Tuesday 13 February 2024

Freedom of Thought is Under Attack

I am horrified by how the media now treats conspiracy theories as if they are somehow universally egregious. This treatment is wrong, authoritarian, and threatens everything that underpins post-enlightenment life.

Trump and Covid triggered a wave of conspiracy theories which threatened the ruling elite, and now they seek to maintain their narrative by tarring all such theories with the same brush.

Some conspiracy theories are demonstrably false. Some are demonstrably true. The rest are real possibilities which, in absence of proof, are reasonable to express, examine and even to tentatively believe in.

MK Ultra is a conspiracy theory which is proven true. So too is Watergate, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and countless others. Conspiracies happen. No serious person believes otherwise.

And yet in the media and political discourse reasonable theories about conspiracies are routinely falsely described as untrue and/or associated with some drastic moral failing.

The first major event of this kind that I noticed was the Covid lab-leak theory. The facts were that Covid seemed to originate near to a lab which worked with Covid-like viruses, and the exact source was undetermined. There were only two logical explanations: lab-leak or natural cause. Both were plausible to any thinking person.

Yet people who expressed the lab-leak theory were deplatformed by tech companies and accused of misinformation; in the media it was described as a racist falsehood. When scientists came forward the establishment later accepted the lab-leak 'conspiracy theory' was plausible.

The second event is of course the recent violence in Israel and Palestine. It is a fact that Israel was warned by multiple sources of an impending attack. It is a fact the attack occurred. It is a further fact that Israel has killed tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians and herded the rest into the only city they haven't extensively bombed, all while senior Israeli politicians talk of killing all Palestinians and resettling their lands.

Netanyahu's motivation has not been proven. Perhaps he's terrified of Hamas. Perhaps he wants power. Perhaps he really does want to kill all of those people. In the absence of proof it is perfectly reasonable to express and even lean towards any of these possibilities.

I trust I don't need to detail the kinds of moral and intellectual slanders which have been directed towards those who suspect Netanyahu of intentional genocide.

What I find most shocking is that the scientists, policy-makers and other educated types would never in a million years accept, believe or act upon the worldview being pushed onto the masses. 

Do you think that serious foreign policy experts trying to predict Netanyahu's next move dismiss out of hand the possibility of genocidal intent, for fear of being deplatformed or accused of prejudice? Of course not. Biden's advisors behind closed doors are telling him the truth: that Netanyahu may really be aiming for genocide, amongst other plausible theories. 

Do you think the scientists studying Covid's origins considered the lab-leak theory impossible or immoral? They couldn't possibly. Any thinking person could see it was plausible. Refusing to examine it would undermine any possibility of discovering the truth.

It is one thing to spin the facts in favour of the establishment narrative, as we've done since time immemorial. But to flatly deny and morally reject patently reasonable theories about matters unknown is a terrifying new development.

Intellectual analysis and the scientific method depend entirely on the freedom to express and examine plausible theories, no matter how unpalatable. This intellectual freedom has been one of our fundamental moral values since long before I was born. Without it we would literally still be in the stone age.

I am SHOCKED by how quickly that moral value has been eroded in our public life. 

But I am most horrified by the hundreds of thousands of academics, journalists and creatives who know well the threat this development poses, who would never allow this kind of censorship to direct their own thoughts and beliefs, yet stay silent so long as it's 'conspiracy theories' which are under fire.

It shouldn't be dangerous today to say what was universally accepted just ten years ago: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

The time to publicly defend freedom of thought and expression is now.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

The Encrypted Secret of Life, Higher Dimensions and Spirituality, as Encoded by Josef Ruslak's 1999 Camp-Scifi Film, The Thirteenth Floor

The Thirteenth Floor (1999) by Josef Rusnak is an unfairly ignored existential scifi with a secret, cryptic alternative plot espousing the reality of trans-dimensional non-human-intelligences/spirits/gods and humanity's identity therewith.

The official plot is a contrived tale about VR programmers (users) possessing simulated humans (program links) to live out their darkest fantasies, resolving with our simulated hero defeating his user and escaping to an idealised 'real world'. But that's just the cover story.

To decrypt the secret message we have to suppose that there is no such thing as separate 'users' and 'sims'. Rather, there are simply higher and lower dimensional manifestations of the same conscious entities on an eternal quest for transcendance. 

The relationship between Hall (the user) and Ferguson (the sim he 'possesses') should be understood as analogous to the relationship between me and my little toe. We're not identical, but my toe is nonetheless me. When Hall 'possesses' Ferguson it is like me focussing my attention on my toe.

The film opens with Rusnak speaking direct to his audience as Fuller, the creator of our simulated world. He has uncovered a terrible truth, and is writing it down for the only person (us) who could ever understand it. 

Thursday 7 December 2023

2023 Update

It has been a long time.

Life is wild.

I'll limit this post to factual updates.

Talos 2 did great critically and I fear abysmally commercially. I'm so proud of Jonas, Verena, Hunski, Tome, Kuber, Goran, Damjan and everyone else and especially Moss. And I'm glad I did what I did (a subplot probably <1% of the total word count); and a bit sorry I didn't do more. Some people vibed with my stuff, and some people recognised it was underdeveloped. I'm sure some did both (I certainly did).

The team are working on small DLCs. I would like to add some new 'Internal Monolog' character to those, but I am not sure whether Jonas will find a space for me to do it. If not then I hope Devolver will not go under and we will make Talos 3.

A couple years ago I took a job I shouldn't have because it's too big and long for me, but it's a really cool RPG world that I want to stretch my legs in before I go back to smaller things. Hopefully we announce next year.

Besides that I seriously hope Inner Party - the indie studio I co-founded with Jonas Boetel (Subnautica programmer) and Warby (brilliant technical artist) will get off the ground. Either they will find a prototype that sells and I'll add writing; or I'll finish this RPG and we'll do it together. Making games with those guys is my absolute number one dream.

I continue to take my twitter to ever more performative heights. I am glad to have the professional freedom to print whatever wild experimental ideas I like on there and still have a job afterwards. Although it does start to blur the line between created-character and self-identity. I'd rather keep the two entirely separate, or totally entwined. We're all characters, after all.

I have spent a good deal of the last two years going down rabbit holes. Morality, de facto power, global dynamics, honesty vs utility, non-human intelligence and AGI, faith and the occult, god and the devil. Interesting stuff to me right now. The challenge is balancing research with production.

I am also stepping into very new phases in my personal life. But that is not to be factually stated, instead it'll be there codified in everything I do.

Life is very strange. I find big parts of it change a lot - and big parts stay the same. Increasingly I understand what's going on, but not exactly in what way.

I started this blog and this career inspired by the writers who bared their souls so that I could learn from them. Increasingly I wish I could undergo my personal changes without their being public - but I am too lazy to start my career again from scratch as an anon, and too in need of purpose not to share my experience at all. Still, like a politician caught on hotmike saying what they really think, I'm aware from the outside it might seem terribly inconsistent.

Cliche I know, but for good reason: if my words can help just one person as others' words have helped me then all is well in my world.

And remember...

Monday 21 December 2020

Twitter Game Chapter 1 Complete - I Need YOU

Hi okay so. It took about 4 months when I planned about 4 weeks, but the first episode of my Twitter RPG is complete!

You can catch up on the entire story right here: https://twitter.com/TomJubert/status/1294393221653696517?s=20

And you can read my original design for the project here: http://tom-jubert.blogspot.com/2020/08/project-announcement-twitter-game.html 


It has continued to be so much fun for me to write this game. I have two other projects right now, including Talos Principle 2: The Taloist Principlest Yet, but the freedom to write what I want, when I want on this Twitter thing still absolutely thrills me. 

The low player count is a blessing and a curse. If I had a large, paying audience for this project I could happily do little else. And at the same time, writing for just myself and the 10-20 people who vote on each decision point is totally liberating. I don't need to worry myself with polish, or marketing, or teamwork. It really is a dream, and I don't care if only a handful ever read it, so long as someone out there gets something from it.

That's where YOU come in. I am craving the kind of feedback I'm used to on a bigger project. I want playtesting. I want reviews. I want complaints. I want ENGAGEMENT. Knowing what you enjoy about my work and what you don't is the greatest possible motivation for me to keep going.

So. If you are a fan of my work, this work, or are otherwise thus inclined, I would very much appreciate you doing any or all of the following:

- Comment your thoughts, reactions, suggestions, doubts, full reviews and any other feedback. Do that here, on Twitter, or by email.

- Retweet the start of the story on twitter, or just your favourite moments. Maybe even retweet with a comment to your followers describing the game and encouraging them to check it out.

- Engage with the new episode, which starts right here: https://twitter.com/TomJubert/status/1341131581658976257 

- Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/tomjubert 

If you only have energy for one of the above and want to know which is most valuable to me, please prioritise the first bullet and share with me your reaction to the story, however you can. 

Monday 17 August 2020

Project Announcement: Twitter Game


OK so I recently deleted my Twitter and then reopened it and there was a reason and that reason turned out to be MY NEW GAME!

Play free right now here: https://twitter.com/TomJubert/status/1294393221653696517?s=20

It's a live RPG using Twitter as both engine/dev tool and publishing platform.