Why I’m So Negative

Being NegativeA couple of years ago, I did a post called “Why I’m So Mean” where I explained that I’m not really a mean person, people just take it that way because they don’t like to be told that they’re wrong.  People get so emotionally attached to their opinions, beliefs and ideas that when anyone even suggests that their opinions, beliefs and ideas might not be true, they get pissed and call you names.  Yes, I’m a meanie because I actually care if the things that people believe are actually true and I’m not at all concerned whether or not their false beliefs make them feel good.  I get similar criticism for being negative, I’m always so down on the world, pointing out all of the things that are going wrong and being incessantly pessimistic.

It is my job to be negative, to find problems, locate weaknesses, examine issues and come up with ways to correct them in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness.  It’s what I do.  Even if it wasn’t something I was paid to do, I’d do it anyhow because there is nothing out there that couldn’t benefit from correcting issues.  Nothing is perfect, no way of thinking, no way of working, no way of believing, all of them have problems that ought to be located, evaluated, studied and corrected.  We may never achieve perfection but it’s an admirable goal regardless.  We should all be willing to look at the things that we do objectively and seek out the downsides so that we can improve our interests.  We should want to improve the things around us, we should constantly be on the lookout for ways to make things better, more efficient, more rational, etc.  I may criticize things but I also offer suggestions on how to fix the negatives.  I’m not all doom and gloom, I’m trying to make this planet a better place to live for all of us.

It doesn’t make sense to me for people to be so overwhelmingly positive all the time.  It’s like saying “oh look, the Muslims are strapping bombs to children and blowing them up, isn’t that great?”  It’s like people are terrified that if they acknowledge that anything bad is going on, they’ll just make it worse.  That’s ridiculous, you can’t fix the bad things until you admit they’re really there and are willing to roll up your sleeves and attack the issue head on. Maybe that’s the thing, people are lazy and don’t want to recognize the problems because they’ll feel obligated to do something about them. It’s much easier to link arms and sing kumbayah and wish the bad things away into the corn field.  I’m sorry, problems don’t go away just because we want them to.  There are tons of people out there who only want to look at the good and pretend the bad doesn’t exist.  I want to look at the bad and fix it so that the good is the only thing left.  I don’t hide my head in the sand and pretend everything is great.  It’s not.  We know it’s not.  There are massive, massive problems with religion that have to be addressed.  There are huge issues with politics that we need to correct.  We can’t do that without opening an honest dialogue and being willing to come to conclusions based on the evidence, logic and reason.  So why will so few people actually talk about the issues?  I don’t know but I’m going to keep being “negative” if that’s what’s required, whacking people over the head with the bad parts until they are willing to take part in the solution.

At least I’m being realistic which is more than I can say for many others.

30 thoughts on “Why I’m So Negative

  1. "It is my job to be negative, to find problems, locate weaknesses, examine issues and come up with ways to correct them in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness."

    Who appointed you to this job? Who assigned this task to you? I personally think you are doing a shitty job of it overall.

    I admittedly have not read every commentary you have posted on this blog since you started it. But I have read more than 100 of them since I began coming to this site within the last year. And if these are indicative of your past posts, then I have to conclude that you are lying or seriously self-deluded when you say it is your job to "come up with ways to correct them in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness." I've not read any posts where you've actually done this. Perhaps you'll point out these alleged commentaries and the specific passages where you have offered these alleged solutions that would increase efficiency and effectiveness. Sure, you rant and criticize a great deal. But you don't actually offer solutions, other than your constant beating of that personal responsibility drum you keep pounding away on. And that is not a solution to any specific problem or to problems in general. It sounds more like preaching. It is your mantra. It is your preferred form of worship. You seem to think that this notion of personal responsibility is the panacea. This kind of thinking – that one solution fits all – is not how reality works. For a person who repeatedly claims to be committed to bringing us all face-to-face with reality, you display an astounding lack of understanding of how the real world works.

    1. Some people would say that by pointing out a problem you are already part of the solution. As such by just pointing out flaws in systems Cephus already does the job. Unless you disagree that these are not flaws, in which case its either not a flaw and you can debate it, or it is hitting too close to home.

      Just a thought. Use it, dont use it.
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      1. I don't know who these people are who say this, but I am not one of them. My view is these people are simply wrong. I think the statement you referenced is absurd. A problem is not solved or even close to being solved simply because you point out the existence of the problem. You are not part of the solution by simply pointing out its existence. You must actually be part of the team or group that actually thinks up the solution and/or implements it. Then and only then can you claim to be a part of the solution.

        I don't accept the silly notion that Cephus is part of the solution simply by his pointing out the problem. Cephus can't even claim first rights or any originality in pointing out any of the problems he has allegedly addressed in any of his blogs. Saying that he is part of the solution is at the very least laughable.

    2. Love your comments. I thought the same thing…who made him guardian of truth? And, how does anyone know he's not full of shit too? Great thoughts on your part.

    3. Actually, it is my day job to do all of those things, so I guess my employer did. Thanks for asking. But of course, coming from the loony liberal left as you do, I don't expect you to understand common sense when you see it, that's largely why I've stopped paying much attention to your comments, you really have nothing worthwhile to say.

      But sure, continue to rant away. Nobody is at all impressed.

  2. "Nothing is perfect, no way of thinking, no way of working, no way of believing, all of them have problems that ought to be located, evaluated, studied and corrected."

    Why don't you apply this to your own thinking. You would benefit from shining this light on your own beliefs. Some introspection would be healthy for you.

  3. "We may never achieve perfection but it’s an admirable goal regardless."

    Just what constitutes perfection in that mind of yours? I get real nervous around people who say that want to perfect our species or our society. Frankly, I suspect I would not like your version of perfection. Let's agree not to try to mold society to meet either your vision of perfection or mine.

  4. "I may criticize things but I also offer suggestions on how to fix the negatives."

    Would be helpful in evaluating this claim if you would provide some examples of the suggested fixes you have offered, or at least link to some of the posts where you have done this. As I said I've read a great many posts in the last year, and aside from you asserting general principles or claims, I can't think of a single instance where you have offered a suggestions on how to fix the negatives. But I could be wrong. So point them out to me. By the way just because you have offered these fixes, if you have indeed, doesn't mean they are the ones we should adopt.

      1. I'll support the suggestion to get rid of religion. But I don't think the means Cephus keeps advocating is the one that is going to achieve this objective. He keeps saying that if all believers would just become more rational then religion would go away. But this as the suggested cure-all for ridding us of religion, as I have pointed out in at least one reply to one of his posts, is more an indication of the lack of depth of his understanding of human psychology and the way the brain works than it is a contribution of any substance to achieving this objective

        Probably the most effective means of achieving this is to do that which has apparently led to the much lower belief in western Europe: remove the conditions that create the social, economic and political uncertainty and sense of insecurity that tend to compel people to seek solace in religious belief. There is research that indicates the development and implementation in these countries of a strong social safety and security infrastructure and the decline in religiosity in western Europe is no mere coincidence.

        I suggest reading the essay entitled Why the Gods are Not Winning (http://edge.org/3rd_culture/paul07/paul07_index.html) at the Edge: The Third Culture site.
        Here are several excerpts from this essay by researchers Phil Zuckerman and Gregory Paul:

        "Rather than religion being an integral part of the American character, the main reason the United States is the only prosperous democracy that retains a high level of religious belief and activity is because we have substandard socio-economic conditions and the highest level of disparity. The other factors widely thought to be driving forces behind mass faith–desire for the social links provided by churches, fear of societal amorality, fear of death, genetic predisposition towards religiosity, etc–are not critical simply because hundreds of millions have freely accepted being nonreligious mortals in a dozen and a half democracies. Such motives and factors can be operative only if socio-economic circumstances are sufficiently poor to sustain mass creationism and religion.

        "Nor is it all that surprising that faith has imploded in most of the west. Every single 1st world nation that is irreligious shares a set of distinctive attributes. These include handgun control, anti-corporal punishment and anti-bullying policies, rehabilitative rather than punitive incarceration, intensive sex education that emphasizes condom use, reduced socio-economic disparity via tax and welfare systems combined with comprehensive health care, increased leisure time that can be dedicated to family needs and stress reduction, and so forth.

        "As a result the great majority enjoy long, safe, comfortable, middle class lives that they can be confident will not be lost due to factors beyond their control. It is hard to lose one's middle class status in Europe, Canada and so forth, and modern medicine is always accessible regardless of income. Nor do these egalitarians culture emphasize the attainment of immense wealth and luxury, so most folks are reasonably satisfied with what they have got. Such circumstances dramatically reduces peoples' need to believe in supernatural forces that protect them from life's calamities, help them get what they don't have, or at least make up for them with the ultimate Club Med of heaven.

        "The result is plain to see. Not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity. They all go material."

        1. Yet that is exactly what is happening. The number of people who report no religious affiliation has skyrocketed in just the past 20 years and the churches are reporting fewer and fewer people showing up for Sunday services and financially supporting their religion. It's probably not a cure-all to think that education is going to make every religious person throw away their ridiculous beliefs, but it's certainly been working quite well so far. Imbue believers with the tools to recognize how absurd their beliefs are and remove the social stigma of being a non-believer and many, perhaps even most will abandon their beliefs unless they are really emotionally invested in them, such as the fundamentalists There are those who may never give up their beliefs, but we see that such faith becomes weaker with each successive generation, we may have to wait until some of the hardcore theists drop dead and their children or grandchildren finally recognize what a joke the whole thing actually is. It's certainly moving faster than I ever would have thought. I don't really care how you do it, I just want it done.

          1. No, that is not "exactly what is happening." You point to the number of people who report no religious affiliation, classified as the "nones" in the PEW religion surveys (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/23/5-facts-about-atheists/). It is true that this group has risen to nearly 20% of the population. But you need to take a closer look at this number. Of this 20%, only 2.4 percent or about 1/10th of this total are atheists. Another 3.3% of the 20% are agnostics. Together actual non-believers or those or who claim to be sitting on the fence make up about 5.7%, or about 1/4th of the 20%. In Canada, about 30% of the population say they are atheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism). Compare this to most western European nations and many eastern European nations where the atheists account for percentages ranging from 12% (Portugal) to 40% (France). (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_athe

            There are some outliers, such as Greece, where only 4% of the population is reported to be atheist. But still this is higher than in the United States. So why are rates of atheism so much higher (in the double digits) is the large majority of European nations? What have they in common that could explain their higher rates that does not explain our lower rates. We like these nations are modern industrialized nations. Again, I recommend you read the article, Why the Gods Are Not Winning (http://edge.org/3rd_culture/paul07/paul07_index.html).

            Counting on education to diminish religion is not the answer. Many, many religious believers are well educated and generally rational. Yet they continue to believe. I think the answer lies in what Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman have identified in their research. It isn't a lack of education.

          2. " Imbue believers with the tools to recognize how absurd their beliefs are and remove the social stigma of being a non-believer and many, perhaps even most will abandon their beliefs unless they are really emotionally invested in them, such as the fundamentalists."

            You need to read the sociological and psychological literature on belief. Your thesis is not supported by the research. The research makes a persuasive case for what are called the uncertainty hypothesis and the existential security hypothesis to explain why belief is more widespread in the United States compared to European nations, even though the United States is a developed democracy like these European nations.

            Here is the abstract from one such research paper written by researcher Nigel Barber:

            "According to the uncertainty hypothesis, religion helps people cope psychologically with dangerous or unpredictable situations. Conversely, with greater control over the external environment due to economic development and technological advances, religious belief is predicted to decline (the existential security hypothesis). The author predicts that religious belief would decline in economically developed countries where there is greater existential security, including income security (income equality and redistribution via welfare states) and improved health. These predictions are tested in regression analyses of 137 countries that partialed out the effects of Communism and Islamic religion both of which affect the incidence of reported nonbelief. Findings show that disbelief in God increased with economic development (measured by lower agricultural employment and third-level enrollment). Findings further show that disbelief also increased with income security (low Gini coefficient, high personal taxation tapping the welfare state) and with health security (low pathogen prevalence). Results show that religious belief declines as existential security increases, consistent with the uncertainty hypothesis." (http://ccr.sagepub.com/content/45/3/318.abstract.)

        2. The thing is, even poor people can be atheists and will be atheists if they are educated. It has nothing to do with social status, it has to do with a rational mind.

          Let me say also that the conservative party you see in the USA is not a traditional conservative party. Just as the democrats are not a traditional democratic party. I am neither, I am somewhere in between what these parties stand for, if anything I would say I am conservative. However, there is no party that actually represents my beliefs so I have to go for either the party that respects everyones rights or not vote. But again politics is not atheism.
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          1. Read my various replies and in particular read the articles at the links I provided. What you say is in fact not supported by the research. Sure, education will work for some people. But the research says that the greatest number of people are moved away from religion not through education alone. This is insufficient. The research indicates that the most significant factor in diminishing religious belief is putting in place policies that significantly reduce income disparities and economic uncertainty and increases existential security. Poor people are more likely to leave religion if they lifted out of their impoverished condition rather than simply educating them..

            You will need to explain in further detail just how being conservative is "somewhere in between" the present-day Republican and Democratic parties. I do agree that the Republican Party is not a conservative party in the more classical sense of that term. Here I refer to the kind of conservatism represented by William F. Buckley Jr. and Russell Kirk (http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/ten-conservative-principles/). However, the Republicans are much closer to classical conservatism than they are to what the Democrats stand for or the brand of liberal political philosophy I adhere to.

            Don't know why you said "politics is not atheism", given that I said nothing that explicitly or implicitly could or should have been construed to think I was saying such a thing. However, I have said, and I will repeat, that the policies advocated by liberals and the Democratic Party are more likely to create the economic and social conditions that will lead to greater atheism and less religion than are the conservative principles and policies which you advocate. This is supported by published peer-reviewed research.

        3. " I don't really care how you do it, I just want it done."

          Then if you don't care how it is done, why are you dismissing employing the approach that research indicates is likely the most effective at achieving this goal? You should be supporting those policies that will substantially lessen economic and income insecurity and increase the sense of existential security in the population at large.

      2. I also suggest reading this published paper:
        The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP073

        I've taken the liberty of providing an excerpt, but you really should read the entire paper.

        "This study’s uniquely broad based comparison of socioeconomic conditions in the most prosperous democracies confirms that they vary widely among these nations, and that the U.S. is the most dysfunctional prosperous democracy overall. Possible causes for this pattern, including the diversity of the population, immigration, a frontier heritage, pathological media, and popular religiosity versus secularism are examined. Of these factors the U.S. is exceptional only in its high level of religiosity, which strongly statistically correlates with adverse and insecure societal and economic conditions in the developed democracies."

        "Conservative religious ideology is a probable contributing causal factor of societal dysfunction, in part because it opposes the modulation of free market capitalism with extensive government based assistance, as well as the pragmatic social policies, that have proven more effective at creating the exceptionally secure, equable and benevolent overall societal and economic conditions that have unintentionally helped cause the least theistic prosperous democracies yet seen to come into existence."

        "Instead popular religion is usually a superficial and flexible psychological mechanism for coping with the high levels of stress and anxiety produced by sufficiently dysfunctional social and especially economic environments. Popular nontheism is a similarly casual response to superior conditions."

        A different published paper draws the following conclusion:

        "Conclusions. These results support relative power theory, which maintains that greater inequality yields more religiosity by increasing the degree to which wealthy people are attracted to religion and have the power to shape the attitudes and beliefs of those with fewer means."
        Here are several other sources you might want to read on this topic. I'll dispense with excerpts from them.
        Economic Inequality, Relative Power, and Religiosity http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540

        I also recommend the following:

        Does insecurity promote faith? https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/01/

        Why is religion stronger in economically unequal societies? http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/07/2

        If Cephus is serious about his belief that the world would be a better place by diminishing and/or even eliminating the presence and influence of religion in our culture, then I submit he should discard his conservative economic and political views and back the competitor that has the highest probability of achieving this objective: progressive policies aimed at creating a broad and deep social safety infrastructure that would provide defense against the economic and political dysfunction that all too often accompanies unregulated free-market capitalism.

          1. There is no conservative party. There's a party made up largely of neo-conservatives who sometimes forgets to say the "neo" part, but they are not conservative at all, they're really just religious liberals. And yes, I vote in every single election.

          2. The modern Republicans are not "religious liberals." There is very little if anything in their policies is based on liberal principles. I'll say it again. Republicans are much closer to the conservatism I think you are speaking of than they are to any brand of liberalism. If you continue to insist this is not so then please spell out for me the Conservatism of which you are speaking. Identify the tenets and principles of this conservatism so I can compare them to the principles and tenets of the Conservatism about which I have read. I am familiar with the conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr. and Russell Kirk. I have read Kirk's book, The Conservative Mind. Were they not classical conservatives, heirs of the conservatism of Edmund Burke, whom I have also read? When did we last have what you would call a true Conservative Party? Who were the last true Conservative politicians?

  5. " I’m trying to make this planet a better place to live for all of us."

    I accept that you sincerely believe this. But given what I know about your views on politics, economics, mental illness, poverty and a whole range of social and political issues, I don't think that what you think constitutes a "better place to live for all of us" would actually be better for all of us. I am pretty certain it would not be better for a great many people, myself included.

  6. "It doesn’t make sense to me for people to be so overwhelmingly positive all the time It’s like saying “oh look, the Muslims are strapping bombs to children and blowing them up, isn’t that great?."

    What is your basis for concluding or thinking that this is true of a large number of people. I'm presume it's true of some people. But regardless of how many people it is, who are you to decide for them how they ought to live their lives when it comes to the attitude they choose to employ in life. And just because it doesn't make sense to you does not mean it is nonsensical in some objective way. There is no set of universal, objective values. Thus a person who choose to be "overwhelmingly positive all the time" is making a values-based choice that is no less wrong that you choice to not confront life this way.

    Your assertion that having an overwhelming positive attitude toward life most certainly is not like "saying “oh look, the Muslims are strapping bombs to children and blowing them up, isn’t that great?” This is utter bullshit! Having a positive attitude is not the equivalent of accepting and condoning such acts of barbarity. It is absurd and moronic to even suggest such this.

  7. " It’s like people are terrified that if they acknowledge that anything bad is going on, they’ll just make it worse."

    Yet another absurdly moronic statement. I challenge you to identify even a single person who thinks this.

  8. " It’s much easier to link arms and sing kumbayah and wish the bad things away into the corn field."

    Who the hell is doing this? Thus far you have strung together at least three sentences that are strawman characterizations of a whole class of people whom you don't even identify. You just say these people are out there. Well where the hell are they? Who are these phantom people?

    If you have liberals in mind, then there are a great many liberals involved in a great many organizations and causes making a serious commitment to solving real world problems. Just last month I met a young liberal man who has joined the Peace Corps to go overseas and help the less fortunate improve their condition. While this is anedcotal, I have no doubt that he is one of tens of millions of individuals who do this kind of thing every year.

  9. "There are tons of people out there who only want to look at the good and pretend the bad doesn’t exist."

    Another assertion without any support. What goddamned social science data are you looking at that leads you to make these kinds of assinine, wildly absurd claims.

    You are the grandmaster of creating strawman caricatures and then ripping them apart, yet never offering any justification for the truth or accuracy of the portrait you have painted.

  10. " So why will so few people actually talk about the issues?"

    What, have you been hiding in a freakin closet or something? So few people? Holy shit you are out of touch with reality. Additionally, you are just so bloated from this sense of self-importance you are gorging on. You actually think that you are part of a tiny minority of people who are talking about the issues? I am going to run to my dictionary and look up the terms arrogance and inane, just to make sure your picture is not next to the words as an example. And if they aren't I just might write to the officials who make the decisions about what words to place in the dictionary and suggest they start providing examples. I'll recommend you as a very good and representative candidate for that distinction.

    1. Well, a lot of people don't want realism, they want the happy fantasy world they construct in their heads, with trees and flowers and chirping birds and… well… that's not how things work. That kind of absurd constructed reality where everything will magically work out perfectly so long as we all just believe hard enough makes no sense. It's worse that these people hold ideals that are utterly unworkable, even if they could work "correctly". Dogma doesn't do anything, whether it's religious or political. We have to look for real solutions that make sense, not that just placate people's emotions.

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