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Adventures of a stay-at-home, skeptical, homeschooling dad (etc.)


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Rules to live by

When I entered college, I was a Rush-Limbaugh-listening, homophobic, conservative, Republican Catholic. When I left, I, er, wasn't. This was an engineering/science-based college with limited "Humanities" requirements, so very few of my professors every really tried to inject any "liberal bias" into things. It was just that over my college years, I saw that many other people thought, believed, and acted very differently than I did, but they weren't the horrible creatures I imagined them to be. They were just people who thought different things than me. This was very eye-opening and caused me to constantly re-evaluate what I thought, but more importantly, why I thought it.

I don't remember many big "ah-ha!" moments: just eventually I would realize I could no longer find support for a belief. The important part, though, was to stop believing something when I could not longer find a reason to believe it.

So, many items on this list are not about what I believe, but why I believe what I believe. Many are rules that help me avoid traps which could make me think something is true or false when, in reality, there's no reason to think that. In short, they're about applying skepticism (no, not "cynicism") to everything in life, or the result of doing that. Of course, some are just distilled experience.

An ever-evolving list of rules I try to live by:

Everything I think could be wrong.

There is no "supposed to be": there is only "how things are" and "how I want things to be".

Remember: I am making it up as I go along.

Remember: everyone else is making it up as they go along, too, whether they know it or not.

Be prepared to change my opinion based on new information.

Change my opinion based on well-established information.

It's OK to think, guess, and extrapolate beyond what the evidence says, but don't believe it.

Always examine my beliefs to see if there's actually a good reason for holding them.

Don't fool myself into believing something just because I want it to be true.

Recognize propaganda, especially propaganda I agree with.

Know the difference between external facts and my internal feelings and opinions.

I don't have all the answers. No one else does, either.

I don't need "stuff" just because it exists.

Be happy.

Don't find excuses to be hypocritical.

Other people, until proven otherwise, are not evil.

Allow others the same moral leeway you grant yourself.

Don't be a dick.

… to be continued …

2012-03-03

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