Show me the evidence!

Have you ever expressed an opinion or had an argument with someone on social media? Have you ever dared to use your knowledge to debunk somebody’s fragile worldview? I certainly have. Eventually, there comes a point in any of these online discussions when the person on the other side demands proof of your claims.

If you base your views in reality, it’s really hard to argue online. I advise against it all together, but sometimes even I can’t help myself when someone makes outrageous claims. It’s difficult because you start to notice that people are fucking stupid. The source of their stupidity is often ignorance, but still they defend their uneducated opinions like their life depends on it. It often does, metaphorically speaking. People often get attached to their opinions and views so much that they become WHO they are and not just what they believe. If you question their beliefs, you question their egos. That’s why they are almost never willing to change their mind even when presented with clear evidence that they’re wrong. Losing an argument, letting go of an opinion is like losing some part of themselves. That’s why they show signs of discomfort and often get aggressive when their beliefs are doubted by someone. It’s their ego that’s being dismantled not their opinion. We’re all guilty of it, including me. The smartest people in this world hold some kind of beliefs they are not ready to let go of simply because of their attachment to them and because they allowed these beliefs to define who they are. I’ve seen some otherwise intelligent people get swallowed and consumed by one ideology or the other. Many of them are aware of the hypnotizing power of ideologies and “the madness of crowds”, but even they can’t resist this downward pull from the brain hungry zombies. This happens on both left and right and the person can only see their own gullibility and naiveness in hindsight when one day they look back with embarrassment at how easily they were seduced by the slogans.

More often than not, people subscribe to certain beliefs simply because they are held hostage by their ideology. If you’re on the Left, you very likely are a feminist who believes in climate change, that there are more than two genders, that capitalism is evil, and abortion is a human right. If you’re on the Right, you oppose all of these ideas, often relying on religion as your moral compass. You believe in free speech and the right to own a gun, while the left challenges those rights. Both sides clash on the field of battle – Twitter – and are ready to defend their beliefs, which aren’t really their beliefs at all. They are beliefs that are part of the package of the group they have signed up to. Before they know it, they protect ideas they know very little about but feel so deeply connected to that they feel they must defend the honour of their group. They become the righteous warriors who slay dragons and fight evil forces of this world. They are determined to crash the enemy and are fuelled by the support, admiration, likes and retweets from their peers.

I was like this at one point. I remember when I joined a Twitter conversation about abortion. My mostly Right-Wing views (to arms of which I was pushed by the teachings of modern feminism) put me on the autopilot and I assumed the attacking position seeing the other side as my sworn enemies. The enemies in this case were pro-choice activists. At that point I saw the subject of abortion with a black and white filter. I was arguing like I knew the subject deeply even though I had never thought about it much or read anything about it. In other words, before “joining” the Right, I wasn’t that bothered about abortion. When I saw the tweets from pro-choice activists, I had to show them how wrong they were. I had to make sure they knew abortion was never alright. My keyboard was on fire, notifications about how much outrage I caused fed my self-righteous thirst for victory and I didn’t care how many snowflakes I triggered. Every person who disagreed with me, I managed to convince myself, proved me right. I was fighting for the right cause. I was the good guy.

Today, there is more grey area in my views on abortion. In my adopted views there was no room for exceptions. Later, I realised what my true beliefs were, and they’ve remained so to this day. I realise now that I don’t really care about it that much. In my opinion, pro choice people aren’t defending women’s reproductive rights but their rights to not take responsibility for their actions. Pro life activists aren’t fighting for unborn children but for the power of their ideology over others. Understand that I am talking about activists. Not everyone who has an opinion on the matter is an activist. I still think abortion is wrong in most cases, and if people aren’t willing to take responsibility for the consequences of sex, they should either use various forms of anticonception and accept the consequences of them or not have sex at all. I mean, the pill might fuck up your hormones, but at least you’re not killing babies, right? I wish both sides of the debate would be honest in their motivations and admit what they really care about – power and control on the right and being irresponsible and unaccountable on the left.

To sum this section up, if you ever find yourself feeling passionate about a belief system, ask yourself if you truly believe it or if it’s something that’s been forced upon you by your group. You don’t want anyone to be able to predict any of your views based on one or two of your opinions. For example, I am an atheist. Many atheists, especially those in public eye, are hard leftists. They are pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-COVID mandates during the pandemic and many more. If you predicted that I too held these views simply because I don’t believe in God, you’d be wrong. It shows that atheism hasn’t influenced my other views and values. Similarly, if you’re a feminist, you really don’t want me to accurately predict your stance on climate change, gun control and Trump – as these are all completely unrelated to feminism. If your views on the above match those of other feminists then congratulations – your mind has been corrupted by ideology.

Let’s talk about evidence now. As I’ve briefly described above, people have different reasons for believing what they believe and defending those beliefs. As mentioned at the beginning, some people will demand proof of your claims if what you’ve said to them shakes their worldview. They want to see the science. If you can’t produce it, they claim victory even if their own views are formed in their gut and not in a lab. The problem with this type of people is that they aren’t willing to do any heavy lifting (or reading in this case). They want you to give them a quick graph or a short article that proves you right. They don’t realise that the answers lie in thousands of book pages one’s had to go through to come to the conclusions one has come to. There is no single graph or a slide show that can spoon feed these people with information. These people don’t think, they react. Because they themselves often pull their views out of their ass, they think you do too, so you won’t be able to produce any evidence to prove what you’re saying is backed by science.

Let’s say I believed there was a high probability of the existence of intelligent life out there in the Universe. Someone – a deeply religious person perhaps, who believes God created life exclusively on Earth and no more than six thousand years ago, and the rest of the Universe is only for us to ponder and admire – would stand there and say, “Oh yeah, Mulder? Prove it!”. There is of course no way to prove it. But with basic understanding of what conditions need to be met for a planet to host alien life, and knowledge of evolution are, in my opinion, enough to look into the night sky and make an assumption. My “evidence” in this case would consist of at least one book on evolution and one on astronomy. It’s more than you can put in a tweet, and more than most people can handle.

In other words, there is no single proof for anything. Can I prove that God doesn’t exist? No, but I can tell you all about the human nature, our superstitious tendencies and thousands of gods that have been worshipped and forgotten throughout history, to show you that all gods are most likely invention of man to explain the unknown and cope with mortality. It doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but it shows that he probably doesn’t. I used to mock religious people, but as I got older, I’ve come to understand the value of religion and that, as long as it stays out of my bedroom or doesn’t fly planes into sky scrapers, it’s mostly harmless and it actually makes people happy. I used to attend a church service every Sunday for six months only to expose these people to the truth, but what I saw was probably the happiest bunch I have ever seen.

People will want proof, but they will not change their mind, because their belief system wasn’t built with evidence. It was handed to them by the group. The only proof they ever needed was how it made them feel. Unfortunately, you can’t convince feelings with reason. Feelings can often override reason, though. The bottom line is this – don’t argue online, form your own opinions, question the beliefs of your ingroup and educate yourself of what matters to you. Read books, listen to podcasts and live a life of meaning. Social media algorithms are out there to trigger you. That’s how they steal your time and attention. Don’t let them. You’re not changing anyone’s mind and you’re not making your life better. I was once arguing with someone on Instagram, eventually I clicked on their profile. It turned out to be a 17-year-old girl. I was twice her age. Twice her experiences and accumulated knowledge. There was no way I was opening her mind. You never know who the other person is, but it’s pretty dumb to argue with kids online. You’re on different levels and as an adult, you have the responsibility to be wiser and to set an example. We often forget that the avatar we see is another human being and allow ourselves to get carried away. We make assumptions about the person’s character and their morality. Social media brings the worst out of us and these online debates expose that. Don’t get triggered. Move on. You’ll be happier for it.

Don’t end up alone

I took my pregnant wife into A&E yesterday. She was having very intense back and abdominal pains and sickness, all of which, according to Dr Google, could be symptoms of miscarriage. We were seen by a nurse right away, but I suppose they weren’t as concerned as us because after the initial verbal examination, they took their sweet time and we spent most of the time sitting in the waiting area. Luckily, the baby was OK, so it is not a post about that. It is about what the waiting area made me realise as sick people were wheeled in.

Across from us sat a young girl. She was no older than twenty years old, although my wife reckoned she was as young as seventeen. She had arrived there a little before us, around 10am. Her hair was blonde, but you could tell it wasn’t her natural colour. She had piercings in her nose. She was very skinny. Not like “unhealthy skinny” but just very thin. I guess you don’t see that very often anymore. She was wearing slippers, blue pyjama bottoms and a black winter coat. She was always in and out of her chair, going either to the toilet or to ask the nurses when she would be seen.

Meanwhile, the door of the department kept swinging open, bringing in new patients or just taking someone through to a different area. Men and women in green ambulance uniforms were standing around with not much to do, probably waiting for the emergency call. They talked about local gyms, broken laptops and mini golf – things colleagues talk about at work. I don’t know what I was expecting, but perhaps I thought staff in the emergency unit would always be armed with seriousness. Instead, they joked around, some even flirted with each other, and they made weekend plans. I’m not blaming them. I’m just painting the picture.

Many people came and went, but the blonde girl and us seemed to be the only ones always going back to the waiting area.

Around 12.30pm, the girl made a phone call. She sat in the corner, her slim body folded in a way she would fit her both feet on the chair. She was talking to her friend. She made the point to be loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to make it obvious. There was a lot of swearing and complaining about not having been seen and about “staff just standing around doing nothing”. From her conversation you could gather two things. One, that she was pregnant and it was still early stages. Two, that her boyfriend, Zac, ignored all of her fifty calls and messages. She had messaged him on all of his social media and at some point her calls went straight to his voicemail. Her pyjamas also suggested that whatever had brought her there was urgent and scared her. None of it excuses her bad manners on the phone, but you couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her.

On the other side of the room, in the corridor was an older man on the stretcher. I’m not very good with ages so I will assume he was in his seventies or eighties. Grandad age. By his side stood his wife. There were plenty of seats next to us, but she stood there next to him. There is not much to say about that couple, but they represent something that a lot of young people will miss out on (and are missing out on already).

I will make a lot of assumptions here, but the manner with which the blonde girl spoke on the phone, swearing and complaining about staff in their close proximity, her piercings and the way she carried herself suggested to me that she brought it all on herself. Her excuse of a boyfriend turned off his phone or blocked her number and didn’t wanna know. I judged that this is the type of guys or boys she goes for. So called fuckboys.

Why is this a problem? It is a problem for young people, especially for women. The female empowerment movement sells young women a lie. A lie that they can have a string of meaningless relationships or hook-ups or that they don’t need men at all. It tells them that they can wait to settle down and as a result they spend their twenties getting pumped and dumped by guys like Zac. By the time they “are ready to settle down”, usually when they approach thirty or thirty-five, they come to a sad realisation – there is no good men left. Never mind that they start blaming all men for there not being any good one. The fact of the matter is that the good ones were invisible to them for a decade of their life and they eventually found someone to settle down with themselves.

I promise I’m getting somewhere with this. The longer you wait to find someone, the more flings, hook-ups and relationships you have before meeting someone for a serious relationship, the less likely you are to make that relationship last. There are many reasons for that and there are studies to prove that. But, just think about it. You’re bringing all that trauma of break ups, being cheated on or having cheated and so on – all that baggage – into a new relationship and expect it to survive this burden? What if all your relationships before were no longer than a year and you don’t know how to survive this post honey moon phase or how to handle an argument in a relationship? You might think that an argument or even regular arguing is a sign of the end. What happens is you never build a bond with anyone and you either end up alone or in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t care about you.

The current message to single women is, “you go girl!”, but in thirty or forty years, you might end up on the stretcher and beside you will be nobody. And if you’re a young girl and aren’t thinking seriously about who you get intimate with and who you let into your life, you will end up with a dickhead of a boyfriend like Zac who will block you if he knocks you up.

The old couple represents what we all should strive for. Our friends will not always be there for us. Our parents will not always be there for us. It’s very trendy nowadays for young women to say they don’t need men in their lives, but one day you will need a partner who will hold your hand, lend his shoulder for you to rest on, bring a bucket for your vomit, unlace your shoes to get you more comfortable and tell you everything will be ok.

If you follow today’s narrative, as a woman, you will end up alone. Men are used to it. We are used to being alone. Are you prepared for it? Choose your partners wisely. Choose who becomes the father of your children or you will one day sit in the emergency unit alone with nobody to call but your friend who has her own shit to deal with.

No Refunds

Don’t let a lap dance cost lives

About eight years ago, I went to a strip club for the first time. So far, it was also the last time, but not because of what happened. It just hasn’t been that big of a deal anymore.

It was late Autumn, 2012, me and Jeff had been planning it for a while. Not wanting to spend too much, we figured we’d go there as soon as they opened at 9 p.m. when the entry was still free. So that’s exactly what we did.

I had bought a new shirt for that night. A shirt I didn’t really have money for. I had money, it just wasn’t the right time to be buying a new shirt. Especially with the night I had planned that Friday.

We’d had a couple of pints at our local and at 8.50 p.m., we headed to Beavers. Jeff had had some experience, so I thought I’d follow his lead, but when we got there the gullible strip club virgin inside got the better of me.

It was just Jeff and me and a row of about twenty strippers sitting on tall chairs, not looking busy and almost surprised to see anyone in so early. We ordered two beers and found a table. I don’t know what I was expecting since we were the only customers, but I guess I had thought it would be like in the movies – one girl always dancing and taking her clothes off, while men throw dollar bills at her feet promising they can get her away from all this.

It wasn’t long before two ladies joined us and started flirting. Both very attractive and hot. They were prepared. They had their strategy all planned out and I fell for it. The Thai looking girl chose Jeff as her prey and the curvy blonde with northern accent worked on me. I say worked, but it didn’t take long for me to accept her offer and part my ways with £20 to enjoy her company somewhere more private.

As Yasmin led me to a separate room, she never stopped flirting. She said I looked like some guy from the X Factor. ‘I bet you say that to every guy’, I joked in response to one of her compliments. She reassured me that it wasn’t the case.

She tried to convince me to upgrade the lap dance and go to the private room with her, almost suggesting that anything could happen in there, but I decided to go for the cheaper option since I was already wearing my weekly budget.

Turned out we had all the privacy we needed in the end. The room she took me in was dark and had private booths separated by thin walls. There was nobody there anyway because it was still early. She danced to the music and undressed, rubbed her curvy body against mine and made sure I would never forget my first visit at the Beavers.

Around 4 minutes and £20 later, I was back at the table with Jeff who didn’t give in to the tricks of the well-trained exotic beauty. He laughed at me for falling for it. He was right. Within minutes, two other beautiful girls wanted to join us at our table and no doubt tell us how handsome we both were and that we looked like someone famous. We kindly asked them to come back later so we could enjoy our beer.

Only – there was no “later”. We left as soon as we had finished our pints. Glad I’d had my first lap dance, I was also disappointed that I gave in to the very first stripper who approached me. Jeff knew the whole time. He’d tried to warn me, but I was blinded by Yasmin’s booty and deafened by her compliments.

I don’t know how much of Yasmin’s flirtation was honest and how much was just part of a well rehearsed routine. All I know is, when I stepped out of that club, I was ready to take on the world. I wasn’t sure if I should use my new superpowers for good or for evil, but the night was still young, and anything was possible. We headed back to our local where we’d arranged to meet another friend.

The band was already on the case, playing all the pub classics. I’m not much of a dancer, but that night, I was a different man. Still under Yasmin’s spell, I jumped, sang along and made eye contact with the girls, almost forgetting about Jeff and Anthony.

Eventually, the spell expired, and, like Cinderella, I had to go back to who I really was.

The next day, I realised that it was silly of me to have spent that money. ‘Was it really necessary?’, I asked myself. I wasn’t at all talking about the lap dance! No, that was worth every penny. The second thoughts I was having were about the shirt I had bought the day before.

I smelt it and thought, ‘Hey, I’ve only worn it for a few hours, maybe they’ll take it back’. Yeah, I was about to become one of those customers who return worn clothes. I know, women do it all the time. They simply leave all the labels on the dress, wear it on a night out and return it the next day.

Confident that I would get away with it too, I headed to River Island and went straight to the men’s section. With a bag in my hand, I found a guy with a lanyard and told him I wanted to return something. ‘Sure, no problem’, he said.

With the receipt on the desk, he was now carefully inspecting the shirt. The shirt that no less than twelve hours earlier saw the inside of a Strip Club, experienced a private lap dance, rubbed against Yasmin’s skin, whose perfume pierced through its material mixing with the sweat of my embarrassment, excitement and anticipation of her next move. ‘Hold on one moment, please’, he said and walked across the floor and disappeared behind the “Staff Only” door.

He came back a few minutes later and said he couldn’t take it back. ‘It’s been worn’, he said. ‘I’ve only tried it on and worn it for about half an hour at home’, I nervously attempted to convince him of my innocence, but he knew that I had worn it. The shirt was soaked with Yasmin’s sorcery. The sweat from the dance floor must have also given away my guilt. What an amateur!

Embarrassed and ashamed, I accepted defeat.

The shop is your life, you are the shop keeper and the shirt is everything your life is made of. Everything that makes your life worth living. A customer comes in, let’s call him Boris, and says he wants that shirt. You say that this particular shirt is not for sale, but in the end, Boris not only convinces you that you must sell him the shirt, but also give him 20% discount. You agree.

Your return policy clearly states that everything must be returned unused and unworn within three weeks. Three weeks have passed, and Boris asks for more time. You agree. Then he asks for another extension and you agree again and again.

He also pulls some strings and makes sure you’re not open for business so that your other shirts are available when he comes back one day.

A year later, Boris comes back and says, ‘hey, I changed my mind, I’d like to return the shirt, please’. You open the bag and immediately smell the whores, the sweat, the sex, the vomit, cigarettes, damp, guilt and countless walks of shame. The shirt looks like it has shrunk about two sizes. ‘I’ve tried it on a few times, but I realised it didn’t work’, he says confidently, while sanitizing his hands, ‘I’d quite like to try something different this time, so I might just do a straight exchange, if that’s alright’, he adds as if nothing is wrong.

Wouldn’t you agree that your life should be returned to you in the same condition as it was taken?

When it is returned to you, however, you will be poorer, older and fatter. Your life will have lost all the ingredients that once made it happy, turning it into a meaningless and tasteless existence.

Unlike me, Boris will not be ashamed or embarrassed when he tries to return this shirt to you after completely destroying it. No, it will be up to you to get on with it. But if you allow him to just get away with it, he will just pick another shirt, but this time he will take a tie and a belt too, explaining that he needs them. He’ll even say that it’s good for the business. That he’s helping you.

You know he’ll be back, don’t you? The tie will have tomato sauce all over it and the belt will have a few extra homemade holes that accommodated his growing belly while he was still “deciding” on these.

Every time he comes back for a refund or exchange, he returns the items he has taken from you in unsellable condition and doesn’t consider how it affects your business which is your life. In the end, your once prosperous and profitable shop turns into a junk yard filled with Boris’ failures and lies.

This is your life. What is your returns policy?