This Is A Trick

Below are a series of statements. After reading each one, answer if you agree or disagree.

  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked. (Agree/Disagree)
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them. (Agree/Disagree)
  3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there. (Agree/Disagree)
  4. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal. (Agree/Disagree)
  5. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved. (Agree/Disagree)
  6. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself. (Agree/Disagree)
  7. Do not harm little children. (Agree/Disagree)
  8. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food. (Agree/Disagree)
  9. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him. (Agree/Disagree)

Click here to find out who/what you agree/disagree with.


What’s the lesson?

57 Responses to This Is A Trick

  1. I suppose it’s a bit of an admission, but I got about 3-4 items into that list and recognized the source. In my teens I read that book, and found it remarkably more agreeable than the Bible. Then I promptly used both for target practice, and decided I was an atheist.

    • Hehe. I had a few friends who said the same thing in high school / college, but I never got around to reading the whole thing.

  2. I’m a Christian. I agreed with all of these. I clicked the link, and I laughed! Marvelous trick! (not even being sarcastic, this is quite funny!)

    Then again, I’m also a vegan and get a ton of crap from my fellow Christians for it, so maybe I’m doing Christian wrong.

    • “I’m a Christian. I agreed with all of these.” There’s a lesson in there somewhere!

      “…maybe I’m doing Christian wrong.” Which begs the question, is there a right way to “do” religion? Which then begs the question, are we better off without?

      • Ah, most Christians do it wrong, says this weird “Christian”.

        Oh, wait, I wasn’t asked for my opinion. :oops :)

        A couple of those statements struck me as being far too absolute and idealistic, but they are excellent guidelines.

        And we are far more alike than we are willing to admit. And there are good reasons for that.

  3. You totally got me…. But does agreeing with principles of satanists make u 1 of them especially when its so similar 2 other beliefs

  4. Wonderful, I wasn’t too keen on the last one, there are always alternatives to destroying another but when I ready that I got a chuckle. When I clicked the link I wasn’t really too surprised. I too read the book back in High School but didn’t recognize it until I saw it. There are just truths out there in the universe, someday people will realize we are more alike than not no matter what we chose to believe or not believe.

    • re: the last one. what about if you’re being physically attacked? Or what about if your child/loved one is being attacked? And what does destroy actually mean? Maybe it means have them arrested/put on trial? Or maybe it means harm them physically. It’s an interesting thought exercise with as many questions as answers.

      • Do we really need to do that? DEFINE what’s “good” and “evil”?
        I believe that deep inside we all instinctively “know” what’s good (for ourselves) and if we then treat others accordingly we should be fine. Seems like a simple and pretty usable guideline to me. Much better in fact than having someone else (like politicians/religious leaders) define good & evil for me. Those are the people that frighten me.

        BTW, I used to think of myself as an atheist but recently I am not so sure anymore…

  5. Like the first commenter, I was kind of tipped off after halfway through the questions that this was something I had read before. Still, a lovely exercise!

  6. I might be getting an “F” for this assignment. I was unable to either agree or disagree with most, at least without more context-specific information. I seem to have an issue with absolutes.

    • Interesting. So you’re saying the following … #5 – Stealing is OK sometimes? #7 – Harming little children is OK sometimes? #9 – Harassment is OK sometimes? #3 – Visiting someone and being disrespectful is OK sometimes? #4 – Rape is OK sometimes?

      I am legitimately asking.

      • These are good follow up questions/clarifications.

        I think my mental block is all from the wording being somewhat vague, combined with absolutes and with no framing context.

        I think your follow-up questions are asking me for specifics, so to tackle #3 as one example: “When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.”

        What is your definition of respect? Is it different than mine? Do I have to show you respect on your terms, or on mine, or under some other external standard? What if you presented me with false pretenses, and I entered under those?

        I tend to be a storyteller, so for many of these I can imagine a story where the absolutes don’t hold. I can also imagine stories where they do hold.

        In terms of the exercise – the surprise element when you click over, the impact is not quite there if you haven’t taken that firm stand before clicking.

        Likely, I am over-thinking this.

        • OK, we can disregard “respect” and visiting someone’s home. No problem. I guess it can be vague (though I might personally just use the dictionary definition). Or, you know, just be nice when you’re someone’s guest.

          That still leaves …
          #4 – Rape is OK sometimes? Though maybe I’m misinterpreting what “sexual advance” and “mating call” means and it doesn’t refer to forcing one’s self on another at all.

          Which still leaves …
          #5 – Stealing is OK sometimes?
          #7 – Harming little children is OK sometimes?
          #9 – Harassment is OK sometimes?

          • I did say “most” . . .

            You are definitely narrowing the list down to the ones where I also tend to agree. Even with some imagined exception or backstory that would change the perspective, the basic idea behind the principle resonates.

            I might take an exception to the “destroy” part of #9. Is that the only alternative? Is destroy literal or figurative?

            I know a lot of people I think aren’t nice or respectful, who quite likely think they are following dictionary definition for both down to the letter. Either their perspective is off or mine is. I’m open to me being the one who is wrong.

            If context and perspective matters, and if we can be wrong in our assessment of both, then absolutes might be just as troubling as I tend to find them.

            I write for a living, so really thinking about the meaning of words matters to me. Thank you for getting me to go deeper here.

            • re: destroy. I mentioned in another comment that we’d first have to define destroy. It could mean “get someone arrested” and it could mean “harm them,” but it could also mean a myriad other things. I have as many questions as anybody.

              “… absolutes might be just as troubling as I tend to find them.” Agreed, absolutes can be troubling. But less so in a list like this and more so in the greater realm of religion and what it claims to absolutely know. Because when you “know” is when you stop questioning and seeking new knowledge.

              I appreciate this dialogue. I like that I have so many smart, skeptical, readers. Though, considering that, I probably shouldn’t have given everybody the “this is a trick” heads up. It put the whole “experiment” on uneven ground. :)

              • It’s not a trick if you are agnostic ;)
                Robyn makes some very good points in that even with the harm children one: corporal punishment, a smack on the bottom to discourage behaviour that could cause much greater harm to your child would fall under this. I initially agreed with the statement “never harm a child” and still would hope to never have to resort to this if I were a parent, but, Robyn opened the door of interpretation and conditions that made me consider a middle ground.

      • Since I agree with Robyn, I’ll chime in, too, despite not being asked or my being sure you want to hear it, because it may be helpful to you or others or even prove helpful to myself based upon your response to me (contra #1 and #2).

        The rules are broadly reasonable but they also have exceptions which make the reader question their veracity, depending upon their interpretation.

        3. I’m trying to be respectful in your lair, but I don’t know if I am sufficiently showing it or if you will take it that way. And, depending upon what is meant by “respect”, I can imagine that sometimes disrespect may be deserved and useful, even in another’s lair.

        4. Rape may be a sexual advance but “sexual advance” does not imply rape. Is a kiss a sexual advance? A touch? Reading and sending signals is not always easy.

        5. Not stealing is reasonable. Relieving burdens is another issue entirely and may not require “crying out” in some cases.

        6. We need not subject ourselves to anything in life since we can generally choose death. Should we never complain? Sometimes complaining is useful, and surprisingly so.

        7. Not harming others is a decent principle, but why only apply it to little children? Is that a roundabout way of saying that spanking is wrong? What counts as “harm”?

        8. How about killing animals for their fur or other useful parts? Or for useful experiments?

        9. This one is silly. Repeatedly bothering someone does not warrant destruction.

        I think the lesson to be learned is that morality and exegesis are not so simple. We could, for example, analyze the circumstances under which #9 was written and perhaps conclude that “bother” meant something far more serious to the author and “destroy” meant something far less serious than death, like “push away” or “restrain” or “leave”. Even their name “Satanist” has been reassigned a vastly different meaning.

        That’s why arguing about the Bible, Quran, etc. by people who don’t have a similar interpretive basis is largely fruitless. Instead, it is more fruitful to argue the living meaning and morality today.

        • Thanks for the dialogue, though it misses the point.

          I’m not going to go line by line (again, the whole debate is missing the point, I agree with you on a lot of this) except to say that – #8 – killing animals for fur is absolutely atrocious. Unless maybe you were born in the deserts of Siberia and that’s what you need to stay alive.

          And I liked #9 because I agreed with it until I didn’t. It’s 1/3 silly. Escalated quickly!

          • Re: #8, is any non-food use of animals atrocious? Or do you specifically object to wastefully killing an animal only for one small part?

            Is it my #9 you liked and then didn’t, or the original rule #9? I’m not sure how to take your last paragraph.

            I’ll look forward to your sharing what your intended point was.

            • Specifically killing an animal for one small part. And more than that, in a factory farm where they are tortured in the process. (which is where most fur and feed comes from)

              I was referring to the original #9 and mostly agreeing with yours.

              • Ah, thanks. I agree with you about torturing animals. Temple Grandin has done some important work in that regard (and the movie of her life starring Claire Danes is fairly interesting, too).

          • Taking another guess, is your point “don’t judge a book by its cover”?

            If so, surely the cover’s author bears some responsibility for redefining popular terms.

            It’s as if I were to change my name to “Barack Obama” and then when people expect me to be the US president, I say, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!” :)

            • That logic is tenuous. At best. And even that is generous.

              But I emailed you my thoughts so as not to cloud others’ judgement before I post another essay.

  7. Lesson here – watch your words – religions taken out of context for centuries do more harm than good, and yes all religions.

  8. At times I disagreed because I was more extreme on the topic: 7. Harming no one is okay, viewing a little child as different than somebody else is wrong. 8. Do not kill any animals for your own food, either. 9. Destroying the person is not the first thing that comes to mind in this situation…

    When I clicked the link, I found that disagreeing was probably different than my disagreement, and therefore I have no clue where I stand.

    • 7. Children fall under the umbrella of everybody, therefore you actually agree with the statement. It’s like if you’re vegan, you’re also vegetarian (though not the other way around).
      8. Mostly I agree, but sometimes this is necessary. If you were stranded in the wilderness you would starve? I don’t believe the statement as-is supports factory farming, which is how most people get their food nowadays.
      9. So you agree with 2/3. :)

      But this all misses the point of the exercise anyway.

  9. As for respecting ppl in their own house, yea I agree but with couch surfing for example what if the host is just disrespectful to you? Just because theyre doing a generous thing by letting you stay doesn’t mean they have the right to treat you like shit. Just speaking from experience.

    What the hell is a mating signal? Yea I wish it was that easy to tell when to advance but in real life its not.

    Most people are huge hypocrites on the animal one also. Just because you’re not personally slittting their throat is paying someone else to do it any different?

    Also we are all hypocrites about not sharing our opinion in the comments section

    • Couchsurfing: No, they don’t have the right to treat you disrespectfully. But you have the right – and I would say obligation – to leave respectfully, do you not?

      Mating signal and sexual advance: I took it to mean when someone says or implies (slippery slope there, I know), “I want to have sex with you,” but I realize it can be interpreted in many ways.

  10. So what’s your point/argument?

    That if you/I agree in the majority or all of these points, that I’m a satanist?
    Or what? Because that’s a bad argument. Many religions/beliefs/world views have similar views on morality. However, their core beliefs assert radically different things, depending on which ones you are talking about.

    For example, a Satanist and a Christian may agree on the things, but they will have radically different views on themselves, God, and the world.

    Also, one cannot “do” Christian. One is either a Christoan or they are not. This is based on whether one trusts in God, specifically Christ, as the Savior from sun and death. It is not based on good works outweighing bad ones, for the biblical view declares that one must obey God’s Law perfectly, which no one does and that’s why one needs Christ’s work on the cross for salvation. A satanist, atheist, Jew and many others would disagree with this, the Christian core view.

    Back to the point, therefore, just because one may agree with these statements, it doesn’t make one a satanist.

  11. Isn’t that common sense? We are more alike since we are human and moral beings. Not trying to be a discussion killer but this lesson seems to be just common sense :)

  12. As an agnostic I believe that the lesson is that a lot of religious beliefs have value in that they contain a common wisdom. The wisdom being that a harmonious society is built upon some social rules that, quite frankly, should be obvious.

    Another lesson is that we all have more in common than we think and by aligning ourselves in groups we fuel armies. Let’s face it, the average religious follower does not actually believe or obey every single teaching of their religion. So everyone essentially has their own personal belief system.