Being a Rational Skeptic: The Hobby Edition

Planet RationalI’ve spoken at length about being a skeptic, as opposed to just being skeptical about a few sundry subjects.  We even dedicated a segment to it on our podcast, The Bitchspot Report.  I made it very clear that you can differentiate between someone who is skeptical, that applies logic and reason to one or to several areas of their lives, and someone who is a skeptic, who applies those logical rules to every aspect of their life without exception.  I definitely fall into the latter.

However, I find that most people simply cannot manage it, they cannot maintain their skepticism full time.  Hell, for a lot of people, they cannot even maintain it a small percentage of the time.  Nowhere is this more plain to me than when it comes to hobbies.  I know I’ve talked about some of these things before, but not from this particular angle, so please bear with me.

Collecting: Stamps – It really doesn’t matter what you collect, it seems, there are always complaints about how it’s produced, how much it costs, how hard it is to find, etc.  Take U.S. postage stamps for example.  Everyone always complains how many stamps are released each and every year, the USPS releases even more stamps than the year before.  In 2013, for example, they’ve already either released or announced for release in the first quarter, more than 100 face-different stamps, making 2013 almost certainly the history-leader in number of different stamps to be issued.  Why?  Certainly it isn’t for the envelope-mailing public, it is aimed specifically at the collector market and designed to bring in more revenue for the nearly bankrupt USPS.  Collectors everywhere complain long and loud about how expensive it is to collect U.S. stamps and condemn the USPS for their tactics,  yet they refuse to consider the obvious solution to the problem:  stop collecting new U.S. postage stamps!  In fact, not only do they refuse to consider it, they refuse, by and large, to even talk about the possibility.  The moment the idea even comes up, conversation virtually stops.  The very idea of not mindlessly buying everything that comes out, no matter how ugly, overpriced or overproduced it is, it’s like suggesting sawing the head off their cat.  The same person will scream about how terrible what the USPS is doing and then, in the next breath, say they’ll be in line Friday to buy a whole pile of these stamps, in every conceivable format, to stick them in an album.  Seriously?!?!?!?

Collecting: Action Figures – It’s not like  action figure collectors are any better.  The whole of the collector fanbase has been abuzz with the severe reduction in articulation in both Hasbro and Mattel figures.  Many lines are now coming with 5-points of articulation, which is utterly absurd considering at one point, some figures were coming with 30-35 points of articulation.  Lots of modern action figures are essentially lumps of poorly painted plastic that hardly do anything, they’re more like inaction figures.  The prices suck too.  The figure quality becomes cheaper, the prices become more expensive, the selection of figures becomes more limited as well as companies are taking fewer risks and over-producing the most popular characters again and again.  Add the fact that so many stores, after getting burned by the poor case packing schemes, are just not ordering much, if any, new product and the shelves are bare.  So what do action figure collectors do?  Do they rationally consider their purchases?  Of course not!  They whip out the credit card and buy everything, no matter how badly made or how expensive it happens to be.  In fact, some of them are convinced that if they only support the manufacturers who, according to them, are doing everything wrong, that maybe things will improve, so they’re buying even more things that they scream about!  How is this rational?

Pets –  Yes, I know pets really aren’t a hobby, but I see the same kind of fanatical nonsense here as well.  So many people act like their pets are really their children and treat them better than they treat themselves.  Of course, don’t dare suggest that people with a dozen parrots, who can hardly afford macaroni and cheese for themselves shouldn’t have that many birds, or that they should stop desperately looking around for more birds to adopt, or that they should stop treating their birds lavishly, they’ll scream at you and call you names.  In fact, if you don’t adopt their methods, they’ll call you names anyhow.  That’s not how rational people work, it’s how fanatics function.  If you remember, not too long ago I wrote about a bruhaha that happened on a forum where the bird crazies were criticizing the ASPCA for giving what they viewed as a bad impression of the costs of pet ownership.  While I agree there may be some bad numbers in there, they screamed because they viewed their absurd spoiling of their birds to be the norm that everyone ought to be doing.  I think it said that for a small bird, $25 a year in toys would suffice.  Oh hell no!  These people spend over $100 a month on toys!  they order raw materials online and spend all their time building toys!  They spend half their days arranging and re-arranging the toys in the cage!  They have tubs of toys that have never even been used and they’re still getting more!  They feed their birds the most expensive premium food money can buy and that’s not even good enough, they have to cook their own organic food, designed just for the birds, as a supplement.  In fact, I know of at least one person who planted a variety of fruit trees in their back yard because they didn’t trust any other source for fresh fruit without pesticides, etc.  Then, these people take their birds to the vet several times a year, just to have a battery of tests done, on the off chance that something might be wrong.  They spend thousands of dollars a year in preventative care and all they accomplish is keeping their vet in BMWs, while they drive around in beat up 20-year old cars.  And then, because that’s what they do, they expect that everyone else out there ought to do the same or they’re a bad pet owner.  It’s just ludicrous.

Gaming –  Yup, it happens here too and for a lot of the same reasons I noted above under collecting.  If you’ve ever hung out in a gaming forum, you’ll see all manner of bitching and whining about how horrible MMOs are today, how there isn’t a single game out there worth playing, that the  games are all stupid and dumbed down and the people are horrible, but these same people who complain about every aspect of gaming will advance purchase every damn new MMO that comes on the market!  Every single solitary one!  And then, they’ll sit there and complain how awful they are, while plunking down a monthly fee every month!  But don’t suggest that if they hate these games so much, they should go find something else to do.  Oh no!  They think they deserve to have the perfect game to play, even if it would be a massive financial failure in the real world.  Many of them are convinced that because they’ve been playing these games that they now hate for so many years, they are uniquely qualified and somehow deserving of being able to define what they games are and how they’re made and damn it, everyone ought to listen!

It’s not just the religious people who are fucking stupid, it’s EVERYBODY!  Is it any wonder I spend so much time looking at humanity and being frustrated?

7 thoughts on “Being a Rational Skeptic: The Hobby Edition”

  1. If it helps, it is sometimes possible to convince these people to change their ridiculous ways. I had an old roommate who was a comic book collector (this was roughly 10 years ago). Included in his collection was every comic that contained wolverine. He would complain every week when he got back from the comic store that since wolverine was popular they kept putting him in more and more comics so they would sell and it was hard to keep up. I asked if he enjoyed reading them, and he said generally no. I told him that the reason they were doing this is it get money from him and people like him, the only way to make this stupid situation go away would be to stop supporting it. He said he didn't want a break in his collection, which I told him was pretty stupid.

    After having this conversation a number of times, I convinced him that his actions were actually counter productive to what he wants. I convinced him to stop automatically buying all those titles and only support the ones with good stories. After reanalyzing things with this perspective he dropped his pull list at the comic store by about 90%.

    My recent post Bitter Pill: Every American Needs to Read this Article

    1. Generally, back when I was buying anything, I realized that being a completist was pretty stupid and never really bothered. I bought what I liked, I didn't buy what I didn't like and I was happy. When I realized that none of it really made me happy anymore, I just dropped it like a hot rock. I've gone back from time to time to see if it's improved, it hasn't so I've kept moving on. I think that's a healthy attitude, people who have to buy, just for the sake of completeness, have problems.

      1. I've never been a collector, but I have a similar attitude when it comes to gaming. I used to be a completionist (largely because as a kid I had more time than money) and try to finish all games 100%. At some point I realized that I wasn't having fun trying to get all the extras and unlocking everything and what not. Now it's not uncommon for me to get half way through a game and just stop. If I'm not having fun it's just stupid to keep playing. The money I have spent on the game is already spent, no sense wasting time as well.

        My recent post Bitter Pill: Every American Needs to Read this Article

        1. I play games until they stop being fun. Once I no longer enjoy myself, I stop playing them. The number of games I've completed 100% is relatively low, mostly because so many games put "secrets" out there designed to make you go back and play the game over and over and over and most games, it just isn't worth repeating once you've gone through it once.

  2. Hello.

    What I see is that skeptical people often would benefit from having a bigger friendship circle, more love in life and sport.

    When I was a skeptic, I was always depressed at the lack of beauty in life… I could barely get out of my head and listen to my body, I was totaly a prisioner of my logical mind.

    If my advice is not useful to you, just reject it, but if you like it, you can make some friends which will give you a happier understanding of the emotional life, which also walks along with the logical one.

    1. Sorry, I need no help understanding emotion, I simply understand where it is applicable and where it is not. Like most things, emotion only works in certain aspects of life. It's the people who can't figure out how to think without having their emotions run away with them that tend to be the most irrational and illogical.

      It's a problem, but it's not a problem with the skeptical side.

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