Before you read any further, know this… THERE WILL BE SPOILERS GALORE HERE. So if you are saving yourself for the theater, then stop reading and go look up more trailers. For those of you still here I continue.
This film has been talked about as a much heavier Tony Stark character piece rather than a straight up Iron Man film as the first two were. This is also not a bad thing, and I think it succeeds well in making Tony more like you an me. I like that aspect and I won’t debate it. But why do I feel more attached to the first two films? There is a reason, and if you haven’t heard already (or possibly you’re tired of hearing about it), then let me explain it quite simply.
This was the film I was most excited for out of all three, especially after experiencing the first two. Why? Yes, the Mandarin is exciting, but it’s the idea behind the villain in this movie. The first two villains were very much industrial enemies of Tony Stark, locked in competition to excel his talents, and when failing to do so intellectually, resorted to violence and ill tactics. Essentially, both being good films, deal with industrial counterparts, looking to destroy Stark Industries with their own version of “armor”.
The first film gave us a view of how even long time friends of the Stark family can be driven to jealously or anger when Tony has a change of heart about selling weapons. The second film follows a similar premise with a competitor trying to mimic the arch reactor technology. Though it is more of a revenge plot, due to the action of Tony and Ivan’s fathers. The third film was marketed to change this villain archetype in a drastic way. We were no longer dealing with a “genius” competitor or counterpart, but rather a “genius” madman with nothing but hate aimed towards Western society. How exciting as well as being such a breathe of fresh air. If you’re reading this then you watched the trailers, listened to the monologues and (admit it) were giddy at the prospect of what the Mandarin could mean for a true Tony Stark character arch.
So what happened? If you’ve seen it then you know. The first hour of the film gives you glimpses into the eyes of the leader of a terrorist organization hell bent on teaching the United States government a lesson. And even better the same organization that kidnapped Tony in the first film, “The Ten Rings”. There is also a little of the industrial villain concept from the first two films infused with the introduction of the nerdiest of all nerds, Aldrich Killian, who is ignored by Tony year before current time and thus his motivations are lacking enough credence to be really taken seriously.
As the film progresses we see that Aldrich now has seem to have cured his physical afflictions (cane and such), and has created a project that allows humans to upgrade their DNA. Pepper as well as many others (including Tony originally) have turned down investing in the idea, because it could become militarized and that is what Stark is against thanks to film one. So Aldrich walks away again disappointed. Meanwhile the Mandarin is sharing his message through radio waves and television, even executing the owner of a major oil company stating, “I’m sure he’s a really good guy….I’m gonna shoot him in the head.” Chilling stuff, because of Ben Kingsley’s direction with the character and his almost Southern preacher type voice. At this point I was on the edge of my seat. Obviously the Mandarin was seconds away from revealing himself and becoming the driving force in the film. Then only minutes later, the film simply became eye candy.
It turns out that we get the impression that Aldrich is working for the Mandarin, referring to him as the master, and when Tony breaks into the mansion where the filming of the Mandarin’s exploits has been traced to, we find a very different Mandarin. It turns out the Mandarin is simply an act, or a show. Trevor is a hired British actor paid handsomely with drugs, women, and a mansion to portray the character of the Mandarin, in order to drive attention away from what Aldrich is really doing. And what is Aldrich doing? That whole DNA thing, he now calls “Extremis”. Oddly even for a split second I allowed myself to believe that the Mandarin was simply pretending to be Trevor, in order to fool Tony into believing the Aldrich story. True deception. True illusion. To my anger, and after a poop joke and the pop of a beer can, I’m sadly left with the truth.
What is that truth? It is simply that the writing was stubborn enough to create such a illustrious character only to service a twist mechanic that then leaves us with a less interesting, poorly motivated, and mimicked copy of the villains from the first two films. Motivated by simple revenge and jealousy. Yawn. Forgive me for being disappointed.
Some would argue that Killian is not the same as the first two villains in that he doesn’t fight Tony with physical armor, but really all the Extremis project represents (in the limited explanation the writers gave here) is another form of armor. Even better if you can ignore the anger and try to enjoy the rest of the eye candy, you’re left with Aldrich’s explanation as he is about to kill Tony…”I am the mandarin. I have always been the Mandarin.” Taken literally, this would make no sense, but even in the context of him simply meaning that by being the main guy behind the whole mess of events, that he basically would also technically be the Mandarin, is still lazy and unimportant.
Are we to believe that to cap off the series as a whole, that the terrorists from the first film simply don’t really have any connection to this film? Does this mean that the Mandarin is simply not revealed yet and that maybe Killian creates an illusion based off of the little information known about the Ten Rings? What conclusion is supposed to be drawn from this twist? If the fake Mandarin is based off a real Mandarin that no one knows anything about yet, then this requires explanation somewhere in the film. My guess is that Marvel has successfully allowed the writers under direction of Shane Black to essentially avoid the perceived racist undertones of the original character from the 60’s. Maybe this was Marvel’s way of skipping over any possible controversy they thought could arise from the Asian communities. What would be the reason to think this is even remotely true? Well Shane has been quoted as referring to the Mandarin as a “racist caricature”. Neat, except that doesn’t bother Marvel from printing story after story about him from his early creation to modern day. So I call B.S.
What’s his defense for the twist?
“I would say that we struggled to find a way to present a mythic terrorist that had something about him that registered after the movie’s over as having been a unique take, or a clever idea, or a way to say something of use, And what was of use about the Mandarin’s portrayal in this movie, to me, is that it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened. They buy into things in the way that the audience for this movie buys into it. And hopefully, by the end you’re like, ‘Yeah, we were really frightened of the Mandarin, but in the end he really wasn’t that bad after all’. In fact, the whole thing was just a product of this anonymous, behind-the-scenes guy. I think that’s a message that’s more interesting for the modern world because I think there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, a lot of fear, that’s generated toward very available and obvious targets, which could perhaps be directed more intelligently at what’s behind them.”
Again I call B.S. You didn’t struggle in any way in presenting or depicting him for the first 40 minutes of the movie. In fact the interesting way you portrayed him was showing something entirely new to iron man audiences in that this was a villain not motivated by jealously or revenge against Tony himself and in effect could have played the idea that Tony inserted himself into the villains path endangering everyone he loves. Tony’s willingness to be a hero when he can’t come to grips with the large idea of aliens, gods, and wormholes is a very interesting idea in that he is paralyzed by PTSD and can’t even focus on a single dangerous human. Shane says it himself that he intentionally entrapped the fan base of the first two films into seeing this movie. That’s enraging. He’s right in that towards the end I wasn’t frightened, but neither was I suffering from tension or any type of interest in why I should care. There was no sense that Tony wouldn’t save the day, which ironically he doesn’t. None at all, which disturbs me, because fright, tension, and being on the edge of our seat is exactly why anyone goes to the movies. Not that I don’t get his behind-the-scenes guy (trying to be deeper) theme, but honestly I don’t go to the movies to replicate real life behind-the-scenes bad guys of our current world, but rather to forget them for 2 hours.
What Marvel has allowed Shane to do along with his writers is to for the first time create a film that not only doesn’t understand the three pieces of good source material it draws from (Extremis, The Mandarin, Iron Patriot), but it makes me worried about the next few Marvel films. The only one it seems I can really trust is Josh Whedon. It’s lazy on Shane’s part because he knows going into Iron Man 3 that he has a vast audience that will show up day one and pay for the film’s production cost three times over, without even having to have a page written. It bothers me even more that he took an artistic theme that he couldn’t replicate on screen as being amazing, all the while selling the fan base on a premise that he destroyed 40 minutes in. That’s not clever, intelligent, or interesting. It’s lazy and boring, and for everyone that paid to go see it…expensive (even for just two people).
I could address other holes in the story such as the fact that Tony has 40 suits hiding 20 feet below him as his house is being shot at. How he somehow doesn’t have a protocol to facially recognize his girlfriends face as to not kill her. How his DNA is the only one that will work with the suit, and thus the same for Rhodey who has his suit hijacked. How you can have one of the coolest sidekicks in the Marvel realm and not use him at all except to hint at Iron Patriot, which has nothing to really add to this film at all, unless you consider the one time it is hi-jacked as a nod to the Norman Osborne story (unnecessary). The fact that the second film revolves around finding a new source to keep the shrapnel away from his heart when all he needed was one simple hospital operation. Why was the PTSD completely ignored the final third of the film never to really be addressed? There’s too much in this movie that is irrelevant.
But most of all… what are you trying to tell us Marvel? Is Iron Man done? Is Downey done? We know he is contracted for Avengers 2, so what does this movie do for anyone? This movie is financially successful based on your first two films and a fibbed collection of trailers and TV spots, and as a piece of 2.5 hours worth of film, it has the same eye candy level as transformers with a better stand alone story. It has good things, but where was and is your head at? If someone were to ask me what the best part of the film was, I would say the Easter egg scene at the end. Why? Because for about 30 seconds I get to laugh and connect with the heavy events of the Avengers film (which you hinted at and then ignored) along with being able to forget how badly I wanted this film to matter. I love Iron Man, and it’s what got me into the theaters for Avengers. You owe us better than this. I wont be rushing out to the next film so quickly.
PS. I’ll give you a nod for the Hulk Buster suit. Kudos for including that.
Mars is a fascinating planet. We have sent probe after probe there to discover more about the origins of the planet and how it may have once inhabited life. We know that water flowed upon Mars at one point and we are digging and drilling into small sections of the surface to search for more answers.
When it comes to the search for extraterrestrial life, however, Mars (though interesting) is second to another mass in our solar system. One of Jupiter’s four largest moons sits quietly awaiting discovery. Europa is a tortured moon. It has scars covering its entire surface signaling its constant tidal struggle from the strong forces of it’s superior. Jupiter has an immense gravity and pulls hard against Europa, which much like the moon pulls the Earth’s water creating title forces, Jupiter pulls on Europa and leaves large constant cracking on it’s icy surface.
Europa is a cold moon and thus its surface is covered in ice. This ice also cracks and breaks due to Jupiter’s pull on Europa. But there is a key feature to the moon that is hidden beneath the ice. Underneath the cracks is a body of water. Constant tidal flexing generates heat when you’re dealing with masses as big as a planet and moon. This effect also moves tectonic plates generating heat from below. What this tells us is that it is extremely likely that Europa could be generating enough heat below the surface in it rocky top layers to warm a body of water underneath it’s relatively smooth (regardless of the cracks) icy surface.
Earth has a similar setup deep in its oceans. The one difference being that Earth lies close enough to the sun to be free from a completely icy surface. However if you hypothetically turned off the Sun forever, Earth would quickly become sub artic on the surface and the only chance for humans to survive would be to bury into the deep layers of rock and rely on geothermal heat from our molten core.
Hypothetical event aside, the Earth leaks heat along with many chemicals from its thermal vents. What is interesting is that much life exists around these thermal vents on Earth and we see primitive life forming in what seems to be the harshest of conditions. The thought is that if the core of Europa is generating enough heat to also have thermal vents release heat and chemicals into the body of water, it could very likely be supporting primitive life. The fact that its surface is comprised of mostly oxygen also adds to this idea.
So what does this mean then? Are we talking about little green men with spaceships? Not at all. It’s a common misconception that when science talks about the idea of extraterrestrial life forms, they automatically mean highly evolved Martians with super space flight capabilities. Any life we find outside of Earth is most likely going to be either primitive if not microbial. We don’t have the capability to travel outside of our solar system with a human behind the wheel and therefore the likelihood that we find intelligent life is extremely rare. It’s not impossible that life like ours exists within a neighboring planetary system or is found to be plentiful throughout every galaxy (of which there are hundreds of billions), but all of the similar problems we face with interstellar space travel are going to be the same problems another group of intelligent life forms would have to overcome as well.
So how do we investigate life on Europa? Well due to the icy surface it’s not just a matter of landing, but also of drilling and submersing a vehicle to explore the water underneath. If you thought the recent Mars probe landing was insane, then this would likely blow your mind. Even better, plans are in motion to successfully pull this off over the next ten years. Of course everything sent to Europa will have to be strictly sterilized beyond belief to assure no false alarms. Personally I hope to see the video feed of a submersible probe as it sinks deeper and deeper only to have some organism swim by. That would be quite possibly the most intense scientific discovery of all time.
It’s not known for sure if we would find anything on Europa, but compared to all the planets and moons we can reach, there is no better suspect. Mars could prove to be promising underneath the soil and rock, but Europa could be a living and breathing collection of life just waiting to be unopened. Europa could change everything.
When I was a kid there was one movie that was a must-rent every Saturday afternoon. There was a small family-run video store down the road and every time I entered, I would run right over to the horror section and grab “Army of Darkness”. At that age I had no idea that this was the third in a collection of films that helped shaped the character of Ash. Of course, Army of Darkness starts by alluding to the ending of Evil Dead 2, but at that age, I figured it was just a quick intro to why Ash begins his journey chained up.
Years later I would experience the first two films in all their glory. The puzzle pieces fit and connected my childhood to my teenage years. There’s no way around saying this, but all three of the Evil Dead trilogy’s films kick so much fucking ass. With that out of the way I was skeptical about the reboot when it was first announced, as any nerd would be. Slowly, however, they started to win me over with amazing red band trailers and the small amount of on set news that trickled down.
Last night we got our tickets and headed in to see the Evil Dead reboot, and let me just say it took me right back to what I loved about the originals. Five friends head to a cabin? Check! Necronomicon Ex-Mortis is found and passages are recited? Check! Scary demon camera sails through the trees towards the cabin? Check! All hell breaks loose? Double Check!
This film is great. There is a connected and seemingly intelligent reason as to why they are all at this family cabin. The main role, Mia, is played by Jane Levy, who is an addict trying to get clean after the passing of her mother in a mental asylum. Her distant brother makes the trip to help her through the withdrawal after years of abandoning his family for a far away job. Early we see how the movie is going to progress in the fact that her friends have decided they aren’t going to let Mia leave until she has overcome withdraw and can begin to heal.
However, things aren’t right in this cabin. After a gruesome discovery in the basement (yes it has a trap door entrance!) one of the characters discovers a book that seems to be covered in barbed wire to prevent anyone from opening it. With a set of wire cutters and a quick out-loud reading of some of the passages, the shit quickly begins to hit multiple fans. Granted he was warned multiple times by the creepy handwriting. One warning that really got to me was something along the lines of ‘don’t speak the words, don’t read the words, don’t even think the words.’ Don’t quote me on the accuracy but it was something along those lines scribbled on the pages as a warning to anyone who happened to come in contact with it.
I wont spoil a minute of it for you. You have all the set up you need and my promise that if you enjoyed these movies as much as me growing up, that you are going to have a fun time. It has moments that will make you cringe, jump, shiver and smile. The film makers did their job in not only keeping very close to the source material and the feel of the original films, but in also bringing something new to the story. It hits home and at the end I couldn’t wait to get a chance to see it again.
It is graphic and violent, so no worries there as well. Jane Levy’s performance as Mia, throughout the whole film makes you really fear being left alone in a room with her, especially when she is contained below the cabin in the dark basement and the only thing between her and the camera is a flight of rotting stairs. So many times I wanted to shut the trap door myself, but the cameramen must have known that keeping the audience close to her was scarier then not knowing where she was. Though I wont lie…that’s not too comforting either.
So let me highly recommend you take the time to go see this late at night while it still runs in theaters. You can feel better after watching this movie that not every reboot automatically means sub par quality. This reboot is worth every bit the ticket price.
Take a moment and really inspect the image above. This is a car designed to efficiently end anyone who gets in its way. Notice the reinforced steel paneling below the headlights that allow for maximum front-end collisions with little damage. See how from its hood to windshield there lies a metal chainsaw like contraption meant to deal with anyone who rolls up onto the hood? The tires are large and allow for ample room to run over objects. They are enforced with heavy-duty performance breaks for those quick turns. If I had to bet, I’d say it maybe gets 12 miles to the gallon depending on the size of the engine. It’s a beauty.
This is the car that extreme gun-advocates wish existed, but sadly for them you won’t see Honda or Ford promoting one of these killer cars out onto the road for consumer purchase anytime soon (though you can drive one electronically in Carmageddon, a video game from the 90’s). In fact, almost every car manufactured is done so with a design that is completely opposite of this. Safety sells in the auto-business, minus the Dodge Viper, who has warning stickers all over it to make you aware that misuse can cause death. Auto manufacturers have shifted towards obtaining better mileage, making it cheaper at the pump. They also are required to pass strict industry standard safety ratings and come with almost every kind of airbag you can think of. In fact, every car developed is geared towards better mileage, safety, and protection not only for the passengers but also for other vehicles in case of an accident. Safety and mileage sell.
So what’s the big deal about cars in this post? Well, it’s more than likely that you have either heard it said or have said it yourself that “cars kill people too, so why do people seem to seek further gun control and not also car-control? Why do cars get a pass?”
It’s time to break this type of position down to the fundamental flaw in comparing a gun and a car with regards to “regulation”. It’s true that cars kill people. It’s true that guns kill people. Or people kill people, if you believe guns have no part in it, which I think would be a little misguiding, but could hold some truth. There is a huge distinction that is generally left out that at the very least debunks this argument as a true comparison, and it is simply this…
Cars are not designed to destroy, maim or kill a target in front of its headlights. Stick with me here… They are simply designed at their core level to get you quickly from point A to point B. That is it in consumer markets. Their design is transportation. But cars have killed people. Sure, physically cars can very easily kill a person when misused and abused and if you go back far enough, some of the designs of cars in it’s infancy and early history, were essentially moving death boxes. But again, even at that time, the design was motivated by trying to move people from one place to another quicker than a horse carriage. As cars got larger, faster, and more powerful, they became more dangerous.
However, what has happened with cars is that they have become regulated in a way that a seatbelt is required for modern vehicles for the front two passengers (in most states, while backseat belts are left up to the discretion of the occupants in some). They must pass standardized safety testing per their class of vehicle and in order to drive one legally on the road the user must show basic proficiency in operating and obeying the laws of the road. This requires a written test, quick eye exam, proof of car insurance, and a physical driving test along with the many separate levels of restricted driving before obtaining a full license. Can a user misuse an automobile by skipping all the steps? Sure, but they would be risking penalty if caught and there is not a modern car dealer that will risk you driving off the lot without insurance. Everything about legally operating a vehicle requires safety checks and regulations not only on the vehicle manufacturer’s side, but the operator’s side.
Since cars are often compared to gun safety and ownership when trying to advocate the “ridiculousness” of gun control (and trust me I understand some of their points), lets ask the same questions. What is the basic core design behind a firearm? Its basic core design requires that it stop or end any object within its firing path. And what about a gun makes it successful at this? If history has shown us anything with regards to warfare or hunting, it is that a gun that fires accurately, quickly, and without mechanical issues will fare better than one that does not do those three things efficiently. Regardless of the operators input, a gun is more successful at its core design when it performs those three ideas efficiently. Guns used to be horribly inaccurate when compared to the technology used today with machined boring, cartridge power, and accurate sighting. So guns, just as cars were less refined in their earlier days, just as they have both evolved their efficiency to our modern standards.
But from their earlier days they have also evolved down separate paths. Cars have become more efficient to their design, by trying to correct the safety issues and sell a product that can withstand minor and even some major accidents or misuse. There are reasons why parents would rather have their children driving large SUVs loaded with airbags and high safety ratings, compared to a 1960’s muscle car. If the core design were to transport you from A to B, then creating cars that are un-safe would simply fail the standards of the core design of transporting occupants. Guns evolved differently in that they have become easier to operate, can hold more ammunition, as well as higher-powered cartridges, along with many other tweaks that make them more efficient in keeping with their core design. Both have stayed true to solving the issues that motivated their core design.
Design and Intent are two very separate ideas. Usually good design comes from motivation and problem solving. For example: it sucked walking everywhere, so some were motivated to put carriages on horses. Then it sucked taking long trips to get to point A to B, so someone was motivated to evolve industrial technology towards the engines we know today in the modern vehicle. Gas is expensive and no one wants to die while going from A to B, so better mileage and safety are now big sellers for modern cars. This same line of logic can be used in relation to guns. Hunting with stones sucked so some were motivated to create tools like the crossbow to make it easier. Then gunpowder blew (pun intended) the evolution of the firearm wide open. The faster, more accurate, and further it shoots the more efficient a tool it becomes in hunting or warfare.
With regards to the recent attack in Boston, I’ve heard some replace the “cars” argument with the pressure cooker, which was an integral part of the bomb that was used. Again it would be a mistake to equate a pressure cooker to a firearm, because their core design speaks of two vastly different motivations, no matter the intent of the operator. Intent is described as being determined to do something. One might hi-jack and modify the core design with the intent to do something horrible, but it can never change the original motivation that led to the design of the pressure cooker. They are designed for cooking purposes. A gun is not designed for cooking. Nails with filed off heads (found at the sight of the bomb) were intended by the user to cause damage via the effects of shrapnel. Those who were motivated over time to design the nail designed it for use in construction and architecture to solve issues with regards to structural stability.
Guns are designed to do one thing very well. Destroy, maim or kill that which lies in the path of the bullet being projected out from its chamber. At its core design it is inherently complex and completely un-comparable with a car. They come from opposite motivations and eventual designs regardless of the intent of the operator. A better comparison would be a standard firearm compared to a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). They are both designed to destroy, maim, or kill that which lies in their path. In that comparison, interestingly, one might ask, why is the RPG regulated and controlled, while the AR-15 is not. It’s a flip side to the coin of gun-advocacy groups, who usually respond that an RPG is not practical for home defense. Well wouldn’t a single explosive round that covers a wider impact zone (your front yard), be good for defense over an AR-15 with a very precise impact zone? You could debate that all day. Mostly it’s a comparison used to generate perspective on the issue of the Second Amendment.
In the end, when you try to express that all pressure cookers or cars should be banned (considering most firearms outside of military grade or automatics are still not banned federally), you end up making a comparison with something that was never intended to destroy, maim, or kill anything in it’s path. Could it? Sure, but is it designed to? No.
Everyone can intend to modify any core design no matter the original motivations to create a dangerous and lethal new design, but with guns it is done for you right out of the box and very efficiently over many years of evolution and innovation in their technology. This post is not about how you feel about gun control. The point is that comparing a gun to a car or pressure cooker leaves many scratching their heads. Cars are heavily regulated and are subject to strict oversight on both the manufacturer and operator’s respective sides.
Gun’s are subject to some regulation, but ultimately the question is, could we be doing more to screen the mentally ill and dangerous with deeper background checks? Why does it take less effort to own a weapon designed to destroy, maim, or kill compared to being licensed to operate a vehicle, which was designed, solely to transport me? Why should I need insurance, a written test, eye exam, a week of class instruction, a physical driving test with an instructor, as well as a set amount of clean restricted driving, before I can legally operate a vehicle? It’s simple, because my operation of the vehicle can directly affect the rest of you whom I share the road with. As a group shouldn’t we protect ourselves from those who are mentally unstable and criminal, by at least making a common sense move to better screen gun applicants? I won’t propose the idea of taking our guns away, but as a gun owner, I’d like to see some accountability amongst gun advocates with regards to better screening and databases for the mentally ill.
Hell, I thought that’s what we all wanted….
Did you hear? There’s a secret to being successful, wealthy, healthy and happy! You haven’t heard? We’ll throw me $15 and I’ll show you how to be all of these things and more!
…are you buying my sales pitch?
If I’ve failed to sell you then I want to personally congratulate you and ask that you take that $15 and put it in a savings account. And for those that pulled out their wallets… put your money away and sit down, because the secret that Rhonda Byrne is peddling in her book, “The Secret” is nothing that’s worth any amount of money. What her PR has been able to do is repackage (with messy pseudoscience) and sell the old idea of “thinking positive”. Worst of all she has made nearly over 300 million in sales selling this same old idea (with her new age twist).
So what is the secret? Well Rhonda has decided that she wants you to pay her to tell you about the law of attraction. Never heard of it? Let me enlighten you (minus the fee). Here are the basics on using the law of attraction…
• Know what one desires and ask the “universe” for it.
• Focus one’s thought upon the thing desired with great feeling such as enthusiasm or gratitude.
• Feel and behave as if the object of one’s desire is already acquired.
• Be open to receiving it.
It’s so simple. Just meaningfully desire something, think hard about it, pretend you have it, and then be ready to receive. This of course seems harmless, but what these main points have become in relation to Rhonda’s descriptions and instructions is a roadmap for over-inflated egos and victim blaming. Worst of all, these are ideas (minus the pseudoscience parts) that stem from general positive thinking. Thinking positive helps for sure in life, because seeing things positively can help you handle the stress of a bad situation, however this version of this idea takes it to a level where many who follow this to the “T” end up rolling their insecurities and expectations into the system, allowing for defeat and self-doubt, when the world brings them bad to reality with a bad event.
Each part of the four above steps are nothing that needs explanation beyond simple psychology, yet everyday people (at least those that pay for these types of books) are looking for an outside explanation for their success or in contrast, their problems. And in most cases the quick and easy fix to their problems.
“Know what one desires and ask the Universe for it.”
Humans do this everyday. We constantly wish for better experiences and success in what we do. What Rhonda does is take this basic human condition and tries to connect it to the Universe as a whole using pseudo Quantum Physics to try and simply explain how we are all connected spiritually to the Universe. Debate the inclusion of Quantum Physics with the law of attraction all you want, but all it eventually leads to is YouTube videos and buying books of New Age authors who use big words to sound real smart. Ultimately we prioritize everything in our daily lives, and many times we think we can’t make room for that ultimate “want” or “desire” because theirs no time, or it’s too expensive, etc. Rather than asking the Universe, all you have to do is define what it is you want to do or obtain. This is the basic (un-quantum/pseudo science) explanation. Simply define your goal.
“Focus one’s thought upon the thing desired with great feeling such as enthusiasm or gratitude.”
Though she presents it like a secret, all this entire step describes is to just refine your goal. How is this not common sense? How does this pass as some type of ancient secret? If you want a new car, don’t you think it’s a necessity that you do your research on that car to make sure you’re not buying a heap of junk? Of course doing research is a physical and mental activity that requires a bit of drive to complete. What Rhonda seems to impress upon her readers, which is obvious to us who have the sense to not pay for this book, is that by simply asking the Universe (I assume by thinking about it, or maybe yelling to the skies) and then thinking enthusiastically or graciously about this want, that you will manifest it in reality by completing the next two steps. Again all the new age stripped away, and you have simple goal setting, motivation, and action to work towards that want or desire.
“Feel and behave as if the object of one’s desire is already acquired.”
What? Pretend I have already got what I wanted? Seriously?… ok obviously she’s implying the idea that confidence is important in achieving your goal of acquiring it. Again, with no new age added on, this is common sense. If you have defined and refined (by setting a plan and doing your homework), then you should naturally be confident in that which you now know you need to go and achieve it. This however, doesn’t guarantee your success in reaching your goal. You could have defined your goal, then refined it by using bad research, which would then mean that no matter your level of confidence, you are destined to fail. Skip, the hard work of research and you’ve doomed your goal. Some get lucky enough once in a while to skip refining their goals, but rarely do people strike gold by sitting on their ass.
“Be open to receiving it.”
This one is common sense. Don’t allow an opportunity to successfully achieve your goal pass you by. If you define, refine (actually do the research rather than just think about how awesome it would be), show confidence in your decision making, and keep aware of opportunities that will lead you to your goal, then you have the greatest chance of succeeding in your endeavor.
The problems with “The Secret” is that it uses pseudo science (because most people are horribly ignorant on the subject of Quantum Physics or Mechanics, which is ok) to try and take away the idea that you need to work hard to become successful. If positive thoughts were all it took to be successful in “manifesting” your wants and desires into reality, then we would all be millionaires. I know I would. Who wouldn’t think positively about wanting to be millionaires?
In fact, I would bet that there isn’t a single person in our US economy who hasn’t wanted to have more money, hasn’t focused on that want really deeply, who doesn’t have the confidence that they will one day be so, and would be unwilling to receive the gift if it ever came. This is an entire country of want-to-be millionaires and billionaires. Our entire television programming is used as an eye into the life of the wealthy. So why in the hell are 1% of us in control of the majority of our countries wealth? Well, Rhonda would say it’s because of them all knowing the secret! I have a separate theory.
It is simply that so few have so much because they use this tactic that every person in the US (and probably around the world) uses whether they’re conscious of it or not? Or is it more likely that we are sold the idea that we could all one day be as rich as the Walton family, by simply working hard and climbing the ladder? How many of us have hard working parents who have climbed their whole life and still have a boss that is 20 years younger than them and who makes 3 times their salary? Does their boss know the secret?! The simple fact is this. There are those that were (and still are) born with the spirit of entrepreneurship, which is the natural ability to follow these steps (minus the new age portions). We know of families, like the Walton’s who started with a one-man operation to destroy the idea of fixed pricing. It paid off.
How could this possibly be dangerous thinking then? Well, I mentioned two dangerous paths that this type of thinking can generate: inflated egos and victim blaming. The Secret talks about victims of sickness, poverty, and crime in a strange way that means to give credence to validity of the law of attraction. Have you ever caught a stomach virus? What if I told you that you caught that virus, not from coming in contact with it through no knowledge of your own, but rather you caught it because you weren’t positively trying to manifest good health through your thoughts? Would that raise your eyebrows? This type of thinking is carried over to the concept of poverty as well. You’re simply not wealthy because you haven’t manifested the thought in your mind. You haven’t followed the secret Rhonda has discovered (which by the way, she does take discover card). You are poor because you think poor. So for the entire non-executive staff of Enron who lost all of their savings due to the unknown illegal activities of their bosses… well it’s your fault. You made yourself a victim. You caused your loss of life savings. Same if you were raped. You manifested that into reality.
Inflated egos are rampant through those who adhere to these concepts. The confidence that is exuded from pretending you are already famous, rich, healthy, and successful reeks of an over inflated self esteem. Don’t get me wrong, you should be proud of your accomplishments and confident in that which you belief and have achieved, but if you act as if you are important to everyone’s daily life, and have done nothing to show how you are, its only going to come off as egotistical. I’m a fan of rewarding those around me with praise and trust, when they achieve something on their own with a sense of humility. Again, confidence for those following these steps, doesn’t mean they will be egotistical, but rather it is an excuse to be so, which in turn sheds away the humility that makes them personable. Don’t get me wrong, but to be successful in the movie industry you need to take it to this level from what it sounds like, but be aware that acting like this in any situation tends to drive people away. No one likes a “know it all” especially when they haven’t done the hard work. Most of the wealthiest people in this country have their parents or grandparents to thank for their mass amounts of wealth. These people just live off the rewards of their earlier generations hard work.
This brings me to a final point. What is success really? Would having millions really make you happy? Would having everyone fawn after you make you really important? Success is really measured by what you want out of life. The Secret sells many books because it appeals to the rags to riches sales pitch. Pay $15, now and we will give you some lazily, rehashed concepts that being positive is a good thing. And being positive can certainly help. There is a scene in the Wall Street sequel where one character asks the other about what their number is. He is referring to the amount of money one would want in order to walk away from the stock market trading business. Have you every thought, if I just had this I could finally be happy? It doesn’t have to be money. For many, success in measured in providing for a stable family and enjoying the moments of raising children. Personally, I have a number, but it’s not nearly as high as you would imagine, and that’s because I see every day in the news what money does to people. It makes teenage reality stars fake their own sex tapes, it makes actors carve their natural faces into oblivion, it removes the need to save, learn, educate, and appreciate the small things. Your success is relative to you.
Last February, I decided I wanted to own a Jeep Wrangler, so I defined it by deciding what type I would want, researched the costs vs. functionality to refine how much I could get out of it with how much I could afford. Then rather than sitting on my ass and pretending I already owned it, I went out and searched for one that I eventually found sitting alone on a Toyota lot and gave it a good look over. But it wasn’t so much that I was open to receiving it, but that I was confident I could own it, based on my research. And here I sit in 80 degree weather, with the top down, my fiancé at my side, and my lab in the back. All three enjoying success. Don’t think for a moment that would have ever happened by just sitting on my ass thinking about it. There’s the real secret. No matter how positive he is, a lazy farmer grows no crops.
If there is one thing we can all be sure of in this world, it is that shit happens. Not only is shit happening, but also it has happened continuously in the past. In regards to the past we are left with the remnants (architecture, antiques, relics, fossils, etc.) of past things and events happening. Historians study the meaning behind these remnants, as do archeologists, geologist, botanists, biologists, and many other ‘-ists’. They devote their entire careers in the pursuit of understanding the past and it’s effects on the present. It’s through their works and findings that we being to piece together the human condition from centuries before up until current day. However there tends to be an issue with how this information is misrepresented, ignored, picked through, and changed in order to fit modern hypothesizes that are based more in the absence of evidence rather than the actual collected evidence, known to those professionals in their fields.
Conspiracy theories have been a part of our culture forever and will most likely continue to be so, but its quite shocking when these types of ideas are allowed to flourish on national television, without having to be held up to the standards that many professionals hold as vital to interpreting the past. The History Channel has taken this ignorance to the forefront with their popular show, “Ancient Aliens.” What this show attempts to do is claw some credibility into a theory that Alien beings traveled to this planet and shaped many of the ancient sites and artifacts that remain standing to this day. The problem is that they spend most of the time engaging the viewer by using the tactic of attacking gaps in the information rather than providing credible evidence to prove their claims. Worst of all they make sure not to sight sources and intentionally misguide the viewer by ignoring and not mentioning well-established information that would make them look foolish.
I could spend days ripping into this program but that is not my goal. The people over at www.ancientaliensdebunked.com have already done so, and I highly encourage you head there to learn how deceiving and inaccurate the show is. The point of this post is to show how basic logic should be able to deter most from mistaking this shows claims as accurate. Let’s go through some basic logical concepts.
Anything is Possible?
“If you claim to be a wise man, you truly do not know.” – Kansas
No one can claim to know everything and because humans only know what we have observed over time, and it would be absurd to claim that there is a limit to what can and could happen. However using the phrase, “anything is possible” isn’t really an argument that you would want to base your life upon. For something to be possible, it must be able to be done, within the capacity of someone or something. So could Aliens have built or interacted with the many of the ancient sites and populations we know existed? Well if anything is possible, then I suppose that’s one point for Ancient Aliens except that we have no evidence that Aliens even exist. Could they? Possibly, but I wouldn’t bet on it with no evidence to support it. This tactic may work in regards to ancient cultures if there were no evidence at all to examine, but that is never the case. This type of argument also wouldn’t hold up in a court of law either. Anything’s possible, simply allows anything to be true without having to show your work. This is where we get into the next term.
Is It Plausible?
Simply, in the argumentative use, this would ask whether the idea is reasonable or likely. Is the idea persuasive? Asking if something is plausible requires each person involved to reach a personal opinion on the likelihood that Aliens visited us centuries before. Maybe it even allows for a group consensus on the matter. If there is no physical evidence to show that Aliens have visited us, besides blurry videos, hoaxes (showing the need for some to deceive others), and personal (uncorroborated) experiences, then still we have to lean towards it being less plausible. One thing that is debatable and would help the Ancient Alien theorists would be that the number of galaxies, stars, and planets make it more likely that we aren’t the only planet with life on it. And, while I’d admit that its quite likely there is life out there, I would have to lower my expectations of these theories being true, because ultimately these other planets inhabitants would have to face the same troubles we do in regarding interstellar travel, radiation, the speed of light, etc.
So where anything is possible (requiring no evidence to substantiate a claim), plausibility could work to help hone in the debate, but where it falls short is that the evidence found at these ancient sites, in no way points to otherworldly. It’s not only shocking in how grandiose many of these sights are to see in person, but also extremely surprising at how explainable the engineering that was used to create them really was. Comical even.
Is It Probable?
Probable comes from the Latin, probabilis, from probare, meaning ‘to test, demonstrate’. Its origin is from the Middle Ages and expresses the concept of whether something is worthy of believing. So in this context of ancient travelers we would have to demonstrate the validity of the claims made. Again the one thing that helps their claim is the probability of life on other planets, but even that is debated. Outside of that we have no real evidence to substantiate the claim, and if anything is possible, then it could mean that simply because we see planets that should allow for life, that it doesn’t necessarily mean that life then exists on them. A habitable planet, doesn’t automatically determine that inhabitants roam it. That is why the percentages being debated are always expressed as the probability of life on other planets. Without a big enough telescope or traveling to them we could never really know.
Is It Evident?
What makes something evident? Anything that is plain, obvious and clearly understood. What does this mean in context to the idea those ancient aliens created, interfered, communicated, or taught ancient human cultures? Well it simply means that the evidence shows otherwise. There is nothing about the engineering, artwork, sculptures, writings, and ruins that shows the need for an alien technology. It will do no harm to watch the 3 hours that www.ancientaliensdebunked.com has put together to show exactly this. The problem with the ancient alien theories is that they assume you wont do your homework, and as busy as we are today, it’s a great tactic. We see them on TV and assume (by not doing our homework and the fact that they’re on the History Channel) that there is a true debate over this issue. There really isn’t. Professionals in their field could spend years showing you otherwise. Most of the people on these shows spewing misinformation have also spent their entire lives selling this idea, and it is a very popular one.
When you give the same credibility to a phrase such as “anything is possible” compared to the credibility that is earned by showing that something is evident, you fail to prove anything. An ancient alien theorist could try to convince you of these ideas, when their facts are wrong and their intentionally misleading you, but if their only real argument is that “anything is possible”, then could I not propose that distant races of unicorns came to Earth and built our ancient temples? My statement holds the same amount of evidence as does theirs, though I feel they would try to laugh me off as insane for even mentioning it.
The greater lesson remains when it comes to exploring our past: we should not try to equate something as evident without evidence. There is nothing wrong with exploring ideas and concepts, but at some point you have to show your work if you want to be taken seriously. Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it best when he described that every conspiracy theorists is publicly admitting that they have no evidence to support their claims. “Show us the evidence,” he goes on to say. With irrefutable evidence in your hand, there is no longer any debate. Failing to understand evidence is understandable because we can’t all possibly be experts at everything, but claiming an idea requires that you show it to be evident, otherwise you will be doing everyone a disservice. Ghosts, monsters, spirits, aliens, and other ideas like them are extremely interesting; yet remain to be shown as evident. There is a reason for this. At least, currently, until they start showing themselves to be evident, the probability is extremely low.
Well it’s been a long time since I’ve had Verizon cellular service and originally we had left because my fiancé and I were looking to slim down expenses. At the time I was with Verizon my bill was in excess of about $170 a month with a shared family plan. I had been grandfathered in with the unlimited data plan (which we all know was actually capped at 5 Gb per month). Verizon has since moved away from the unlimited data and has instead opted for the tier-based data plans.
When we left, we incurred the ETF charges (a painful breach of contract charge), but at the time even then it was cheaper to take the hit and head to virgin mobile compared to the remaining months of $170 with Verizon. So we jumped ship. This meant that if Virgin Mobile failed, that we would be restricted and unable to return to Verizon for 90 days. Not really a threat in my opinion. So we set up the new Virgin Mobile phones and set out to no contract land. It was ok at first.
After about a month or two we started to see a huge drop in service and seemingly it was because VM relied on Sprint’s coverage basically to provide cell service to it’s customers. The worst part was that we lived on the edge of a major city that even for Sprint users, had no 4G or even a reliable 3G service. After our lab ate her phone and mine cracked in my pocket, we were left with the hefty cost of replacing two phones for VM. Their phones have since improved and they now offer more options for smart phone users, but at the time it was going to run me more to replace the phones than to switch back to a big carrier.
We went online and headed to Amazon Wireless, where we learned about their penny phone sales. Huge groups of top of the line smart phones were selling for a penny if you signed up for a two-year contract. Now we could have easily gone back to Verizon by this point but their plan pricing was still sky high. I also had always wanted to try the Samsung Galaxy S2, which was ideally on sale for a penny through Sprint. So we decided to switch after investigating those I knew who had Sprint around us. It costs us nothing but 2 cents to switch since VM was a no-contract carrier. Problem solved.
For a good while the service was ok. It wasn’t 4G by any stretch, but 3G was manageable. Certain areas would lack service but our home and work was doable. Plus, 4G was headed to our area “within the next year” according to Sprint, so by the time we were a year in, it would be perfect. However, that wouldn’t last.
With about 9 months left on our contract (and two Galaxy S2’s with shattered screens…these things are fragile sadly), the service and coverage simply dropped out. What was once manageable, was now warning me about constant roaming charges and coverage. I was able to test other phones, like my fathers HTC Evo 4G, which was a little better than the Galaxy S2 with regards to signal strength, but overall everything became un-usable. Being that our bill was now $165 per month, I called to explain my frustration. They gave me the standard, “there’s a tower near you with issues, technicians are on it and it should be fixed in 72 hours” response, but we had been having this issue for months. They credited my account $15 (woo hoo…sigh), and flashed my phone to get rid of the roaming warning every ten minutes.
Well, 72 hours has passed and in that time I did my homework and found that Verizon coverage here had improved by strides and that their plans had actually gotten cheaper than what I was previously paying with them. I check our data usage and found we could survive on the 2 Gb data tier and decided to check the penny sales on Amazon Wireless. Needless to say, Sprint’s coverage has not improved in that 72 hours and so two brand new Droid RAZR M 4GLTE phones are on their way to my home as we speak.
We are going to get hit with ETF charges from Sprint, but even with that knowledge, we are going to break ahead $80 with switching then if we stayed with Sprint. Also I recently found that we could get further discounted due to our jobs, so that pretty much settles it. We have come full circle and realized that for where we live the best coverage is with Verizon, and that until Sprint actually rolls out their 4G LTE, we have chosen the cheaper and weirdly best performing cell service for our location. I like to re-evaluate at the end of every contract to make sure we are getting our money’s worth, so maybe in two years Sprint will have caught up. But as for now, we are back where we started with better service and a cheaper bill.
I equated it to my fiancé last week, that there is a reason you pay for Xbox live online service, compared to paying nothing for PS3’s online service. One clearly works. The other simply doesn’t. You get what you pay for, except I’m still trying to figure out how Sprint can charge that much for service that is the equivalent to playing laggy Madden 2013 on the PS3. Crazy.
What kind of personality do you need to have in order to pitch and hype a game to a level of what would look to be unfathomable, when you stop into your office every single day and can plainly see that the true product is nothing like what you just finished telling the fans. Randy Pitchford sits as the CEO of Gearbox software which is known for such games as the Borderlands series, the bringing to life of the forever lost Duke Nukem Forever game, and their recent mess of a release, Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Lets get back to trying to define his personality. He seems like a really nice guy and down to Earth. He even seems like a guy you could invite over to a LAN and play round after round of Team Fortress, but we would be mistaken if we didn’t think that Randy was a businessman first and above all. He’s got the dream job and one that we would all kill for. He gets to run his own game studio, is able to bring ideas into an interactive realm, has enough clout (somehow) to grab major licenses that would make any fan drool, and yet has done absolutely nothing (with the exception of Borderlands) to really have it all make sense to regular gamers. Lets also not forget that Randy has his hand in porting Half-life expansions, worked for 3d Realms, and has touched even titles like Halo: Combat Evolved.
The guy has a resume. However, now that he is well enough known in the minds of gamers he seems to be heading in a dangerous direction that mimics the likes of Peter Molyneux (Fable series), where it seems to be more about the sales pitch of a game even if its all based on complete fabrication. Now I could write a book on the shortcomings of Peter and how even now he still seems to be taken seriously within the gaming industry, but that’s for another day. These two men are exactly the same, in that they can sell you the idea of paradise, accept the sale, and then leave you with something that feels like it belongs in a 99 cents bargain bin.
Lets begin with Randy’s control over finally releasing Duke Nukem Forever. To be fair to him, this game was stagnant for about 13 years until it was finally taken over and finished by his studio. He had spoken many times about how they were essentially just going to finish and polish, but that it would stand unchanged from the original 3D Realms vision. To be honest, no one expected it to be a completely revamped, updated, solid game, but what Randy sold to us, was essentially what was delivered: a broken, dated, artistically lazy, horribly designed, lag-filled, buggy piece of shit. Though he left out that last part.
Were his intentions good? I’d imagine so. You would think that a studio head wouldn’t take on a project like that without thinking that they could at the very least make it good enough to make a return on their original investment. Video games are still all about money in the end, which is why I think he probably thought he could do something great with it. But in the end the experience of Duke Nukem Forever seemed from Randy’s constant hype to be more about capturing the essence of Duke Nukem rather than worrying about the physical mechanics and coding within the game. It did feel like a Duke Nukem game and was accurate to the original source content, but being that I played Duke 3D thirteen years ago, it felt petty and childish. What I thought was edgy and violent in the 90’s didn’t translate well to my late twenties. Sadly the technology running the game also stayed about as close to the original content as well with the addition of pixel shading and 3D models. This showed me that Randy cared so much for the content and getting the feel right that he forgot that he was releasing a game to a FPS public that has gotten used to standards that should never be absent from any modern FPS. Given the long development and the shady history of getting the game out, I allowed myself to enjoy it for what it was. Did it suck? Yes. Did I hold it against Randy? No. That was until he did it again in 2013.
I’m not going to spend time explaining to you how big of an Aliens fan I am. I play video games and read books on the Universe. That’s proof enough. Aliens: Colonial Marines was introduced and spent seven years in development through a dual effort of Gearbox and Sega. The original sales pitch seemed more along the lines of a squad based sci fi FPS that required teamwork, skill and good use of pulse rifles, smart guns, and trackers to keep your squad alive. That had me at day one. I still remember the Gameinformer that detailed the first shots of in-game screens. Sadly had the game been released when first announced, it would have probably been the greatest game of that year being that seven years ago the FPS standards were still more in line with what was eventually released this year. It goes for Duke Nukem Forever as well, if were pointing out that simple fact.
Randy and Gearbox spent a lot of time and effort on producing a playable demo that we all can admit we watched and got excited for. It was still the squad-based game I had been led to believe from my Gameinformer. The demo gave us a peek at the dark atmosphere, the coop game play and smart Alien Ai. This was the type of game where I would consider it an honor to be outsmarted constantly by the waves of Xenomorphs. Knowing that the levels might possibly be built with thousands of options for the Xenos to attack my friends and I made us all prepare for which console to pick it up on. Eventually I settled with PC as my choice seeing how the PC would only look better than the console versions and how based on that demo, I was definitely making the best choice.
Well about 3 hours before it was to be released, I had already watched Aliens again to prepare, watched Randy’s demo and pre-purchased the game on Steam. That was the beginning of the end of my tolerance for Gearbox. Not more than a hour later, with still two hours until it unlocked, the reviews started breaking. About two articles later I realized that I had once again been duped by Randy and his sales pitch. Words like “buggy”, “lazy”, “outdated”, and “broken” popped up over and over and sent me on a search to see if I could maybe claim to Steam that I ordered it by mistake. Alas, it was too late. Even better, when Midnight did approach, the game didn’t unlock. I had to actually wait until 3am Eastern time if I wanted to play that morning. I decided to hit the sack and wait until after work the following day.
With the cat out of the bag, it was clear that I was going to have to make the best of a shitty situation and just accept that I was tricked again into buying one of his games. I got home, loaded it for the first time and it crashed my PC. I then restarted and the game loaded up. It was about a minute into the intro cut scene that I realized that this game was going to last me all about 20 minutes before I shut it off and never finished it. One line of dialogue….
“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” This line needs to fucking die out.
Fuck it. I’m no longer attached to this game emotionally anymore. After I figured out that the v-sync was glitching the cut scenes and the game finally ran normal, there was the overbearing issue of shitty “marine” dialogue and interactions, shitty AI (both Xeno and helper Marines), linear level design, the useless tracker weapon, dull plot, and lifeless cameos that registered nothing on my excitement scale.
Let me make this very clear…. Aliens: Colonial Marines was never intended to please the millions of sci fi fans that grew up on the films. If that were the case, then I would care about seeing Bishops ripped bottom half, or seeing Hicks in the intro cut scene, or at the very least I WOULD BE AFRAID OF THE XENOMORPHS. The idea that the Weyland-Yutani private security force would be interested in protecting their investments in weaponizing the Xenos was a great concept, but not one that should extinguish the power and fear that any man face to face with a Xeno would experience. I don’t purchase an Alien game with the intent to kill humans the entire time. Boss fights were lazy, Xenos are stupid and glitch everywhere, my NPS squad never fired more than one clip of ammo at each encounter, and ultimately it just didn’t bother me that I put the controller down and walked away. My only saving grace is that maybe modders will come along and make it into something worth playing. I would gladly pay them for it.
(mmmmm hi-res textures?!!)
So what does this say about Randy and his studio? Well it shows me that this is a man who can talk a huge game and who has no issues bending the truth to his audience for financial gain. His goals were so focused on the source material that he forgot to bring innovation and modern game play to the table. PC modders are currently reviewing his INI files and have determined that the game isn’t even compatible with the majority of semi-modern graphics cards. Direct X 9 is not acceptable for a game released in 2013 with a seven-year development history. DX10 would be understandable, but not 9.
Why is it that so many studios have trouble taking an amazing license and bringing it to life interactively in a way that satisfies the core fan base? I’m not ever going to admit that making a game is anything easy, but wouldn’t you at least look at your competitors and see that they all follow a set of minimum standards that are considered “musts” in this day in age. Keep the source material accurate (which Gearbox did) and engaging (certainly Gearbox needed better writers) and then at least meet the industry standards. That right there would be a AAA title. Then all the fans could really do is peg you as doing enough, but not innovating the genre, and that’s totally fine. Not every studio is going to reinvent the genre. This is Randy’s mistake every single fucking time.
He gets the source material correct and disregards the mechanics of interactive design, playability, and innovation that can bring new life to an older franchise, all the while being fun to play. This is why we have no good modern Duke Nukem or Alien experience. He even expressed his dislike for studios who milk the public using popular licenses to sell the game alone, yet this is what he has done for one of the most loved FPS shooters of all time, and one of the best sci fi films of all time. Gearbox has lost me as a customer, and it’s simply because you can’t trust what Randy sells you.
The question is not so much how can someone wake up day in and day out lying to a core fan base knowing full well that his product is sub par, but rather how does Randy get up on stage for his next game and expect anyone to listen? Gamers are a loyal bunch and we reward studio with loyalty when they bother to respect us in their sales pitch. ACM should have been scrapped one year into development, because at least a game that never comes out is a game that can’t disappoint you. Randy, you may never read this and trust me I don’t hate you for what you are trying to accomplish, but its clear that you lack the ability to step back from a project and evaluate your own product from the view of us gamers who you claim to be so in tune with. Give me a call on your next project… and we will talk perspective, because focusing entirely on source material accuracy over playability is a fool’s errand. That goes for you too, Peter.
Confirmation Bias allows for the continuation of fringe ideas that lack any real evidence when operated from within a controlled experiment. We all do it; we have some random event take place that seems too good to be true and thus we begin to form opinions based on that event, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge the multiple times that the event did not transpire positively.
Lets tackle a good example such as the following to better understand the concept. Lets say that you have a hypothesis that details an idea that there are doctors all over the globe that can “remove” the bad tissue (usually chicken guts with fake blood) from your body that is causing you great pain. This kind of procedure would fall under what is labeled as “alternative medicine”, because it is often untested in a controlled experiment, and uses unscientific methods and knowledge. This lack of testing and provable methods would generally be enough to stave the majority of the public who use common sense, but alas it continues to be sought out by many.
Anyways, back to the hypothesis. Lets say you have a disease that you want cured, but that your many traditional medical specialists have deemed you incurable. Naturally you are already in the mindset that you have a disease that “can’t” be cured and the only way to psychologically react is to either accept this fate or oppositely refuse to belief that there is no answer. If you fall into the later mindset then you have already begun the process of engaging the concept of confirmation bias, if you continue to seek other answers. Let’s also make one thing clear before continuing. If you have a disease, especially one that is life threatening, I fully understand and agree that you should fight as hard as possible against it until you are unable to. If anything the mindset of fighting the disease can be extremely helpful in your mental ability to also handle the weight of what could happen if you fail. There is no shame in wanting to fight to the last minute. I encourage it completely.
However, what tends to happen in these situations (and I’m always reminded of the image of Andy Kauffman laying on the table with the alternative “doctor” who is “removing” his cancer) is that many resort to efforts that have been proven time and time again to be fraudulent and misleading in their sales pitch. We’ve all seen videos or images of these “doctors” who can “remove” actual diseased organs all while making no mark on their patient’s abdomen. There are even multiple videos and explanations that show how this fraudulent technique is performed (much like a magic trick). Yet people still flock to the idea.
The evidence tends to be overwhelmingly negative when it comes to trying to show the magic operation’s success rate. For example, Andy Kauffman rushed down to the Philippines in 1984 upon receiving the news from medical professionals in the United States that he would not survive his illness. Andy had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 1983 and in March 1984 he travelled to a psychic surgery specialist to remove the cancer. Two months later he would pass away as predicted by the professionals who had diagnosed him originally. Kidney failure from the large cell carcinoma ended his life even after the psychic surgery. This surgery was his last effort at fighting the disease, but as we have all seen, the surgery itself could in no way change his outcome if at the very least, because the psychic surgery never even penetrates his body (though at his stage it would not matter).
There are many stories about famous and regular folks heading to these types of magic shows, knowing they are deemed beyond healing, and most if not all never gain successful results from it. However, that doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t go and then have his/her disease go into remission and thus feel that the psychic surgery was the reason behind it. I’m sure it has happened at least one or twice if not many other times. This is where the idea behind confirmation bias rears its head.
Human beings have a mental makeup that is more favorable to accepting data that only describes their original hypothesis. In most cases we are also wired to ignore data that doesn’t support our ideas. It is easier to accept an anomaly as truth when it’s the type of answer we want to hear. We could have a friend who decides they want to be healed by a psychic healer. As the friend goes on and on about how they are going to be healed, we could go over mountains of evidence to prove that the psychic healing won’t work, and then after the healing if their disease goes into remission, we would automatically think that maybe its completely possible that the healing did cure our friend. Our minds are wired as such that the following example has probably happened to each of us in some basic form and because of a friend’s success we drop all the evidence that weighs heavily and solidly against our friends success and ignore actual evidence entirely.
But there is a problem here and this is why it is so hard to convince anyone that random coincidence does happen in life. Our friend is sick and we would do anything to make them better, and so our mind is already open to any fix that could get life back to normal; damn the evidence. After the healing our friend got better so we start to give weight that something in the healing worked, completely ignoring the idea of remission. Many people have gone into remission for reasons that seem impossible and never been to a psychic healer yet we see one local success as a free pass to credibility for the healer.
This is confirmation bias. It is the inability to weigh the negative evidence in light of one or a few seemingly positive successes. We like data that supports us and we ignore data that works against our preconceived ideas of how things work. You see it everywhere in books, on TV, the Internet, etc. Mostly they are harmless if it gives someone the feeling of hope in a quite dire situation, but ultimately it could lead into a dangerous habit where one spends all of their money to skip from one quick fix to another all with equal evidence that they do not work. Money that could be better put aside and saved. It’s no secret that people buy stupid shit. I buy video games that I’m sure a non-gamer would see as a stupid waste of money, but I’m under no assumption that buying the video game guarantees me satisfaction. I’ve been burned many times on game purchases that promise one thing and present another (cough… recently everything from Gearbox).
Giving hope is not a bad thing, but charging others for it certainly is. Its hard to determine who is at fault in these dealings when you consider the amount of evidence that shows many of these alternative medicines to be either harmful or ineffective. Can you blame someone looking to make a buck when the person they sell to fall into the trap of confirmation bias so easily? Is it genius on their part? Their wallet probably thinks so. People like John Edwards, Coral Polge, and many others have made millions on ideas that cannot and have not stood up to the confines of a controlled experiment, yet millions still get sent to them every year. James Randi has spent his entire life fighting what he calls simple charlatans and frauds. For most of his career he offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove their power and surprisingly Coral Polge failed. John Edwards never showed up though his techniques were shown to be fraudulent by many others who attempted the same feat. James even ran a show for a good while bringing on psychic guests who were put up against controlled experiments and who could never produce accurate proof of their powers. He reached out to all of the big names in that field and no one ever called back.
There is a reason they never call back to prove their abilities. If they aren’t in control of the environment around a subject then the powers fail to materialize. James killed many careers of those foolish enough to show up on his shows and display their inadequate powers. There was also always an excuse as to why their powers never showed up in a way to subvert their own embarrassment. The reason its important to share the concept of confirmation bias is that it shows how completely flawed we are even when we think otherwise. We are humans all experiencing the world around us and it’s a nice feeling to think we have all the answers and its even better when we have one or two pieces of supposed proof to back it up, but sadly it doesn’t change anything. One or two successes doesn’t negate the hundreds of failures when the same event happens over and over.
Part of being human is accepting that we don’t know all of the answers and yet so many scream from the mountain tops that they have the secret knowledge of how to make it through life with no hiccups. Sadly for any listeners at the bottom of the mountain, there’s always a cover charge. I know the secret…so pay up and I’ll share. Personally if I had the secret to living life with no hiccups, it would be a crime to charge for it. Every self-help book charges a cover price for their secrets to a happy life and sadly none ever say anything different.
Is life mysterious? Hell yes.
Is it hard? Sure is.
Is anything guaranteed? Nope.
So save your money and feel good in knowing that the sucker selling you success from atop the mountain is in the same shape as you. Only he/she is rich cause enough people bought it. Anytime I see a commercial on late night TV about how if you just buy this series of books your life will come together perfectly and you will have great success…. I just imagine ordering it and a box shows up at my door filled with books and a single piece of paper that reads….
“To achieve success in life, simply sell these books to someone else and tell them it will solve their problems in life.”
Do your self a favor and let the suckers buy the gimmicks, secrets, and keys to success and find success on your own, in your own life. There is no magic button. That’s the real secret to success for your time on Earth. Set realistic goals that don’t rely on someone’s special technique and be happy trying your best to complete them. You’ve only got a good 70 years or so, so why not start now?
“Paleontologists have a huge incentive to twist the truth, just a little. If they can find a bone with a lump on it, theorize that it was a limb or a feather, give it an impressive name, say it is 73 million years old, and suddenly he has his picture on the cover of National Geographic magazine, has a book deal and lectures for life.”
Let me just start by making everyone aware that Ray Comfort has no formal training or theological degree. Yes, even in his own “career” he has had no formal training in theology. So it’s no surprise that he is again blissfully ignorant of an actual field of scientific study. If being a paleontologist were an incentive based career, then it would be no issue naming a few top paleontologists. Let me see….
Hmmmm. Well… There’s Alan Grant. No, wait! He’s a made up character in the novel, Jurassic Park. Seriously though without using Google search, name these top paleontologists and their major works that have garnered them all the press they so desperately seek. Chances are, unless you are working in the field, you probably didn’t name one.
Now I can name some prominent scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, and Neil Degrasse Tyson, all of whom have many book deals, lectures and have probably been featured in National Geographic. But Neil is an astrophysicist, Brian is a theoretical physicist and string theorist, Michio is a theoretical physicist, and Richard is an ethologist (one who objectively studies animal behavior) and evolutionary biologist.
Compared to Ray’s total lack of formal training and education not only in the topics which he heavily propagates, but especially in those which he opposes…
Dawkins attended Oxford. Tyson attended Harvard and Columbia Univ. Kaku graduated summa cum laude at Harvard and received a PhD at Univ. of California, Berkley. Greene obtained his bachelors at Harvard and his doctorate at Oxford. At the very least, these professionals have taken their interest to understand the world around them to the highest levels of self-motivation. (Note: if you believe that these schools are only in existence to brainwash people’s minds because the ideas that are learned don’t match up to your understanding of the world, then stop reading this post now. I cannot help you.)
The other difference between these professionals and Ray is that they are expressing ideas and facts related to observable nature and do so, not in the interest of proving a religion wrong, but in the sense of trying to better understand our natural world, though Dawkins has his opinion. Even so, Dawkins’ opinion doesn’t discredit his knowledge of evolutionary biology. Paleontology is the scientific study of prehistoric life. Sadly for Ray, many of these findings, for him, contradict his worldview and so his only avenue is to attack the profession. However, the fact is that even if a Paleontologist were to grace the cover with one of the biggest finds in history of a 73 million year old bone, it still wouldn’t make the evidence any less true, and even in these cases, scientists follow the road of doubt before total adherence. Not without peer review can any scientist shine in a spotlight.
Now if you are going to sit atop a mountain and shout to the world that these scientific professions are misguided and completely false, then you had better be able to explain why they are. That’s always been Ray’s problem. He doesn’t understand mathematics, theoretical physics, paleontology, evolutionary biology, astrophysics, and I’d be willing to bet even the basic scientific foundations. Even I lack the level of understanding that Neil, Richard, Michio, and Brian do in their fields, but my lack of understanding is my problem and certainly doesn’t disprove their fields. Their books, lectures and public events help to bring their level of knowledge to a relatable level. Neil is probably the best at being able to relate his field to us less educated.
Ray distrusts their efforts to uncover truth because it doesn’t match his worldview, but no matter how loud he yells, the burden of proof still lies on his shoulders. If Ray can prove their methods and information to be inaccurate, they will be the first ones to compliment him on his rigorous efforts. For now, Ray is just yapping and I have to imagine that’s all he will ever do, because when one’s argument doesn’t hold up it’s then time to attack the opponent’s credentials in hopes that you can discredit them fully. Though I’d have to argue that in Ray’s case, he doesn’t really have any. Luckily I work in the field of design, so I don’t have to worry about this idiot screaming about Adobe CS, though I bet he’d be a Quark user.