The Reality Institute

Results and Discussion

Results and Discussion
My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that the life of our subject, Ms. Reilly, is a depressing one. Our results indicate that she makes us feel for her, although we cannot do anything for her. We cannot intervene, you know, so that we don’t skew the data. Personally, though it should be impersonally, she makes me feel things I’ve forgotten I could feel. And we’ve tested her in a number of different ways and we’ve asked her questions which should help us to understand the human mind a little better. Things like, “what happens when we do this?” and “does it hurt when we prick you with that?” and “what happens when we reward you with this?”

Ms. Kristin Reilly is a twenty-five year old, white waitress, part of the working class, and of Irish descent. Although she’s not one of those obvious Irish, you know with the wild red hair. She’s more the type of Irish with the cool, controlled, black hair. But you can tell she’s Irish because she’s got the connect-the-dot freckles on her cheeks, just under her eyes. Her eyes are a different story altogether.

I am a twenty-seven year old, white, male psychologist doing some kind of important research, testing some kind of hypothesis, part of some kind of ruling class. Part of the aristocracy, I guess. My parents have money. My colleagues have money. My friends’ parents have money. This allows us a sort of freedom of the imagination. I can imagine going to Europe and dicking around and I actually have the ability to do so. I can wish that I wouldn’t have to work and that I could just isolate myself from the world and relax, read books or whatever I want to do.

Kristin, on the other hand, wishes that maybe her landlord won’t be so angry when she can’t pay her rent or if that doesn’t work, that she has the courage to kill herself. One of the biggest reasons that she doesn’t have this courage is that she believes in a God and an afterlife. She doesn’t want to be punished for the cruel act of ending her own life, despite the fact that God can do it at will, whenever he wants. More importantly, she feels that, in the end, God will provide for her and nurture her and help her through all of this.
“How do you feel when we prick you with this?” we ask her.

This is exactly why Ms. Kristin Reilly is in this experiment. We chose two random samples of people from church groups in middle and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and random samples of self proclaimed atheists. We intend to show that religiosity is a form of learned helplessness. I would put myself into the category of agnostic, making me unbiased or something like that. It is important to remain objective when doing this kind of work, so that you don’t let your feelings get in the way of what could be important scientific research.

We tested Ms. Reilly on a number of religiosity scales as well as intelligence tests. She went to high school for two years, but dropped out because her family needed her to work, as is the case with many people in the United States. But she’s smart as hell. She’s not some kind of intellectual who’s trying to prove anything, she’s just a sweet girl who understands life and social interactions and people and the only important things there are around here. Although I must remain objective, I feel jealous of her ability to relate to other people.

There’s a theory out there right now, that the eyes are the window to the soul, but there hasn’t been much testing and the variable is a difficult one to isolate. If the theory proves true, Kristin’s soul is a kaleidoscope of slate blues and grays shooting out of a black pupil. Her eyelids close gently and slowly, while her cheeks flush with pink blood, when I ask her a question that she is too embarrassed to answer. So as not to pressure the subject, we cannot force her to answer a question. At other times, she keeps eye contact so much so that I cannot preserve objectivity. But I don’t want to skew the data, so, you know, I must maintain eye contact no matter how much I feel. Also, I want to keep her blue soul in visibility at all times, so that I don’t lose track of it.

These are important things to consider while Kristin tells me about her God. You know how someone will constantly tell you stories about a particular best friend and you feel like you get to know him? This is how it goes with Kristin’s stories about God. She considers him to be a great guy, who’s really there for her, who treats her right, a guy she can fall back on, you know? Then, when you actually meet their friend, he turns out to be a real dick. And, as an observer, I can see that this guy seems to be kind of manipulative. He fucks up, then tries to do something to redeem himself, fucks her over, smites, etc. But I can’t tell her any of this because he’s her friend and that would hurt her feelings. Plus, I don’t want to skew the results.
So, we ask her questions like, “What happens when we reward you with this?” or, “What does it feel like when we punish you with this?”

Kristin Reilly is a smart girl though. In my unbiased opinion, she’s real sweet too. She seems like the type of girl to wear flowy sun dresses. Maybe red with flowers. And she wears sandals too. I don’t know that she does wear these things. See, she comes straight from work to the lab, so she’s in her waitress uniform. But, in my head, she wears these sun dresses and doesn’t work so much. In her head, she sees everyone in the world as on the same level. She told me, during one of our interviews, that every person is just as smart or stupid as everyone else. She also thinks that maybe she can learn from all of them and that maybe they can all learn from her and that maybe they’re all just not trying hard enough. This is her unbiased opinion. My opinion is that minimum wage isn’t high enough. And that, I guess, maybe the little bit of money we give her will help her out a bit.

I don’t know if I can generalize Ms. Reilly’s results to the population as a whole. I don’t know that I can say that the whole population feels that our current state of affairs is an okay one, like Kristin does. Of course, she’s not happy, but she believes that what happens happens for a reason and everything will work itself out in the end. I don’t know if her beliefs have any validations. It is not my job to determine this. But, let’s say that I am biased for a second. I still wouldn’t know what to say. I hope, for her sake, that she’s right. Aside from all of this, I don’t think Ms. Reilly’s slender fingers that trace the coffee ring on the table can be generalized to the population. To my knowledge, she is the only one with eyes like hers and a softness like hers.

This raises another interesting point: there are a few renegade strands of Kristin’s hair that hang in front of her eyes. Just a few of them. Not so many hairs that she can’t see, but enough that she looks tired and beautiful. I would like to postulate that these renegade hairs are as soft as everything else about her. I’ve defined “softness” as being “any aspect of a person that readily yields to pressure based on data that is not readily quantifiable or amenable to experimental verification or refutation”. Quite the definition, but by these standards, she has soft hands, or at least a soft right hand, which I first noticed when I shook it. Her heart also appears to be soft as a result of tenderization. See, she wears her heart on her sleeve much of the time, leaving it exposed to the elements. This has left her heart spongy and fragile. I propose that she is an altogether soft being with soft features, including her renegade hairs and even the area behind her ear.

From an objective point of view, she has little ears that hear the sounds of the street from her apartment. Also, they hear her crying at night sometimes. Or they hear her speak to her friend God. Sometimes he’s not home. That’s when his answering machine tells her to call back another time. Every yuppie has a goddamn cell phone, why doesn’t God? This is what I wonder, without feeling a thing. Also, I think that I— or one of my colleagues— could take better care of her ears than her best pal God does. I’m a scientist after all. If I did feel, I would feel the area behind her ears with the back of my index finger.

“How does it feel when I reassure you with that?” I might ask. Then one thing might lead to another, meaning that my warmth might lead to her happiness. This might then lead to me expressing my opinion about her God. You know, I might tell her that the guy she refers to as God and the guy she says is the Devil is really the same guy. Or maybe I’d tell her that this guy is an asshole to her and that she deserves better. She should find another god like Shiva or somebody. Just something else. Or maybe I’d say he just isn’t as all powerful as she insists; he might just not have the ability to help her. Or maybe he just isn’t there. She’s been dialing a wrong number every time she calls him. Then I could tell her that I don’t have all of the answers, but that, either way, she can’t just accept this life of hers. She shouldn’t accept the lives that were dealt for any of us. Finally, I’d tell her not to assume that I’m necessarily right. I don’t even know what I’m talking about half the time. Finally, maybe I’m all wrong and maybe she’s got this God guy to back her up in the end. Finally, I might hold her hand as I tell her this. Finally, I could hold her tightly and a few feelings could drip out of my eyes and a few feelings could drip out of her eyes. Finally.

“What happens when I do this?”

Of course, I have to remain objective, which is why I have come up with a treatment for Ms. Reilly. It hasn’t yet been approved by my colleagues, but I think that it might help her overcome her religiosity, which has not yet been proven to be a bad thing. I propose that I take Ms. Reilly to a small, isolated town with green hills. She could wear her sun dresses and sandals and wouldn’t have to lift a slender finger ever again. I could do everything for her and maybe read some books too while I was there. If I could choose any life in particular, I might still choose to help Ms. Reilly. I might still value contact with her, or anyone, over a lonely life of self gratification. Also, she wouldn’t live on tips. Also, we could be unbiased together. Also, she would finally be able to find something softer than her there, which might be the warm wind that keeps her flowy sundress flowing.

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