Archive for the ‘Socio Defined’ Category

Alcoholism is not a disease. Alcoholism, and alcohol use for that matter, are sins. As in moral transgressions. Someone tried to teach me this on the day after Christmas. I don’t think that, subconsciously, I was able to decide whether it was more appropriate to laugh or spit my coffee across the dashboard of the work truck, so, not being one to take chances (heh heh), I did both.

Despite my reaction, I found the speaker to be at least partly right. Alcoholism, as a matter of fact, is not a disease, at least not in a medical sense. The DSM classifies it as a disordered behavior resulting from a number of factors ranging from epigenetics to good old fashioned family Christmases. By its very definition, alcoholism (you might even generalize addiction into this equation) emerges in identity as a symptom of some greater problem. Research supports this idea.

In the decades following the Vietnam war, science has turned its attention towards those soldiers who chose to partake, often heavily, in the use of heroin. They discovered that approximately 95% of soldiers who reported regularly using heroin simply stopped using upon returning home. No rehab. No therapy. They just quit. I had a comparable experience with alcohol during my hitch. When I was discharged, my affinity for heavy drinking seemed to evaporate within the first couple of months of my transition back into civilian life. These days, I barely touch the stuff. And that’s good. Because sinning against God is bad.

Speaking of sinning against God, let me tell you what the lab rats have been up to… In related research, scientists provided caged rats with two water bottles. One was plain water and they dumped a pile of cocaine in the other one. The rats preferred the Columbian Go Go Juice, at least until it killed them. Well, like the good book says, the wage of sin is death. Bad rats.

So the scientists, as scientists do, made an experiment. They called it Rat Park. It was a good place for rats to be, sort of like rat heaven. The idea was not only the removal of stressors, but the introduction of positive elements as well. Ample food, space and water, mental and physical stimulation, social interaction and sex, everything was there…except for the free cocaine. So they sprinkled in some more, just for temptation’s sake.

Funny thing…the rats were too busy enjoying their rat lives to waste time on cocaine, even free cocaine, implying that most of the rats were not indulging simply for the sake of indulgence but that the addictive behaviors were in fact a result of environmental stressors. The data is eerily similar to that of the Vietnam heroin epidemic, as well as my own experiences of hell and Wild Turkey.

So given this data, how does the concept of morality apply to alcoholism or addiction in general?

Well, it depends upon who you ask. If it’s someone sensible, who is basically grounded in reality, reasonably educated and sans agenda, you’ll get something comparable to the “disordered behavior” explanation. But, we’re not talking sensibility or rationality here, we’re talking about Pastor James MacDonald. If you’re one of the people who is rational and reasonably educated, you probably don’t know who this is, so good for you.

MacDonald runs a megacurch conglomerate based in the Chicago area named Harvest Ministries and a nationally syndicated radio ministry called Walk in the Word which airs daily on the Billy Graham radio stations. The only way you know who this guy is, is if you are a card carrying Evangelical Christian. And if you’re one of those people, you can’t not know.

If you haven’t guessed yet, MacDonald was the crackpot who tried to convince me that alcohol consumption fits neatly with the spectrum of what he considers to be sin. The title of the sermon was “Wise Up About Alcohol.” I’d provide a link, but there isn’t one that you don’t have to “donate” at least six bucks to get. A few excerpts are available, as well as summaries, but what I came across moreso were reviews of the sermon, some being extremely critical. Several critics cited MacDonald for being very loose in his application of scripture, something I noticed myself as I’d listened.

The sermon, for me, set off alarm bells almost instantly. I simply couldn’t understand how, or why, someone could assign a moral value and subsequent moral judgement on the act of drinking alcohol. Granted, alcohol is a destructive drug, which I avoid due to that reason, but it’s something that a whole lot of people do in moderation with no ill effects either medically or spiritually. I must also point out that a guy named Jesus was noted for converting water into wine. I must have missed the part where he poured all of it down Mary Magdeline’s kitchen sink just to make the point that it’s bad.

The point is, MacDonald’s statements didn’t ring true scientifically or scripturally, and ultimately begged the question: why? So when I got home that day I asked my friend Google about MacDonald and Google told me an interesting story.

First of all, Harvest Bible Chapel is a massive operation, comprised of seven separate facilities which reach thousands of people each week. The services, if you watch one, are packed with people, all the way up into the nosebleed sections. Yep, sections, plural.

That many people, all packed into the same church on Sunday morning, can only mean one thing: somebody is getting seriously PAID…as in, that’s a whole lot of dough getting dumped into the collection plate and ushered down front. I would not be surprised, actually, to discover debit card swiping devices by each seat, not unlike the voting pads on American Idol. It sounds humorous, but the fact is Harvest actually really needs the cash.

Fifty million and change, after all, is not a number to sneeze at, especially if is a number you owe. I recently discovered a blog, right here on WordPress, called The Elephant’s Debt. The blog claims to be written by former members of the MacDonald church who observed patterns of behavior which many might consider…unbecoming. What they have to say is interesting, to say the least.

The fifty million dollar note, they say, is the cost of Harvest’s massive expansion, which began back in 2004 with the acquisition of the first additional “campus.” That’s approximately one new facility every 20 months. These are not small community based churches. These are the ones in converted warehouses and the ones that strangely resemble the corporate headquarters of a forklift manufacturer. You can rack up a good bit of debt when you grow that fast, it seems.

According to the blog, Harvest’s high speed expansion took on characteristics similar to that of a teenage boy hitting puberty. While they made no mention of pimple popping or serious accidents occurring during masturbation, there was a particularly humorous claim that on one project, MacDonald himself assumed the role of general building contractor. This resulted in a number of catastrophes, including the walls being painted and the flooring being installed, mid winter, before any of the windows or doors had even been ordered, much less delivered.

This sort of behavior seems to be a frequent complaint of his detractors. He was additionally cited for being greedy, controlling and even confrontational. Several years ago, three senior elders (like deacons, I think) came out publicly against MacDonald, ultimately describing his leadership as both oppressive and secretive. They quoted him directly, reporting that he’d rather “lose 1000 members than disclose his salary.” Apparently, only a couple of inside people are privy to that information. The church and its members, as a whole, do not actually know how much they pay their pastor.

In 2009, it was ascertained that MacDonald earned in excess of $500,000, between his Harvest salary and his Walk in the Word radio ministry business. As a top 5 corporate earner, he was legally required to publicly disclose the $100k plus income from the Walk in the Word, and it was subsequently absorbed into Harvest, a non corporate entity, therefore rendering it secret. In addition, MacDonald receives royalties from numerous books, speaking fees and reportedly has access to a “staggering” expense account through Harvest. And this is all donated money. Donated.

Me, I don’t need that much money, but then again, I also don’t feel I have a need for a two million dollar home in a posh neighborhood in Elgin. Or a vacation cabin up by the lake. Nor have I, ever in my life, publicly confessed to having a gambling problem. I’ve never made atonement for my gambling because I’ve never been caught. I’ve never been caught, primarily, because I don’t do it. But MacDonald did confess to having a gambling problem, at least to the compulsion. He left out the additional element of having done it with money that was donated to his church, off whose members’ backs he lives quite well.

Next came a very telling revelation, that of a proclivity to attack viciously when cornered, something with which I am very familiar. When the three elders came out and spoke against MacDonald by allowing their stories to be published in The Elephant’s Debt, he and his inside cadre of henchmen released a video which publicly announced the excommunication of the men, encouraged other members to avoid them and labeled their accusations as being “satanic to the core.”

After the shitstorm of criticism which undoubtedly followed such a brash and polarized presentation of the issue at hand, MacDonald and his cronies made a half apology to the shunned elders and yanked the video from the website. When copies of it surfaced on YouTube, legal action was threatened and these videos were yanked as well. That seemed strangely similar to the scrubbing away of anti Mormon propaganda from the Billy Graham website when Franklin chose to endorse Mitt Romney…but that’s another story altogether.

So after all this reading, all these sad and stupid revelations, I still found myself asking the same question: why teach people that the use of alcohol, in any context other than that of a widow or a sickly person dulling their pain (he literally made this distinction and pointed out that man was biblically encouraged to hand over his alcohol to such people) is a sin against the Creator?

Forget benevolence. MacDonald’s actions and comments do not reflect a heart which is truly concerned for the welfare of those he claims to guide spiritually. Why should he care if twelve or fourteen families leave the church, he allegedly said, when he didn’t even know those people. Stop worrying about the sheep for a moment, he went on, because I’m worried about the shepherd. If this was an honestly reported statement, then it helps to form a more accurate picture of his character and personality. A previously cited quote had MacDonald giving up the same families rather than disclose his salary. Were the 1000 hypothetical people he referred to being recognized as human beings who trusted him to guide the faith or as tick marks in his Quickbooks?

Human beings indeed.

MacDonald’s game is control and he’s working from an old playbook, one known well to the sociopaths and psychopaths of the world. The way I, and I suspect Mr. MacDonald, view the morality paradigm is based upon concrete benefits and consequences associated with things considered right and wrong, respectively. Morality is engaged only within a utilitarian context. While normal people have a processing system which produces negative emotional consequences when they are naughty (you know this as a guilty conscience), we don’t. But, we get it. My oh my, do we get it.

Being fundamentally remorseless, in a lot of ways, can be like having thumbs when others don’t. It opens doors to additional possibilities in the decision making process and can often make otherwise hard decisions very easy. The fact is, thumbs and remorselessness make it possible to use things like…guns…to their full potential. The thing about thumbs, is that if you’ve never had them, then you don’t miss them and you don’t necessarily recognize their absence as a fundamental weakness. Once you’ve had thumbs, and you’ve used them, their presence can be only accessed as a strength and anyone without thumbs is, by comparison, a weaker representation of the species.

Being able to experience feelings of guilt or remorse and actually internalize moral concepts are the staples that keep society from splitting wide open and, quite literally, spraying blood in every direction. These functions exist as behavioral antilock braking systems. They keep people from using their thumbs to kill each other to get ahead. If these systems malfunction or forget to develop in the womb, the personality emerges as…unconstrained. Simply put, when you don’t have a conscience, it just makes it easier to use the fact that other people do have consciences against them.

So when the conscience-constrained majority is taught and conditioned that certain common behaviors like drinking are morally corrupt, their guilt response kicks in and they feel some sort of tangible emotional distress. You know the feeling I’m talking about, it’s the one that fucks with your sleep. Rectification of this emotion requires engaging the original source of the guilt. So when you heard MacDonald’s little talk about drinking and the Holy Spirit laid the burden of conviction upon your heart about the mason jar of goodness in your freezer, where are you going to go to make that right?

You’re going to take your sorry butt to church and ask the preacher to ask Jesus to ask God to forgive you. That’s what you’re going to do. And it’s going to work. You’re going to feel better. Not just about the fact that you were simultaneously sexting your neighbors wife and masturbating while driving home drunk from a double feature cock fight/transsexual creamed corn wrestling match, but also about life in general. And there’s good reason for this.

Recent studies regarding oxytocin have shown its effects to be present during many of the common activities participated in during church, including hand shaking and hugging, group singing and praying. People come to church feeling guilty for their “sins” during the week and leave, feeling good. Feeling like they’ve bonded with the Creator. Feeling forgiven. Feeling reminded that their drinking and pud whacking is really going to piss God off. And feeling a few bucks poorer to boot.

Another notable effect of oxytocin just happens to be generosity. It affects when and how much people give when they trust the person they are giving it to. James MacDonald is earning in excess of half a million dollars per year in this manner. He benefits substantially from people feeling guilty. The New Testament has a name for people like this…it calls them false teachers. According to Billy Graham, this behavior is in fact not only sinful, but actually sinful to a much higher degree than lesser sins, like drinking and gambling. My guess is that he had Muslims and Mormons in mind when he wrote that, not people like MacDonald, but what fits the goose usually fits the gander too.

I’ll just sum up by putting it really plain: I think James MacDonald is a total asshole and he has no business in the business he’s in regardless of how good he seems to be at it. Anyone can pick up a microphone and tell a story about how alcohol destroyed someone they once knew. We all know someone, or are someone, who experienced the devastation that alcohol can catalyze in a person’s life. It’s no mystery. But to get up in front of thousands of people and manipulate their consciences simply for financial gain? That’s low. And that’s all.

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Tommy got out of his cage again. It’s a son of a bitch to get him back behind closed doors, otherwise, I’d have written sooner.

You can hardly blame him, I suppose. Twelve years, after all, is a very long time to lock such a wild creature away, but sadly, it’s just not long enough. The truth is, Tommy can never be free. The rest of us wouldn’t be safe, plain and simple.

Tommy and I first met back in 2000, far away from home. I’d seen him around, a lot. Every place I was stationed, there he was. On each deployment, he found his way into the muster report. And when I went drinking with my boys, he was always at the bar, right in the thick of it all, the Great Instigator of Chaos. As often as we were together, I didn’t really know him that well in those days. Fact is, I never even knew his name, not until he tracked me down anyway.

When I left the service, it had been because of him. And in spite of him. Tommy was old school soldier…true a Von Clausewitz disciple. “To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity,” was one of his favorite quotes. It made sense, coming from the guy who actually seemed to find some sort of savage peace in the smell of people who’d been burned to death with incendiaries or, for lack of a better implement, napalm. Tommy loved the smell of that too, especially in the morning. Personally, I’ve never caught the scent of victory in the stuff, only raw petroleum and burnt skin. But it’s amazing what a man can get used to, especially around that guy.

Tommy knew me better than I knew myself, at least it seemed. He knew how to draw on the hate and anger inside, how to focus it into hostility, how to create chaos. In those days he brought out the worst in me and it was really too late, when I finally broke from him, because, by that time, I had become him. As my enlistment wound down, I’d grown downright dangerous to be around, and the brass was as relieved to see me go as I was to be leaving.

Mostly, I just wanted to be away from Tommy. The word most closely resembling the way he made me feel about myself is…Fear. From that feeling, I ran hard and fast, cutting a wide swathe across the southeastern United States, stopping only to refuel and reinforce the identity Tommy had imposed upon me. My journey was a haze, mostly, drenched in alcohol and brutality, a half dead and rabid pursuit of a sunset I couldn’t quite seem to catch.

It was on the night I gave up, turned right, headed north toward the wee hours of the morning, it was that night when Tommy finally caught up with me. It was pushing towards dawn, in a diner, somewhere just east of the Rockies, when a girl, a regular patron with sandy hair and a pretty smile, approached my quiet corner and asked my name.

“Tommy,” I answered without thinking, raising my eyes to make friends.

The name was random. It was the first time in a month I’d been asked, honestly, and given the fact that I was running low on cash, providing false information to potential witnesses would serve, at the least, to confuse anyone investigating anything I might end up doing.

Anything Tommy ended up doing.

In reality, it wasn’t so much the assumption of an alias as it was a christening of the part of me that really defines who I am. Deep down, in the darkest recesses of my little black heart, I know that Tommy is me. And that I am Tommy. And that it’s always been way. It’s Jason, as a matter of fact, who is really the impostor. Jason is the mask that Tommy wears out into the world. He’s a series of learned and socially acceptable behaviors. He’s the cage that Tommy lives inside.

A few weeks back, Tommy got out of his cage. And he tried to go to war.

“War is merely a continuation of politics, albeit through other means,” said Von Clausewitz. Tommy skips the politics. He’s not a talker or a manipulator and couldn’t give two shits about a treaty. He doesn’t bring logic and sensibility to the table. Tommy shows up with the box of matches. The matches and the gasoline.

The truth is, I let him out on purpose…because I needed him.

Tommy is the essence of the survival mechanism…he’s a living, breathing fight response…a last resort. When I can’t solve the problem any other way, when I can’t escape it or fix it conventionally, when I simply need it destroyed or subjugated, Tommy’s the one who handles that type of shit.

My new wife met Tommy while he was free. It wasn’t like introducing her to an old friend that I hadn’t seen since the hectic days of my youth. There wasn’t a warm reception or an embrace of a man long lost to the confines of civility. That day, he was just there, not on the porch, at the door, but inside. Inside our home. Inside of me…like an furious animal backed into a corner…lost, angst ridden and aggressive.

For the first time in over a decade, I felt like myself, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Neither could Penny. Tommy scared her, I think. Hell, he scares me, and he is me.

Tommy would never harm Penny, not directly at least. I’d actually set him free to protect her, to do a job that Jason just couldn’t do. The trouble with him is that he takes over completely. He just can’t function properly within the constraints of the mask. Tommy understands only war, ungoverned by convention or absurd moderation, unhindered by any real or constructed element of conscience. And he commits fully with a level of effectiveness that’s hard to argue with and even harder to turn off.

All he really wants is to feel normal. Behind the facade lies coiled a creature trapped between two worlds. Tommy understands only conflict and his very presence threatens peaceful existence. In these moments of stress and contention, Tommy finds the closest thing to peace he will ever experience. When the shit hits the fan, in other words, he’s on both sides of it, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Sometimes I wish the world had a place where Tommy could be himself…where he could live out his days, what very few he could have, and feel normal in his own skin. The cost of this is great, unfortunately, and the only acceptable tender is the blood and fear of those in his vicinity. Indeed, Tommy can only truly exist within the haze grey obscurity of violent conflict. Or in the shadow of the man he longs to be, a man not unlike myself. And in that shadow he shall remain, watching, waiting, just in case circumstance demands an element of surgical brutality fueled by the homicidal panic of a cornered mountain lion.

I still read Von Clausewitz every now and again, as well as Tsunetomo and even a little Miyamoto. To a point, it’s nostalgic, a crawl through the gutters and trenches of the past, a reminder of what once was and most importantly, what could very easily be again. Some of it is for perspective, for an understating of Tommy, because Tommy and I, we are the same. But mostly, mostly it’s because I just can’t let it go.

And that’s ok.

Just as long as Tommy doesn’t get loose long enough to do anything really bad…like running amok through downtown in a heavily armored bulldozer…or…hijacking a submarine filled with Peruvian cocaine…or even…using a can of industrial adhesive and a case of road flares to ignite a revolution in Nicaragua…as long as he’s under wraps, mostly, we’re good.

And if you think I’m telling you what he did while he was loose last time, then you’re crazy as shit. I already checked the statute of limitations. I’ll get back to you in 2022. In the meantime, the frenzy has subsided, the beast imprisoned and I’ll be getting back to blogging about bullshit no one cares about.

Thanks for reading.

I could never help but get a little nervous whenever it came time for the professor to hand back a paper with a grade on it. Especially a big paper. Everybody gets nervous about that, right?

I suppose so. Sometimes the difference between an A and a B on a paper can make a big difference in an overall grade which could, potentially, affect something like a scholarship. My grade time anxiety has always been a little different. For me, it’s the difference between an A and being kicked out of the class. They kick you out, after all, for cheating.

Indeed.

Now I don’t claim to be morally ambiguous with regards to dishonest academic practices, not even a little bit. Ambiguity would apply my acceptance of a behavior as fundamentally wrong and my willingness to disregard this fact. On the contrary, I consider cheating on college papers to be, from a moral standpoint, completely acceptable.

I live in the south, and down here most people use the Bible, especially the Ten Commandments, as the moral baseline. Like it or not, this is the system of rules and order I have to appear to conform to in order to relate socially. So to me, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” really only applies to one type of lying and requires the intent of harm against another. What that means is the Jesus probably won’t be angry with me and I won’t have to pay extra come Sunday. Cheating at school is simply not addressed in this system of morals. In fact, I’d venture to say that plagiarism might not have been a prime concern for God, Moses or whoever’s bush they set on fire.

Legal ordinances make no mention, that I know of, regarding the paying of poor, adjunct college professors to write your papers for you. I’ve never heard of anyone being ticketed or jailed for sitting in the back of the room and simply looking up test answers on a smartphone either.

Come to think of it, the only rule books that say anything about cheating whatsoever are the ones written by the schools themselves. I don’t know about you, but my personal of system of morality is not defined by any college or school of any sort, especially when the definition really only guards the perceived value of the process they call education. That’s just plain retarded. That also means that cheating, to me at least, is a morally acceptable behavior.

In other words, it’s not wrong to do it. You just don’t want to get caught. And I never have.

Once, for a sociology course, I wrote a research paper about the prevalence of white collar crime and the differentials in sentencing of white collar criminals as opposed to blue collar. It was the last paper returned and the professor took a close look at it before he called my name. I got nervous that day for sure.

I was picking up my paper in class at least, and not in the privacy of his office. That was a good sign. He scrunched up his beard, however, and seemed to glare at me as I approached him. I figured I’d given him good reason to glare. That paper, after all, was nine pages of total bullshit. It was a well worded and finely crafted work of fiction I’d produced in two or three hours with little to no actual research.

I started out to write a decent paper, I really did. But when I discovered that information related to my topic was not readily available, I had to change my plan.

So I used the fact that information was limited as a point in my discussion.

And I made up a source.

Or two.

And I manipulated the statistics. All of them.

I even made up a quote entirely and attributed it to the director of the F.B.I. Ok, I admit it, I did bear a little false witness on that one. It was a really good paper.

There were minor errors in my bibliography. I had, in fact, intentionally used an older format. (Don’t encourage them to look for mistakes. Give them something easy and understandable to fault you on.)

When I reached out to take my project, his scowl disappeared and he told me that I had written an excellent paper. I’m pretty sure my jaw didn’t hit the floor, at least not until he asked if I intended to enroll in grad school. He also gave me an A and although no points were taken, his notes on my bibliography indicated that I needed to update my practices in the future.

I think a lot of people, after experiencing that sort of victory, might tend to lose respect for that professor, especially after watching him devour such a load of hooey. Admittedly, some part of me wanted to feel like that. But the reality is, the bullshit he swallowed was an artfully crafted pile of the such, carefully tailored to a one man audience.

The same way a hunter understands the feeding and mating habits of his prey, I made myself aware of his course load, his salary, his politics, anything I could easily gather just by standing around and listening. Watching. Paying attention and interpreting.

I am after all, a highly functioning sociopath. I study people.

My paper reflected a liberal political leaning and took the stance I felt he was most likely to agree with. This predisposition of agreement primed potential acceptance of further documentation with limited scrutiny. This, combined with a pile of other dreadful research papers he’d certainly be reading, substantially decreased the chances he’d ever bother checking any of my sources. I felt it was even likely I could make up a source entirely in that situation.

So I did.

There was not and never will be a reason not to respect that professor. He seemed to be, overall, quite competent, especially when engaged on a level playing field. We were playing, however, on my field and he didn’t realize it.

Like a deer in a spot light, he’d been hypnotized by the nine page spoonful that amounted, essentially, to a piece of propaganda, and perfectly intelligent people fall for shit like that all the time.

Good propaganda isn’t effective because the writer outsmarts or outthinks the reader. It just doesn’t work that way. Propaganda is actually an exchange between two parties that simply functions to affect an agreement between them. The idea is to agree with the reader, initially, and then covertly alter the terms of the agreement. The alteration occurs by using what the English Comp textbooks refer to as “appeals.”

The textbooks, of course, typically frown upon use of such techniques, favoring those which rely on honest research, logic and documentation. Propaganda utilizes all of these elements, both the favored and non-favored methods, to create a discourse that ultimately alters the readers perception of reality.

My sociology paper, to be honest, was only partly propaganda. I had no real goal with regards to the professor’s interpretation of my words. I wasn’t trying to change how he felt about the preferential sentencing of convicted white collar offenders. I could have convinced him, I think, that lighter sentences for white collar crooks are a good thing, but he’d certainly have scrutinized my work more closely and a made up bit of information might pique just enough curiosity to uncover its true nature.

Make no mistake, my goal was to change how he felt about taking his fancy little pen and scribbling an A on a big steaming pile of brain doo doo. I just used the issue of white collar crime to do it. That paper painted a picture that the professor was comfortable with and that bore a remarkable resemblance to an intelligent, well thought out piece of work. It agreed with his personal politics and appeared, on the surface at least, to function within the academic boundaries with which he was familiar. The fraudulent parts of the work were carefully camouflaged and provided him with an opportunity to simply believe something he wanted to believe.

The idea of an argumentative research paper is to convince the reader to agree with the writer. Such is it with all forms of propaganda. With research papers, it’s much easier to find a point of view that the reader already agrees with and work from there. More smiling and nodding from the reader equates to less scrutinization and the establishment of a discourse based upon agreement and, most importantly, belief.

A pattern of belief is established using the same premise of the old ice breaking Three Truths and a Lie game. The idea, in this game, is to hide the lie in amongst the facts, making them either appear to be equal or choosing far fetched truths to lure the opponent away from the bullshit. When playing the game, both players have knowledge of the rules. With a research paper, the reader, unless tipped off in some way, does not realize they are participating in the game. This places the writer at a serious advantage, provided the camouflage is adequate and employed effectively.

I know what you’re thinking…if someone is smart enough to understand and apply all this psychological technology, then why not just write the paper the way it’s supposed to be…why not just write an honest research paper? That’s an easy one. I’d have had an entire weekend, at least, in researching, organizing and composing an A research paper. Using my method, I spent about a half an hour reading and researching online. I thought about the plan for about a day and then sat down and wrote a final draft in a couple of hours.

The choice between giving up a couple of hours and losing an entire weekend is no choice at all, especially when the likelihood is high that the outcome will be the same.

No doubt about it, this manner of cheating isn’t for everyone. It takes forethought and some manner of an understanding as to what makes different individuals tick. It also takes the ability to write a good, solid composition to begin with. In other words, if you can’t write a good honest paper, you can’t write a good dishonest one. You’re better off getting some help or simply ripping off someone else. Personally, I am no plagiarist.

Never in my cheating career have I passed off another’s work as my own. I do consider myself above plagiarism, in a way, but not engaging in it makes practical sense as well. Educators, the way I see it, are experts at reading student work. It’s what they do for a living and they practice every day. It’s not difficult for a professor to read several pieces of a student’s writing and easily distinguish which one was purchased on the internet or stolen from an online journal.

I do know an excellent plagiarist, actually. The reason it works for him is that he is consistent in his practices. I don’t think he ever turns in his own words. This way there is no real baseline from which to draw comparisons. He camouflages the differences in writing styles by paying an editor, such as myself, to render his stolen compositions the same.

This involves creating patterns of grammatical consistencies, particularly with regards to errors, which are easily noticed and will suggest to the reader that the same person probably wrote them all. I also altered his “work” in other ways, such as adjusting the language to align with his localized dialect. It wasn’t nearly as much work as it sounds like, but as with my method, it requires planning and savvy regarding the relationship between the reader and the writer.

This guy, he already had a Master’s degree. He was working towards a certification he needed to work as a high school principal. Ever wonder how a guy who can’t spell “elephant” got hired as a principal? I don’t. I helped him do it.

He’s actually a decent principal, which doesn’t surprise me. Most professions rely on experience and aptitude and formalized education often does little with regards to true preparation for any sort of career. I realize this statement is arguable and I am, of course, speaking generally when I suggest that education is not often worth the value we place upon it.

This is not to say that education does not offer benefits. The process of education imparts a lot of different ideas and greatly increases the range of perspectives through which the student will ultimately engage not only their profession but also their greater overall existence. This being said, I think exams and research projects are, for the most part, entirely pointless.

Exams teach us to regurgitate what someone else deems to be pertinent knowledge. What is pertinent knowledge to an individual is subjective and based entirely upon that individual’s reality. Exams exist solely as a tool of measurement and are supposed to reflect learning. There is no way to determine, in a period of time as short as a semester, whether or not a student has understood and generalized the information presented simply by expecting them to recite a preprogrammed response to a question. Exams measure little more than short term retention skills and an ability to play the “education game.”

Research papers aren’t much better. I’ll admit I’ve learned from some of the assignments I’ve completed and I have done honest work. In many cases, however, I think these assignments are inappropriately utilized and amount to little more than busy work.

For example, engaging in the process of gathering, interpreting and utilizing sets of related data when completing a research project for a Statistics course is fundamental to understanding how statistics actually function in the real world. The project creates a macro-perspective with regards to the field of study. The Sociology project did not. Narrowing down an entire field of study to the microcosm of white collar crime and assigning 27 students the same topic didn’t make much sense. So far as the study of sociological concepts are concerned, I learned more from bullshitting a project on white collar crime than I did actually researching it.

Isn’t it amazing how effectively I am able to rationalize my antisocial behavior? It’s not so much an effective rationalization as it is a different perspective from which to engage interactions with others and especially with institutions. With most established systems, I detect substantial evidence of practices and tactics which are all too familiar to me. I prefer, simply because I am competent to do so, to engage such institutions on what I feel to be a more level field. Sometimes, like with the white collar crime project, I even net a free weekend in the sun from the deal.

Weekends in the sun are what life is all about, not writing research papers.

Even I know that.

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