Semantics – Words I Am Weary Of

The last 2 to 3 years has been an interesting journey. In some ways, a journey unlike any that I have ever embarked on before. A journey that had little to do with the physical, but everything to do with the mental. 

I have had changes in ideology before. I once embraced the cultual concept of Atheism at the end of a rough journey (I had already accepted the reality mentally. I just learned that there was a word for it). Also in high school (albeit later), a close friend caused a 180 degree shift in my attitude towards drugs. He was a good guy, which didn’t fit with my previous conclusion of what a druggie (even a pothead!) was. 

Looking back, my anti-drug stance was a bit amusing, considering my actions. Though I kept away from the taboo stuff, I had no problem with caffine or sugar. I loved guzzling coke and energy drinks. Mainly full throttle, but really, anything that came in a giant eye catching can (the marketers knew their audience). 
But then again, the teachers also loved parading in with their Tim Hortons coffee every morning. At least the coke bottles and energy drink cans were recyclable! 

Either way, you get the point. 

Though I embraced new ideological stances in the past, in hindsight, it was a relatively easy process. Be it Atheism, drugs or whatever, the groundwork is already laid for you. As opposed to task  of more recent years, which was figuring out where to go without the guidence of ideological roadmaps. 

I had started this journey even before the obvious breaking point (see the first post in the “Atheism criticisms” category). Even in high school, I seen silliness in how one of my parents aligned themselves politically ( “My father voted “X”, so I vote for “X” to” ). But I didn’t REALLY start cleaning house until driven out of the Atheist community (or, it felt like that at least). 

One of the larger lessons I have had to learn was that it is largely pointless to try and sell a label free (or at least, a less label oriented) existence. If you don’t pick one, you are put into one. And some even turn it into an ideology all in its own (the no labels movement).

Thus I have learned that trying to explain myself is largly fruitless (let alone trying to make myself more compatible to ongoing discussion). Which is why I mostly shy away, with the exception of here on this blog, and the odd comment thread now and again.

 But this viewpoint as a fly on the wall has served to help me identify a few habits involving a number of words. Be it unnecessary usage, misusage or something else, these are common enough to identify. These situations can occur in digital debate or in everyday conversation. And they are common enough to act as red flags to me in EVERY instance of hearing (or reading) them. 

Lets begin.

Logic

Reason

Rationality/Rational

Nuance/Nuanced

Freethinker

This group of words are what I call intellectual buzzwords. They are often used in debates, or as personal descriptive adjectives. But this use is unnecessary.   

I admit, I to, likley utilized what I call the big 3 in my past years as an outspoken Agnostic Atheist. It just comes with the territory.

But upon further reflection and trimming of the intellectual fat (if you will), I realized that one who truly embraces all of the above, is apparent. You do not have to tell people that you have nuanced, logical, rational and reasonable arguments. It will be obvious. 

And don’t feed me the “But some people in the opposition . . .” line either. Most in the digital keyboard warrier opposition tend to be idiots (at least looking at secular and religious discussion). Who cares what they think. What is more important, is how solid your understanding of the words REALLY is. 

To be perfectly frank, if you have to clutch these words like a catholic cluttches a rosery, I am thinking that you fail in this regard. And while I only bring anecdotes to the table, my experience generally backs up this hypothesis.

Believe

My issue with this one tends to center around contexts like “Do you believe in Ghosts?” or “Do you believe in bigfoot?”

Many Ghost hunting (and other mystery hunting shows and individuals) like to spread and propagate this God awful question (“Do YOU believe?“). Drives me fucking nuts, because their portrayal of what constitutes so called evidence often feeds into other contexts outside of the supernatural realm. Therein making people more prone to let their guard down out of unjustified faith in all manor of situations where skeptical analysis SHOULD be rule number 1. 

A family member of mine is convinced of the fruitlessness of his trying anything to help himself. Because his delusions of “being cursed or being born under a black cloud” (a conclusion arrived at due to a lifetime of hardships) is bolstered by a flawed understanding of what constitutes evidence. A learned behavior due to spending hours watching God awful fucking paranormal documentaries. 

Yeah. I FUCKING HATE the Ghost Hunting genre. 

But that is another tangent. The more important point being, “Do you believe in BLAH?” forces a person to craft an ambiguous subject matter into a black and white answer. Which is fine for many simple minds. But it annoys the Fuck out of this mind. 

If someone asked me a question involving some ambiguous subject matter (ghosts, God, Bigfoot, ancient aliens, mermaids, WHATEVER!), I really have no rebuttal.  It’s a given that I wouldn’t say yes. But I also wouldn’t say no. I just don’t give a fuck. 

I do not have the tools or faculties to figure these things out. Hell, humanity doesn’t. So thus, I don’t give a shit.

Don’t worry, this is not all self serving.

 Forcing such ambiguous subject matter into a yes or no construct forces anyone answering into an irrational position. Either one says “No” (irrational, since no one can know one way or the other), and gets into a conversation about what they are missing. Or they say “Yes”, and delve into what ever terrible History or Sci-fi channel show convinced them. 

If we’re talking about issues in reality, it’s a different. story. For example, if someone asked me “Do you Believe Barack Obama was a good President?” or “Do you believe Donald Trump is a lying scumbag?“, I would immediately say “Yes!”. 

But when in the realm of the unknown (unknowable?), leave out the cliffhanger. Try “Do you think it be possible if ________ ?” or another less pointed questions of inquiry.

Apparently/I heard that . . .

The context for this is generally also the real world (like the last one). It typically involves repeating some heard but unchecked fact or statement. For example, “Apparently when you microwave food, something happens to it that makes it carcinogenic“. 

The strange tidbits of fact learned by these statements could (had?) To be overlooked 20, possibly even 15 years ago. When I was a teenager, many had one shared family computer at home. Though one could have remembered to look up that tidbit, good luck (we have all went out to buy one item, only to return with 10 , but NOT the one you set out for). 

However, nowadays, rare is the person not more than 5 feet away from an internet connection. 

Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse. 

*****************

My list may grow longer. But for the time being, this is it. 

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