Robert Anton Wilson: Don’t Believe In Anybody Else’s BS

A friendly reminder from Robert Anton Wilson

  • wolfe23


  • Charlie Primero

    “Continuously revise your map of the world”.

    Sound advice.

  • Ted Heistman

    Too bad this guy died broke. Like sucks.

    • bobbiethejean

      Many great minds throughout history have died broke, many of whom were artists and scientists responsible for some of the most ground breaking progress in our march towards the future. 😉

      • Ted Heistman

        I guess he didn’t die totally broke because his friends and fans raised money for him, but to me its sad that his success as a writer/philosopher/mystic couldn’t secure him a comfortable nest egg in his old age.

        • Calypso_1

          having met him on several occasions in his later years I can tell you I could feel his smile in my eyes, heart & center. I don’t think you can say he hadn’t developed a true ‘nest egg’.

      • Cortacespedes

        Like Nikola Tesla and Philo Farnsworth. They died both as broke and broken.

  • bobbiethejean

    This is how I think and I get criticized for it as being wishywashy or noncommittal. To me, this is the only way to think properly. You look at the evidence, you incorporate new information into your belief system and knowledge base, then you change your views, beliefs, and ideas as necessary. If some or all of it turns out to be wrong, you toss it and readjust.

    And you shouldn’t climb on top of all your knowledge and beliefs to buttress yourself up because when something you deeply believe in turns out to be false, that whole pile might come tumbling down, you along with it. Do it the other way around. Build your knowledge base and your beliefs and your hopes and dreams on top of yourself. That way when you need to toss something, you’re not undermining who you think you are. I think that’s why Christians and Muslims get so mad when people challenge their beliefs.

    Think about it…. why the hell would a purportedly omnipotent, universe-creating being need a tiny, insignificant little primate to get all righteously indignant on his behalf? If such a being exists, he, she, shi, it, or they certainly don’t require that. The reason believers get mad is because they perceive challenges to their beliefs as personal attacks. When we challenge them, we’re attacking the pile of beliefs they are precariously balanced upon.

    • Rhoid Rager

      In my experience, condescension never elicits a positive response from one’s interlocutors. If you are left wondering why someone gets ‘mad’ when you ‘challenge’ their belief system, it’s because it’s not really a challenge, but an affront to their emotional honesty. They are in the same position as you, in that you both must rely on a grounding to build your perspective on the world, and that grounding is always based on your feelings about your experiences in the world up to that point. Your ‘challenge’ to their grounding is, from their perspective, actually the same as you saying to them their emotionally-formative experiences up to that point have not been genuine. That is quite a cruel way to interact with another human being.

      The questions that remain now are: why bother directly confronting people about their beliefs at all? What purpose does it serve?

      • Simon Valentine

        the baker asked the smith
        “hey so what’s with this”
        (as they were trod across the squares)
        it seems curiosity were a knight’s tale
        in games of pawns and kings
        sometimes an honorable challenge
        sometimes a bastard green
        so many layers
        so many dreams
        all so primed for wizard’s memes
        but who is the witch
        and what of meta-morphemes?

        I scared a witch
        And I liked it
        The fear of her barely slapstick

      • bobbiethejean

        In my experience, condescension never elicits a positive response

        Challenging someone’s beliefs is not inherently condescending. In fact, I would say we owe it to each other to challenge each other, albiet nicely and considerately if possible. otherwise, how are we supposed to grow philosophically and morally as a society if we just stew in our own beliefs without any outside criticism? You know what happens when people do that? The Dark Ages. Challenging each other is how we grow stronger. It allows us to test who we are and become more acquainted with ourselves. It’s how we come closer to truths or make logical leaps we could not have made on our own.

        The questions that remain now are: why bother directly confronting people about their beliefs at all? What purpose does it serve?

        If someone had not directly confronted me about what I believed, I would still be wasting my time in church, praying to a god who isn’t there for salvation from a constricting, black and white world saturated with evil and demons and threats and temptations. Just a small nudge woke me up and sent me on a philosophical journey that brought color and meaning to my world, revealed truths, dashed lies, and opened my mind to new, fantastic avenues. But that’s just me. Let’s look at it on a larger scale…..

        Do you think the north should not have confronted the south about slavery. Do you think we should teach magical creation theory alongside evolution in science classes? Should we not let Scientologists know that their religion is KNOWN to have been made up? What about the people who believe god will heal their sick children? We’ve seen many cases of this and it too often ends in the deaths of the children. Should they just be allowed to do that with impunity?

        I don’t think so. Why? Beliefs equate to action. Beliefs often have realworld consequences. That is why I think we should challenge each other about what we believe.

        • Rhoid Rager

          So your impulse here is to right the wrong actions that other people commit, because you were awakened to another way of believing in the world? It doesn’t seem like one flows so naturally from the other.

          But, yes, I agree with you that ‘challenging’ (actively inquiring about–Socratically, perhaps) someone’s belief is not inherently condescending, but it’s in the delivery. If you are seeing reactions of anger from your ‘challenges’, then I would posit your delivery is being taken as condescending.

          However, the only reason anyone would ‘stew in their beliefs’ is that the social conditions in which their beliefs are formed have remained unchallenged. This is the basic anarchist critique–it is the (assumed) hierarchical structure of society that allows for certain beliefs to remain rigid and obstructive of progress. Church and government are two major examples of how social institutions constrict the free flow of debate and use a hegemony of ideas to perpetuate the tyranny of homogeneity (of thought and action). Therefore, ‘challenging’ the narrative of belief (sky god) in a ‘believer’s’ mind without also presenting the true constrictive form of the social environment which thrives off such a narrative is, in my opinion, a fruitless effort.

      • gustave courbet

        Very well said. So often the emotional content of human communication is ignored and people wonder why their entirely reasonable and logically consistent viewpoint is reacted to negatively.

    • echar

      That way when you need to toss something, you’re not undermining who you think you are.

      I feel that undermining who we think we are, is the goal.

  • Juan

    This guy taught me how to think. All hail Pope Bob!

  • Simon Valentine

    anti-simultaneous because time doesn’t exist
    asymmetric equality isn’t just that twist
    within the outworld intellect nothing can see
    all this alteration is more or less free
    binary juxtaposition of laminated cliques
    calculus illusions magic leaks
    blank slate
    limitation’s /seek/
    black holes
    and zeus’ goat’s ‘me’e’e’e’e’


    • Rhoid Rager

      how carefully you craft your art….

      • Calypso_1

        I’d chance a mind meld.

  • Jane

    I constantly and continually adjust my beliefs to fit the world around me as I learn new things… but I still get a little disappointed when I find out the truth about some things. The Necronomicon was my Santa Claus. “You mean, it’s fiction?!” /cries

  • ellis_dee

    Good point, but ironically this is EXACTLY what I see a lot of disinfnauts doing: Believing in other people’s bullshit. Flower of life, Thelema, new age “consciousness”, it doesn’t matter. This stuff is not any different from scientology or mormonism when you think about it. None of these people are thinking for themselves, as Crowley or Leary would have them do. They are just trying to rehash and regurgitate, and climb upon the shoulders of these once great giants.

    I don’t understand what this whole movement is to discredit and subvert the modern scientific advances of our age. It isn’t fascist mind slavery to have someone try and spread information. We evolved, the earth is not flat, disease is caused by bacteria, not by demons and spirits. All these hippies need to put down the bong and pick up a text book.

    • Trevor Smith

      I think your probably buying way too much into your own BS (Belief System) to be honest…not to mention making some big generalizations about a large group of diverse people.

    • Mr Willow

      I’ve been around here for quite a while (even if I haven’t commented for an extended interval), and I completely disagree.

      I would argue that a lot of people on here tend to have views formed through personal experience, internal debate, and seem to have studied a good portion of the background material that tends to show up here (be they mystical, political, scientific, and the various regions those subjects overlap), and have taken from that material elements that they find valid, and reject elements they do not (in keeping with RAW’s statement).

      You could say that most everyone on here are very opinionated, but that’s different from being dogmatic. They’ll defend the views they have but tend to do so through actual reasoned and nuanced arguments, rather than parroting talking points, and are often open to alternatives or willing to concede a point or two, which is why there are a good portion of the regulars give at least some credence to people/subjects/viewpoints that are well outside the boundaries of what society deems acceptable (though not necessarily because they fall outside those boundaries).

      Some of the threads on here are more interesting than the articles they’re under because of the variety of opinion, and it’s probably the reason this is just about the only place I regularly read the comments… that and the sarcasm.

      • Juan

        Very well said. I am here much more for the “conversation” than I am for the actual articles.

  • Adam’s Shadow

    I miss Bob. About a decade ago, I had a chance to go hear him speak at some little conference in Santa Cruz, and I ended up not going for some bullshit reason. I’ve regretted it ever since.

  • BuzzCoastin

    belief in general
    is mental masturbation and
    a blindfolded fap at that

  • jasonpaulhayes

    I posted this last week.

    • Rhoid Rager

      Don’t worry, I remembered.