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The Existential Crisis

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Hereandnow
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 13th, 2019, 1:15 pm

Eduk and Greta:
@Hereandnow sorry but many theists would say the same of their heartfelt primordial wonder. personally I would say heartfelt primordial wonder is just part of the human experience. The question is does experiencing wonder have value? Or does it matter what you are experiencing wonder about?
Or you can demonstrate to me the results? In my experience those who proclaim the deep profundity of their views, without evidence, seem to experience the world no different to I. Certainly there is nothing obvious to show for it such as better marriages, relationships with friends, job prospects, ability to write, ability to express themselves, calm or any other positive attribute. To be honest my experience is very slightly the opposite of anything positive.
All that's needed is to settle down, stop worrying about what humans might cause us bother if we take your eye off the ball, and appreciate a little of the non-human
The proof of the value of what has been said through the 20 century by great thinkers is, well, an acquired taste, I suppose. I cannot tell you in a post any more than I can tell about the history of Rome in a post. I can invite you to read something, though. And why is this off the table, to read philosophy, that is? The OP is ALL ABOUT the existential crisis, and yet Kierkegaard, a founder of existentialism, is out of the discussion?? A whole century of powerful and enlightening thought is not up for debate, analysis?

Wonder does not appear, Eduk, ex nihilo; it rises out of the reading itself, just as romantic idealism, e.g., issues from reading Wordsworth, and Coleridge-- one may have had a romantic soul, so to speak, prior to poetry, but to examine this, to put thoughtful words to feeling and experience transforms the affair into understanding. One reads and then is inspired. Thought and language is the vehicle that takes you there. One is not there already. Heidegger called language the house of being. Just read the preface to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and then tell me you are not at all curious about what it is to be a thinking person in a way that never ever occurred to you.
The non-human, Greta? One must keep in mind that to speak at all is to condition what is spoken of. There is never the presence of the non human that crosses the experiential path of thought.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 13th, 2019, 2:09 pm

@Hereandnow I don't agree on the theory of the sudden revolution, certainly there is no evidence for this and it is not well echoed in science (which for every moment of eureka has many more moments of slow improvement). I do agree on the stumbling about in the dark without victory.
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by chewybrian » February 14th, 2019, 5:41 am

Eduk wrote:
February 13th, 2019, 3:51 am
@Hereandnow sorry but many theists would say the same of their heartfelt primordial wonder. personally I would say heartfelt primordial wonder is just part of the human experience. The question is does experiencing wonder have value? Or does it matter what you are experiencing wonder about?
Or you can demonstrate to me the results? In my experience those who proclaim the deep profundity of their views, without evidence, seem to experience the world no different to I. Certainly there is nothing obvious to show for it such as better marriages, relationships with friends, job prospects, ability to write, ability to express themselves, calm or any other positive attribute. To be honest my experience is very slightly the opposite of anything positive.
My subjective impression is close to yours. However, there is objective evidence that religion has benefits to your physical and mental health. People who believe have lower blood pressure, fewer cases of depression, stronger immune systems, they live longer...

https://www.health.com/mind-body/5-surp ... f-religion

You can google and find many sources for these effects, or correlations. You can argue, I suppose, whether it is cause and effect or correlation. I think it goes right back to the topic at hand. If people find a purpose to their lives, real or imagined, then some or all of the pressure of the existential crisis is relieved.
Hereandnow wrote:
February 13th, 2019, 1:15 pm
All that's needed is to settle down, stop worrying about what humans might cause us bother if we take your eye off the ball, and appreciate a little of the non-human
The proof of the value of what has been said through the 20 century by great thinkers is, well, an acquired taste, I suppose. I cannot tell you in a post any more than I can tell about the history of Rome in a post. I can invite you to read something, though. And why is this off the table, to read philosophy, that is? The OP is ALL ABOUT the existential crisis, and yet Kierkegaard, a founder of existentialism, is out of the discussion?? A whole century of powerful and enlightening thought is not up for debate, analysis?...

The non-human, Greta? One must keep in mind that to speak at all is to condition what is spoken of. There is never the presence of the non human that crosses the experiential path of thought.
I read Greta's statements as an encouragement to reconnect with your animal side, with the reality of your existence which is often hidden by our modern lifestyle. If you always have your physical needs easily met, and you are insulated from the methods by which they are being met, it is easy to lose touch with reality to some extent. You might reconnect by gardening or walking your dog, or visiting a farm. Of course, these activities are 'human', because you are involved, yet they can help you retrieve something often lost or forgotten in modern life.

Kierkegaard...I can't see that there is a more appropriate time or place to bring him up:
Anxiety may be compared to dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs in this dizziness.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 14th, 2019, 6:11 am

However, there is objective evidence that religion has benefits to your physical and mental health. People who believe have lower blood pressure, fewer cases of depression, stronger immune systems, they live longer...

https://www.health.com/mind-body/5-surp ... f-religion
I find these studies less than convincing. Here is a realistic appraisal of reality (which mentions correlation - as you do).
https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-po ... nd-prayer/
you may find this summation interesting
However, my reading of the literature on this question leads me to conclude that there is a consistent signal in the noise – having a social network consistently positively correlates with better health outcomes. This can be through reduced stress and better practical and emotional support. Humans are social animals, and we simply do better when we are part of a social network than when we are isolated. Religion can provide a useful social network. Faith and religion itself, however, are not the important variable – it’s the social network.
I think it's fair to say that even the benefit of social networks is far from a trivial sum. For example I might not have a good social network because I am an alcoholic. Or I might be an alcoholic because I have a bad social network. Plus let's not forget the quality of the social network itself :)
Anyway, in short, I see no clear case to suggest that religions benefit physical and mental health.
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Greta » February 14th, 2019, 8:04 am

chewybrian wrote:
February 14th, 2019, 5:41 am
Hereandnow wrote:
February 13th, 2019, 1:15 pm
The non-human, Greta? One must keep in mind that to speak at all is to condition what is spoken of. There is never the presence of the non human that crosses the experiential path of thought.
I read Greta's statements as an encouragement to reconnect with your animal side, with the reality of your existence which is often hidden by our modern lifestyle. If you always have your physical needs easily met, and you are insulated from the methods by which they are being met, it is easy to lose touch with reality to some extent. You might reconnect by gardening or walking your dog, or visiting a farm. Of course, these activities are 'human', because you are involved, yet they can help you retrieve something often lost or forgotten in modern life.

Kierkegaard...I can't see that there is a more appropriate time or place to bring him up:
Anxiety may be compared to dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs in this dizziness.
Brian, your interpretation of my comment was good. HAN, as I've probably said too often, when we look at who and what we are, our individuality is only the tip of a much more generic iceberg containing our subcultures, culture, species, class, phylum, kingdom and probably planet, solar system and goodness knows what.

That is, life shares common traits, as do all animals, all chordates, all mammals, all humans, all Australians etc. On top of this generic bulk is this tiny individuality that we magnify in our minds because we so often see ourselves as living in an "ocean" of individualities rather than denizens of the broader environment. For perspective, this is akin to the graphs you might see in the business section of the news, which show an ostensibly dramatic dip or rise - until you notice that the y-axis is scaled to just a fraction of one percent. If the chart was scaled to 100%, you might not even notice a deviation.

I don't think we tend to honour the animal within but rather try to suppress it. Yet the animal within is the happy part of us, the part that isn't overthinking, that is innocent and honouring of the moment. Of course, you don't let the animal make decisions; it's a psychopath and its creative chaotic energy needs guidance for optimal results, hence our very useful big human brains, which is where HAN's views come in.

Still, I am struck by the different kind of reality experienced when people are close to death as compared with regular life, and I'm not referring to exotic NDEs. Simply the sense that it's all about to end is wakeup call enough, and it's only after these experiences that many finally get out of their heads and actually appreciate the wonders that we are, and are surrounded by, at all times. So much is objectified and ignored and not appreciated. There's much delight and succour to be had by noticing actual reality (eg. Sagan, Attenborough) but we're usually too busy doing important human things. There's plenty enough suffering in life so it seems a shame to miss the benefits.

As the saying goes, no one on their death bed regrets not spending enough time at the office.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by chewybrian » February 14th, 2019, 8:10 am

Eduk wrote:
February 14th, 2019, 6:11 am
I find these studies less than convincing. Here is a realistic appraisal of reality (which mentions correlation - as you do).
https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-po ... nd-prayer/
you may find this summation interesting
However, my reading of the literature on this question leads me to conclude that there is a consistent signal in the noise – having a social network consistently positively correlates with better health outcomes. This can be through reduced stress and better practical and emotional support. Humans are social animals, and we simply do better when we are part of a social network than when we are isolated. Religion can provide a useful social network. Faith and religion itself, however, are not the important variable – it’s the social network.
I think it's fair to say that even the benefit of social networks is far from a trivial sum. For example I might not have a good social network because I am an alcoholic. Or I might be an alcoholic because I have a bad social network. Plus let's not forget the quality of the social network itself :)
Anyway, in short, I see no clear case to suggest that religions benefit physical and mental health.
You must see the irony of your quoting an article on a site with 'science' in the title, which simply makes assertions with no proof of any kind offered. I am not saying his assertion, or yours, are necessarily wrong, but c'mon, man... You can't rightly dispute a controlled study (even if the result is only correlation) with opinion and nothing more. You make a good point, but the citation is rather silly as 'proof'.

It is quite possible that another study that carefully backed out other contributing factors might show that faith has no impact on health. Without seeing one, I can only speculate. My speculation is that there are other factors that might need to be backed out. People of faith might have better social networks, and better health habits. But, I still think faith alone could and should be expected to show a positive impact on health, for the reason that it can reduce stress and give meaning to peoples' lives (even if the meaning or the consolations are false comforts).
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 14th, 2019, 9:08 am

You must see the irony of your quoting an article on a site with 'science' in the title, which simply makes assertions with no proof of any kind offered. I am not saying his assertion, or yours, are necessarily wrong, but c'mon, man... You can't rightly dispute a controlled study (even if the result is only correlation) with opinion and nothing more. You make a good point, but the citation is rather silly as 'proof'.
I suggest you investigate the site a bit more closely before making silly accusations of my silliness. Your article came from a click bait site, you must surely see the irony?
But, I still think faith alone could and should be expected to show a positive impact on health, for the reason that it can reduce stress and give meaning to peoples' lives (even if the meaning or the consolations are false comforts).
Yeah this is the problem. You are a non expert. I am a non expert. Neither of us are qualified to meta analyse scientific literature on the health benefits of faith. Neither of us even works in the health industry. I don't even work in a related field, I assume you don't either. And yet you read one article which you believe from health.com and I read a much more accurate article which I believe from sciencebasedmedicine.com.
How do either of us sort between the two? How do I categorically know that the chances of accuracy are massively stacked to my side? I could tell you, but it would take a long long while.
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by chewybrian » February 14th, 2019, 10:03 am

Eduk wrote:
February 14th, 2019, 9:08 am
You must see the irony of your quoting an article on a site with 'science' in the title, which simply makes assertions with no proof of any kind offered. I am not saying his assertion, or yours, are necessarily wrong, but c'mon, man... You can't rightly dispute a controlled study (even if the result is only correlation) with opinion and nothing more. You make a good point, but the citation is rather silly as 'proof'.
I suggest you investigate the site a bit more closely before making silly accusations of my silliness. Your article came from a click bait site, you must surely see the irony?
But, I still think faith alone could and should be expected to show a positive impact on health, for the reason that it can reduce stress and give meaning to peoples' lives (even if the meaning or the consolations are false comforts).
Yeah this is the problem. You are a non expert. I am a non expert. Neither of us are qualified to meta analyse scientific literature on the health benefits of faith. Neither of us even works in the health industry. I don't even work in a related field, I assume you don't either. And yet you read one article which you believe from health.com and I read a much more accurate article which I believe from sciencebasedmedicine.com.
How do either of us sort between the two? How do I categorically know that the chances of accuracy are massively stacked to my side? I could tell you, but it would take a long long while.
Would you like some ice cream with your humble pie? :wink: I chose that article because it is a compilation of numerous scientific studies from many reputable sources, each of which is linked in the broader article. Click on the underlined words in the text, and you will be redirected to very reputable sources of real studies.

For example, click on "actually prolong their lives" (in the article I linked), and you will be redirected to this study in the Journal of the American Medical Association...http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/183578. Click on "40% less likely", and you will be redirected to this study at the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health about blood pressure and faith....https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9724889 etc...

So, I don't know anything about "Health.com", but I do trust the National Institutes of Health , JAMA and such, and I picked that article as a demonstration of my point on the basis of the sturdy links to scientific studies and the fact that it offered a good summation of the various (possible) benefits. I agree with you on the idea that neither of us are experts in this area. But, I stand on what I linked as evidence that there is probably something to this. In my (also humble) opinion, I suspect reduced stress by taking the worry about purpose off your plate is a factor, and it goes back to the subject of this thread.

I'd be happy to eat some humble pie about your source, but the burden is on you to show me something I missed, as I just did for you. The particular article you cited just seems like one guy's opinion and nothing more. Maybe you know where the 'more' is?... The links I see from his article only point out that the effect of prayer as treatment is suspect, or point out studies with which he evidently does not agree (which support the health benefits of faith). I can't find anything knocking down the positive effects of faith, other than his opinion.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 14th, 2019, 10:24 am

I didn't miss the links. The full studies are locked (or at least the first one I clicked on was) and you are left with short sentences. I don't know what the full conclusion from the studies is but what I do have to work on is vague.
CONCLUSIONS:
Religiously active older adults tend to have lower blood pressures than those who are less active. This applies to attendance at religious services and private religious activities, but not to religious media. Physiological mechanisms are discussed.
How do we know it is the attending of religious services which is of benefit and not the sedentary lifestyle of staying on your couch which is to blame? Has this study explicitly teased out this interaction? As sedentary lifestyles are well proven to raise blood pressure. Or allow me to put it another way.
It is the scientific consensus that sedentary lifestyles cause detrimental health outcomes (on average). It is not the scientific consensus that going to church improves health outcomes (on average).
You will also note that the article I linked you makes this same point that factors (in these studies) such as religiosity are notoriously hard to control for. I felt this would be a more enlightening read for you than my specific issues with the specific study.

Also journalists, on the whole, do a poor job of science communication and I would never read any health article in any publication written by journalists at face value. This is not to say they are always wholly wrong of course, just that their motivations are different and their expertise isn't up to the job.
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 14th, 2019, 11:06 am

by the way, just to prove a point,
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30080491
It was trivial to find. As was this
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-14529-001
So there we have three contradictory (reputable looking) studies.
How do you distinguish between them?

I thought I'd start giving some formal tips.
Tip 1. Self reporting of health outcomes (or anecdotal evidence) is massively error prone. I assume I don't need to go into the details of why anecdotal evidence is less than reliable?
Tip 2. Surveys are, likewise, error prone. I could go into the details if you like?
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by chewybrian » February 14th, 2019, 11:36 am

Well, both of these acknowledged that the idea of faith improving health is often stated, and I've seen it myself many times. This is the first time I've seen anything going the other way, though. I still feel intuitively that there would be a stress reduction for many people of faith, which could reasonably show up in things like lower blood pressure. So, it all fits for me, though I do not mean to imply divine intervention as the cause.

I am very curious about this statement from your link:
Existential dogmatism and religiousness had similar positive relationships with mental health, but each had weak predictive strengths.
...though not curious enough to purchase the pdf. What is "existential dogmatism"? I feel like I may well 'suffer' from this and not know it by this label. Positive relationship would mean correlation, though, which seems to go against the point being made.

You missed this gem just above the one you cited from my link:
While most religious activity was associated with lower blood pressure, those who frequently watched religious TV or listened to religious radio actually had higher blood pressures.
I'm not sure what to make of that, other than I might be inclined to make (unfair?) assumptions about people who would watch religious TV.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 14th, 2019, 11:51 am

Well, both of these acknowledged that the idea of faith improving health is often stated, and I've seen it myself many times. This is the first time I've seen anything going the other way, though.
What can I say other than there is a lot of false beliefs in this world. Surely you must have first hand experience of this? When you read something (that you have expertise in) written by a non expert how often do they get it right?
I still feel intuitively that there would be a stress reduction for many people of faith, which could reasonably show up in things like lower blood pressure.
I really don't think it is anywhere near that simple. You seem to be under the assumption that religions provide answers to existential concerns and hence, logically, a 'better nights sleep'. I would say the quality of the answer matters as to whether you actually get a 'better nights sleep'.
You missed this gem just above the one you cited from my link:
While most religious activity was associated with lower blood pressure, those who frequently watched religious TV or listened to religious radio actually had higher blood pressures.
I'm not sure what to make of that, other than I might be inclined to make (unfair?) assumptions about people who would watch religious TV.
I didn't. This is where I formed my sedentary lifestyle theory. Watching a lot of TV correlates with not doing a lot of exercise, irrespective of whether the programming is religious or not.
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Greta » February 14th, 2019, 4:54 pm

Some benefits of faith: Placebo effect. Stress reduction (feeling you have support). Social interaction and networking. Exercise. Another benefit of faith is potential relief from humanism, thinking beyond just human things and priorities (I don't have faith personally, just noticing others and using simple logic).

Again, it's this incessant and obsessive anthropocentrism that destroys our health and happiness and leads to existential crises. A world of only humans and objectified other entities is a sterile one, incapable of providing rich emotional and systemic nourishment, just a shallow simulacrum.

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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Eduk » February 15th, 2019, 4:06 am

@Greta all your benefits of religion sound made up on the spot to me. Take your example of social networks, this exact point has already been addressed, not sure if you missed it?
Out of interest. You say you aren't religious? And that religion reduces stress in your experience. Does that mean to say you feel you are more stressed than your religious friends?
It is also interesting that you blame self importance for various evils. Are you saying religion doesn't promote anthropocentrism ? Because it certainly seems to to me?
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Re: The Existential Crisis

Post by Hereandnow » February 15th, 2019, 1:52 pm

Chewybrain:
Kierkegaard...I can't see that there is a more appropriate time or place to bring him up:
I won't bore you with jargon. If you want to know about what existential philosophers say about the existential crisis, you have to ignore first order thinking ideas that crowd the plate. They are, to borrow, always already there. Science and its interpretations are out the window on this. I know how odd that sounds, but just put forth a modicum of presumption in their favor just to hear what they say.
1. Scientific knowledge issues from our collective human minds, and so, that makes the mind an object of interest to verify if science's theoretical accounts. We can "observe" the mind objectively not by what it yields in its observations of the world, (which would be question begging) but in observing the conditions it sets forth for such observations to take place at all, i.e., the basic structures of thought and experience (which is also question begging, but it is a more "primordial" level of analysis). There is a lot to say about this, but just take in the basic idea.
2. We do #1 because because the crisis of which you speak is not being approached as a life style issue. It is a crisis in our existence itself, that is, in our just being here, not as teacher or a soldier or AS any complex role one might "play", but just being here (as?) a person. We don't notice this crisis as we live through things AS this or that because we are too busy living. We notice it through questioning. Questioning is always what begins understanding and drives the search for understanding. Existential thinking is very much in line with the scientific method: a rational inquiry that is "thrown" into, on any given occasion, a set of competing ideas. It just doesn't look to empirical scienctific theories; it looks to what is logically prior to these, to what has to be the case in order science to occur in the first place. Kant did this with thought and judgment. Kierkegaard, to make a very long story short, saw a fundamental error in thinking that said to understand what a person is comes through analyzing the structures of science its knowledge. Rather, he shouted: WE EXIST!
3. Existence is NOT at all, says Kierkegaard, what thinking can say. You cannot put actuality in an argument on the table, scrutinize its aspects, the wealth of thought that gathers around it (Heidegger does exactly this, incidentally) and conclude what it means to exist. To feel, to agonize, be in love, struggle, suffer, experience the joy of art and music, and so on, and so on: none of this can be encompassed by a thought, an idea. Its "thereness" to use an awkward phrase, is entirely ineffable, and this brings ineffability right in your face, if you will. This is how philosophy can get very weird, even mystical. This cup on the table, what is its Being?? How old is its Being? Eternal? Can't have come from nothing, must be?? where is Being? Nowhere? You can see how once concepts/ideas lose their authority, "things" become decontextualized. Kierkegaard thought that you are now closing in on the eternal present, actuality. And our thoughts and experiences are delivered from the commonlpace, what Heidegger will later call das man.
4. Since ideas are what thinking is made of, this puts science in a very insecure position. It certainly does get the trains running on time, so to speak, but it does not have a clue about the foundation of our being here, our being thrown here, never being asked: born to suffer and die and empirical science is silent on the matter.
What allows us to be free of the burden of this question that underlies all we think and do is not asking the question in the first place. Of course, this is a child's freedom and it possesses nothing an entire Other dimension of what being here really is about.
Hope you don't find all this too irritating. It is unfamiliar, I know. But the more you read on these themes, you realize that you never really knew where or what you were till you took that Socratic step of dropping all assumptions and admitting you don't know at all, but you can question, and questioning at the level of basic questions is truly transformational. We are literally MADE of ideas, and existential inquiry can be a constitutive change.
If anyone out there, just one, might be inspired to read what Kierkegaard or Jaspers or whoever has to say, I would consider this a post worth the time out in to writing it.

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