Home > Aunt Pythia > Ask Aunt Pythia

Ask Aunt Pythia

August 17, 2013

You know how you sometimes wake up and just feel like the luckiest person in the world? With the awesomest friends and family? And you just wanna go hug everything and everyone?

That is where Aunt Pythia is today, psychically speaking. Aunt Pythia is feeling so good that her usual quarrelsome self is in hiding, and every single piece of her advice is therefore probably useless, but so be it, it feels damn good.

Oh, and one more thing before the worthless drivel revs up: Aunt Pythia has noticed that people close to her don’t enjoy her columns very much at all, possibly because “they get to hear Aunt Pythia’s advice all the time and are frankly sick of it.”

So if you’re someone who does like Aunt Pythia’s advice column, please sing it loud and clear! The best way to express your AP love, of course, is by posing your very own ethical dilemma at the bottom of this column, so Auntie P has something to do next Saturday (she’s running low).

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.

And please, Submit your question for Aunt Pythia at the bottom of this page!


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I’m 20 years old, very much a virgin, dating my boy for 2 and a half years and when it comes to the question of having sex, we have had oral sex but not intercourse as we decided it would be best to wait since no one knows about the future. Am i missing out on too much if i wait till i get married in seven years from now (which is a long time of course)?

Strong Headed

Dear Strong,

A few things. First of all, it disturbs me that you are planning so far ahead that you’ve already chosen 7 years as the amount of time before getting married. Where did that come from? That’s a lifetime of adulthood from the point of view of a 20-year-old. Who knows what country you’ll live in in 7 years, or what kind of job you’ll have.

Next, if you pair that with your alleged reason for not getting laid which is “since no one knows about the future”, it makes even less sense that you’re willing to wait for some arbitrary and enormous amount of time before getting down to the business of doing what you supposedly want with your life.

About that – do you actually want to get married? Well I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t, but I am saying you should figure out what you want and do it, and don’t ask other people, and don’t make plans based on random external rules.

Finally, the sex thing. I’m never going to understand why people come to me for sex advice since the one and only thing I ever ever say is “go for it!”.

Unless… unless they are somehow using me as a way of making an excuse to themselves for doing something they actually want to do already – I’m a proxy moral authority, perhaps? It’s happened.

So, if I’m playing that role, then by all means go do what you already want to do, but my real advice is to be your own moral authority next time. Your life, go live it.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

When will we see the space elevator in operation?

Carbon diox

Dear Carbon,

Seriously! I am super impatient for that myself. And I appreciate how your question somehow implies that it’s all set to go but nobody’s turned it on yet.



Dear Aunt Pythia,

This isn’t a question for AP, but instead a suggestion for a MB post: what are your thoughts on the Colin McGinn case?

Academic Philosophy

Dear Academic,

Tough shit, it came through Aunt Pythia’s feed so that’s what you get.

So actually I had to google Colin McGinn, since I hadn’t heard about it, and I supplied the link I reached above, so if that’s not representative then I apologize.

In any case I’ll comment based on that article.

First, it’s not a huge surprise to me, to hear of an academic discipline and culture filled with bullies, which sometime extends to sexual predation, and that women are excluded from that field for both the bullying reason and the sexual predation reason. This is super consistent with having a crappy and overly aggressive culture.

I’ve never entered the academic discipline of philosophy myself, but something that scares me about the field is the idea that you rely on your intelligence to make your point, rather than any outside evidence, like you might in science, or outside logical fact, like you might in mathematics.

In other words, I like math because it’s filled with people who know how to admit they’re wrong (some subfields of math are better than others at this). I like experimental science because, when they claim something will happen and it doesn’t happen, they have to revise their theory. I don’t like philosophy because arguments are slippery, like this one that Colin McGinn gave as an explanation for sending aggressive sexual requests to his first year graduate student:

Mr. McGinn said that “the ‘3 times’ e-mail,” as he referred to it, was not an actual proposal. “There was no propositioning,” he said in the interview. Properly understanding another e-mail to the student that included the crude term for masturbation, he added later via e-mail, depended on a distinction between “logical implication and conversational implicature.”

“Remember that I am a philosopher trying to teach a budding philosopher important logical distinctions,” he said.


I’m not saying the field can’t recover, but until they work on it, I won’t feel sorry for the fact that women are under-represented.

Auntie P


Dear Aunt Pythia,

This question stems from your response from one of last week’s questions (the last one):

“The truth is, once you’ve been politicized and sensitized to the evil that organizations do or are involved in, you start to see it everywhere. Or if not everywhere, at least most places where you get paid.”

I have certainly found this to be true, as a physics student with a long career in retail to help support the student-ing.

Does it get better? Or easier to accept and harder to maintain some abstract idealism? Must this perspective in some way be balanced? I have dreams of grad school and research, but I wonder if even then it will be true that organizations are weird things that involve people behaving in unfortunate ways.

Reading Chomsky doesn’t seem to help.

-rage against the machine

Dear rage,

Great question! I think it does get better, and although it’s hard to maintain a long list of personal heroes when you keep looking behind the curtain and learning too much, I’ve found it’s not impossible to maintain idealism itself. It’s something you need to nurture, though, for sure, and it takes patience – you have to play the long game.

In other words, some people are aware of the hypocrisies and evils of the world and decide it’s too big to deal with so they figure they’ll just ignore it. Other people see that stuff and try to do everything, and they burn out. Other people just don’t see it at all.

I think a middle ground is good: try to do what you can, and make that a long term goal, and have standards you actually live by that help you make decisions. If, for example, you feel complicit in something you consider evil, then get the fuck out, even if it means quitting your job. You’ll get another job, I’m guessing, especially with a physics background and the ability to read Chomsky.

One thing I want to stress: don’t depend on a single person or a couple of persons to embody the ideals that you care about, because they’ll probably end up disappointing you at some point, and that’s not a great reason to throw in the towel. Instead, write up an internal list of your ideals, they’ll never let you down.

Good luck!


Aunt Pythia


Please submit your well-specified, fun-loving, cleverly-abbreviated question to Aunt Pythia!

Categories: Aunt Pythia
  1. JSE
    August 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Re “I don’t like philosophy because arguments are slippery, like this one that Colin McGinn gave” — I don’t think it’s fair to blame the discipline of philosophy for lame excuses like this; all the philosophers I know find this excuse just as lame as you and I do. Philosophy is, of course, unlike math in lots of ways, and unlike experimental science in lots of other ways, but it has in common with those subjects that philosophers very frequently revise or even abandon their previous beliefs in the face of convincing arguments and evidence.


  2. been there, did some of that
    August 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Strong Headed: I was in a similar situation at a similar age, about 10 years ago. This isn’t really advice, just how things panned out for me. My college (and first) bf and I came from conservative, but not super strict households, so waiting for marriage was an ideal we both held, and we tested things out but didn’t go all the way to intercourse. We were conflicted about eventually marrying because one of us was religious, and the other wasn’t. Deep down, I felt that I wasn’t ready to give all of myself to someone I wouldn’t marry. After undergrad, he signed up for a lengthy grad program, and I went off on a few adventures in different states and countries. We kept in touch for a couple of years, but realizing we were on different paths, we parted ways. After that, I dated a few people, but nothing long term until I met the man I married. We didn’t wait until we got married, but I did wait until I thought our relationship was in a solid place, (and I finally had insurance coverage for birth control). So, yeah, I’m glad I made the decisions I did, but if I had to live my 20s over again, I might have done things differently. Also, when I fantasize about hooking up with other guys, cuddly time with my hubby usually takes care of that 😉


  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: