Great essay: "The Truth About Violence"

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Thread: Great essay: "The Truth About Violence"

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    Member Array Ishmael's Avatar
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    Great essay: "The Truth About Violence"

    A while ago, I became curious about meditation, and after looking around online I bookmarked this post by the author Sam Harris, whose "about" page describes him as, well, not the first person I would expect to have a lot in common with people on this board.

    Then, today, I came across this by the same author: "The Truth About Violence." There's nothing in it that will be entirely new to anyone who has read on this subject before, but nonetheless it is a great summary of the subject (and includes suggested reading links to de Becker, Miller, Geoff Thompson, etc.). It's worth reading for its own sake, but it would also be a great item to send to people who are naive/resistant to ideas about defensive tactics.

    The essay covers topics that many of us know as "cops are too heavy" and "avoid the three stupids." He is also eloquent on the importance of non-escalation (love this quote: "If you want to avoid unnecessary violence, you must keep your inner ape on a very short leash"); difference between "martial arts" and "self defense"; the statistical likelihood of experiencing violence; don't defend property; use firearms only as a means to aid escape from danger; the stupidity of complying with home invaders, etc.

    There are too many great parts to quote here, but this rang especially true for me:

    Just as it is prudent to wear your seat belt while driving, it makes sense to know how best to respond to violence. In fact, it is overwhelmingly likely that some of you will become the targets of violence in the future. The purpose of this essay is to help you prepare for it. While I do not consider myself an expert on personal security, I know enough to have strong opinions. In my youth, I practiced martial arts for many years and eventually taught self-defense classes in college.[1] My education included work with firearms and a variety of other weapons.⁠ I eventually stopped training and moved on to other things, but my interest in self-defense has resurfaced. It’s hard to say why. No doubt receiving occasional death threats and other strange communications has been a factor. But I think that having a family has played a much larger role. I now feel acutely responsible for the safety of those closest to me.

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    Member Array KillrFajitas's Avatar
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    Good read. Excellent points to consider.
    Skillet Hot!

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I researched his writings. He is apparently an athiest with the view that we are our own God, and that science and human secularism is our moral compass. He trys to use a common sense approach to everything, including self defense.

    Of course, the fallacy here is that in the absence of belief, there can be no inherent good or evil.

    Too each his own, but I personally find it completely without substance.
    pistola, jumpwing and bmcgilvray like this.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Senior Member Array Cold Shot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    I researched his writings. He is apparently an athiest with the view that we are our own God, and that science and human secularism is our moral compass. He trys to use a common sense approach to everything, including self defense.

    Of course, the fallacy here is that in the absence of belief, there can be no inherent good or evil.

    Too each his own, but I personally find it completely without substance.
    I don't get this. Could you please explain?

    Atheists don't understand self defense?

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Shot View Post
    I don't get this. Could you please explain?

    Atheists don't understand self defense?
    Its alot deeper than that. But it has more to do with the philosophy in understanding why people do what they do, and choose the path that they take.
    I dont want get any further in it than that, as it is an emotional and explosive topic, religion. But my point is that your belief system can and does influence your perspective on human nature.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    I agree with avoiding the religion aspect, but lets discuss this part:
    Complying in the hope that a sociopath will keep his promise to you is always the wrong move
    A sociopath lacks empathy. They can control and manipulate emotions and many have mastered techniques of body language. One can tell you a bold face lie and not give away the classic tells. When faced with a sociopath, or a possible sociopath, how should one respond?

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    Member Array Ishmael's Avatar
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    In context, I think the author is implying that anyone who is trying to move you to a secondary crime scene, or who has broken into your house and is reacting with anything other than flight on encountering you, probably qualifies. As opposed to identifying one in your personal life (this book argues they are about 4 percent of the population, so guaranteed you know at least one), I think an adrenaline-soaked confrontation is unlikely to lend itself to your being able to apply the sort of detailed observational skills that would probably be required. Still, if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to know, too.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    I agree with avoiding the religion aspect, but lets discuss this part:

    A sociopath lacks empathy. They can control and manipulate emotions and many have mastered techniques of body language. One can tell you a bold face lie and not give away the classic tells. When faced with a sociopath, or a possible sociopath, how should one respond?
    I am not a behavioral science expert, but I would think alot depends on your position and oppurtunity.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Of course, the fallacy here is that in the absence of belief, there can be no inherent good or evil.
    Without (absolutely without) getting into religion, let me offer a counter-thought: It is ONLY without belief that ANYTHING can have inherent morality, that is, if we are bound by an "outside" belief in what is good and/or evil, then we are imposing our view of those things (good/evil) on everything else, and thus taking away "everything else's" ability to have any inherent traits at all.

    None of this, of course, has anything to do with what a bullet or fist or knife will do when it hits you, or the value in being prepared to avoid being shot/punched/stabbed.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OPFOR View Post
    Without (absolutely without) getting into religion, let me offer a counter-thought: It is ONLY without belief that ANYTHING can have inherent morality, that is, if we are bound by an "outside" belief in what is good and/or evil, then we are imposing our view of those things (good/evil) on everything else, and thus taking away "everything else's" ability to have any inherent traits at all.

    None of this, of course, has anything to do with what a bullet or fist or knife will do when it hits you, or the value in being prepared to avoid being shot/punched/stabbed.
    One thing I can always count on is your counter. :)
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    I am, if nothing else, consistent. Except for when I change. :)
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    Distinguished Member Array noway2's Avatar
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    I am not entirely certain that I understand what (the two of you) are saying. However, I have noticed that even my cats have a sense of right and wrong and they have certainly been raised without religion.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    I am not entirely certain that I understand what (the two of you) are saying. However, I have noticed that even my cats have a sense of right and wrong and they have certainly been raised without religion.
    That would be a first for me. Never saw an animal with morals, only instincts.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Member Array Ishmael's Avatar
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    Just to aid and abet this jacking of my own thread (and offered not because I think it's true for sure or, really, have any interest in debating about this, but just because I coincidentally happened to see a link to it today): Do Animals Know Right from Wrong? New Clues Point to 'Yes' | Animal Morality | Life's Little Mysteries

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    The older I get, the more simpleminded I become. I think the author has made valid points, from his perspective. I think force, or energy expended, is neutral. We see natural forces at work in volcanoes and predators killing prey. It requires a human perspective to say that a particular force is unwarranted or unjust in order to call it violence. The naturalist gives the wolf a pass, but the shepherd cries foul and will use force in defense of the lamb. Some cultures and religions will see actions in other cultures as being violent and brutal.

    The evidence from animal studies supports the theory that DNA, not just environment, plays a significant role in determining social behavior. The wolf is an example. Man's best friend evolved from the more socially adaptable, while the wild stayed away from the campfires. Our ancestors had to put down aggressive pets, as we must protect ourselves from the sociopath's force, or violence from our perspective.

    It is not only logical, but also necessary to keep at hand the most efficient force available for the prevention of or resistance to the misuse of force, or from our perspective, violence.
    Liberty, Property, or Death - Jonathan Gardner's powder horn inscription 1776

    Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.
    ("Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.")
    -Virgil, Aeneid, vi, 95

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