Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shout Out

David Silver at YMAA just sent the preview DVD of the Jointlocks video.  Damn.  I think we knocked it out of the park.

Don't want to get into the video too much.  It's important, I think, because it takes one of the building blocks of martial arts (locks) which are reputed to be difficult and complicated and shows how you can get untrained people improvising under stress in an hour. If the world goes the way I want, there will be viewers, experts in their own specialties, who will go, "Shit! We're teaching X wrong!  I can teach it ten times as fast if I think about it differently!"

 We train to fight ruthlessly and efficiently.  Why not teach with equal efficiency?

But that's not what this post was about. There are some good people in the video, people who I miss.

Bill Giovannucci.  Haven't seen Billy G. in a while.  Missed him on my last two floats through Boston. On the rare occasions when he comments here, I recognize his posts immediately because of the depth. He's smart, though he hides it behind a rough and tumble Boston accent.  He's skilled. You'll see that on the DVD, especially when you realize that his art is about hitting not locking...and  speaking of hitting, he gave me one of the best smashes of my life.  An extraordinary brother, and missed.

Teja Van Wicklen of Devi Protective Offense. A cool kid.  If you look close, during the lock flow drill, she can't help but to throw in some brutal, sneaky strikes.

Chris Thompson who now runs Just Train in Rhode Island.  Skilled, smart, with a vision.  He's one of the next generation of martial artists, the ones who will change everything for the better.  Both a thorough (physical skills) badass and a supremely nice and thoughtful guy.

Mike Migs, who I get together with in Boston when I can.  Clear thinker.  Smooth and effective martial artist.  And we can talk about stuff that would horrify most of the world.  While giggling.

Tia Rummler is one of my 'handlers' in Boston.  My wife trusts her to make sure that I eat real food and get enough sleep and don't pick fights with neighborhoods.  She is also the one who introduced me to storytelling as a way to sharpen your intuition about people.

Alexander Bandazian and Eric Testern were the two I barely knew when we filmed, but both had a great attitude, good skills.  Maybe we'll see each other again and have a narghila at Habibi's.

Dr. Lisa Coaray is one of my other handlers, and the one who arranges Toby's seminars in New England.  Smart, tough, and totally and continuously underestimating how awesome she is... you'll see her on TV soon.  No kidding.

Jeff Burger is the man in Boston.  Good friend, smart as hell, and one of the people I would most hate to have seriously gunning for me.  If you're in the area and you want someone who really knows, look up Jeff.

Erik Kondo offered to let us use his place.  "Not Me! Self Defense" has a headquarters in Massachusetts that includes a danger room, and he let us use it.  Erik (along with Billy G. Jeff Burger, and Jake Steinmann) are part of my East Coast Brain Trust, the people I go to for insights and reality checks.

Anyway, I saw the video and was impressed (and I really, really hate watching instructional videos, so that says a lot) but I was mostly homesick for old friends.

So, old friends, snuggle up by the fire with someone you care about and have a wee dram in my memory. And I'll do the same for you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Malc asked about first steps in acquiring the skills to be independent.  First steps, always, are to make a list of what those skills are.  What do you need to be independent?  If you are really interested in this, stop reading now, make your own list, then come back.  What follows is my 'first thoughts' list.

The big four for survival are shelter, water, fire and food.  They are in that order for survival because exposure, generally, will kill you quickest and preserving heat is more efficient in the short term than manufacturing heat. Thirst kills you second quickest.  Fire is a tool and, among other things, can make water and food safer. (There is a debate in the survival community about whether fire is more important than water since unboiled water may not be safe).  Most of us can go much longer without food than we realize.

These four have very different levels for different situations and time scales.  Pure wilderness survival, dropped into a pristine wilderness with few or no tools requires one set of skills, and unless you have a time machine you will really have to work to find that situation.  Surviving if your car goes off a road in a blizzard or if the power and water gets shut off to your apartment (blackout and riots, yay!) are different.  Weathering a storm for a few days is different than trying to recreate civilization from scratch (time machine or portal, again).

The principles of shelter, water, fire and food (SWFF) are universal, but sometimes it can be hard to find someone who can teach the principles without their perspective creating blindspots (e.g. so into nature that they won't use litter for natural tools or so into he-man survival that they don't admit sometimes you wait for help.)

Aside-- One of the most important exercises is to live at this subsistence level for a time.  For however long it takes you to be confident you could last forever.  Then you realize how little you really need, and the people (I'm thinking advertisers, but also peer group) who make a living from creating hungers lose power.

And time frame-- wildcrafting food and medicine can take days, but growing it can take months.  A garden, even a little one, eases you dependency.  If it's more than a few days, waste management becomes a critical skill as well.

So, shelter, water, fire, food.  And waste management.
I'd add medicine and defense as critical skills.  Readers of this blog probably have their own ideas of defense, but I'll add this: For any likely disaster (say you live in an earthquake or tsunami zone) you should have a 'defend in place' plan and a GOOD (Get Out of Dodge) plan.  The GOOD plan must include where you are going. Never run away, always run towards. And you must have a plan (and skills) for defending in place and a plan (and skills) for defending on the move.

For medicine, advanced first aid is a minimum.  Go for EMT. There are some excellent home health and medicine books, including Werner's "Where There is no Doctor" and Sehnert's "How to be your own Doctor (Sometimes)".  There are limits-- you won't handle a burst appendix by yourself-- but independence like most things is a path more than a destination.  It's percentage points.

At a more generic level-- literacy.  Including scientific literacy and forensic debate.  If you want to know how you are being manipulated you have to understand what science _is_ (the scientific method, not just technology) how statistics works, and the common logical fallacies.

Statistics and trig are, IMO, the two most useful maths.  Some geometry.

Critical thinking is huge, but like breathing and walking, everyone thinks they're already natural masters and most can't be objective for shit.

With more room and time, I'd love to matrix this out.  For instance, take shelter. At the basic level of skill, it's building a debris hut or burrow. At the basic level of understanding it's knowing that if power is lost you move your whole family to one small room so that the body heat will keep the living space comfortably warm.  At the journeyman level, you are learning to repair or build all the things that make a modern house and at the master level, you can build your own home to your own specs...but can be happy living in a debris hut.

Okay, sources.
For survival skills I've played with Tom Brown's School and the Maine Primitive Skills School. Good skills, but they definitely come with a philosophy that may not be your cup of tea.

My favorite is Toby Cowern.  He's smart, he teaches you how to think instead of telling you what to do.  His skills cover wilderness (which he practices north of the Arctic Circle) to urban, disaster and even some combat.  He only gets to the United States about twice a year, but he's experimenting with on-line and video courses. 

Local colleges will have EMT training and there is always the Red Cross.  If you're rural, you might be able to volunteer for a local Fire Department and get some good training and experience.  Not just in fire suppression and First Aid-- the ICS (Incident Command System, how I was taught to plan operations) was pioneered by FDs.

There are more resources out there than ever before.  One more.  FEMA has created Community Emergency Response Teams and I hear the training is good:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fingerprints and Scars

A friend, the brilliant, funny, Wendy Wagner, recently wrote a post on growing up poor:

I want to riff on that here.
How you grow up leaves traces, whether you call them scars or fingerprints.  My parents were working poor, and some of my earliest memories are listening to my parents argue about whether or not we'd have money for food.  They always waited until late at night, until they were sure we were asleep... but we never were.

When dad decided to go into business for himself, things tightened up again.  And when he decided to liquidate and move to the middle of nowhere to prepare for the end of the world... let's just say there weren't a lot of jobs.  Just enough to keep our heads above water, most of the time.  And because we were expecting nuclear war or economic collapse or the ice age or the population bomb (just some of the apocalypses that were promised to us in the 1970's) we were also living with no electricity or running water, growing or hunting most of our own food.

Just as Wendy writes, that left fingerprints, but the way it marked our lives was very, very different.  She was honest about her pain.  Mine was minor-- kids will notice if all of your sweaters are homemade, and if your pants came from the discount rack and the legs aren't quite the same color.  If you bathe once a week (36 extra buckets of water to pack from the creek on bath day) they notice. The only spending money I had was from returning my dad's beer bottles to the store, and I could always feel the proprietor snickering over how much dad drank.  My only source of income, until I learned how to polish stones, is tied with deep embarrassment, and that colors my attitude to money to this day. 

But I always had the desert and the cliffs to run to, to be alone.

I think the biggest factor in how Wendy and I processed our childhood was in our attitude towards assistance:
Wendy: Some memories of my childhood are indelible: the wonderful texture of the paper they used to print food stamps on, back when food stamps came in little coupon books and each increment was printed in its own color. The taste of government cheese, salty and waxy and melty and gooier than any cheese I’ve eaten since.

My dad told us we were on our own.  No one would help us and we wouldn't accept it if they offered.  "You get hungry, you go kill something." I remember waking up from delirious fever dreams, a 106 temperature and looking at the ice forming on the boltheads on the inside of the camping trailer we lived in.

If we were hungry, we hunted, fished or went and slaughtered a chicken.  I never got into hunting or fishing for fun.  It was food.  When I found a wart (only time in my life) I knew a doctor was out of the question-- I pulled it out with a pair of pliers.  My mom had told me that warts have roots and seeds, and I was afraid if I cut it, I'd leave the roots.

I was able to go to college because my older brother, in the Air Force, and my grandmother both died.  The wills left enough money to clear some debt and pay for one year of college.  Where Wendy writes about her insecurity in fitting in, I knew I didn't fit and it was defiance bordering on arrogance: This place had ten times the wild food of the desert where I was raised. I learned how to butterfly a gash when I was thirteen.  You can't starve me, I don't need your doctors and you can't beat me in a way I'll stay down-- you think I need you?  Yeah, I was a dick, and it was just as much insecurity as anything Wendy experienced.  But I never had a feeling of dependence... and I would look at all the other kids in college, kids who seemed rich to me, and I would listen to all their needs and desires, all the stuff they felt they couldn't live without and, yeah, I felt contempt.   A huge amount of contempt.

I found growing up poor, and especially working to create a middle class life, powerful.  I think without that experience, it's likely I would have been lazy, complacent, self-satisfied.  I feel that necessity made me stronger, tougher, more resourceful.  It was a bad environment to be delusional in, and honed an ability to see what the real problem was, and that lack of food always trumps social bullshit.  I like who I am, and have few regrets.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Your Nature

It's in your nature to fight.  It is in your nature to be strong.  It is in your nature not to be a victim. We are the products of 4 billion years of bloody evolution, where the victims were eaten. Everyone dies, we aren't immortal, but we don't die easily.  Not naturally.

Fighting, self-defense, whatever you want to call it, is one of the most natural things in the world.  Competence at it is your birthright.  We do a disservice, I think, when we teach it as if it is complicated, as if it is something that needs to be learned.  Not that you can't improve, learn and train.  It is complex and nuanced to be good... but it is not complicated.  That's a thought for another time.

But in the end, this is not about "forging warriors."  This is about rehabilitating a predator so that it can take its natural place in the world.  This is your nature.

Not fighting, the fear (not of fighting, fighting hurts, it is wise to fear it) of trying and learning, the insecurity is not nature. It is conditioning.

We are a large population of effective predators.  Individually, not impressive.  But teamwork is a power multiplier like no other and we are, often, better than wolves at working together.  But unlike wolves, we're shitty at getting along.  IMO, our teamwork was learned behavior, for wolves it is their nature.  Without the genes to get along, we created rules, and we instilled those rules into our children from the first day.  That's conditioning.

So when your student can't pull the trigger or can't grab a face, that student is not fighting his nature, he is fighting his conditioning.

There are two immediate implications of this, at least in my mind.

I walk in peace with you because I respect your strength.  I see your nature, even if you have been blinded by your conditioning.  The Hindu greeting "Namaste" I have been told translates: "The divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you" (seems unlikely, that's a pretty small word for two nouns, a verb and two locations). We walk in peace, you and I, because the animal in me recognizes and respects the animal in you. Negotiation and cooperation are preferred to testing who is the wilder.

The second: I understand that people need to be trained from a very young age to get along.  But training makes it a choice and conditioning removes choices.  And it seems that more and more effort is going into making people more and more passive.  Who wanted you to be a victim so badly that they convinced you passivity was normal?  Who feared your animal nature so much?

Take your power.

This grew out of a conversation yesterday with Kathy Jackson, the Cornered Cat.  Kathy's a great instructor and great people.  She has the magic power of making me think.

We were attending a weapon retention program designed by Don Stahlnecker of the Firearms Academy of Seattle.  Good stuff.  Best civilian program I've seen. (LEO weapon retention focuses more on holster retention, since officers open carry).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Perception Controls Possibility

What you see controls how you think.  And how you think controls what you can see. Lots of people are shopping for the holidays right now and I can bet that someplace in the world a busy executive, a teenager and a retired cop are all walking through the same mall... but they aren't walking in the same world.

What you see completely controls what you can do.  You can't solve a problem you can't see.  You can't implement a solution you can't imagine.  And it's not just what you see, it's how you see it.

A chair is for sitting in.  If all you see is a chair, the only affordance in that chair is sitting (and lounging and snuggling… but all chair stuff). If you see it as a shape, you have the additional affordances of all the things you can do with flat surfaces.  See it another way and it is a flotation device; or a ladder; or a collection of fabric, wood and metal that can be deconstructed…

The more you perceive, the bigger the world and your possibilities increase.  The more you look for things, the less you see.  Narrowing your focus narrows your mind.  We all know the one-trick-pony-professional-victim who can construe any statement as proof of oppression. Looked at one way, they're annoying as hell.  They are just as or even more into oppressing others as the people they rail against.  Looked at a little different, they are sad little people looking so hard for ugly--creating it if they can't find it-- that they will never see beauty.

The first drill I ever learned for this was from a survival class in '81 or '82.  The drill was to come up with twenty uses for a spoon that had nothing to do with scooping or eating.  It was hard at first. I think it took most of the hour for most of us to make or lists.  Now I sometimes pick random items and it's rare for it to take more than five minutes to come up with twenty things.

This even applies to abstract things and to people.  Being able to come up with a hundred different answers to a question is cool.  Coming up with a hundred different ways to interpret or alter the question is an order of magnitude more powerful.  Want to be rich? I live in a house that's warm and dry; I can get cold drinks from the fridge and hot water falling from the sky (a shower) on demand. My food today came from at least two continents and originated in at least three.  No Roman emperor had this luxury.  I am typing this on a machine that no government in the world could have obtained 35 years ago.  I am richer in material things than the the entire US government was a century ago.  My life is awash in things unobtainable.

That's just material riches.  At what point in history did it become possible to read both Lao Tzu and Marcus Aurelius? 

That was abstractions.  What about people? How you label a person controls what you perceive and controls your affordances, your possibilities.  If K was my wife it creates a relationship that comes with roles and scripts.  She is undoubtedly my wife.  She is also the best thing the universe has ever created and somehow I am allowed to be in her presence. 'Wife' means certain comforts and annoyances. 'The best thing in the universe' makes it easy to be madly in love for a quarter of a century.

Is someone your enemy?  Or a human being who believes you are part of his wealth of problems? Is that your student? Or a companion on this journey?

And yourself.  What labels do you put on yourself that artificially control your behavior?  Are they necessary?  Do you have to be you? (The answer is 'no' by the way, but people get very uncomfortable with the fact that they are constantly changing.)

In the interaction, sometimes conflict comes up because of incompatible labels.  I see most protesters as whiny, entitled punks. They see themselves as champions of the underdog du jour.  If you are having trouble with your significant other, quit seeing her as your wife or girlfriend for awhile and find out how she labels herself.  Try working from there.

The ideal is to just see, without the labeling.  That's hard.  But it maximizes possibility.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Golden Oldie: Want to Start Your Own System?

Years ago, I was a regular on the Budoseek BBS.  Good people, good knowledge, but when I was in Iraq I found I didn't have time for on-line forums, and when I got home I found I didn't miss them.  Signal-to-noise ratio and time investment...

I wrote this there years ago:

I've already made my feelings pretty clear about people awarding themselves incredible rank and starting their own style. In general I consider it an ego trip- someone who can't be the big fish creating his own puddle. I was challenged recently to describe what would convince me that a self-awarded rank was legitimate. Here are my initial thoughts.

1) If your style has any tournament component you should have been and/or trained at least one national champion. More, if the tournament circle is small.

2) If it is called a combat style, it must be tested, and that is hard. Perhaps 100+ uses of unnassisted, weaponless uses of force as either a cop, corrections officer or bouncer. Alternatively, a history of cops, etc who have previous experience with martial arts seeking you out and staying with you for more than one year. Many people hold seminars for LEO's then claim that they teach DT's while the officers that attended the class under orders feel nothing but contempt.

3)Designate and document all the skills your students must master from the lowest rank to the highest. If any of the high ranks are honorary, award yourself the highest real rank. If your style is worthwhile, as students mature and take over the ryu they will vote you the honorary rank, just like Kano.

4)Figure out how long it would take for a good student to achieve the rank you award yourself and be sure you have studied at least twice that long. If it would take a student longer to get to where you are than it took you, the style stunts students, it does not teach them.

5)Obviously, the art must have significant, preferably profound differences from all other arts you have studied.

6)If you are breaking off from another organization you must maintain loyalty to those that taught you- you owe them much. If that is impossible your maturity level may be too low for instructor status, much less master. At the very least maintain dignity.

7)If you are breaking away you must be better at both the art and teaching than anyone else in the old organization, especially if the technical differences are minor.

8)Please, if you choose to use a foreign language to describe or rank your art at least make the effort to use a real word and translate it correctly. Then live up to the terms you use. For instance, if you choose to call yourself an ancestral style at least have one parent to child transmission of leadership in your history.

It's been years, but I think the sentiment holds up.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Not Invisible

While I was distracted from the blog, I wasn't idle.  It might be a good time to post some links.  Interviews and the like.
An interview with Aaron and Beau fro Exist Anew (and you know I gave then shit about their name before the interview started).  Fun, and if I ever decide to publish the manual on enlightenment for non-wusses, the last bit will be a preview.
Kris caught me a half asleep.  And he'd left a couple of messages which I'd interpreted to mean there was something wrong.  Had completely forgotten that he wanted to do an interview when I had a break from traveling.

Gila Hayes, of the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network (a great resource for anyone interested in SD, btw) did a review of the Logic of Violence DVD:

Did an "Advanced People Watching" course at the Lloyd Center Mall and Kathy Jackson (the Cornered Cat and one of my favorite people-- my go to for the crossover between WSD and the firearms world) did a write-up:

Interviewed by Matthew Apsokardu in June:

And Matt linked to an interview that David Silver did last year.  Evidently, saying I hate people because they are stupid pretty much defines my worldview:

Sam Harris asked my opinion on a couple of questions that somehow turned into a roundtable interview on SD and the law.  In my opinion, the best piece was left out of the final edit.  One of the examples that came up, the FaceBook common wisdom (as is often the case) had nothing to do with actual facts... it struck me as a good point to check your sources, especially if they seem to make your point too well.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Holding on to the Edge of the Pool

Verner wrote:
Sometimes I wonder, why do we bother with martial arts anyway? For sport and fun, OK, but for combat? Why would you want to learn an art that worked for someone else sometime in the past, possibly under different circumstances, legally, ethically etc... Not to mention all the useless shit you have to buy (gi, belt, hakama you never use utside the dojo) While combat is complex, it's not complicated. There are just systems trying to distrupt or destroy other systems. Combat is governed by anatomy and physics. Those do not change. Why is combat an art, not science? Maybe because carrying the legacy of the samurai/ninja/viking/whatever has much appeal to the monkey?

Complex versus complicated is something I desperately want to riff on.  Later.

Why are people driven to study something that worked in the past?  Possibly because the other option is to study something that didn't work in the past.  Something that has never worked.

Which would you prefer: "According to the old legends, Sir Hackemup used these tools and these tactics to survive against insurmountable odds at the Battle of Last Man Standing."
Or: "We had a committee meeting with the University's Departments of Physics, Medicine, Kinesiology, and biology departments and we're pretty sure the best way to survive a close quarters ambush is to..."

There's no right or wrong answer to that (though I personally love it when scientists and historians agree.

My wife and I were talking about doing some minor home surgery.  I was, really.  K has a very non-scientific attitude about such things.
"We have professionals with the proper equipment right here in town," she said, "Why would you even consider doing such a thing yourself?"
"Because if we didn't have access to professionals, I'd have to do it myself and it's only practice if you don't need to."

Here's the deal with self-defense in a mostly civilized world and it's the same deal as trying to keep soldiers sharp in periods of extended peace, or keeping survival skills up when you are warm and comfortable... anything that you want to improve, you know must adapt, and yet you will not have a chance to test. Like home surgery.

I can tell you how to build a fusion generator, or how to fix a car, or how to amputate a leg, or how to defend yourself from rabid ferrets.  But if neither of us have actually done it, we have no way to know if the instructions are effective or utter fantasy.  And if I have done it for real and you haven't, we can have confidence that the instructions will work and absolutely no idea if they will work for you or if you can pull them off when you need to.

Self-defense is:
1) a high risk endeavor
2) with a very limited amount of actual knowledge (unethical to design proper academic experiments on fear and danger; statistically insignificant number of accurately reported incidents; witnesses under stress are notoriously unreliable)
3) that will never be personally tested by most students or instructors (and even fewer will have enough real encounters to get past the adrenaline effects and see accurately)
4) that people on a very deep almost Freudian level tend to tie their personalities around (how many people self-identify as 'warriors' who have never put their lives on the line, much less under orders?)

Reasons 1 and 4 are the drives.  People want to know.  They want to know they are good. They want to know they are safe.  They want to know they have it.  Reason 3 is why that desire will never be satisfied. #2 is the reason there will never be a certain answer.

When people have this big a need that can't be satisfied except at extreme personal risk, they seek outside validation.  Lineage.  Or pseudoscience. Or scientific studies that if you squint a little look like they might validate what you want to believe.

They want to swim in the deep water, but they need some kind of reassurance.  They hold onto the side of the pool.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Knowing Full Well

This may be the longest stretch of not writing on the blog since it started.  Mea culpa. That doesn't mean I haven't been writing.  Eleven lessons and counting on a class that starts today (one more day to sign up) on Real Villains for a writer's group.

The class will be a challenge.  Like in a lot of fringe areas of life, the 'common wisdom' is ridiculously wrong; what most people 'know' are politically-driven platitudes; and these incredibly un- or ill-informed beliefs are passionately defended.  There's some information that would rock their world that I can't directly share because of confidentiality issues and NDAs... but they will get a close look.  Hope they're ready.

The basic distinction between infatuation and love is that with infatuation, you have to explain that every pimple is really a beauty mark and in love, you can see the blemishes without your feelings changing.  Those infatuated must actively stay blind, because they fear what they will feel if they see the truth.

You see this in martial arts, of course.  I've seen an instructor with a scripted knife defense that would have cut his own throat with a real blade...and their students blindly repeating the technique.  Seen an instructor explain that falling over by flinching was inevitable and physics, though he could only make it work on his own students.  Seen people who were toyed with convincing themselves they won. Watched countless martial artists deny their personal experience and accept a ridiculous truth... "Attacks always come from two long steps away" "No one can hit hard enough to hurt you at close range" "Anyone who uses a knife will become tool dependent and forget that they can use their other hand and feet so it's okay to tie up all your weapons on one of his"...and so on.

My circle of friends are probably not the people you'd invite over for tea and crumpets. Some are what R calls, "Our kind of broken." I like them, that's why they're my friends.  But I like them knowing full well who and what they are. Not all are bad asses, and not all the ones who think they are really are.  Some have knowledge that far outpaces their understanding or skill.  All are trustworthy, if you know their parameters.

And some of them don't like each other.  "How can you put up with...?"

It's easy.  None of my friends are perfect, and so I can love them anyway, flaws and all.

But I hit a wall on this, sometimes, in training.  What do you do with good skills that come from horseshit?  Most of the time it's not a problem-- generally, if you find an art with 2000 years of history that was invented from pure imagination in the last half century, the art tends to not be all that useful anyway.  It's easy to walk away.

But what about effective arts taught by frauds?  Or what if it is the second or third generation away from the fraud who conned them and the present generation of instructors don't even know it's a fraud?

And (ran into this recently and am still puzzling over it) a group breaks away from their founder because of integrity issues but continues to teach not just the effective technique but also the bullshit philosophy of the founder?

Example-- most of the "Zen" I have seen written about in the US isn't just about the heretical offshoot of the heretical offshoot of Buddhism, but the misinformed, 1970's hippy idealized imaginings of what zen was supposed to be.  If someone wrapped effective stuff in this imaginary trappings...

The INTJ part of me doesn't care.  As long as the parts I need work, the fairy tales people tell themselves don't matter to me.  But part of me cares, for two reasons.  One is that too many people swallow the fantasy with the substance.  Two- if someone can study X for a lifetime and somehow avoid noticing that everything around it is based on historical lies, how can I trust them on the base issues either?

Knowing full well who and what they are, I can usually take the useful and leave the useless.  But it bothers me.