Sunday, March 23, 2014


I've been inspired by a group called the 5 percenters to create my own percentage breakdown of human beings. The 5 percenters, also known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam which started in the 1960s in U.S. They have many teachings but the one that stuck out the most to me was the one behind the 5 percenter title. The teaching is that mankind is divided into 3 groups: the 85%, 10%, and the 5%. The 85% are the masses of people who are blind to the knowledge of self and God and hence are easily led astray and taken advantage of by the 10% who know the truth but use it to their advantage to control the 85%. Much of the 10% are in roles of power in areas like government, traditional religious organizations, etc. The remaining 5% of humanity are the ones who know the truth and want to help liberate the 85%.

Here's my breakdown:

  • There are 2-5% of humans who are good. That is their nature. They truly care about people, want to help them, and spend a large chunk of their lives doing so. Nothing is going to permanently discourage them from helping people. I've known a few people like this in  real life. Mother Theresa is often used as the archetype of this personality type but I hesitate to put her here after what has been considerable criticism of her philosophy and approach. A better example is Stan Brock, the founder of Remote Area Medical, an organization that provides free medical care to people in the U.S. and abroad. The organization is completely volunteer based so any money donated goes directly towards supplies and other vital needs of the organization. Mr. Brock takes no income for his work, sleeps at the RAM headquarters, and does not have a car. It's not very often that I'm impressed by people any more but Stan is on that short list. You can read more about him here and here. This is the website for his organization.Someone's even making a documentary about him. There are plenty of other people in this category who I cannot name because they do their good works without media attention or societal praise.
  • The next group is the 10-20% of people who are not absolutely good but they lean toward goodness and caring about other people. Given slight incentives, they could form the basis of a decent human community. However, given the current negative incentives, they are more likely to donate to a charity or volunteer at a soup kitchen and deal with other symptoms of the current system than  working to put an end to that system. One example of a person like this is a conversation I overheard in college between two students. They were discussing post-graduation employment options. Student A brought up working for pharmaceutical companies as an option. Student B expressed her reluctance to work for them due to ethical concerns regarding the medication trial process and how the companies generally target vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad for these trials. Student A semi-agreed but I could tell that it wasn't really an issue for him. Student B is firmly in this category because not only did she bring up ethical issues in discussion around employment, those issues were the first thing she mentioned. This the type of person who takes ethical issues seriously and would avoid what she considered unethical employment (even if it paid well) unless she saw no other way to make a reasonable living. 
  • I'm going to skip the other middle group and go straight to the end group. I will refer to them as the predators. They are comparable to the 10% group in the 5 percenter scheme. They are the rulers of this world and are willing to do anything to get what they want. Their powers are relative. They could be a Bill Gates or the leader of a small tribe. They are not above any type of action or manipulation even though they may tell themselves they are. I would posit them at about 10-15% of the population. 
  • Finally there is the rest. The majority of humanity between 60 and 78 % of the general population. Technically they should be neutral but I actually see them as somewhat evil. They are self-focused and have base desires that are easily manipulated by the predators mentioned in the last category. They are often ignorant and delusional. In the U.S. they will often support 'rugged individualism' type laws even though they live paycheck to paycheck and have skills that are dispensable to the market. If/when they end up up on government assistance, they are perpetually surprised even though they fit the profile perfectly. They tend to believe in the just wold fallacy OR believe that life isn't fair but that unfairness won't affect them even though they are painfully average. 

So there's my list. What do you think? Any critiques?

Which group (if any) are you a member of?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

People Just Say Stuff

Many people who have ultimately escaped from the tyranny of ignorance have had so hard a fight and so long a time of repression that in the end they are embittered and their energy is impaired. In general, there is too much respect paid to the opinions of others. One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways."
- Bertrand Russell

"People think too much about the opinions others form of them; although this opinion is not essential to happiness...What goes on in other people's consciousness is a matter of indfference to us; and in time we get really indifferent to it, when we come to see how superficial and futile are most people's thoughts, how narrow their ideas, how mean their sentiments, how perverse their opinions, how much of error there is in most of them...We shall understand that to lay great value upon what other people say is to pay them too much honor."
 - Arthur Schopenhauer

I've been thinking about this post for awhile as I really take in the various memes and sayings of the average person and society and how much they contradict reality.

Here are some examples:
  • You always have a choice
  • Life is a gift
  • God loves us
  • You can do anything you put your mind to
  • God is in control
  • ... was better back in the good old days
  • Etc, etc (please add your own in the comments)
In accordance with the quotes above and my own personal experience, I no longer take the vast majority of what people say seriously. Most people aren't really thinking when they speak and if you asked them "why?" they couldn't begin to answer.

Don't take it personally.

Thanks for the great advice Russell and I'm doing my best to put it into practice.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thoughts on Overpopulation

I once had a discussion with a friend about the issue of overpopulation. She said that she didn't believe that overpopulation exists because, as of now, there is more than enough food for everyone. Unfortunately, much of it is wasted and/or not directed towards those who need it most. Therefore, focusing on population is a distraction since the real issue is improper use of resources. I mostly agree with her but have one main contention. While I don't think overpopulation is the (main) cause of hunger currently, I DO believe that since the Earth is a closed system with only a limited (although abundant) number of resources we will eventually reach that limit. Due to technology, it's hard to know whether that limit is 10 billion or 50 billion people.

My response to her was that if people are going hungry now when there is more than enough for everyone, can you imagine what the world will be like and how people will behave when there isn't enough for everyone??? With that knowledge, isn't it irresponsible to encourage people to breed? Especially people who are already suffering the most from the improper use of resources?

Of course, this is all completely theoretical. History has shown that people will breed in even the most decrepit material and spiritual conditions so expecting people to slow down just because some truly bad times may be on the horizon is complete wishful thinking.