. Even the law of gravity can be proven false in the future through new scientific discoveries. When we use the word “truth”, we simply mean what we individually know and think. Even if someone presumably knows the universal truth, we are generally not very interested in that type of truth.

“Which is more important: truth or feelings?” To a question like this, I think most people would answer “truth.” Yet in practice, we do the opposite. We sacrifice the truth for the sake of managing people’s feelings. This is our ultimate lie about lying. When we teach our kids how to socialize, for the most part, we are teaching them how to tactfully lie or suppress the truth. But at the same time, we tell them that lying is bad and that they should always tell the truth.

Even though we do this left and right every day, when we discover that someone lied to us, we furiously retort, “You lied to me!” Why should this be a surprise? In order to survive in this society where this is the norm, we have to lie all the time. We shouldn’t be surprised when we are lied to.

To an autistic mind, this is one of the most difficult social conventions to understand and accept; lie but tell the truth. Since an autistic mind has trouble relying on his instincts to navigate the social situations, he must rely heavily on logic, but, from his logical perspective, “lie but tell the truth” does not compute. Not only that, an autistic mind has trouble understanding how people can lie and not know that they are lying, and accuse others of lying. If everyone can at least admit that they are lying all the time, it would be a lot easier to an autistic mind.

Just because this is how the majority of people prefer to interact with one another, it does not mean that it’s the right or better way. It’s just a convention established through the power of the majority. Just as women have to adopt the conventions established by men in the business world, autistic minds have to adopt this convention of lying and not be aware of it.

If it’s any consolation to autistic minds, the history of civilization has so far been progressing towards a more autistic way of communicating. That is, we humans are relying more and more on reason instead of feelings, instincts, or intuitions as a way to get along with one another with vastly different values and beliefs. Thankfully, we can now tell the type of truth that would have lead to our heads getting chopped many centuries ago.

Fear is a response to a real threat whereas anxiety is a response to a perceived threat. When you differentiate them in this way, I think it becomes clear that, as we age, the amount of fear we experience decreases and the amount of anxiety we experience increases. Why? I think because we can become immune to, or numb to, threats that are real as we experience more of them. This is why exposure therapies work for phobias like a fear of heights. But the opposite happens with imaginary threats; the more we think about them, the worse they get. The ultimate cause of anxiety is our own death, but death is not something we can experience first-hand, which means it can never be a real threat to us. Even to the last minute, death will always be an imaginary threat. So, as we get closer and closer to death, our anxiety keeps increasing, although our fears decrease.

It’s not that you should do it because it makes sense; it’s that what you should do makes sense after the fact. With the former, you are absolving yourself of responsibility by invoking higher—presumably more objective—authority. You might speak loudly, but your true voice can be hidden, never exposed to risk. In this, it makes no difference whether this authority is God or reason. This is what is perceived as arrogance, even if you act as a humble servant of God or reason.

This was my big mistake.

People who debate about politics logically; I wonder what they are expecting. “Oh, you are right. My argument is logically flawed. OK. Now I’m on your side.” Try to recall if that has ever happened to you in your whole life.

Both politics and religion are positional. Logic was not the reason why they took particular positions in the first place. Logic was applied after the fact to rationalize their choices. So, no amount of logic will convince them to change their positions. When people logically debate about politics or religion, they are ultimately trying to justify and rationalize their own positions. In other words, they are talking to themselves.

If someone changes his political position after a logical debate, the credit goes almost entirely to the person who changed his mind, not to the person who debated him.

These positional issues make up the foundation of one’s self-image or ego. To change any of them would have a profound impact on how you stand in the world, and how you think of yourself. It is highly destabilizing and painful. J. Krishnamurti said “A confident man is a dead human being.” This makes sense in this light. Our confidence is built on these assumptions we make in our lives. When these assumptions are destabilized, we lose confidence. But to be open-minded and willing to change your fundamental positions, you have to sacrifice your confidence. Most people would rather feel confident because the alternative does not seem to offer any immediate benefit.

The most forceful driver of thoughts is fear. Being able to think about death isn’t a sign of courage; it’s what we naturally do when we are driven by fear.

Our brains are indeed like muscles. We can train them constantly and look like bodybuilders, and not be good at any particular thing. For athletes like soccer players and marathon runners, excessive muscles get in the way of achieving their goals.

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