Comparing Beliefs

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Belief is a funny thing. It’s a word that gets tossed around in a lot of discussions, debates, and outright arguments without ever being properly defined. Granted, the idea of belief is a slippery concept to begin with, especially since it is so easily personalized and adapted to fit almost any mindset. In onset of the holiday season, combined with my recent read of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and rewatching Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, got me thinking about the nature of belief and its place in stories.

As someone who is trying to be a good skeptic and humanist, I’ve developed a weird, slightly uncomfortable relationship with stories about the importance of belief. I read and watch a lot of stories that emphasize how important it is to believe in something fantastic, even if there doesn’t seem to be a good reason or at least nothing solid. Thanks to films like Toy Story, I sometimes feel a twinge of guilt for not playing with my Barbies, dinosaurs, Hot Wheels cars, and My Little Ponies anymore, but I still won’t donate them. I feel like I’d be giving up on them, or that they would feel sad (never mind the fact that they’d probably prefer to be played with!) Dream a Little Dream by Piers Anthony and the film version of The Neverending Story feature worlds and characters whose very existence depends on being believed in by real people, especially children. If that belief fails, they don’t just die… they cease to exist. Being forgotten is worse than death. For someone with a highly active imagination, I think stories like this compounded a bunch of my weird neuroses (which thankfully got used to fuel writing rather than sending me to the loony bin. Although that could still happen…)

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False Dichotomies

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Greetings to everyone from the end of National Novel Writing Month!  Wow, it’s really hard to believe that a month has gone by and, for once, I actually have an almost complete rough draft of a novel.  It still needs work and some scenes, but I think I’ll be able to progress to the editing stage this December and January.  And I’m actually looking forward to it!  My creativity has come back, I’m eager to work, and I’ve been writing over 2,000 words a day more often than not.  Which, like, never happens.  So, I’m really pleased with my progress and hope to have a finished product to show for my effort sooner rather than later.  (Then I’ll go back to Ravens and Roses, I promise.)

Now, on to a topic that has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time:  false dichotomies.

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