Showing posts from July, 2015

Pyramid Schemes

When I was 18, I saw an ad that said something like “Make $500 a week selling a revolutionary product!”. The product was a package of “life-changing” nutritional supplements: pills, elixirs, powders, etc. The ad said to go to an address for a meeting on a certain evening. Out of curiosity, I went. The meeting was in a big room in a community center, rented for the occasion. First, there was a speech promoting the life-changing product and the potential for selling it. Then various people in the crowd stood up and gave testimonials about how the product had changed their lives: they were healthier, wealthier, having more sex, etc. Of course, it was a multi-level marketing scheme. To join, you had to buy a batch of the product, and then you were supposed to use it yourself, sell it to others, and recruit others to sell under you, in which case you would get a percentage of their sales. At the time, I had never heard of such schemes, but I was not fooled. I understood that it w

The End of Marriage

In the modern West, we have discarded the tradition of marriage without much thought. It has become a hollow, meaningless ritual. In the past, marriage was a life-long commitment and a license to have sex. Now it is just a ceremony. Many people view the abandonment of traditional sexual morality as progress. They see no reason why we should follow archaic norms of sexual behavior. Those norms were justified with appeals to religious authority, not with rational arguments. Now that God is dead, or at least very ill, and we have the birth control pill, there is no reason to follow ancient traditions. However, just because traditional sexual morality was justified on religious grounds, that doesn’t mean it was arbitrary or oppressive. Traditional sexual morality had very important functions. People did not understand those functions, so it was justified with appeals to religion. But it has a rational, pragmatic justification. Traditional marriage had two aspects: Marriage