What have you changed your mind about?

Edge has a collection of confessionals from its usual pool of celebrity intellectuals. The subject is an excellent one: what have you changed your mind about?

Full Story: Edge.

I particularly like Clay Shirkey’s, because I was also raised Episcopalian and held similar views about the compatibility of religion and science.

Some other things I’ve changed my mind about:

Magic: I haven’t described myself as a magician in quite some time, after having spent enough years dabbling in it to conclude that it doesn’t work, at least not without dedicating such insane levels of time and effort that the time is better spent actually working accomplishing goals than making deals with deities and learning to meditate for several hours a day.

Socialism: I used to describe myself as a socialist. Mostly I’ve changed my mind about definitions of socialism, rather than having a significant change in my political thinking (though that’s always evolving as well).

Religion: I used to believe that religion was not inherently bad. Again, this has more to do with challenging my definition of what religion means. Any belief system based on faith and not reason is dangerous, whether it’s Hindu, Christianity, socialism, or libertarianism.

What have you changed your mind about?


  1. I’ve also changed my mind on these same three topics, only slightly differently 🙂

    Magic: I came to the conclusion that the old hard-slog methods such as meditating for hours on end, elaborate rituals and mnemonic training, were the tried-and-true techniques that would eventually work for everybody, but with modern advancement in technique and access to information, the process could be dramatically sped up and simplifed. Then I started to study NLP, reading books like “Structure of Magic” and “Magic in Action” by Richard Bandler, and realized that many others had been refining the techniques for decades. Even the Tony Robbins-style techniques, The Secret etc, are basically a re-hashing of the methods of Crowley, Bardon, et al. I’m now convinced of Crowley’s assertion that magic is learning to understand the psyche and control the force of life, is a developing science and discipline, and that there’s nothing spooky or supernatural about it at all IMO.

    Socialism: I’ve definitely changed my ideas about socialized medicine, education and other public services, but that could be due to my developing distrust of western power structures. I think it works in community groups on a small scale if everyone involved shares power and has the same needs, but not as a political ‘-ism’ structure for a whole nation. I also don’t believe in nations 🙂

    Religion: Agree with you on this one 100%. I might just qualify it a bit to say that ‘organized religion’ is inherently nasty. Whenever a person or group is given moral authority or the ability to make laws, enforce laws and to demand a tribute of their adherents, you get a pyramid power structure, and the majority of people involved in that structure inevitably get screwed over in some way. On the other hand, personal spirituality is a beautiful thing, if you the original definition of the word religion (reconnection with the logos) – I believe we are all going to experience a convergence of spirituality and science very very soon, and most of these superstitious / supernatural belief systems will start to look pretty silly!

    Woops this comment is getting a bit long. Thanks for the link and interesting questions. Got the juices flowing 🙂

  2. Identifying error is the most important moral trait. Here are two of mine.

    Some of my specific criticisms of the Bible turned out to be misunderstandings on my part.

    Interpersonal problems I had turned out to be less important than they seemed at the time.

  3. I’ve changed my mind about changing my mind so often. Then again, this could change at any time.

    This has been brought to you by “Change”, the official theme of the 2008 elections.

  4. Any belief system based on faith and not reason is dangerous

    It’s when they start to claim they do have a rational basis that I worry.

  5. Re: magick

    I’d be curious to know what it is you think doesn’t work?

  6. jodmcom – I haven’t looked very deeply into NLP. The fact that pretty much everyone in NLP’s main success story is getting rich teaching NLP to people, I haven’t felt compelled to spend my time on it.

    “Even the Tony Robbins-style techniques, The Secret etc, are basically a re-hashing of the methods of Crowley, Bardon, et al.”

    There’s a fair amount of good advice in many occult books, along with a lot of non-sense (and a lot of the non-sense is a lot of fun). It seems a lot of this stuff was covered in various Hindu sutras centuries ago.

    Psyche – What doesn’t work: sigils, invocation, evocation, divination.

  7. Klintron:

    Yep NLP is more akin to scientology these days it seems, but the original books and methods before it became profitable are excellent, especially if you’ve studied some magick techniques.

    For example

    sigils and talismans == anchoring, programming your subconscious to associate a symbol to a mind state/emotion. Eg, when i put on my red tie, I will feel aggressive and powerful = when I wear this talisman, the Fire God will protect me.

    invocation == instant change of state, submodalities – assuming a “god form” where each god in the pantheon represents a certain combination of mind-state and emotion, so you’re calling that “god” into consciousness. Invoking the “i feel confident and assertive” god is like using the NLP swish pattern to quickly access this mindstate when you have an important meeting 🙂

    divination is a tricky one… i think crowley tried to show that gematria / numerology can be used to “prove” a link from any concept or idea to anything else, if you think about it long enough and keep studying it from different angles, Maybe its just a matter of creative genius on the part of the diviner. Maybe the reason to study divination / astrology is to practice the process of looking for correlations… to develop and enhance your pattern finding abilities (IQ) 😉

    Maybe I’m just reading too much into all of this, hehe 😉

  8. Psyche – What doesn?t work: sigils, invocation, evocation, divination.

    But you’re listing techniques? That’s kinda like saying carpentry doesn’t work because your glue gun’s not plugged in 😉

    What does this mean for your involvement with occulture?

  9. I checked to make sure it was plugged in, even tried multiple outlets.

    I will say that banishing rituals do tend to make me feel more centered and balanced.

    As for my involvement… well, I’ve stayed involved this far. I’m still pretty interested in the subject matter.

  10. What holds your interest?

  11. It might be more accurate to say that I’ve ceased believing in “sorcery” rather than the more broad concept of “magic.” Obviously, certain things happen when you engage in the practice of magic – particularly certain subjective feelings. But the concrete results… well, I have little to show for it. It means either I’m doing it wrong, or it doesn’t work. If I’m doing it wrong, it means I’m going to need to put more time and energy into practice – time and energy I’m simply not willing to spend on hours and hours of meditation, creating/memorizing weird languages, crafting artifacts, or slashing my wrists.

    As for what still holds my interest… well, lots of things. The creation of personal mythologies, art, and the breaking down of the boundaries between life and art are all things that fascinate me about people in the occulture.

    Much of the philosphy also still holds my interest.

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