Do atheists pray? No. Yes. Maybe …
It doesn’t matter.
The no‐god thing is no big deal. The absence of god would not smite one, were one to pray.
There is no reason why a person who does not believe should not use the prayerslearned in childhood as mantra, as words that help.
I think of a scene from some probably‐not‐very‐good movie, the subways filling with magma, a guy carrying an injured man, struggling to safety, reciting the traditional Lords Prayer. Perhaps he did not believe; maybe he used the words learned in his childhood to act with dignity and courage in a desperate situation.
Personally, I don’t pray. But I do reach for hope, for the human hope‐beyond‐hope, the hope one reaches for in times like these, a burning core of prayer.

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas

In another sense..

The so‐called placebo effect should be acknowledged as important, should be respected and used. The ability of one’s mind to help one feel better is a key aspect of healing. It does not, I think, necessarily depend on being silly or fooled. I would like to see methods of healing harness this resource
deliberately and wisely. To this end, I am particularly interested in techniques such as healing touch, which are often described in terms of “energy.”
Note here that I am using the word “energy” to identify an experience of human perception, the “feeling energy”meaning of the word.
“Energy”—as a physicist would use the term, a property of physical systems, that can be converted or transferred but not created or destroyed, measured in ergs or joules—is another meaning of the word.
I have speculated: Some human perceptions have been called spiritual, energy, or some such. These may to some extent be perceptions—or, perhaps as often, imaginations— using senses (perhaps primitive senses) that generally don’t get much attention. (What they are not: magnetic or electromagnetic phenomena… as these are known to physics.1)
I am thinking about proprioception (our perception of ourbodies position in space) and also about that sense of proximity that feels tactile, the feel on your skin when you put your hand near your face, the sensation of something‐near.2  I imagine in these senses, partly, in creating visual art.
I suspect that these sense perceptions may be particularly effective in enabling placebo healing, because they are body‐focused, because they might sneak behind the front of our minds to bring into play our ability to feel better.
1. Of course it is not impossible that unknown factors come
into play. I don’t know about that.
2. This perception is clear to me, but I am not assuming it is

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas


We, evolved on earth, are at least distant kin with other earth‐evolved creatures… say, the octopus. I would expect that aliens, evolved elsewhere, maybe or maybe not DNA based, would be alien. Since the universe is not small, they might well not be here, as there are plenty of other places for them to go.
There is a lot of interest in beings from elsewhere.. not surprising at this particular time in history.
On the one hand, the ultimate other… dislike, fear.
On the other hand, I know that some people want to believe in aliens, often picturing them as a lot like us but better, and hoping that they are here to help us, at this desperate time.
A primal mammalian response, perhaps, to reach for succor. The wisdom of reaching our trembling arms to the universe, crying, “Will you be my mommy?” —that I can’t guess.
On the third hand, there is that good old joy in playing with bad companions…
And, fascination with the damn strange…
Gee what if—could it be possible—what if this interest is part of a process that also involves learning to include the human other…

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas


and they are some of us.
In terms of ethnicity (not religion):
Shortly before I was born, my people ‐ German-tried to exterminate my people ‐Jews. In my damn bones, I REALLY do not like the business of regarding some people as other, as not‐us, as those whose lives matter less than ours, as THEM.
Also… I was watching television news in a previous century. Collateral damage: people weeping, shouting, gesturing toward the camera … pan in on the tiny body on the stretcher.. pan in closer to see the dead Palestinian baby girl.. O god that I don’t believe in, I saw a dear Jewish baby, my sister’s daughter. And my heart tore and I will never for a moment ever see the difficult situation in that part of the world in terms of us and them.

It is too easy for people to think in terms of us‐and‐them. But it is not necessary. It is, damn it, NOT necessary—for us to be us—to pretend that some people are not us. It is in fact pretend, because it involves a dishonest narrowing of ourawareness of the folks we “them.”
Please, please, fellow hominids of Sol 3, please, although it is so easy for us to us‐and‐them, please let us be us.

I hope our human collective thought process is working on this one:
People too easily conclude: Situation desperate, change vital, nothing else works, have to resort to violent means of change. Unfortunate, I think, because —for one thing— even when it is hollow, the threat that people may resort to violence is a damned excuse to restrict our freedom. Sometimes it is used to facilitate the persecution of innocent people. Also, the use of violent means by desperate people is likely to fail, to meet an armed
response from those who are very much better equipped for violence. And of course violent revolution is all too likely to result in thugs gaining power.

And, I basically dislike violence and don’t want to hurt people.
So, what does work?
I am not looking for simple answers, here. I am looking for a whole field of study.
How, in gentle determination, can people effect change?

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas


I am concerned that the clear‐headedness we Sol 3 hominids need at this time in history is being lost in damn stupid binary thinking. (Binary: this mode of thinking assumes that there are two possibilities … either A is right or B is right.
One or the other.)
Suppose we have an important issue. We divide ourselves into opposing groups. For instance—and remember one could reverse the “pro” and “anti”: Anti folks tend to believe and repeat almost anything that reinforces their belief that pro isbad. Pro folks see a piece of misinformation repeated by anti
(quite possibly among valid concerns and correct information)… “THAT piece of anti stuff is wrong,” they think, “therefore, we are RIGHT and they are WRONG.” Both sides often fail to question their own stuff and to consider the other guy’s stuff. C’mon, folks, the issue is complex.
Binary thinking can lead to failure to look at the other side intelligently. If they are sometimes bad and wrong this does not prove that they are never good and right. If they are wrong that does not prove that their human needs and processes are not valid.
An assumption that the other side is always the same and bad—this can cause many people to overlook important differences in those they think of as the other.
Questioning our own positions is important. It is unfortunate if dwelling on the other guy being bad undermines that. The bad‐wrongness of the other guy does not make us innocent and right.
Oh, and, let’s not binary‐think the issue of binary thinking. There will be a third, or a 3.14 th point of view.
Hey, waddif.. what if people, as a group, can learn to be smarter, so that the customs that govern people’s thinking can grow and change so as to make binary thinking less of a
Whaddif … what if we were to encounter aliens from somewhere or other, and a terrible conflict is averted atthe last moment when xcvrthz figures out the problem in communication. On the third hand, sht says, the humans fail
to understand us because they evolved with that unfortunate bilateral symmetry……. cut it out Caril.

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas

Thinking collectively

People think collectively. I thunk this a while back.  Oddly, now I am beginning to hear people talking about it. In my childhood, absolutely alone and on my own, and without a word for it, I came, in my own mind, to what is now called feminism.  Around the mid 1960s, when I began to hear women speaking as feminists, I sighed: right, but it is not possible, they don’t realize that people will never go for this.  I was sure of that, because of the absolute negation I had encountered as a kid.  Fortunately I was wrong.

From the tree I am squatting in, the way the human minds change—it looks like a collective process… Or, does it only seem that way, do most people think independently and hide it unless others agree? I do suspect that there is more inward dissent and individual thought than there seems to be. Of course, some of us do, of our own initiative, think stuff, and as we communicate we inspire each other to think stuff. However, the wider process looks different, from here.
To what extent do people think collectively? Can people, as a group, become smarter by knowing they think collectively, and—aware of it—do it better?

Hey, are there any normal people reading this? (Assuming, of course, that even those who are normal are not normal.) This is a challenge or suggestion or appeal to normal people: please observe, in the process of thinking collectively, what part of the process is intelligent and kind. How is it that society can learn to emphasize that part?

Of course people don’t all think together. I see countless WE groups, thinking together within the group, interacting, overlapping, influencing each other (sometimes negatively, inducing a dissenting dis‐cooperating process).

Unfamiliar ideas may tend to be unthinkable. So, there may be some merit to persistence in reintroducing an idea until it is not new. However, familiarity is surely not the only factor in the decision, “Is this thinkable?” It looks from here as if the particular person or persons who are promoting an idea is a crucial factor… crucial in determining whether an idea is
accepted, ignored, disputed, accepted after consideration, or accepted even if it is stupid or mean.
Yes, leaders exist. People with power exist. These are very much in a position to direct (or try to direct) the collective flow of thought. However: These leaders and power people are PEOPLE. As such, they are part of, and shaped by, the general human fields of thought.

From Molten Wood and Feral Ideas