The Flaw with the “Animal Rights” Argument

Of all the animal rights activists out there today, most obviously argue for the humane treatment of animals, citing the way Tyson treats their chickens, for example.  Evidence of animal abuse is extremely prevalent in these videos, and they are often encouraging support for the vegetarian populace’s viewpoints.  True, no one can deny that these animals are treated poorly; but too many rely on the assumption that it is unnatural for animals to be treated poorly.  This, my friends, is where the argument just falls apart.

First of all, animals (well, ones that eat meat, anyways) are DESIGNED to kill and eat each other.  How do I know that? I don’t know, perhaps it’s just my canine teeth that are currently allowing me to eat this delicious bacon.  But I could be wrong.  But, I doubt it.  Humans, as omnivores, are designed to eat both meat and plants, not just one or the other.  To those vegetarians who simply cannot stand the taste of meat, that is a perfectly understandable, perfectly reasonable opinion.  To those vegetarians who argue that it is unnatural to eat meat, you’re wrong.  Look in your own mouth.  Unless you don’t have canine teeth, then, naturally speaking, you should be eating meat.

Second of all, it’s not like one sees vegetarian lions just prancing around, holding up signs that say, “respect the Zebras! They have feelings, too!”.  No, they’re ripping apart the flesh of a zebra, enjoying the meat underneath.  It definitely isn’t a pretty image, but it’s a natural one, and to say that is isn’t is simply utter fallacy.  To connect this to the beginning of this blog post: in the wild, animals are not treated humanely.  It’s eat or be eaten.  Animals don’t try to tolerate each other or get along – they just kill, and they kill without second thoughts.  And the inhumane treatment of chickens at the Tyson factory, for example – all that is is an advanced manifestation of this natural instinct: to kill or be killed.  What is important to us humans in our brains is not whether we are killing something nicely, or whether we are killing it to begin with – what’s in our brains, what’s taking up our attention, is how quickly we can get something down our throats.  So animals rights activists may be perfectly nice people overall, and may even be very intelligent.  Unfortunately, though, their viewpoint about animal rights is wrong.

Authority

“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

This popular quote comes from a work of the famed writer, Henry David Thoreau.  This post is not meant to be a rhetorical analysis of Civil Disobedience by any means, so I will delve too much into how Thoreau makes his point.  Anyways, Thoreau’s point is that people should not be slaves to authority, but rather should put their consciences ahead of their loyalty to authority.  The message of individualism and support of one’s conscience is certainly a popular idea, and one that was especially popular at the time.  But, like all ideological concepts, there are people who definitely take things to the extreme.  By the extreme, I mean to the point where one has exceeded Thoreau’s point and established their own realm of individualism, to the extent where they become not self-confident but rather self-arrogant.  Most of the time, situations like this are best ignored, as the flames tend to die out before they cause too much damage.

But one time, in high school, a teacher gave a command to the class.  Of course, this is quite typical – nothing unusual about it.  However, one student in particular, who shall remain anonymous for the sake of societal correctness, outright rejected the command. Now, what made these flames so much bigger than the usual was that this not a private refutation that the student made inside his or her head; this was a public statement against the teacher’s wishes.  I do not know the exact motives for the student doing such a thing, but to publicly disrespect a teacher, someone who makes a living teaching you how to be a better person in the world, is completely unjustifiable to me.  Someone who spends the majority of their day with you rather than their own family.  Someone who teaches you many of the things you need to know for your future major.  Someone who cares about you.  And you can’t follow even a simple command they give to you?  That does not show that you are an individualist who puts your conscience ahead of  following orders.  It shows you are incapable of controlling your conscience even when the authority makes a simple command.

And if you can’t control that against a high school teacher, then your punishment will be there for you in the real world.

The Little Things That Amaze Us

As humans, we are capable of many a grand thing.  From constructing the pyramids to sending a man to the moon, we have accomplished great deeds far and wide – and yet, we are very curious creatures…very curious creatures indeed.  One of our traits which perhaps will always be the most perplexing is our oddball fascination to the quirky, the unique, the strange; even if something if only slightly out of the ordinary, we immediately notice.  Among the quirky, the unique, and the strange, are what the internet deems “perfectly timed” photos.  These are photos, that, according to the internet, meet at least two of the following three conditions:

1.)  The picture was taken at the perfect place.

2.)  The picture was taken at the perfect time.  

3.)  The picture was taken at the perfect angle.

 

Again,  two of these three conditions are met, the picture is considered “perfectly timed”.  Many times, these photos are of perfectly ordinary things – a flower, the sky, an airplane, a rock formation, etc.  And yet, because of our wonderful brains and the wacky things they do, we notice something in these photographs that make us laugh, smile, cry, or go “aww”, or perhaps a combination of all those.  I’m no brain surgeon, but I’d venture to say that the process takes up many areas of the brain:  we first see the picture through the occipital lobe, at the back of our brain.  Then, our reflexes after seeing the photo occur primarily due to the brain stem.  Then, our frontal lobe processes both our emotional response and reasoning of the photo.  All in all, this really isn’t anything that spectacular – after all, our brains go through oceans of information everyday just to keep all of us functioning.  But the multi-faceted nature of these pictures is quite spectacular…I feel as though I’ve been ranting on and on for quite a while, so instead of me continuing to rant, how about we look at a few pictures?

I came across this website a while ago.  The web page simply says, “The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever.”   The first one is of the Olympic Rings symbol, with the moon behind it.  The processing our brain does immediately lets us see that the moon is in quite the coincidental position: in happens to be just so in line with the rings as to be in the theoretical position of a sixth ring.  And that, I believe, is why this photo and the rest of them are so intriguing to us and our brains: the coincidences are just, for lack of a better word, awesome.

The Trouble with sites like People.com

Frequently, when I am bored at home, I tend to browse the internet (shocker, right?).  One of the sites I frequently check is People.com.  I’m not going to lie, although this is a tabloid of sorts, sometimes they have very interesting, entertaining stories about celebrities, explaining the details of their lives or their outfits, or they have an article that actually isn’t related to celebrities at all.  But sometimes – well, actually, often – People.com posts an article that is just utter crap.  And by that, I mean something that has no point or such a small point that is only is entertaining for a tiny portion of People.com’s audience.  Examples of worthwhile articles would be things such as a celebrity going through cancer, or a celebrity adopting a child from Africa, or a celebrity running a marathon for charity.  The “utter crap” articles consist of celebrities getting new hairstyles, celebrities getting new clothes, etc.  Yes, of course they are people with jobs in fashion  or hairstyling who are likely interested in these articles.  But these articles are crap because they express merely the amount of money that celebrities get to spend on a whim without any cares at all.  They express no goal; they express no humanitarian effort; they express nothing other than the worst possible face of the tabloid media.

Take for example, this recent article from People.com.   The entire article is about Christina Hendricks’s new hairstyle.  The article spends too many words explaining essentially that she got her hair cut shorter.  Worse still, People.com seems to think a large percentage of the audience cares, because they ask whether their readers “Love it!” or “Hate it!”.  What they really need to be asking is whether their readers love or hate the articles on People.com.

Children in Africa are starving.  Children in the U.S. are starving.  Children all over the world are starving.  Poverty, crime, and immorality are all prevalent issues in modern society.  And yet, here in the grand ol’ U.S., we pay people money – we consider this a job – to comment on the hairstyles of Hollywood denizens.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that these type of articles will ever cease to exist, so I would instead urge this to my readers: do not read these articles.  Read worthwhile pieces of literature that teach you something about the world, or even ones that teach you something about yourself.  Just don’t read the ones that only teach you about Christina Hendricks’s new “do”.

The Bad Part(s) About Working Out

Working out.  In other words, some form of physical exercise designed to improve muscle mass or induce weight loss, or some combination of the two.  Or at least SOME form of physical exercise.  Everyone knows that it is physically good for you, and Mayo Clinic also stresses its mental and psychological benefits.    Yes, physical exercise may improve your muscle mass.  It may improve your muscle tone.  It may improve your mental state.  It may make you feel less tired.  It may make you feel happier.  It may make even your sex life better.  But all of this is of moot point when one remembers one thing: exercise is routine.

And routines are boring.  The thought of mentally blocking off time periods each day, set aside for physical exercise, is in and of itself a turn-off.  It doesn’t matter if the physical exercise takes a different form each day.  The mere thought of spending organized time doing some sort of organized physical activity each day gets boring.  And when one gets bored, one becomes less motivated to try.  Therefore, the workouts become less effectual, and eventually almost pointless altogether.

Not to mention, most workout routines make the assumption that a person is able-bodied to begin with.  Most workout routines, such as those on T.V., do not take into account persons without use of their legs or persons who are so physically incapable they cannot do basic maneuvers.  The point is, physical workout routines tend to appeal to a very narrow audience, thus limiting their effectiveness.  In order to improve the number of persons working out, workout programs need to be more diversified in order to take into account personal differences between people.  Or, if not diversified, then customizable.  And affordable.

Monetary struggle (a.k.a poverty) is another reason why working out is such a hassle.  Yes, working out may relieve stress, but the thought of coming up with thousands of dollars for state-of-the-art workout equipment is enough to cause stress that can probably outweigh the stress working out relieves.  Speaking of workout equipment, that also is designed for people who already have a certain defined amount of muscle mass.  How is one supposed to workout if they can’t even lift the bar without any weights on it?  This issue is something that the media primarily causes; most of the people who “work out” on T.V. are actually people that are naturally blessed with muscle definition and tone.

Long story short:  Working out sucks.

Proof of Heaven: The Fallacies

Those who have been readers of my blog should be familiar with the book Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander.  In it, Alexander uses a personal coma experience to attempt to explain the existence of religion and its impacts on life.  One of the grandest points Alexander makes is that religion cannot really be qualified, and its impacts cannot be specifically listed – but rather, it is a general concept, a “feeling of love”.  Alexander’s view of a general omnipotence of religion is not necessarily an incorrect view – after all, many people on this earth feel the same way.  But you can’t use feelings, or personal experience for that matter, to explain deep concepts such as religion.

Beyond the fallacies in his methods of persuasion, Alexander also fails in his use of language.  Take this passage, for example:

The place I went was real.  Real in a way that makes the life we’re living here and now completely dreamlike by comparison.  (Proof of Heaven, pg. 9)

Or take this passage:

The word “real” expresses something abstract, and it’s frustatingly ineffective at conveying what I’m trying to describe.  (Proof of Heaven, pg. 9)

Alexander spends pages doing this exact thing: trying, but failing, to express that it’s impossible to prove the existence of God or religion.  The funny thing, Alexander’s grander point, that religion is a general thing that cannot be qualified or specified in human terms, in and of itself implies that religion, as a concept, exists.

A difficulty I have often encountered with finding evidence to dispute Alexander’s beliefs is that many theologians and Christian scholars turn to the Bible as contrary evidence.  Of course they would do this and it would  be asisine to expect them not to do so.  But using the Bible as evidence for a logical argument is a whole other debatable issue that I do not intend to focus on in my essay.  For example, in “A Christian Rebuttal to Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife”, written by Christian minister Robert Alan King, states that “We need to search the Scriptures diligently to see if what is being said is factual (Acts 17:11).”  Long story short, King’s main basis against Alexander’s beliefs is that what Alexander says is not necessarily directly stated in the Bible.  King continues to dismiss near-death experiences as fabrications and hallucinations that insane people create in order to gain attention.  In a way, King is using circular reasoning: Near-death experiences don’t exist because they are faked.  And his feelings of the necessity of proof from the Bible could be viewed as a non-sequitur.