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This is a question Changing Your Mind

monkeon writes, "People tend to seek things that back up already held beliefs, but what books, films, or real-life events have actually changed the way you think about a subject?"

(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 15:27)
Pages: Popular, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

The BBC's "Horizon" programme
When I was about eleven, a friend of my father's introduced me to Erich von Daniken's book "Chariots of the Gods". Amazing! Ancient astronauts visited the Earth and directed our evolution!

There followed a few years of credulous ingestion of anything vaguely paranormal. I had a pyramid I could sit in, made from dowel with bits of plastic tubing as connectors. I made orgone accumulators out of paper and silver foil. I scanned the skies for anything out of the ordinary. I attempted to remote view, apply psychokinesis, and read minds.

At the same time, I also loved science. To me, this weird stuff was just more science with a different set of textbooks. One day soon, I thought, "mainstream" science would catch up and provide mechanisms to explain all this amazing evidence.

And then Horizon (Nova in the US) transmitted "The Case of the Ancient Astronauts" - which you can now view on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DsOjqHm-VY

They nicely presented von Daniken's case, giving him plenty of rope, and then demolished it soundly. He even admitted to simply making stuff up.

This was a major turning point in my life. Just because something was in a book, didn't mean it was true. The entire parapsychological edifice didn't crumble overnight, but it was fatally undermined.

Now I'm firmly in the "proper science" camp. Perhaps the belief system would have collapsed under the weight of its own absurdity everntually, but for me, I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to that one single episode of Horizon.
(, Tue 7 Apr 2015, 21:12, 6 replies)
Swords to ploughshares and back again.
Not me, but my great grandad.

He was an ardent Marxist-socialist in the runup to the second world war. He viewed the Great War as being an attempt by the bourgeois elite to cull the working classes. He might have been right too. He also idolised Uncle Joe and the Soviet Union. So when Britain declared war on Germany he wasn’t too keen on the idea, especially since Germany and Russia were sort-of kind-of allies back then.

So he signed on as a concienscious objector. No coward he, he was sent to a farming community in the back-of-beyond in Lincolnshire to make sure he couldn’t spread his pernicious ideas. This was an ideal opportunity to lead by his example to a higher purpose of humanity. So, driven by the maxim of ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ he spent every available moment out in the fields, cutting down trees to make new fields and pretty much dragging the plough by himself. The only photo I have of him shows him as a poster boy for the Soviet revolution, all muscular and chiselled jaw, holding a rake as though it’s a weapon.

The catch with all this is that the other inmates in the camp were poets, university professors, shysters and, simply, layabouts. When he returned at dusk exhausted and mucky, he would find that the others hadn’t left their barracks but had instead debated a new manifesto, or composed a new anti-war song. And slowly, he got worn down.

Eventually, of course, Germany unexpectedly invaded Russia. And that solved all of Grandad’s moral conumdrums. He then gladly signed up, and fortunately all the RAF’s bombers were based nearby in Lincolnshire. So he joined up as ground crew and spent the rest of the war maintaining bombers. He could load the weapons bay of a Wellington bomber single handed, a task that would normally require a small team. A good part of the rain of bombs on Dresden would have his fingerprints on it. He proved the plough can just as easily be converted back into swords.
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 16:41, 2 replies)
perception of time
I used to think that the perception of time speeding up as you grow older was because each measure of time becomes a smaller proportion of your memorable life the older you get. I.e a year is one fifth of your life when you turn five, but one thirtieth of your life when you turn 30. I've always been uncomfortable with this as it suggests we have no control over our perception of time and its just going to get faster and faster

Then I watched a Brian Cox programme where he hypothesised that our perception of how fast time is passing is done in hindsight not as it happens. Also our perception of how fast time has passed is affected by how many new experiences we've had in that time. The more new experiences we have the slower time appears to have passed in hindsight. This explain why memories of dramatic incidents like car crashes are recalled in slow motion.

This was an epiphany as it could mean we have control over our perception of time and one way to slow time down is to ensure you regularly go out and do something new. I have no idea if its true but I can't think of a better mantra for living.

I'm off out to crash my car.
(, Sat 4 Apr 2015, 12:13, 10 replies)
Tiny Little Dancing Epiphany
The advent of mobile phones - in particular their cameras and video captures - has revealed a truth unto me: everyone looks fucking stupid when they dance.

Tis true.

From being terrified to unglue myself from the club wall, I now actually have a reputation as a good dancer - and I dance like I'm a lobster getting violently gang-raped by a herd of crabs.

If you are afraid of the dance-floor, then you just haven't realised how low the standards are - just get out there and dance; you can't look any more stupid than the rest of the fucking ridiculous cunts out there.
(, Fri 3 Apr 2015, 13:54, 3 replies)
A bit of an epiphany really.
Sitting in the lounge-room a few weeks ago after dinner, just talking as a family - nothing very special.
The topic of winning the lottery came up and my eldest (teen) suggested a game of "What if..." for winning 30 odd million dollars.

There was all the usual excesses - futuristic coffee machines, holidays in places like Florida and France, even buying vast property portfolios. EDIT: And pizza ovens, tear filled 44,000L pools and scooters to ferry people around during disasters.
Yes, I've been lurking and reading the archives.

But it was my youngest (tween) who is the star of this story. She rattled off a bunch of ideas including
- Properties she'd buy, where and why to maximise her capital growth.
- Investments, which blue-chips she'd buy and why.
- The amount she would donate to charities (which ones and why) in percentages, to ensure she would viewed as 'philanthropic' and to assuage her privileged guilt at being so filthy fucking rich.
- How she would structure her portfolio to not only minimise income tax immediately but also to try and avoid capital gains tax in the future.
- Which Pound puppies she'd buy for which friends since they hadn't been bitches to her this term.

I sat back, took a long look at her and realised that this precious little bundle who I've always envisaged having to protect from the outside world fiercely is actually going to be able to make her way in the world pretty fucking well without me. Maybe even a little too ruthlessly.
As a parent - one of the best and scariest feelings ever.
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 22:35, 9 replies)
Believing clichés.
This happened a few years ago on a family holiday in Victoria. At a place called Maru Animal Park. Being from "Maaaahlburn" we did a few of the more off the beaten track touristy things and visiting here was one of them.
Apparently there is a salt water pool full of tears somewhere nearby that was worth a look but buggered if I could find it!

The place we stayed at had a wildlife park nearby. After a day of the trouble and strife flatly refusing to climb out of the car due to being cooped up with the family on the road for too long and myself and the kids generally making a nuisance of ourselves we decided to avail ourselves of the access to the wildlife park we were entitled to after forking out 80 odd bucks.

There were lots of kangaroos and rather depressed looking birds in lots of aviaries. Then there was Alby, the koala bear. Alby's enclosure was a boardwalk and hut built around a few trees in the atrium where Alby and a couple of his mates (not sure if literal) lived. There was a large sign on the door of the enclosure saying - "DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TOUCH THE KOALA".
Weeeeellll, me being me; once we were inside I decided a bit of channeling Steve Irwin was needed. "Crikey!" I exclaimed, "Here's a dinky-di Koala bear. The Koala bear ladies and gentlemen leads a fairly sedentary life - choosing mainly to eat, sleep and shit." "Let's see if I can stir the old boy into a bit of life" I joked as I gently reached out to give Alby a nudge awake. What happened next was swift and taught me a few things.
1) Despite sitting in trees all day and eating gum leaves slowly, koala's can move VERY, VERY quickly.
2) Despite being herbivorous, koala's have BIG teeth and claws.

3) Koala's it seems have a much better ability to aim their urine stream than the average human male...

With a fresh bite and scratch from Alby and now soaked in his hot, foul smelling piss I had cause to reflect - if the sign says - "Don't poke the bear." then it's probably a good idea to follow instructions.

TL;DR: Old adages are old and adages for a good reason. Fail to heed them at your peril.
(, Tue 7 Apr 2015, 23:25, 19 replies)
I love reading books, there is just something about the joy of a book that is special, the feel of the pages as you turn them and then if it is an old book it has that certain smell. A while back I heard of these things called e-Readers and I scoffed at the idea. How could you replace the most exquisite learning tool of all time, the book?

Now I understand. I bought my Kindle two months ago after a friend said I should give them a try. With in three hours I was a convert. Amazon have released hundreds of Classic novels for free or for less than a pound. I have so far read Horace Walpole, Edgar Allen Poe, HG Wells and am desperately trying to complete my George Orwell collection in e-Book format. The other great thing about them is that new writers can have a place to self publish and I really like that aspect of it because I have tried too.

It is true that there is a lot of weird and frankly peculiar erotica on the Kindle store, but there are also some really good books there by people who are writing some really inspired stuff. I have just read a series by Michelle Muckley and it was really well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

TLDR : Kindle, used to hate, now like.
(, Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:18, 49 replies)
I've seen the errr... dark?
I used to be a full on evangelical bible-thumper. I had a lot of trouble with asshole pastors and such; strangely enough, though, it was only when I went to a church that was basically full of decent people that I realised finally that I didn't believe any of it any more. Until that point I thought my problem was with the church rather than the religion. Obviously it's a bit more involved than that, but that's the bones of it.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2015, 13:50, 8 replies)
Simple really. The real life event of getting old.
As a teenager I was a punk. The establishment needed to be brought down; the kids would do it. Later teenage years saw the split between the trendy 'Rock against Racism' faction which I subscribed to vs Skrewdriver, the 4 skins etc and a rise of right wing racist rock.

My 20's were characterised by endless study; my early 30s by a decision between working in an affluent town somewhere making a fortune or in a trauma centre in impoverished East London.

My 40s were accompanied by the realisation that there are a very few people right at the very top who have the overwhelming percentage of wealth; most of the millionaires we see (including the hated 'bankers') are all at the same level to them, much as we look at the third world and fail to see subtle distinctions between wealth bands.

I'm 53 in a fortnight. I look back and realise the majority of my life I've been a naive twat. I've tried to do what was right, made some money, helped where I could. And not one bit of it has made a rat's arse of difference in the long run.

TL;DR version: When I was young the world was full of old farts who knew nothing; now it's full of youngsters who won't listen.
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 17:56, 13 replies)
I used to identify as socialist, until I went on holiday to Berlin and visited the GDR Museum
I now realise that every political ideology only works if it is enforced. That means preventing people from opting out and living a different way. It's very sinister.
(, Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:22, 4 replies)
I have spent the majority of my 47 years being inculcated (by myself as well as others) in one particular form of religiosity, that of the 'religion' of Christianity. This gradually became for me, more insular, hateful and spiteful. In the last 6 months I became aware of the true meaning of 'Grace' in Christianity and I 'got it'. I'm now a whole lot happier and no longer feel the need to explain myself to anyone else or defend the indefensible hate that religion seems to have. In truth, its a bit more complicated than that, but as I'm now happy, I don't feel the need to say much more. No doubt I'll feel the ire of the atheist/humanist/secular/anti-religion brigade but I can even feel warm toward them too. Philip Yancey has a lot to answer for in this regard. His book : Whats so amazing about grace, marked a real turning point for me.

Whats slightly more interesting is that which led me to even bother thinking why I truly held onto defective beliefs in the first place. Thats quite simple: three years ago, someone committed a serious violent act against my wife and she 'lost her contact with God', amongst other things. Its still gone but it forced me to properly consider what I believed in.
(, Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:52, 49 replies)
A good part of my student loan went on alcohol
Nothing unusual there.

I think the combination of going out 10 nights in a row, 2 day hangovers, failing a year at university led me to decide there are enough things trying to kill me without paying good money for the privilege of killing myself from alcohol abuse.

Now I'm the weird one who doesn't drink.
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 21:51, 6 replies)
If you change your mind, I'm the first in line.

(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 17:42, 1 reply)
Living in an ostensibly communist country turned me more right wing
You probably know that China is rampantly capitalist under the communist trappings, but on the other hand its state-owned enterprises are hugely powerful and hugely influential (Sinopec and China National Petroeum are the #3 and #4 companies in the world by turnover) and determine large parts of the economy and business culture. Like how British Leyland and British Gas were symbolic of the crapness of the UK in the 1970s, I guess. Also, enterprises over a certain size have to allow a party organisation within it, and, I heard somewhere but haven't been able to verify, companies that generate a certain turnover must have x number of workers, regardless of how many they need. Thus, supermarkets have staff standing around doing fuck-all (even when the queues for the till are eight deep); the local energy boards turn on the central heating sometime in November, and you have to pay even if your heating system gives you the square root of fuck all (I once went to the company to ask for an engineer to come round fix it and they laughed me out of the shop); banks are so inefficent that if you lose your bank card it's easier to close your account and open a new one than have it replaced; hospitals are like something out of Belsen; the bullet trains may be nice and fast but they have staff coming round trying to sell shit nobody wants, just because some official somewhere thought it would be a good idea).

It all gives you an insight into how the British nationalised industries would have been run, and why it was a good thing most of them were privatised. (Not the utilities, mind you, that's still a dumb fucking idea).
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 17:33, 8 replies)
i don't like breasts

(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 15:45, 2 replies)
I was going to post a story here,
but then thought better of it.
(, Thu 2 Apr 2015, 15:40, 1 reply)

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