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In Defense Of Nadine Lustre And Cohabitation: A Response To Anna Cosio

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an article by Anna Cosio claiming that cohabitation is Bad For You, and chastising Nadine Lustre for implying that living-in is no big deal.

Lustre, in what appears to be a rushed ambush interview in a hallway, had this to say about her rumored live-in situation with James Reid: “If that was true, so what?”

She said a bit more, but that, to me, sums it up.

So what if financially independent consenting adults choose to live together? As long as they are not harming anyone, or being abusive to each other, then nobody has any right to intervene, or to even demand any answers from them regarding their personal lives.

Leaving Lustre and Reid to their own privacy, let us now move on to discussing the science of cohabitation, which Cosio appears to make much of in her response. She cites a total of ten studies to back up her claims that cohabitation is Bad For You. Out of these, only one study from 2009 is within the past decade, while all the rest are more than ten years old.

The 2009 study which Cosio cited as proof to “clearly show that cohabitation is not the way to go for a successful marriage”, does not actually back up her claims.

The study acknowledges that the link between cohabitation and divorce is not conclusive, and needs to be updated with more recent data:

… many studies published on cohabitation have been based on a single data set, the National Survey of Families and Households. Although it comprises a random sample of the United States population, it is now somewhat outdated, for the first wave occurred in the late 1980s.

… good estimates of the strength of the association between premarital cohabitation and divorce are not available. For example, studies have shown that those who cohabited premaritally experienced a divorce rate that was somewhere between 1.29 and 1.86 times greater than the rate for those who did not cohabit premaritally … these estimates are based on couples who married as early as the 1960s and none of these studies included participants who married later than the 1990s. Updated samples will be necessary before steadfast conclusions can be drawn about the degree of risk for divorce.

And here’s what the study actually said when discussing the question of whether or not cohabitation should be discouraged:

… some might say that the question about dissuading couples is really more about religion than practice based on social science. Others would say that, even when it comes to social science, blanket proscriptive advice is not indicated or, at best, is premature. Not even the three authors of this paper completely agree on what would be the best practice under differing circumstances.

So, has anything changed since the 2009 study? Or, as Cosio asks:

But is cohabitation or “living-in” suddenly a good idea just because “it’s 2017”?

Actually, yes, if one bothers to look at more recent studies, it turns out our scientific understanding of cohabitation has been significantly updated.

Previous studies did indeed establish a link — known as “the cohabitation effect” — between premarital cohabitation and higher rates of divorce. However, the link does not prove that it is the act of cohabitation itself — and not other factors — which increases the risk of divorce.

If you’re trying to figure out whether or not cohabitation itself causes subsequent divorce, you must rule out other factors.

A 2014 study shows that previous studies failed to rule out an important factor — the age of the couple when deciding to commit. The age of this commitment — whether it is cohabitation or marriage — is the statistically significant factor in divorce risk, not cohabitation itself. A person who makes the commitment decision at age 23 (Nadine Lustre’s age) has half the divorce risk of someone who makes that decision at age 18.

In an interview, the researcher behind the study explains:

Previous studies compared the divorced rates of couples who cohabited with those who didn’t by using the age of marriage. Kuperberg did something new: She compared the relationships using the date of first moving in together. That date, she reasoned, is when a couple really takes on the roles of marriage, regardless of whether they have a legal certificate.

Using this method, she found no link between whether people had cohabited before marriage and their rate of divorce. The turning point in age for picking a life partner seems to be about 23, Kuperberg said.

“That’s when people are able to pick a partner who is more compatible,” she said. “Maybe they are a little more mature. They’re a little set up in the world.”

Previous studies did not account for age at cohabitation. Those that accounted for age at all used age at marriage, or age at the time of data collection. When the 2014 study accounted for age at cohabitation, the statistical link between cohabitation and divorce risk diminished or disappeared.

Standardizing by age at marriage in statistical comparisons of marriage dissolution among premarital cohabitors and direct marriers resulted in an artificially inflated “gap” in divorce rates relative to both models that standardized age using age at coresidence and models that did not take into account age at all. Hazard ratios for the effect of cohabitation on marriage dissolution when controlling for coresidence were 54% to 76% smaller than those found when controlling for age at marriage. The association between cohabitation and marriage dissolution was nonsignificant in models that controlled for age at coresidence and demographic characteristics, even in the cohort who married prior to 2000, for whom all prior research has found a significant positive association of cohabitation and divorce. These findings indicate that previous research on cohabitation and divorce that typically standardized age using age at marriage may have overstated the association between cohabitation and divorce if controlling for age at coresidence is the correct model specification.

By the way, a 2017 study shows that the health benefits associated with marriage and cohabitation are the same (and any differences are mostly explained by childhood backgrounds, not by the act of cohabitation):

Results show no differences in self-rated health between cohabiting and married people in Norway, Germany, and for Australian women. In the U.K, and U.S., and for Australian men, however, marriage is significantly associated with better health. Much of this association disappears when accounting for childhood disadvantage and union duration in the U.S., Australia, and for British women, but differences persist for British men. Our study indicates that early life conditions can be an important source of selection for explaining marriage benefits, and that policy makers should focus on reducing disadvantage in childhood rather than legislating incentives to marry in adulthood.

All of the above is from research abroad, though. Unfortunately, I have not found cohabitation research specific to the Philippine context, but if anyone knows of any, please do share your links in the comments.

In the meantime, I’m inclined to believe that it is not cohabitation which inherently affects a relationship’s outcome. I agree with the following recommendations from the cited studies:

The 2009 study calls for strengthening communication and understanding so that couples can “make better, more informed choices in their relationships”.

The 2014 study advises avoiding making major commitment decisions at a young age, and waiting until they are “more established in their lives, goals, and careers”.

It makes sense to me that the couple’s level of maturity, responsibility, sincerity, communication skills, healthy boundaries, and kindness and respect for each other would matter much more than whether or not they live together outside of marriage. Or whether or not they have sex or children outside of marriage. Or whether or not they’re heterosexual. Or whether or not they’re monogamous.

I do agree with Cosio’s statement that “cohabitation is not a recipe for happiness”, and I would add that neither is marriage. I’m not sure that it is possible to find anything that guarantees happiness. But I’m all for supporting people who find moments of happiness in their relationships, whatever form those relationships may take, provided that they do not abuse each other or hurt anyone else.

Posted in Media, Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Secularism, Society0 Comments

Pride March and Prejudice

 

I’ve been to many pride marches but the most recent one in Marikina was the first time that I got to talk to one of the Christian protesters from the other side. His name was Koy, and we were able to have conversations about topics ranging from morality to epistemology. And although we may have disagreed strongly with each other’s conclusions, we didn’t devolve into a shouting match. I was listening intently to his arguments and I felt that he was also listening intently to mine.

I imagine that many people would say that I am wasting time trying to engage these so-called “fundamentalists.” To assume this, however, smacks of prejudice. I also think it’s not fair because it denies both parties a chance to learn from one another. If someone else knew that I was terribly wrong in my assertions, I would like that person to explain to me why, the same way that if I honestly believed that someone would go to hell for what they were doing, I would try my best to save their souls. Frankly, I have a bit more respect for these people who think they are saving other people from eternal damnation than for those who would rather watch other people burn in hell than have to endure social confrontation. I believe that they may be misguided, but I don’t think that they bear malice in their hearts, which is why I think it is unfair to characterize all of them as “full of hate”. Some of them may be, but definitely not all.

It is also quite unfortunate that quite a few people from the march started showing bad form when engaging the protesters, even going so far as to use their educational attainment to prove how they are on the “right side.” I think that this too is unfair and uncalled for, and does not help the cause, as it risks adding legitimacy to highly-educated fundamentalists as well as alienating less-educated members of the pride community.

Alas, not all discourse will go smoothly and there are inevitably cases where it’s best to disengage. What’s important is to be able to identify these cases as soon as possible. Let me give an example:

One of the protesters was shouting that there are no nonhuman animals who practice homosexuality. I tried to tell him that contrary to what he was saying, homosexual behavior has been widely observed in nonhuman animals. He then backtracked to say we shouldn’t be basing morality on animals, which wasn’t at all related to what I said, and actually nullified his original statement completely. When I tried to expound, he replied that I couldn’t possibly convince him of my point through discussion. And with that, I thanked him for his honesty and walked away.

Had I had more time, I would have loved to talk more to Koy about deconstructing the bible as a source of absolute truth and discussing studies about God as a projection of the self. The least I was able to do was hand him a bottle of water on the way back to my contingent. He asked me if I was sure that I wanted him to have it, us being on different sides of the event and all. I was a bit surprised at the question and just had to remind him: “Lahat tayo nauuhaw. (We all get thirsty.)

This short experience of mine made me hope that we can all find the compassion in us to resist othering those we disagree with and instead find our common humanity. Let us engage each other as individuals who are capable of love and change, however slowly, however small.

 

Below are some shots from various pamphlets circulated around the event:

The helpful

The hellful

And the sellful!

Posted in Education, Freedom of Expression, Gender Rights, HIV/AIDS, Personal, Philosophy, Society, Stories0 Comments

Watch: In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play

Watch: In The Next Room or the Vibrator Play

Have you ever seen a Victorian sex comedy? Watch “In the Room or the Vibrator Play” by Sarah Ruhl! Use the promo code “REPFF20” and get a 20% discount from Ticket World on this page:
http://j.mp/ffvibratorplay
***
Repertory Philippines

presents

In The Next Room
or the Vibrator Play

It is the 1880s, and Dr. and Mrs. Catherine Givings live in a beautiful, seemingly sensible Victorian home, where Dr. Givings also runs his private medical practice. Electricity is still a novelty, and as the intelligent and free-spirited Mrs. Givings cares for her new child under the bright glow of a floor lamp, something else is buzzing in the next room. Dr. Givings, a kind — if overly analytical — scientist, has invented a device to relieve “hysteria” in both men and women. The brilliant new device is a vibrator (though Dr. Givings refers to it euphemistically as a “machine”). When Elizabeth, a grieving wet nurse, is brought in to care for the Givings’ baby, and Mrs. Sabrina Daldry, an anxious, depressed patient arrives for treatment, the Givings are forced to confront the realities of their marriage, their love for one another, and the nature of intimacy– all without the help of an electrical current. Provocative, moving, and utterly charming, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room is a comedy about passion, true love, and orgasms.

Directed by Chris Millado

Posted in Entertainment0 Comments

Can Sulu Be Gay? | FF Podcast

Can Sulu Be Gay? | FF Podcast

This week, we talk about Hikaru Sulu and his portrayal as gay in the next Star Trek movie. We also discuss how LGBTs, people of color, and minorities are depicted in popular culture.

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Video0 Comments

Honor Thy Father vs the MMFF | FF Podcast

Honor Thy Father vs the MMFF | FF Podcast

This week, we talk about Honor Thy Father, the entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival. We talk about its freethinker-friendly themes and about the value of the MMFF.

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Reviews, Video0 Comments

Heneral Luna and Nationalism | FF Podcast

Heneral Luna and Nationalism | FF Podcast

This week, we review the movie Heneral Luna. We dissect its theme of nationalism and discuss whether we should judge local movies with different standards.

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Reviews, Video1 Comment

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

This week, we talk about an incident involving a Pope Summer Slam parody. Then, we talk about whether Filipinos respect the right to free speech in this country.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Pop Culture, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

Pacquiao Wants to Punch Pope For “Insulting Mothers”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – “I will give him one punch for every mother that he has insulted,” says Manny Pacquiao, reacting to various misogynist statements that the Pope had previously made. “Hindi ko na kailangan ng ring para dito. Kahit saan pwede ako.” (“I don’t need a ring for this anymore. I can do it anywhere.”)

YO MOMMA SO INSULTED she gonna punch you in the face

YO MOMMA SO INSULTED she gonna punch you in the face!

Many of the pope’s statements, according to Pacquiao, seem to attach the value of a woman to her fertility, which he finds demeaning and reduces the value of women. He also criticized the pope’s refusal to accept women into clergy, saying it “betrays a deep sense of sexism inherent in the institution.”

Pacquiao recently challenged the Pope to a boxing match as a sign of hospitality and to ease the traffic situation.

Pacquio’s coach, Freddie Roach, has expressed concern over Pacquiao’s apparent self-contradiction. “I’m glad he’s standing up for what he believes, but it’s bound to confuse people since he has previously fought against the Reproductive Health Law, which primarily empowers women and protects mothers more than anyone. But who knows, maybe he’ll switch sides again after taking a few more punches to the face. It’s normal. It’s normal.”

When asked why his reaction comes so long after the Pope’s statements, Pacquio said “I don’t read very fast.”

Pope Francis was reached for comment, responding “So he’s not going to fight me in the ring anymore? What a pussy! For a grown man he sure can be such a girl.”

 

 

 

Image credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/15/charlie-hebdo-pope_n_6477928.html

Posted in Humor, Satire4 Comments

Pacquiao to Fight Pope Francis

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In light of the upcoming papal visit and resulting expectations of heavy traffic, Manny Pacquiao has announced that he will try to ease the traffic situation personally by having a boxing match with Pope Francis himself during his visit. “It’s only fitting that I greet his holiness with the utmost example of Filipino hospitality,” said Pacquiao.

It is a well-documented fact that traffic in Metro Manila virtually disappears and crime rates drop to almost zero whenever Manny Pacquiao has a fight.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino welcomed Pacquiao’s move as a gracious offering of assistance to local traffic enforcers. “And as a people, we cannot just punch the Bishop of Rome with any fist. It must be the strongest fist the world has ever seen. Anything less would be disrespectful to the Primate of Italy,” he added.

Don't miss the once in a lifetime event!

Don’t miss the once in a lifetime event!

“I don’t think it’s fair for Manny to fight with the Pope but I don’t think that it’s a good idea to tell him to stick to politics either,” says Coach Freddie Roach, who has personal reservations about the fight. “I try to discourage him from politics, you know, considering how much brain damage he might have sustained from all the concussions he’s had throughout the years,” Roach said.

Meanwhile, President Aquino has expressed excitement for the upcoming fight, saying “People think we’re bending over backwards to accommodate the Pope, but I disagree. We’re actually bending over forward, and I think the farther we can bend over, the easier it will be for the Pope to come into our beautiful country.”

When asked for comments on the challenge, Pope Francis replied, “Manny is a punk-ass bitch who has no idea what the fuck he’s getting into. He thinks that just because I’m not as young as him he can score an easy win. Well, lemme just tell you this: if he thinks he can take me down that easily, he’s in for a goddamn big surprise and a world of hurt.” The Vicar of Christ is reportedly choosing his boxing nickname between two options, namely “Supreme Punchiff” and “The Rock of the Church”.

As of writing, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has expressed interest in taking on the Dalai Lama when the latter visits Michigan this coming March.

Image credits:

  • http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1935091,00.html
  • http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/pope-franciss-remarks-on-the-big-bang-are-nothing-new-for-the-catholic-church/

Posted in Humor, Satire1 Comment

FF Podcast 59 (Audio): UK Bans Kink Porn

FF Podcast 59 (Audio): UK Bans Kink Porn

FF Audio Podcast 059: UK Bans Kink Porn

This week we talk about the United Kingdom’s plans to ban kinky porn, including but not limited to displays of female ejaculation and face-sitting. We also discuss some BDSM basics with an honest-to-goodness BDSM practitioner.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Entertainment, Freedom of Expression, Society0 Comments

Atheist Confession: “I like Pope Francis.”

Pope-Francis-GETTYI’m going to say something many of my fellow secularism advocates would probably not appreciate: I like Pope Francis.

Why?

I like Pope Francis because, in my opinion, he is more liberal than many liberals. American conservatives already hate him for his seemingly liberal position on many issues. He’s so liberal that Sarah Palin is actually taken aback by what she calls his “liberal agenda.” The Pope is so liberal that writer Damian Thompson, in an article he wrote for “The Spectator,” had to ask if we were in the early stages of a Catholic civil war.

Apparently, even Catholics think the Pope is too liberal. Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes:

“Some have given up on Pope Francis. Others say he is ‘the false prophet’ who will accompany the anti Christ in the end times. Others don’t like his dress sense, grumble about his media gaffes and some think they are all intentional and that he is a very shrewd Jesuit who wants to undermine the Catholic faith.”

I like Pope Francis because he openly criticized Capitalism and even compared it to “the worship of the ancient golden calf”:

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

I like Pope Francis because he did a lot of cool stuff in 2013.

Mark Pygas wrote an article about the Pope in Distractify and among the highlights include:

He criticized the Church’s frivolous spending. He let a boy with Down’s Syndrome ride the Popemobile. He denounced the judgment for homosexuals. He encouraged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest. He acknowledged that atheists can be good people. He condemned the global financial system. He amended the Vatican law to make sexual abuse of children a crime, and also established a committee specifically to fight that kind of abuse. He declared that the Church has an unhealthy obsession with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. He broke tradition by performing the ritual washing of feet on women and Muslims.

I like Pope Francis because the things he did, which earned him “Person of the Year” honors, are things that I have, in my own little way, been trying to do as well: denounce judgment for homosexuals; bust myths about the “evil” atheists; criticize corporate greed, government corruption, and the sexual abuse of children by the clergy; point out the Church’s irrational position on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

The Pope and I are like bros, you see? We have been supporting some similar advocacies, the only difference is, he does it even better than I do – with a much bigger platform and with greater effect.

I can honestly say that Pope Francis did a lot more for secularism than many advocates of secularism, including me.

Because of the Pope, it’s now extremely easy for me to discuss evolution and the Big Bang with Catholics. Before, they could just avoid the conversation entirely, claiming that it’s a “matter of religious belief.” Now, I can conveniently remind them that the Pope, the leader of their religious affiliation, agrees with me.

Apart from those, I also like that the Pope “revised” the Ten Commandments:

1. “Live and let live.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life.

4. Develop a healthy sense of leisure.

5. Sundays should be holidays.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people.

7. Respect and take care of nature.

8. Stop being negative.

9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs.

10. Work for peace.

Now, before our readers declare me as a gullible, atheist, Pope-fanboy, I should clarify that I’m not declaring the Pope as the second coming of Chuck Norris. As much as I like him personally, I’m aware that there are reasons to get off the bandwagon.

In the article, “5 reasons you should stay off the Pope Francis bandwagon,” writer Timothy McGrath provides a breakdown of “concerns” regarding Pope Francis. McGrath reports that:

1. There are unanswered questions regarding the Pope’s inaction during the Dirty War in Argentina.

2. The Pope handles child sex abuse poorly.

3. The Pope’s current views on abortion and gay marriage is inconsistent with his previous stance.

4. The Pope continues the “inquisition” against American nuns.

5. The Pope may have performed a live exorcism.

And it seems too, that the Pope has recently backtracked on his liberal stance. Nick Squires, in his news article, “Pope: Children Need Mother and a Father,” reports that:

“Pope Francis appeared to bow to pressure from Catholic conservatives on Monday when he delivered a robust affirmation of the importance of the traditional family.”

I think that’s a little disappointing, but I’m still giving Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt.

Some people think that Pope Francis is just an extremely talented, one-man Catholic propaganda machine. I’m not ruling out that possibility. It’s entirely possible that he has an army of publicists and public relations specialists that script every single response and gesture that the Pope makes, even when cameras are not around, in order to convince the world that he is a good person.

Yes, that’s entirely possible.

If that were the case, he’s been doing a really good job. In fact, he seems to do it without much effort, which leads me to think that maybe, just maybe, he’s just a regular good person who just happened to be Pope.

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I tried very hard to hate the Pope as soon as he was elected. I wanted to hate him, not because of anything he did (he hadn’t done anything yet when I first decided to hate him), but simply because of a personal bias. I didn’t like the Pope, because I don’t like Catholicism, and the Church, and anything that is associated with what I consider to be symbols of oppression and subjugation. I didn’t like the Pope, because he was supposed to be the bad guy. I didn’t like the Pope because I was prejudiced.
In my desire to criticize religious organizations and promote my own agenda, I became similar to the homophobes who would hate someone just because they were gay, or self-righteous bigots who would assume the worst of atheists just because they were atheists. I hated the Pope just because he was Pope, and it was wrong of me to do so.

When I asked myself, “If Pope Francis weren’t Pope, would I like him as a person?” I realized that I like him.

He has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry. He believes in the Big Bang and evolution. He thinks atheists can be good people. He says that the Church shouldn’t be so obsessed with abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. He’s not afraid of the mafia. He doesn’t like capitalism and America thinks he’s a Marxist.

What’s not to like?

I realized that the only thing I didn’t like about him was the fact that he was Pope. If he were my college professor, or my neighbor, or my boss, I would probably like him. In fact, if I were single and the Pope was a girl around my age, I would totally ask her out.

So, I guess I’m an agnostic/atheist who’s a fan of the Pope. Is that weird?

 

Image Source:

http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8629389.ece/alternates/w620/Pope-Francis-GETTY.jpg

Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Secularism, Society4 Comments

“Nothing” Will Make You Happy

HappyI live from paycheck-to-paycheck. I don’t make a lot of money. I don’t own a lot of useful things – mostly cards and toys. I do not own a television. The only furniture in my room is a bed on the floor. It doesn’t have a bed frame. Most of my immediate family are abroad. The only family I have here, in the Philippines, is my brother. I see him once a week. I have no savings. I’m rather obese; obese II to be exact. I’m 31. Friends of mine from college run businesses, own homes, have started families, have travelled to many places. I, on the other hand, don’t have any savings. In fact, if my mom doesn’t send me a few bucks each month, I won’t be able to pay my rent.

In other words, I’m not one would call a “success story,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thought I was kind-of a loser.

The weird thing is, I’ve always considered myself a happy person. Despite the fact that I’m often broke, overweight, and getting old, I’m happy. The only time I feel genuinely sad or anxious is when I get into an argument with my girlfriend, or when someone dies, or when I have to take an exam I’m not prepared for, or when the Netrunner data pack I wanted was out of stock. I sometimes think that there’s something wrong with me, because I don’t get as sad or as anxious as most adults do.

When I published the article, “Sad, Sad World,” a few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked, “Are human beings supposed to be sad, by default?” I said, “Our brains are more efficient at retaining memories of negative events and experiences, so, yes.” “Then, why am I not sad?” she asked. I didn’t really have an answer.

I thought about the same thing. I realized that my understanding of what makes people sad and happy is rather incomplete. So, I did more research.

Yesterday morning, I came across the TedTalk, “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” by Dan Gilbert. In this TedTalk, Gilbert challenges common notions of what creates happiness. He claims that we are generally unaware of what makes us happy, we don’t know makes us sad, and we overestimate how negative experiences might affect our capacity for happiness.

He shares data that supports the notion that human beings have what he calls a “psychological immune system.” He claims that human beings have developed a mechanism that allows them to feel better about their own circumstances.

Gilbert begins his talk by asking the audience to make a choice between two different scenarios:

“Here’s two different futures that I invite you to contemplate, and you can try to simulate them and tell me which one you think you might prefer. One of them is winning the lottery. This is about 314 million dollars. And the other is becoming paraplegic.”

He then makes the claim that, after one year, both paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy. In other words, a person’s capacity for happiness is not limited by his or her circumstances. In fact, studies reveal that most people have a tendency to overestimate the amount of misery they’ll experience from negative events.

Gilbert says:

“From field studies to laboratory studies, we see that winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test, on and on, have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration than people expect them to have.”

Another interesting notion Gilbert discussed is the distinction between natural happiness and synthetic happiness. Natural happiness is the positive feelings we gain from getting the things that we want. Synthetic happiness is, in my opinion, a fancy term for “sweet lemons.”

The idea of “sweet lemons” is rumored to have emerged from the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” The idea of “sweet lemons” has a negative implication, however. It implies that a person has successfully fooled himself into thinking positively about undeniably bad circumstances. Similarly, a lot of people are skeptical about synthetic happiness. As Gilbert says, “We smirk because we believe that synthetic happiness is not of the same quality as what we might call “natural happiness.”

We assume that people who cherish their sweet lemons can’t possibly be as happy as people who are happy because of external reasons (wealth, health, fame, beauty, etc). That’s the very notion Gilbert is challenging. He says:

“I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.”

The point Gilbert is trying to make is that a lot of people erroneously consider happiness as something that could be found or earned, when, in fact, it’s something that one can simply create. While most people think that external circumstances determine happiness, Gilbert presents evidence that prove the opposite.

Everyone has a psychological immune system that can synthesize happiness. However, Gilbert reminds us that not all immune systems are created equal. Some people do it better than others, and some situations are more ideal for such synthesis to occur.

Gilbert says:

“It turns out that freedom — the ability to make up your mind and change your mind — is the friend of natural happiness, because it allows you to choose among all those delicious futures and find the one that you would most enjoy. But freedom to choose — to change and make up your mind — is the enemy of synthetic happiness.”

Having more freedom allows you to take the necessary steps to achieve natural happiness, while having less freedom, or being unable to change your situation, forces your psychological immune system to synthesize happiness from within.

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

In “Sad, Sad World,” I discussed how our brains are geared to pay more attention to negativity, so we have a tendency to notice and recall negative experiences and events more often. However, based on “The Surprising Science of Happiness,” our happiness can function independently from the negative experiences and events we encounter.

So, essentially, you can acquire natural happiness from fulfilling your dreams and goals. But you can also acquire, or synthesize, happiness should you fail to fulfill these goals. In other words, “nothing” can make you happy just as much as “something” can, because we have a built-in happiness synthesizer that can turn our existential lemons into lemonade. Pretty sweet, don’t you think?

 

Sources:

Gilbert, D. (2004). “The Surprising Science of Happiness.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy?language=en

Kay, A. Jimenez, M. Jost, J. (2002).  “Sour Grapes, Sweet Lemons, and the Anticipatory Rationalization of the Status Quo.” Retrieved on November 10, 2014. From: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/jost/Kay,_Jiminez,_&_Jost_%282002%29_Sour_Grapes_Sweet_Lemons.pdf

 

Image Source:
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Posted in Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Society5 Comments

Quick, Delete Your Hentai!

“Oh no! My childhood is ruined!” I never could relate with people who claim that they’ve been robbed of something precious when they find out certain details about shows they enjoyed as kids: things like the incestuous implications of Finding Nemo, or the fact that the cast of Power Rangers (who many thought were all martial arts experts) were never involved in the fight scenes, or being told that Santa wasn’t real.

However, the other day, someone told me about Voltron porn. I don’t mean robots having sex (although I’m sure they have that as well), I’m talking about the Voltron pilots having sex. It made me upset. See, when I was a kid, all I wanted was to marry Princess Allura from Voltron.

Hentai Image 1

Princess Allura

At night, before I went to sleep, I thought of Allura. I imagined giving her a necklace or a bracelet, and she would say, “Thank you,” and I remember being extremely happy about that. I think Princess Allura was the first woman I desired, or had a crush on, or maybe even loved in a romantic way.

Now, I understand what those people, those who claimed that their childhood was ruined, felt. I don’t want to see Princess Allura, naked, having an orgy with the rest of the Voltron team. If I were to describe how I felt, it’s something along the lines of, “Some asshole decided to piss on the purity and innocence of my seven-year-old romantic feelings.”

Does it bother me that some douchebags make porn of Princess Allura? Hell, yeah! Do I think that people who possess pornographic material of Princess Allura should go to jail? Um, no. In fact, I think it’s normal to watch cartoon porn. I think some people need a harmless means of fulfilling a childhood fantasy.

I get it.

This picture, for example, makes me sort-of nostalgic, and sort-of happy, and a little bothered, and a little aroused:

Hentai Image 2

Childhood ruined?

It’s rather jarring, this image. I’m forced to see Princess Allura in a completely different light, and my childhood and current world views are on a collision course. It’s like someone transported my childhood consciousness from the past into my present body, forcing it into adulthood in 10 seconds. It makes me feel odd, but I don’t think it’s wrong.

I’m aware that some people like Sailor Moon hentai, and some people like Teen Titans hentai, and some people like My Little Pony hentai. I wouldn’t be surprised if these people kept copies of these cartoons. I think it’s normal. What I find disturbing is not what these cartoons depict, but the information that people could go to jail for having hentai.

The author discussed the case of Robul Hoque in the article, “Robul Hoque: sentenced for a thought crime.”

The author reports:

“During the trial, Hoque’s barrister, Richard Bennett, insisted that the material was available on legal pornographic websites and the presiding judge, Tony Biggs, emphasized that ‘no actual children or perpetrators [were] involved’. Even so, the judge believed that the possession of the ‘repulsive’ comics and cartoons were worthy of a prison sentence, because, he said, anything that may encourage child abuse should be ‘actively discouraged’.”

I think that’s absurd. What this ruling means is that people could go to jail for possessing naked cartoon images of Sailor Moon and her friends. Usagi Tsukino, the lead character in the series, is only 14 years old, and if you own pornographic cartoons with her image, you could go to jail too.

No, seriously. You really could:

Republic Act No. 9775 – Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009

Section 3. Definition of Terms. –
For the purpose of this Act, a child shall also refer to:
(1) a person regardless of age who is presented, depicted or portrayed as a child as defined herein; and
(2) computer-generated, digitally or manually crafted images or graphics of a person who is represented or who is made to appear to be a child as defined herein.

With regard to child porn, the law does not distinguish between cartoons and real people. Sailor Moon hentai is also child porn.

As for Hoque, his only crime was something a lot of people do on a regular basis, which is to download hentai. In my opinion, Hoque is a threat to children as much as people who watch “My Little Pony” porn are a threat to ponies, and as much as people who are into pixie porn (porn about elves, pixies, and other fantasy creatures having sex) is a threat to pixies. Speaking of pixie porn, another guy was sent to jail for watching fairies fuck.

I don’t think that’s right. Just because a person likes to see sexualized images of talking ponies, doesn’t mean that they’ll start having sex with actual ponies.

Minogue says:

“People getting off on cartoons is in itself very odd. And the fact that the images and animations Hoque possessed depicted children makes it all the more creepy. However, apart from Hoque’s two prosecutions for possession of erotic art depicting children, he has no convictions for child abuse, possession of actual child pornography, or convictions for anything else, for that matter. In other words, there is no reason to believe he is a threat to children.”

This sets a very dangerous precedent. Hoque did not harm anyone, but was convicted anyway because naked cartoons of young girls gave him a hard-on. He’s now listed as a sex-offender, a label usually assigned to child molesters and rapists. However, he was not convicted because he committed a sex crime, but because he kept hentai. That’s weirder than having erotic experiences with cartoons.

Now, tell me, should we start telling our friends to start deleting their hentai?

 

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Posted in Personal, Politics, Pop Culture, Society4 Comments

FF Podcast 55 (Audio): Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

FF Podcast 55 (Audio): Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

FF Podcast 55 - Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

There’s a new bible story film adaptation. Will you see it? This week, we talk about Christian Bale calling Moses, his character in Exodus: Gods and Kings, a schizophrenic and a barbarian.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Entertainment, Media, Pop Culture, Religion, Society0 Comments

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