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Schizophrenia and the Ignore List
Posted: 15 July 2006 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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The temptation for me to argue with the faithful is strong. Only by officially ignoring them can I escape the compulsion, sort of the way a forced savings plan automatically deposits a previously chosen percentage of your income into an account that you have no access to without being penalized. If I don't see the money (or the religionist), I'm never tempted to splurge (or argue).

So my ignore list now includes all who show clear signs of schizophrenia, Champion excepted. His political thinking contains some sense now and then, and his theology lacks even a hint of reason and therefore will no longer tempt me into discussion.

I attended a workshop in Napa, California last week, presented by Dr. Chris O'Brien, a dedicated and talented neuro-psychiatric pharmacologist. It was a learning experience that graphically reinforced what I already knew. Much as I respect Thomas Szasz's deconstruction abilities (and they are powerful), delusions are false beliefs, period. Yes, on some level all beliefs, assumptions, and positions could be described as being false, but delusions are particularly so.

Reason is the mortal enemy of delusion. With a schizoid personality, con-arguments typically only bolster pro-argument hallucination. Dopamine and other neurotransmitters play a key role, because religious people—as with humans and other animals in general—are simply trying to achieve peace of mind at every opportunity. Without necessary brain chemicals, suicide would seem to be the only solution to the resulting discomfort, and religion strictly forbids suicide. To a religionist, life comes to an end, whether literally or figuratively, when the hallucinations stop. Everything, so they feel, containing life meaning has come to them cloaked in religion.

For this reason, I would never attempt to sway a religious person outside the context of a place like this forum. Around here, of course, anything goes. The faithful arrive for a variety of reasons. For some, it's moral indignation. They see Sam Harris on TV and feel that perhaps one or more of their deities has been slighted—time to defend His honor. Most of them quickly leave when they realize that atheists do not lose religion arguments. Matt, for instance, may stop writing and researching once he realizes that his opponent lacks sufficient mental health to continue, but he does not lose arguments with rationally thinking people. Same with Andrew, Mia, Unsmoked, Ted Shepherd, and quite a few others, each by way of his/her own techniques and perspectives.

For as long as this site stays up, I suspect that bystanders will continue to benefit by watching the arguments play out, and the schizophrenics will continue not to benefit. Recent de-converts will continue to derive considerable therapeutic benefit, and I hereby thank all of you for my own improved mental health.

Part of my mind insists that schizophrenics do indeed potentially benefit in certain ways by arguing with evidence-based folks. I can't get past that. I look at my own life and realize that only by being swayed by friends/loved ones can a religionist ever be deconverted. At least that's what happened with me. But part of me always wanted to escape the madness, and that, I'm sure, is the key to my success.

The only solution I can come up with is to fight hallucination-based emotion—via comforting neuro-chemicals that accompany it—with rational emotion, via fiction writers and resulting comforting brain chemistry. Unfortunately I'm not gifted in that area, but Sam Harris' award-winning book (as well as John Shelby Spong's books over the years) opened the door to future fiction writers to follow Rushdie in fictionalizing some of the horrors of superstition-derived reality. It's only a matter of time before Christian schizophrenia is revealed to Americans in the way that Upton Sinclair revealed slaughterhouse and working-condition horrors a hundred-plus years ago.

Powerful emotion is essential to change partly because so many moral thinkers today remain heavily invested in religion. They pretend to assume that since morality has been tied to religion seemingly forever, that we must maintain religions even if they're based on ancient errors. I say "pretend to assume" because 1) they are unable to imagine how things might otherwise be but at the same time they realize that atheistic societies can and do function in morally proper ways, and 2) many of them are tenured professors, clergy or authors, and they can't imagine how they'd be able to make a living if they were to attempt a complete divorce from delusion. Many of them are probably correct in this regard, since after a certain age it becomes impractical to try to earn an advanced degree in a new field. Mortgages need to get paid every month, and growing children need new shoes.

In a sense I'll miss arguing with the faithful. Of all the hundreds of religion arguments I've engaged in here I don't remember losing even one, though Frank and I came to a draw once or twice. For the most part winning comes easily except that the opponent never concedes, which can be frustrating.

Sorry for rambling on. I can usually manage to keep things brief but have obviously failed miserably today.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 15 July 2006 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Just to clarify: Chris O’Brien’s workshop did not touch on religion. It was titled: Mechanisms of Psychotropic Medications. The subject of schizophrenia came up only in passing. UFO delusions were discussed very briefly.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 15 July 2006 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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But Homunculus

I learn from your bantering.  There are angles that make a great deal of sense coming from your computer and I benefit.  Please, don’t quit engaging with the schizophrenics.  Once in awhile won’t hurt.

Noggin

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Posted: 15 July 2006 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Thank you for the kind words, homunculus. The name is not accurate for you. You are a big man, a large-spirited man.

The temptation for me to argue with the faithful is strong. Only by officially ignoring them can I escape the compulsion, sort of the way a forced savings plan automatically deposits a previously chosen percentage of your income into an account that you have no access to without being penalized. If I don’t see the money (or the religionist), I’m never tempted to splurge (or argue).

I make good use of the ignore feature too. The guy who challenged my sincerity, the young-earth guy rejoicing in his ignorance of science, the monomaniac—I choose not to deal with them.

So my ignore list now includes all who show clear signs of schizophrenia, Champion excepted. His political thinking contains some sense now and then, and his theology lacks even a hint of reason and therefore will no longer tempt me into discussion.

Yeah, on some political matters, I agree with some of the Christians more than some of the atheists.

Reason is the mortal enemy of delusion.

I agree. So are experience and the study of science and history and, for a fortunate few, a competent psychotherapist.

For this reason, I would never attempt to sway a religious person outside the context of a place like this forum. 

It isn’t my purpose here or anywhere else to deconvert anyone. I don’t know how to do that, and I’d rather talk about science and philosophy and mathematics and logic anyway. When people deconvert, though, I am happy for them as I would be for someone recovering from any other life-altering affliction, tuberculosis say.

  Around here, of course, anything goes. 
OK, but I give up and go away in the face of extreme incivility. Life is short. I’m not altogether civil myself. Frankr is sufficiently healthy and secure that he can laugh when I tell him that I think his religion is an emotional disorder.

For as long as this site stays up, I suspect that bystanders will continue to benefit by watching the arguments play out, and the schizophrenics will continue not to benefit.

Among the Christians here, I enjoy my interactions with Frankr, as you can tell by the way I keep at it. Frankr says that he has a good friend who is an atheist. I find that entirely believable. (An Islamic saying: Whoever discard a friend for the least fault, runs the risk of being friendless.) Those of you who have the patience to deal with the other believers in this forum probably provide a service to those who only read here without posting. I encourage those “lurkers” to jump in and speak up. Still, if they are too shy or too conflicted or find written expression too difficult, I would encourage them instead to keep reading.

Part of my mind insists that schizophrenics do indeed potentially benefit in certain ways by arguing with evidence-based folks.
They do, or at least some of them do in some ways, I think.

But part of me always wanted to escape the madness, and that, I’m sure, is the key to my success.

I’m glad you made good that escape. I have learned a lot here from reading about the painful and prolonged struggles of some people to recover from their religions. Somehow, it was easy for me, but I’ve learned again not to generalize from my own experience. I used to think that, given the choice between a school that imparts literacy along with religious faith and a public school that does not teach either subject, the religious school is the lesser evil. I was thinking that an adult can recover from religion more easily than from illiteracy. Now, I’m not so sure about that. It’s a grim choice to have to make anyway.

It’s only a matter of time before Christian schizophrenia is revealed to Americans in the way that Upton Sinclair revealed slaughterhouse and working-condition horrors a hundred-plus years ago.

That’s an encouraging prospect, but my crystal ball is cloudy. In earlier generations, this country had splendid writers who opposed Christianity, people like Mark Twain and Robert Ingersoll and H. L. Mencken, but their influence seems to have faded.

I’ve rambled, too. (It would be out of character for me not to include another quotation or two.)

The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.— H. L. Mencken

Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.—Mark Twain.

I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.—Robert Green Ingersoll

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Posted: 15 July 2006 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Noggin, thanks much for the supportive words. You’re not only an ideal writer but an ideal reader as well.

Ted Shepherd:

OK, but I give up and go away in the face of extreme incivility. Life is short. I’m not altogether civil myself. Frankr is sufficiently healthy and secure that he can laugh when I tell him that I think his religion is an emotional disorder.

Yes—and I’m counting on everyone to read my psychiatric diagnosis for exactly what it is: a tongue-in-cheek word choice coming from someone unqualified to diagnose anyone.

As for sending a child to a competent religion-based school, I would do it in a second if I could afford it and if it really did have highly qualified teachers. Of course I’d be sure to counsel the kid(s) daily if they were being indoctrinated. That would make all the difference.

I suppose you’re right about Twain, Ingersoll and Mencken. (Haven’t read any Ingersoll. I’ll look into finding something.) What I’m hoping for is someone on the level of an Ayn Rand in her emotional force and literary talent. Perhaps I’m over-optimistic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some participant on this very forum had that potential. In fact, I’d honestly be surprised if that weren’t the case. But do they have the time, energy and inspiration? Few talented people do, unfortunately.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 16 July 2006 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Keep posting. I respect you, and I value your insights.

Don’t let those fools discourage you…

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Posted: 16 July 2006 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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homunculus, hello my humanitarian friend, so….in the end, its back to the no afterlife scenario? Isn’t that sad though? Nothing to look forward to? Never ever seeing your loved ones again

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

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Posted: 16 July 2006 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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homunculus

In a sense I’ll miss arguing with the faithful. Of all the hundreds of religion arguments I’ve engaged in here

I don’t remember losing even one

, though Frank and I came to a draw once or twice.

You will one day be reminded of losing them all,

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Posted: 16 July 2006 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Thanks, Mulaka. That’s nice to hear. I’ll p.m. you a link to a brand-new forum I’m considering spending some time on (and anyone else who wants the link). Until just recently it was an enormous place, much bigger than this forum. But it disbanded and its new sponsor is hoping for a different tone I guess. I see ground-floor possibilities.

As for arguing with religious people, such activity just becomes tedious work after a while, in the sense that certain aspects are less than pleasant. For instance, I have no real reason to feel any negativity toward Humble Servant. Yet I end up relying on very negative approaches in our discussions. I certainly don’t feel negativity toward frankr. In fact, I wish he lived in my neighborhood as he’d be a great conversationalist at the local coffee places. Yet I end up relying on negative stances in my discussions with him. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve spent enough time with it, but I’m certainly not trying to sway anyone else to stop talking. It’s a worthwhile way to spend a certain amount of time, in my opinion.

As for friends, and Ted Shepherd’s words:

Among the Christians here, I enjoy my interactions with Frankr, as you can tell by the way I keep at it. Frankr says that he has a good friend who is an atheist. I find that entirely believable. (An Islamic saying: Whoever discard a friend for the least fault, runs the risk of being friendless.)

I wholeheartedly agree, Ted. Online social interactions are truly ideal in certain ways. People in the actual world tend to be brimming with prejudice. We’re still the same people when we’re online, but without any visual or auditory cues. So if you walk with a limp, have a certain skin color, dress unfashionably, fail to keep the lawn weed-free, etc. etc., no one in the cyber world is going to know anything about such triviality.

But I think I’ve gotten my basic points of view across, and have lately started to repeat myself. For instance, you and Frank are currently engaged in a fascinating intellectual exercise. But I have nothing to say about it because I’ve already repeatedly explained to Frank that Plato was wildly guessing when he set up the reality that Frank, by way of his church’s doctrines, has adopted. He even agreed with me on several occasions (those were concessions I’d forgotten about), yet here he is arguing with you about the same stuff. That’s the sort of thing I really can’t understand. New information, new points of view that are seen to be valid need to be incorporated into one’s overall outlook. But dyed-in-the-wool-religionists seem unable to incorporate new material into their operating systems. On the other hand, maybe that’s exactly what Frank and H.S. are doing by reading and writing here. They’re perhaps trying desperately to escape their dizzying logical dead ends. Or perhaps not. If they are trying, I admire them for the effort. And it does take a great deal of effort.

To correct a mistake I made yesterday, Frank has conceded several points, which I’d forgotten about.

Champion:

. . . its back to the no afterlife scenario? Isn’t that sad though?. . .

Only if I God were to surround me with 71 strippers (forget the virgins). Nice try, Champ, but I’m not taking the bait. We’ve been over this many many times.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 16 July 2006 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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-

For some reason I didn’t read into your initial post that you were considering stepping away from the forum? I sure hope not :(.


Sanity is everything  here, foundational, and fortunately it always reigns supreme, even when the theists put up a loud fight (as opposed to a good one).  I’ve learned through watching, that logical arguments, principles and premises must be repeated again and again. As you say, it’s slow-going and often a no-go with the faithful, but likely far more useful to those who remain on the fence lurking. As Ted said, many don’t post, but only read, trying to find their own way out of some dense fairytale forest, out into the freedom of a newly opened sky. To people coming out of the dark, reason and logic are like a new kind of sunrise. Never forget that.

I lurked for four months here before posting. The religious people appeared like realworld little demons to me, squelchers of autonomous thought, like guards posted at the escape hatches of a prison, ready to chew up and spit out any tenuous free thought I might dare to post. The week I signed on, TheChamp’s threads easily dominated the forum, and treblinka seemed to hold a close second in postings. But I gradually dug through their muck and found the real framework of this place. Like others who had read TEoF, I couldn’t squelch the yearning to talk sanity after finishing the book, and finally found the guts to post, trusting that I would just buck up as best I could in an environment of deeply educated individuals.

And you have been so gracious to me http://img9.smiliedb.de/sdb17351.gif. I have never taken a science class beyond high school biology and anthropology/archaeology, have never taken a course in logic or debate, so oftentimes I have to work at identifying the core arguments, else I fly off the handle in the wrong direction in reaction (instead of ‘response’). The examples I’ve used in forming my thoughts and emotions into words have been people like you, homunculus—endlessly patient, lucid, eloquent, relevant, humorous. When I get it half right, it’s because of the guidance here of those wiser than myself. You don’t suffer fools or weak arguments, and that includes me, and that is very, very GOOD.

And when I get it wrong, or spectacularly wrong, and resort to temper, ridicule or exasperation, that is all me wink, no fault of anyone else. I only regret it because we don’t have the luxury of wasting time on childishness; I should know better.


Wherever else you spread your wonderful wit and intellect, h—and I would love to know about the other forum, if only just to read there—please keep one foot in the door here. You would be very much missed if you went away for good.


_

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Posted: 16 July 2006 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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That’s really sweet to read, Mia. Stunningly elegant, as always. Actually, my addiction to this place will no doubt continue for as long as it remains as interesting as it has been lately. The only change will be that my Ignore list will grow. Maybe I just need a break, and will be ready to battle again soon. For now, I can’t do it any more.

Several months ago, Iisbliss, HampsteadPete, CanZen, Conservative Atheist and Psiconoclast (and I realize I’m leaving out some of the less prolific but equally bright personalities—you know who you are) were a force to be reckoned with, but it was a small force. I see what you mean about how the fundamentalists really did have their way around here in a sense. Today things are much stronger, with literally dozens of exceptional writers on board ready to defend reason and 21st-century validity, as far as it’s been discovered and invented.

I don’t know where all these intellectual forces came from, but I’m confident that your influence helped make it happen. I’m glad you progressed beyond lurking and hope other artists-thinkers will as well. We need you desperately.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 16 July 2006 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I suppose you’re right about Twain, Ingersoll and Mencken.  Haven’t read any Ingersoll.

You have some treats in store then. Here’s another sample as Ingersoll addresses the devout:

We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year’s fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.
—Robert Green Ingersoll, “The Gods” (1872)

Please email me a link to whatever forum you think we might enjoy. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran on friendship:

 

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”

And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;

For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;

For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

Voice of the Grouch: Stow it, Teddy. Don’t you have any thoughts of your own?

My response: Sure. Some of them are in my tagline. I cannot disprove the existence of every god, but I can disprove the existence of any god that has a contradictory definition. These things I quoted above are part of the cultural heritage that we unbelievers share. Devout parents deprive their children of this heritage. I mean to remedy that lack to some extent.

I hear Kahlil’s advice not to grieve about separations, but I grieve anyway when friends depart. Please don’t go away.

(Ted walks away, humming “Red River Valley”.)

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Posted: 17 July 2006 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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C’mon Dave everybody is doing it Its lots of fun. I’ll even let your Plato digs go by without comment. Deep down you and I and others know that we religious trolls add to the forum. We stay away for the most part when asked to and we give a voice of sanity to your otherwise insane speculations (joke alert for all you atheist literalists). I ignore threads and people all over this site. I read most of them though. It is foolish to ignore the ideas of others and equally foolish to engage in every argument. I say choose your battles selectively but be aware of all the battles being fought. What about me Dave? Who is going to try to cure this terminal case of metaphysical tuberculosis? Who is going to get me in the asylum where I can be cured? Its been fun Dave and I will miss the banter. If I ever get to Sonoma I will look you up and we can get to that coffeeshop or if you are ever in Virginia let me know.

Dave? Dave? Not the ignore list! Dave? what are you doing Dave? I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid. (singing)  Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

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Posted: 17 July 2006 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Thank you, Frank, for very enjoyable game.

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Posted: 17 July 2006 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“frankr”]I ignore threads and people all over this site. I read most of them though. It is foolish to ignore the ideas of others and equally foolish to engage in every argument. I say choose your battles selectively but be aware of all the battles being fought.

I have a difficult time ignoring statements or questions that I have a ready response to, and that’s my problem. But one of my guys is in the process of moving out, as he’s 24 now and my home is for children. Once that’s happened, I’ll no doubt be missing him dearly and simultaneously looking for ways to keep myself busy, as he’s been an extraordinary handful. So maybe my energy levels will increase then.

Frank, and others too, what do you think about proposing to the administrator a new section containing previous posts that address frequently asked questions? Of course it would involve quite a bit of work gathering the material together, but wouldn’t it make sense to be able to refer a person to a past well thought-out essay or even sentence, rather than banging our heads against the cyber wall all the time?

Just a thought. Hope to see you out here some time, Frank.

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Posted: 18 July 2006 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]Frank and others too, what do you think about proposing to the administrator a new section containing previous posts that address frequently asked questions? Of course it would involve quite a bit of work gathering the material together, but wouldn’t it make sense to be able to refer a person to a past well thought-out essay or even sentence, rather than banging our heads against the cyber wall all the time?

I think this is a good idea but I feel the logistics would be difficult if not impossible. I also do not see how the administrator could neglect any of my post. They are all so insightful and intriguing that they must be read by every reader on this forum. I do not know how you would distinguish between this faq and a list of my posts. I just think it might cause some jealousy among the other posters at the forum. I mean take my 2001 reference in my last post. It is hard to believe that I write here free of charge.

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