There are some topics which I know I could go on for decades, for centuries about. I’m going to do my best here to prevent this from turning into an endless rant, because I know what goes into a good story, and there is nothing good about this one. This is something that all Satanists, I boldly propose and declare, have encountered. This is something that makes us all ball our hands (even in our minds!) throw them into the air, and bellow a loud “No, you stupid fuck!!” Stupidity, as you may be aware, is one of our sins, and so you can feel assured at the degree this subject grates on us. A rant is overdue. A rant is far overdue.
Here's the problem...
When I first started looking into Satanism, it was for a story I was developing. More specifically, it was for a side character in a story I was writing. I am very thorough in my character designs, and as a writer with honor, I wanted to ensure that I knew about what this character’s life would be like before assuming that my understanding was accurate. Come to find out, my understanding of what Satanism was couldn’t have been farther from reality, which should come as no surprise to you since so many people suffer the same problem of being misinformed. Thankfully, in my case, I was able to rectify it. I started with the Church of Satan website. I then found their Twitter, and next eyeballed the paperback, “The Satanic Bible,” with a curious wonder of how deeply I wanted to dive into this. Amusingly, at the point where I decided to make the purchase, I had already known that the character I was designing was doomed to the recycle bin. I’m glad I did my research. I can’t imagine how ashamed I would have been had I published this character with the label “Satanist” when a true Satanist was nothing like my prior commonplace misconceptions. Regardless, I continued researching because by now I was simply curious for the sake of being curious, and I’m not the sort of person to pass up on an opportunity to discover something interesting. I read the Satanic Bible three times. I re-read each essay on the Church of Satan website. I learned about The Satanic Temple, and I decided to begin researching that organization in even further depth to test for bias in my first exposure to it.
Differentiating Facts from Opinion
When it comes to reviewing facts, you will find that they match because they are considered a constant (as opposed to variable.) Constant means it stays the same. Variable means that it can change. An opinion is variable: not only can it change, but it is different from person to person much of the time. An opinion is what comes about after interpreting a set of data. It’s possible to look at data and believe it’s fact when in truth it is fiction, but this doesn’t change that a fact is something that is true and an opinion is a subjective something which may not be. The challenge in researching on the internet in the modern 20s is that everyone has gotten so many ego strokes from having their opinion solicited that they believe that their opinion is now a fact! There is a way to escape the downward spiral of subjective statements though, even the ones which pretend to be what they aren’t. All you really need to do to get started is review the credentials of the speaker and those the speaker references.
Magus Peter Gilmore is an expert in Satanism. I know this because he is the head of the Church of Satan; he is the High Priest. He was appointed to the position, like others in the Priesthood of Mendes, by experts in Satanism. I am saying this, a faceless blogger on the big internet, to you, faceless reader. How do you know if what I am telling you is true? You don’t. You either must take my word on it and place credibility in what research I’ve done (not recommended, I could be an embarrassingly sloppy scientist), or you could look it up for yourself. What do you find? Were you able to confirm what I’ve said? You indeed can because Magus Peter Gilmore is factually the High Priest of the Church of Satan. Does this mean you can always trust what I have to say from here forward, believe that I am always serving you only facts and no bias? NO, of course not! This blog is my life as a Satanist, not a primer for understanding the religion! I’ve never poised myself as an expert on anyone other than myself: what I am saying here is that Magus Gilmore is the expert. Listen to what he (and other experts) say, not me, nor people like me. I know, I know: this sounds really obvious when I put it out there in this format, but I’m telling you – this is the core of the problem. Most are not even trying to find experts, and those chatterboxes that people find in their half-assed efforts are either A. the guy who has read four books on the topic (and who knows the authors’ credibility), or B. The person whose complacent expertise is limited only to spelling G – O – O – G – L – E - . – C – O – M! Both people incorrectly identify themselves as experts not only to others but also to themselves! This is self-deceit and when we come to the intellectual tipping point as a global society where the individual who has read a mere four books on a subject is considered an expert, we have a massive problem on our hands: massive!
How to Make Someone Believe Anything
Whenever I come to this part of my rumbles and grumbles, I think back to a documentary I once enjoyed. Documentaries are in themselves problematic because people tend to assume they have some sort of moral obligation to avoid bias, which they of course do not, but I enjoy watching them so I can get some entertaining insight, even if it isn’t really ‘credible research.’ The theme of this documentary doesn’t really matter as much as what I took from it, and what I took from it was one of those critical concepts that I incorporate into my Lesser Magic as well as my daily life. The point was: in order to protect tobacco sales, tobacco companies didn’t need to convince people that the scientific evidence regarding the health perils of cigarettes was wrong. They couldn’t: the evidence was factual. Trying to disprove the facts would be costly and take more time than they could afford to yield (Also, it was a big risk if it backfired.). Thankfully, someone came up with an inexpensive and quick-response solution for handling public perception of these test results: all they needed to do was introduce doubt. Doubt, just doubt. They didn’t have to disprove the results or argue, they just had to say, “Are you sure?” Let that sink in for a bit. All they had to do was create a counter conversation, to fill people’s heads with the voices of opinions, not experts, voices which for their own reasons (perhaps emotional) resisted the truth and stuck to the delusion of its denial. Check out this amazing commercial by the Corn Refiner’s Association of America.
Blue Shirt hasn’t done her research. She’s basing everything on what “they” say about something, and when she says “they” she’s probably talking about something she saw on Facebook, an article maybe (with someone’s opinion on the article shared above it), about how High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) affects the body, but she probably only read the headline and comment, put together what the article was about, and moved on to the next thing. (How many of us are guilty of this? Hands up.) Clearly, she hasn’t read the studies herself, and yet she oops, considers her ‘research’ to be enough, that she is fully informed, when the truth is that she can’t provide any information about the matter upon request by Purple Shirt. Notice then how Purple Shirt instills doubt in her, and now suddenly they’re both okay with serving this nasty product to the kids.
I love this commercial because it reiterates to us just how little we research even though we believe so thoroughly that we know what we’re talking about, and how easy it is for people to distract you from the facts. Just because Purple Shirt asserts that HFCS is “natural” and “like sugar, is fine in moderation,” does not mean that it is healthy for the kids to be drinking. It doesn’t even mean she’s right. Are we to believe she is right just because she says she is? Who is she to say this? How is moderation defined anyway, and by whose standard? Purple Shirt has only shared her beliefs even though she’s wrapped it up and presented it as if it’s nutritional law. If it were a fact, why not include supporting evidence? She is not an expert in children’s drinks, not that we’re aware of. I, for one, expect that the Corn Refiners’ Association of America would have included her expertise if it was relevant in her opinion—that is, if the facts even can back up her statement. However…they did not, and we viewers are left to believe that Blue Shirt now doubts the validity of the research itself, she doubts the experts, because not only is she okay with serving the nasty koolaid to the kids, she’s drinking it herself at the end. Blue Shirt doesn’t recognize the importance between an opinion and fact. She doesn’t recognize that just because Purple Shirt says something that Purple Shirt could be incorrect. She’s too wrapped up in her embarrassment of being uninformed to protest.
This exact same thing happens with Satanism, but dare I propose: worse, and the consequences are appropriately more dangerous as well. How many times has someone made a claim that Satanism is or isn’t a certain thing only to be met with a counterclaim? Often, out of interest to save face for both parties who each seem to believe that they are factual and not opinionated, a very bizarre truce is offered: “Agree to disagree.” This is rubbish. There is no “agreeing” or “disagreeing” with a fact. A fact is a fact. It is researched, challenged, and withstands the gauntlet of tests under the scientific method. For the curious researcher, facts are discovered through authentic research of expert and credentialed sources. By contrast, it is opinion which can arise from any discussion anywhere, and it is the lack of recognition of their difference which contributes to the problem. The victim researcher highlighted through this blog believes that they are researching fact when in reality, they are only surveying opinions of non-experts.
Talking About You vs Talking About Everyone
Satanism is an interesting topic. I can understand why we like to discuss it: it’s different, and nearly by definition, different is interesting. We who are Satanists usually don’t mind sharing how we celebrate ourselves because this religion brings us such peace and happiness to be who we are. I find that it’s nice to talk about because even just thinking about the ways that I celebrate myself brings me happiness. When someone asks me about my beliefs, I feel love for those beliefs when I articulate my answer. It’s who we are, and we can’t imagine being any other way but true to ourselves. It becomes a major problem though, when people who aren’t experts attempt to speak as if they are, especially when these people usually turn out to be the least informed and who have performed the least authentic research. I find that with Satanism people tend to “explain it” without realizing that the “it” they’re “explaining” is actually a fantasy of how they wish the world was. There could be any number of topics with respect to this. In social media there are arguments about non-issues such as the concept of theism in Satanism, the identity of The Satanic Temple with respect to Satanism, and more.
These non-official voices drown out the official ones if you let them. It’s so important to identify who your experts are and appeal to their guidance for understanding, be it in a book published by those experts or through a referral to someone whose peer expertise they can stand behind. The majority of people who I know to think they are researching Satanism are doing it through social media alone. They’re doing it by asking Blue and Purple Shirts (often in situations where the Shirts are complete unknown and uncredentialed strangers to the researcher!) what they believe about the matter rather than rooting out where the experts have published factual findings. Well, Blue and Purple Shirts often don’t offer any information that we can review and confirm the accuracy of, as we would normally do as a part of an authentic (rather than self-deceiving) research process.
Think: when was the last time you questioned the source that a non-expert referred you to? Just because they appear to be an expert to a Shirt doesn’t mean that they are, in fact an expert. A wonderful example of this is Arch-Nemesis Wikipedia. “Oh, yeah,” I know you’re thinking, “Wikipedia. Well, I don’t trust Wikipedia, I just use the sources.” All right, I say to you, but when was the last time you questioned the expertise of those sources? When was the last time you looked up an author to see where they graduated? When was the last time you used more than the simple volume of books as an indicator for their expertise in a subject? Regrettably, I can assure you: writers can produce any number of words about anything, and certain publishers are in the business to make money, not informed citizens. As I hinted earlier, not all of us are bound by honor to ensure that what we’re saying is right, either.
Would you expect anything different than this result when we live in a culture of this intellectual climate? Everyone wants to act and believe they are a master of knowledge, but that’s pretentious, self-delusional stupidity. In Satanism we don’t believe in spiritual pipe-dreams, and I submit that we neither believe we will magically receive something without having put in an effort to get it. We believe in doing that work because nobody else is going to do that same quality of work for you. To rely on someone else’s opinion in substitution for doing the research on your own is to accept their bias as fact and that’s unacceptable to anyone who wants to genuinely understand a matter. Don’t be Blue Shirt about Satanism. Learn about the facts and form your own opinion on them. That way when someone challenges the facts, you’ll know what to say—both the evidence and your opinion—but because in all likelihood that person you’re talking to won’t be able to separate your fact from opinion, be sure to let them know that you’re not speaking for everyone, just yourself, and not on behalf of the experts (unless you really are one)!
Where to next?
Who is the Witch?
I'm just another successful Satanist who happens to be kinda good at the whole Lesser Magic thing. This blog is about my personal experiences and perspective in Satanism and does not speak for others nor their experiences. For more information please click here and learn more.