Friday, May 13, 2022

On Medium: The Sophistical Fiasco of Positive Thinking

Here's an article that disposes of some self-help ads for the happiness industry, and shows the difference between philosophical inquiry and sophistical propaganda.


  1. Hello, I hope that you have been doing well. I know that it's been a while since you've dealt with the antinatalist/efilist types, but there have been a few recent developments regarding Gary (Inmendham), the founder of efilism, that I wanted to solicit your thoughts on. Apparently, Gary's worldview played a role in influencing Adam Lanza, the school shooter. This has already caused a lot of controversy, especially because many of Gary's supporters have refused to condemn what they often term his "foibles". Just when people thought that things had hit rock bottom, it has now come to light that Gary indirectly (or directly?) supports CP. Here are a few pertinent videos regarding the entire fiasco:


    2. (this one's especially interesting because it has been made by a moderate AN).

    Although it's true that we shouldn't judge an idea by the psychology of its propounder, but I was wondering if there are good reasons to doubt the analysis and particularly the conclusions of those who claim to care so much about a partially broken computer that they wish to destroy it entirely. Oh, and they are also (apparently) fine with paying money to those who develop viruses.

    May you have a wonderful day/night ahead!

    1. Thanks for the update. I wasn’t aware of any of that, but it’s not so surprising. The question is always whether such pop cultural influences are causes or effects of the crime. Someone who was already mentally disturbed would seek out entertainments that reinforce his or her antisocial views, and antinatalism, so-called efilism, or incel rationalizations would be at the top of the list.

      I wasn’t sure what “CP” is supposed to be, but I see from the video that it likely follows from some American libertarian logic of selfishness or “freedom.” As usual, though, Gary misses the point (that crimes are committed in producing such pornographic material), having been swept up in his bullying rhetoric. I was always impressed only by the creativity of Gary’s destructive rhetoric, never by the strength of his arguments. But what drives his creativity is contempt for others. I knew a kid in high school who was like that. He was a bully, and he was an expert in using words creatively to put others down. He was masterful at framing insults, and that’s what Gary is too. That’s all he’s good for, as far as I can tell.

      I’d forgotten about that more recent article on antinatalism I wrote in 2021 (link below). I was waiting for a reply from Existential Goof to whose writings my article was directed, and the reply doesn’t seem to have arrived. He’d talked tough on his blog, but never got around to writing a reply. What a chore it must be to have to defend a rotten worldview that’s so obviously based on mental illness and resentments rather than evidence, logic, or creative insight.

    2. I am not sure if it's based on mental illnesses or resentment, but I certainly think that its scope is fairly limited, which prevents it from grasping the bigger picture. Internal flaws (such as the void being deemed preferable despite the absence of an actual benefit) combined with the significant probability of harm for existing people when considering the complexity of the human mind makes efilism little more than a philosophy of worthless destruction. Still, many of its supporters seem like people who genuinely care about reducing suffering (even though they don't seem to realise that their "solution" is a problem masquerading as an answer). Hopefully, we could learn to the dangers of narrow-minded empathy from the efilist experiment and learn to channel genuine empathy towards creating a better future for all.

      By the way, I saw someone use the term "crybully" to describe Gary—apparently because he and many of his followers start blaming others for taking him out of context any time one of his more peculiar views are revealed.

      Lastly, thank you for taking the time to reply!

    3. But some internal flaws in a worldview are due to oversights, while others are due to whopping character defects in the purveyors. Of course, personal attacks are generally unhelpful and irrelevant. But there are extreme cases in which the personality ends up being the main factor. That's certainly the case with Inmendham. I can't speak with any authority to all the supporters of "Efilism" or antinatalism. But I have my suspicions.

    4. Yeah, that does make sense. Many of his followers seem to blindly revere him. Even those who don't still consider his worldview to be the best thing ever. Absolutism when it comes to unimaginably complex things such as the value of life can lead to more harm than good.

  2. Aside from expressing my usual concerns about my yet-to-appear previous comment, I think that this is quite an apposite article. We seem to live in an age where the pursuit of superfine pleasures has become quite the norm. However, the rise of certain worldviews seems to suggest that this "solution" isn't as good as one might have thought. Even if one considers happiness/fulfillment to be the ultimate good (and this also includes those who believe that suffering is the source of ultimate disvalue), they would still do well to pay attention to what you have written. Instead of trying to chase a non-existent greater good by constantly creating unnecessary desires for oneself, seeking long-term contentment with what one has can prove to be more beneficial. A good way to achieve the good of fulfillment would be to address the problems that exist instead of simply ignoring them. Now, I do think that it can sometimes be more rational to defenestrate excessively negative thoughts from our mind if we know that there are other countervailing factors that one also needs to consider.

    Thank you for writing this informative and enlightening article! May you have an excellent day!