Admission: I'm a hypocrite

I’m going to admit something awful. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t try to hide that. I advocate using one’s resources to make the world a better place, and yet I do a poor job of that myself. I think that raising animals for food is wrong, and yet I still eat meat. I cannot justify these actions in any way that I feel comfortable about.

And really, that’s the point.

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Why I question your beliefs

Most people are concerned with what happens nearby, both geographically and temporally. So many of our thoughts are about what happens in our suburb, our country, our circle of friends, our lifetimes. There’s less care for those who live far away, and almost no thought for people living 10,000 years from now. That’s odd if we claim that we care about the welfare of others, because there are more people living far away, and more people living in the future.

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Obviously, they're a jerk

People are so completely incomprehensible sometimes. We look at the actions of others, and think “why would they do that?” and “what were they thinking?”. Often we explain their behaviour by ascribing them traits. Someone cuts you off and runs a red light? They’re obviously a jerk.

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The more neuroscience I learn...

The more neuroscience I learn, the more I am horrified I am. We have specialised neural circuitry to find certain acts to be repugnant, even though from a purely ethical standpoint they may be fine. We have lots of wiring to pick up on hostility, and we have lots of wiring to view people as “us” or “them”. There’s been articles recently on how people become unable to do maths or read graphs if they’re depicting data which goes against one’s political beliefs. Far too many of our thoughts seem to be automatic rationalisation of what our limbic system is telling us, rather than honest-to-goodness rational and ethic thought.

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A hope for humanity

It’s fascinating how some feelings can hit you entirely out of the blue, when you’d least expect them, but that’s what happened yesterday to me in Japan.

I was exploring the local markets at Asasuka, and I’d found the Studio Ghibli store. There were all the things you’d expect: towels, handbags, keyrings, stickers, purses; nothing that I hadn’t really seen before, and certainly nothing that I thought would change how I feel.

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