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Rudolf Steiner, Racism, Nazis & why Anthroposophy doesn’t grow up

August 24, 2015

Anthroposophy was developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in the early part of last century. It is best known for Waldorf Schools and Biodynamic farming. I studied it quite deeply for several years in my youth. I read a mountain of books, attended training courses and a national conference, and taught at their schools. (This was in the late 1980s and early 90s.) I seriously considered a career as a teacher in the Waldorf School system, and even went to their head quarters in Switzerland, a visit I still happily remember.

Goetheanum_im_Winter_von_Südwesten2The Goetheanum: designed by Rudolf Steiner

Several things troubled me however, most especially that some aspects of Anthroposophy appeared surprisingly racist. I put up with it for a while, believing that it only sounded racist because of the culture Steiner came from. My tolerance level was also raised because, as I was frequently told, the Nazis had closed the Waldorf schools. I accepted the implication that Anthroposophy must be the very antithesis of Nazism.

It is indeed true that Waldorf schools in Germany were ordered to close by Heinrich Himmler. But here’s a word of advice to Anthroposophists: if you tell people that your movement was persecuted by the Nazis, you also need to tell the rest of the story. Like the fact that Rudolf Hess supported Anthroposophy and wanted to keep the schools open. Why wasn’t I told that?

And why wasn’t I told that although Himmler didn’t like the schools, he did like Biodynamic agriculture? Even more importantly there was a Biodynamic farm at Dachau concentration camp. Weleda, (the Anthroposophical company well known today for cosmetics), provided doctors at Dachau with chemical supplies for experiments on prisoners. But I never heard anything about that when I was told about the closing of the schools.

Read the rest of this entry »

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How “moderate” religion morphs into dangerous politics

August 11, 2015

Religious leaders are routinely invited to participate in the running of the state, and to enter public discourse on matters about which they haven’t a clue. Their ideas are often totally absurd and transparently self-interested, yet it is widely considered impolite to remark on the worthlessness of their contributions.

Curiously, it is not just religious types who enforce this blanket of politeness. It is often non-believers (especially those inhabiting the “liberal left“) who are quick to tell critics of religion to shut up. “Religion”, they feel, must not be treated as a single category. We must distinguish, they say, between religious “moderates” (who can be indulged as harmless or as potential allies), and extremists (about whom it is frequently asserted are not even religious at all).

Society gains little or nothing from this meek politeness. But worse,  extremists — whether “truly religious” or not — use this welcoming and non-judgmental climate, as a context for gaining access to the hearts and minds of the young.

Below, I outline numerous elements of “moderate” religion that are routinely indulged by democratic societies. These elements themselves may be more or less harmless, but refusing to contest their obvious (if at times trivial) flaws, we are effectively abandoning our first line of defense against extremists.

Problematic Aspects of “Moderate” Religion

Divisiveness

While religion does build communities, it also inevitably creates outsiders and heretics. Due to the arbitrary nature of religious beliefs and practices, there is no way to engage rationally with others about doctrinal matters. Agreeing to disagree is the only peaceful option. But there can be no resolution. The differences will remain, ticking away like a time bomb for generations. They can at any time be invoked as a means to divide people for political ends. (Mussolini cited the monophysite heresy of the Abyssinians, dating back to the 5th Century, as a justification for his invasion in 1936!)

Ownership and Personal Identity

Religious people identify deeply with their religion or sect. This is no doubt partly a consequence of human nature, but it also involves a calculated strategy on the part of religions to effectively own people. A child is declared to “belong” to some strain of belief, before they can even speak or run away.

To illustrate the extent of this “moderate” presumptuousness, allow me to share that the Church Tax Office in Germany (where I live) is currently checking the records of the Catholic Church in Australia (where I was born) to see if I was baptized. Were they to find my name (which they won’t — but I didn’t feel like telling them), I would have to pay an 8% tax on my income for the last 15 years. 

Despite having failed to realize that Nazism is unethical, the Church in Germany is still taken seriously enough to be granted legal access to people’s bank accounts — on the grounds that they know the mind of God and represent His financial interests.

St Bernhard Hitler Gruß St Bernhard (still) gives the Nazi salute from a church tower in Berlin

Special Status for the Priesthood

In a healthy society, any special status is attached to a role that a person plays, not to the person themselves. A police officer is only allowed to boss people around under strictly defined circumstances when on duty. Otherwise they have no special rights. Priests, however, claim that they are themselves special — that they belong to an elite class with divinely ordained privileges. 

Obviously, when religious fanatics start recruiting, or when crooks have seized government, this special status immediately gives them swift access to people’s private lives and submissive impulses. The hierarchical nature of this power structure conditions people, whether they are religious or not, to accept overlords as a fact of life. (Christopher Hitchens makes this point cogently in the latter chapters of God is Not Great.)

Reward and Punishment

Closely related to this is the fact that priests promise their subjects that god will reward temporal obedience with eternal life in paradise. Priestly authority is built squarely on this foundation — and they don’t have to lift a finger to reward anyone. 

They also invented hell of course, (the most repellent and immoral idea ever formulated). But while they entrust God with rewarding people, they have always happily accepted the burden of punishing sinners themselves. For some reason they don’t want to leave sinners in peace and trust God to deal with them later.

False Ideals and Denial of Human Nature

By creating impossible ideals, religions set people up for guilt, failure, and fear of punishment. It is psychologically unhealthy to believe that some people (saints, prophets and priests) are holy and have no shadow.

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This pernicious nonsense is damaging even at its most moderate, yet it is routinely tolerated. In the hands of religious fanatics with power, it becomes perhaps the most invidious tool of oppression and misery. With barely a stricture needing to be altered, it can form an ostensibly credible basis for arbitrary persecution.

The Surrender of Reason

To steal a few lines from Christopher Hitchens, religion — moderate or extreme — involves deciding that the deepest questions about the nature of reality and of our personal existence are to be decided without recourse to rational inquiry. There is of course a long religious tradition debating the role of reason in relation to revelation, but reason has always come out second best.

How can the young be expected to see through the ravings of a religious extremist, when they have never even seriously encountered the idea that God does not exist in the first place? As Al Razi pointed out in the Tenth Century, the revelations of the prophets are contradictory, irrational and divisive; but reason is equally accessible to all. Had he said that today in Iran, he would certainly be persecuted. In the “West” he would no doubt be called intolerant by the left, or an Islamophobe!

Closing Thoughts

Religious freedom is a civil and human right. In a secular society people must be free to practice their religion and identify themselves as a member of any peaceful religious group without fear of persecution or discrimination. Strangely, (or maybe not so strangely) many religious people don’t like this idea at all. Ensuring the religious freedom of others involves curtailing one’s own ambitions. This potential loss of power is what religious leaders find so threatening. Public criticism of religion doesn’t “upset the moderates” as much as liberals claim, as open debate should hold no danger for sincere and sensible believers. It does however, undermine the status and influence of a privileged and useless elite.

Let us stop meekly and politely pretending that the elements listed above are useful or necessary for a productive or creative life. They are the accumulated mistakes of history, kept alive for oppressive and parasitic purposes. We need to see them for what they are, and to allow the young access to an antidote for their poisons.

Posted by Yakaru

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Lipton Meets Sheldrake Part 3 — The Mystery of Morning Wood

July 11, 2015

I should have written this post ages ago, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. This post deals with a single sentence about science that Bruce Lipton uttered during his discussion with Rupert Sheldrake, (see the first post in this series). But it was so stupid that I just didn’t know how to approach it. Should I simply post the sentence — it is mercifully short — and abandon the reader to deal with it as best they can, or should I indicate what is wrong with it and wind up writing an encyclopedia length article, only stopping when I run out of expletives? 

I am beginning to think that stupidity is not the polar opposite of intelligence, down the other end of a scale, but rather a creative force that works independently of intelligence. Both these fellows, Lipton and Sheldrake, have Ph.D’s, so they clearly have some intelligence. But if it was possible to measure one’s Stupidity Quotient, they would also both be high achievers.

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So for this post, I have decided to call upon our two heroes who appeared in Part One of this series — the cartoon stars, Beavis and Butthead — to help illustrate the stupid, stupid, stupid sentence that Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D said.

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In one episode of Beavis & Butthead, our heroes are told by their teacher to choose a topic and do a science project. 

The boys explain to their teacher that– 

“We’re not going to do it. It sounds too hard.”

Their teacher, Mr van Dreesen, tries to coax them into learning something. “Come on guys,” he says, “this should be easy. There’s mysterious things happening around us every day. For example, this morning, would there anything you didn’t understand…”

Butthead chuckles behind his hand to Beavis,

“Heheheh…..He said morning wood… Heheh.”

Van Dreesen thinks that this was their suggestion, and after considering it, allows them investigate the topic of morning wood, as long as they “approach it from a scientific standpoint.” As we shall see, both Beavis and Butthead demonstrate a better grasp of how science works than Bruce Lipton does.

Beavis: What do you think makes it happen?

Butthead: Uh, I dunno. That’s why we’re doing this, dumbass.

Note how Butthead reserves judgment, and maintains a clear sense of the purpose of the project, as well as a dedication to unbiased methodology.

Beavis: Because I was thinking, like, maybe there’s, like, a Morning-Wood Fairy, you know, like the Tooth Fairy.

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In fact, this is not so far away from the kind of answers Sheldrake comes up with. But instead of accepting it out of hand and then interpreting all sorts of results according to it, Butthead recognizes the importance of not succumbing to premature conclusions.

Butthead: Dammit, Beavis, quit screwing around. We’ve got scientific work to do. Besides, there is no such thing as fairies…. Fairies are for dillholes.

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The experiment they have designed is deceptively simple. They are going to remain awake all night in front of the TV, and try to avoid getting what Butthead terms an “artificial stiffy”. (He even confiscates a magazine from Beavis which might have spoiled the experiment. — Again, we see these young boys showing more commitment to experimental method than those clowns Lipton and Sheldrake.)

Unfortunately the boys fall asleep in front of the television. They are awoken next morning by the sound of the national anthem coming from the TV. They discover that the phenomenon being studied has already occurred, without the chance to record any data. Their experiment is a failure.

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Butthead: Maybe morning wood is supposed to be a mystery. It’s like the secret is too dangerous…

Beavis: I’m just glad it happens.

Butthead: Yeh. I never wanted to be a scientist anyway. Science sucks.

Just like Lipton and Sheldrake in parts one and two of this series, the boys have failed to understand a fairly uncomplicated piece of science, and wrongly declare it a mystery. In two junior high students with learning difficulties, this is an entirely understandable failure. In two people who hold Ph.D’s in the very subject being studied, it is beyond a joke.

Beavis and Butthead have intuited that they are out of their depth and decide they don’t want to be scientists. But this is where the similarity ends. Lipton and Sheldrake have also decided that “science sucks” — a conclusion they base on exactly the same degree of comprehension as our heroes — but unlike our heroes, they have decided that the fault lies with scientific method, rather than with their own stupidity. Beavis and Butthead have managed — like Socrates before them — to admit their own ignorance. Lipton and Sheldrake have not.

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Making Beavis and Butthead appear Socratic demonstrates the genius of Lipton’s stupidity. 

And now on to that sentence. (Again I must both forewarn and apologize to readers for transcribing a portion of Lipton’s atrocious verbiage, but I have highlighted the important part for easier reading.)

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Over to Dr Lipton — former biology lecturer — to explain scientific method:

….And the joke for me was, that when I finally got to the [sic] awareness and I was already a tenured faculty member, I realized I was teaching religion, er, as much as I was teaching science. 

And that’s because I was just teaching dogmatic beliefs based on what everybody, you know like, show of hands — how many people want to believe in this? Oh that’s enough people, so that’s a rule.”

If science was a person, it could sue Lipton for defamation.

Tell me Dr Bruce, when a surgeon removes an inflamed appendix, was it decided by a show of hands which body part is really the appendix? Do you think that the reason a plane can fly is because scientists took a vote on the laws of aerodynamics? Is the milk in your fridge still fresh because of a consensus of scientific opinion declaring that it must be? 

This is why both Lipton and Sheldrake have contributed exactly the same amount to modern science as have Beavis and Butthead. Like Beavis and Butthead, they are there to be laughed at. However, Beavis and Butthead know when to stop. They have wasted nobody’s time, nor sold anyone a bogus cancer cure.

(Part Four to follow before the end of the century.)

Posted by Yakaru

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Are Anti-Popes Real?

April 5, 2015

I’ve always been rather dismayed at the idea of the Catholic Pope. I don’t know how Catholics can take it seriously. God speaks directly to the pope, and only to the pope… except when he dies, in which case God suddenly starts speaking to a committee, telling them who the next pope should be. No one can possibly take such a stupid idea seriously. Yet people, even non-Catholics, treat the Pope as if he’s somehow special, regardless of how much of a degenerate weasel he shows himself to be.

Yet not only are there popes, but also antipopes too! Out of chaos, antipopes are born. Here is an example where two antipopes were created at pretty much the same time.

In the 14th Century, the Church was in turmoil and popery was so unpopular in Italy that the seat of the pope had been moved to France. The French and Roman factions of the College of Cardinals (the committee that elects the pope) couldn’t agree on anything. Upon the death of Pope Gregory XI, the committee was too busy squabbling to hear God’s orders clearly. Each faction wound up electing a pope of their own.

So there were two popes, Pope Urban VI (elected by the Roman cardinals), and Pope Clement VII (elected by the French). This state of affairs continued for about 40 years until a French theologian hit upon the theory of conciliarism. This holds that yet another committee can be formed which is higher than the popes and the College of Cardinals. So God, it turns out, is also prepared to speak directly to this alternative council, if everyone else has been fooling about too much.

Bertrand Russell takes up the story:

At last in 1409 a council was summoned and met in Pisa. It failed, however, in a ridiculous manner. It declared both popes deposed for heresy and schism, and elected a third, who promptly died; but his cardinals elected as his successor an ex-pirate named Baldassare Cossa, who took the name John XXIII. Thus the net result was that there were three popes instead of two, the conciliar pope being a notorious ruffian.

It is exactly for problems like this that the church invented the concept of the antipope. This is a pope who dressed like a pope, acted like a pope, and was believed by many during his lifetime to be a pope, but who in fact wasn’t a pope at all, because someone else was and it’s theologically impossible for two popes to exist at once.

Thus, at some later point, poor Clement VII and John XXIII were declared not really to have been popes after all, but rather, antipopes.

Things really start to get complicated when you get down to the subantipopery level. Here we hit some of the higher functions of advanced theology. A pope is allowed to appoint cardinals, but if it is later discovered that this pope was in fact an antipope, then all the cardinals he appointed suddenly — through a spooky “action-at-a-distance” — simultaneously turn into pseudocardinals. And of course, if such a cardinal has appointed cardinal nephews (a cardinal related to the pope), these instantaneously become quasicardinal nephews.

The last of the antipopes was Antipope Felix V, who fulfilled the role from 1439 to 1449.

Thanks to the advent of quantum physics, however, we now know that two popes can indeed appear to exist simultaneously. This has been spectacularly proven in our own time by the “retired” ex-pope Ratzinger and Pope Ingracious XV or what ever his name is.

Footnote: A commenter, “John”, has clarified/corrected the statement in the first paragraph about God talking to the committee. The correction is most welcome, though I would suggest that the clarifications underscore rather than refute the point I was attempting to make!

Posted by Yakaru

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Easter Post: Random Thoughts on Religious Literalism

April 3, 2015

I appreciate the idea that Jesus’ crucifixion is a symbol for how we all “have a cross to bear”. And that those in an unbearable situation can take some solace from the thought that a higher being shares their suffering. That’s what myths are for. We all need fictions, because life is unbearable without them.

And I can understand that sometimes we even need to consciously let ourselves believe that our fictions are true… However, if you do this openly or in public, you risk looking silly. It also destroys the initial feelings behind it, because you have to become bullish enough to withstand ridicule or your own fears and self-judgments. This destroys one’s sensibilities and turns the original feelings into parodies of themselves.

I don’t know exactly where the image below comes from — it’s from an Australian newspaper. It’s one of the few occasions when Jesus and the Easter Bunny have been photographed together in the same habitat.

easter bunny jesus

Some guy has tipped ketchup all over himself, imagined that despite the hideous thrashings and beatings that a crucifee would have gone through, he would still have been able to keep his loincloth (or diapers?) neatly in place, and then stood on a post and pretended to be miserable….

…..While children walk by and receive chocolates from the Easter Bunny.

Folks, there’s a better way to do this metaphorical stuff.

Below are some (poor quality) pics I took inside one of the most extraordinary buildings I’ve ever seen, the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba. It’s a huge mosque with — incredibly — a cathedral stuck in the middle of it.

The contrast between the two approaches to the “sacred” is striking. First the (Andalusian) Islamic approach — no images of humans or animals, just color and designs, forms and empty space; and then suddenly in the middle of it, we’re confronted with torture scenes and bleeding Jesus.

The site was originally a Roman style Visigoth church. Then with the rise of the Umayyad caliphate-in-exile in the 8th Century, it was turned into a stunningly beautiful mosque, using some of the remaining Roman columns; dual arches inspired by the magnificent Roman aqueducts, blended with Islamic architecture and some new innovations.

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Double arches on top of Roman columns, with red brick alternating with limestone — brick giving strength, limestone flexibility. It is impossible to adequately describe the visual effect of all this. The columns in this enormous area, stretching off into the darkness, give a sense of space and meditative stillness; while the red and white double arches are buzz for the senses. Really, it’s like an architectural acid trip with a vision of eternity.

The hall used to hold 20,000 people for Friday prayers. From inside an alcove (see below), the imam would preach.

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Muslim rule eventually collapsed, due partly to in-fighitng among Muslim leaders, the rise of Christianity as a military and political force, and of course, the random cycles of history. (See Maria Rosa Menocal’s Ornament of the World for an engaging history of the period.)

King Ferdinand II destroyed the center of the hall in the 11th Century and inserted a cathedral in it. The mosque became a glorified entrance hall. (Horrendous as this was, it probably saved the building from later destruction.)

So, in the middle of that extraordinary space, we suddenly get hit with bleeding tortured Jesus. From the profoundly evocative metaphorical to the crass and literal. For my taste, the shock of this change of style is extremely jarring, and accompanied by a great sense of loss.

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In dark alcoves all around the walls tortured and bleeding saints join with dozens of bleeding Jesuses. (It must have been fashionable at that time to emphasize how horribly chapped and grazed Jesus’ knees must have been. This one’s knees are only a bit grubby in comparison with the others in there. I think I counted about two dozen Jesuses, nearly all with horribly scraped knees. In some cases you could see the bone.)

So to Christians I say, you guys lost something when you removed old Judaic prohibition on images. It destroys all mystical or intuitive feeling. It enforces a particular way of experiencing and imagining things and inhibits others, and generally cheapens everything. Art is one thing, literalism, in my opinion, is another.

22A parrot would have been just as appropriate

Literalism is the death of spiritual feeling, in my opinion, and is always present in oppressive religious systems. There is only one way to interpret the literal, and that’s which ever way the most powerful priest says it is. For Christianity, the Inquisition followed the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Andalusia. Islam saw the triumph of the literalists over the philosophers, and a general stagnation of Islamic culture.

Posted by Yakaru

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Skeptic Fail #2: Manipulation vs Critical Thinking

March 8, 2015

Welcome back to this series that looks at the blind spots and failures that skeptics are especially prone to making.

In Part 1 we saw the well known skeptic Michael Shermer fail to debunk the “law of attraction”, simply because he hadn’t researched the topic enough — before making a silly, self-indulgent video about it.

This post features Dr Shermer again, but in a different role. This time he becomes the victim of a rather frivolous piece of journalistic trickery, and thereby demonstrates the mechanisms that get people sucked into scams like the law of attraction. Critical thinking skills offer limited protection under such conditions.

I am going to highlight this incident because skeptics — including Dr Shermer — tend to underestimate the role that deliberate manipulation plays in popular scams like The Secret. The bad science in that film has been well covered by skeptics, but as far as I know, no professional skeptic or large skeptic organization has commented on the emotionally charged advertising tactics that the film makers employed. And none seem to have noticed the highly manipulative subliminal images in the opening sequences.

27-cScreenshot from The Secret – in ancient Egypt a terrified young priest tries to protect the “secret” for future generations, as soldiers with burning torches run towards him. The flaming figures in the background are part of a fade into the next scene. Images of people burning, as well as sexual images abound.

Furthermore, The Secret built an exploitive relationship with the viewer, by surreptitiously pulling them into the film’s narrative until they became participants themselves in the propagation of the story. As well as being impelled promote the film to their friends (viral marketing), countless people were sucked into entering a highly exploitive personal relationship with one or more of the teachers in it — that was the whole aim of the film.

123The first appearance of James Ray in The Secret – a subliminal image. Four people died while attending his events in 2009.

Professional skeptics overlooked all this because they tend to focus on what they are good at: logical fallacies. This leads to a rather superficial view of human behavior, and an annoying smugness, and most importantly, an impotent response to the most successful popular scam in decades. 

No matter how good your “baloney detector” is, it won’t protect an unsuspecting person from a complicated scam like The Secret that’s specifically designed to deactivate their defenses. It won’t even protect you from a simple con trick…. As Dr Shermer discovers in the exchange below….

The email exchange below, published last year on the Daily Beast website, shows how a trickster mimics a safe situation, and how a person under stress will take greater risks than usual, with less care.

To set the scene, Shermer is under stress because of accusations about him that were circulating in the internet (and which will not be discussed here!!!). He has initiated legal proceedings, but this also requires his own silence, no doubt leaving him feeling defenseless and highly frustrated. He is contacted by a journalist called Ian Murphy:

Dear Mr. Shermer,
I’m writing a story about the recent ugliness in the atheist/skeptic community/movement (last week, and the past two years) for The Progressive, AlterNet, or Salon (not sure yet), and I’m obviously hoping you’ll be gracious enough to answer some questions.
Phone would be best, but I’d settle for email–any way to get your side of things out there.
Regardless, thanks for all you’ve done for the skeptics of the world.

The journalist presents this, basically, as an offer of help from a fan. In effect he is saying I have what you need, and I will serve you. This of course is the promise of every scammer in history.

Shermer politely declines, citing his lawyers and a book he is busy writing. The journalist replies:

I figured as much, but I had to ask! And have fun writing. (One fortunate thing about all this is that your sales will be higher than ever! Look at Paula Deen. Silver lining? Yesh. Sorry. ) Anywho, will you please forward my request to your attorney? Pretty please? A presumptuous thanks! Or awwww. Thanks for your time.

Here are offers of emotional and moral support as well as more clearly submissive signals, softening the persistent request for further attention. Shermer refuses again, and it goes back and forth a bit until the journalist blurts out:

To be honest, I’m not entirely certain what the charge is? You bought a woman drinks, for god’s sake?! What, she felt taken advantage of the next day–years later?–because you’re a charismatic person, memories are dramatizations of someone’s dogma du jour!? The story’s not about the “charge,” whatever that actual is, it’s about skepticism, truly, no?

Here the journalist is modeling the behavior he hopes Shermer will impulsively imitate — trying to get Shermer to respond with the same kind of out-blurting. And it works.

Shermer:

“….I haven’t been charged with anything. An anonymous woman told another anonymous woman to tell PZ Myers that I raped her at some unspecified time in the past at some unspecified conference which was alleged reported to unspecified persons who allegedly covered up whatever it is I allegedly did….”

The journalist responds with some speculation about how he might include those remarks in a story he wants to publish. Shermer, still not smelling any rat-like aromas, tries to assert his authority:

Ian. Stop. Nothing I have written to you can be quoted…

Shermer issues this imperative, having believed the journalist’s submissive behavior from before. And when the journalist persists, he sharpens it:

No, Ian, you cannot “convey the meaning of the emails….”

Shermer still thinks he can assert his authority here, and it only slowly dawns on him that the journalist is no longer being submissive. But by then it’s too late.

Shermer is incredulous and invokes his lawyers, but the journalist knows his legal rights and informs Shermer that he will publish the entire email exchange, which he does. (No dire consequences ensue, beyond some chuckling and some grizzling about journalistic ethics.)

Once the Murphy had gained his trust, it simply did not occur to Shermer that the journalist might not share his goals. Nor, of course, would it be likely occur to anyone else in such circumstances.

But, like many scam victims, had he been psychologically capable of doing even the most basic background check, Shermer probably wouldn’t have fallen for Murphy’s submissive signals. A minute on google, and he would have discovered that Murphy had recently spent a week in jail, in preference to doing 70 hours community service — which he found “boring”. And this was after a “public nuisance” conviction for showing up at an anti-gay Christian rally and interviewing people with a dildo. All this does not exactly fit the profile of the obsequious fan-boy he played for Shermer!

And real scammers don’t pull the plug as swiftly and honestly as Ian Murphy did. Once you have signed the charges to your credit card, they keep it rolling until they have taken everything they can get to.

Posted by Yakaru

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Primal Physics (Lipton meets Sheldrake Part 2)

February 17, 2015

Physics,

says Dr Bruce Lipton,

is the primal science.

Not “primary”, but “primal”. And in Dr Lipton’s hands, primal is exactly what physics becomes — it bubbles up unrelentingly from the chaotic primordeal depths of his unconscious, randomly mixing self-invented physics and New Age trigger words. It can also illicit a primal scream from the listener, proportional in strength to their degree of science literacy.

However, there is something to learn from Dr Bruce here. While Deepak Chopra buries his errors unter an avalanche of meaningless jargon, Lipton’s errors are surprisingly uncomplicated. He is so ignorant that he doesn’t even know he needs to cover his footsteps. The fundamental errors that all New Age anti-physicists make are thus candidly revealed.

And what the physics says is that it’s not the physical reality where the information is. It’s in the field, the invisible stuff, and all of a sudden that jumped me from my mechanical material world idea into entertaining the concept of the invisible forces being more powerful.

So, Lipton thinks that “physical reality” stops where quantum physics starts.

We saw in Part 1 how Rupert Sheldrake doesn’t understand that the simplest laws of chemistry are perfectly good for explaining simple plant growth. For him atoms are inert billiard balls that need a divine intelligence to tell them what to do. For Lipton, the laws of quantum physics explain how this occurs. It’s all there in the physics text books, but the other biologists don’t understand physics. They are “still trapped in the Newtonian materialist reductionist world”. They don’t realize that physicists have “proven that matter doesn’t exist” and that quantum physics is the study of the spiritual realm.

This stupidity leads to a remarkably stupid version of physics, but also to a quite strange version of spirituality as well. They haven’t thought through the implications of this in slightest; nor have their fans.

Yes, quantum physics strikes our everyday understanding of the world as incomprehensibly weird. Yes, ideas about the spiritual realm also strike many as weird. But it does not follow that therefore the laws of quantum physics prove the existence of a spiritual realm. Do Lipton and Sheldrake really want to try this?

Our world view based on our experience of everyday life is ill-suited to conceiving events in the sub-atomic realm. But the language of mathematics can describe them without trouble. The weirdness is a product of the cross-over from mathematical to verbal language, but the mathematical model of it is nonetheless, rock solid (if I can be excused a dreadful metaphor).

Apart from their almost complete ignorance of physics, Lipton and Sheldrake have also failed to ask themselves if they really want to believe in a spirit realm that rigidly obeys mathematical laws.

Surely they must regard spiritual beings as having some independent volition; of being capable of doing something unexpected. But this kind of guided intention is one thing that is by definition absent from events that have been discovered to exist only because of their mathematical predictability.

For all that they rage against “Newtonian materialism” they in fact share with Newton a mechanistic view of the spiritual realm. Newton, unable to explain how gravity acted at a distance, proposed God as agent of maintaining the regularity of the planets. It was even proposed at one point that the planets were driven along their course by angels beating their wings. Enchanting as such an image might be, do we really want to condemn angels to this ultimate drudgery throughout the entire universe? Surely when mystics search for some kind of consciousness in the universe, they are looking for irregularities, of the kind that helps us distinguish between a rock that’s being tumbled by the waves and a seashell with some little fellow living inside it.

There is something deeply dissatisfying about a spirit realm that coldly maintains mathematical laws. But this is the only kind of spirituality that can, as far as I can see, possibly be consistent with quantum physics.

I am, of course, leaving out an important detail. This is Primal Physics. Its defining characteristic is the complete absence of math. Remove math, and the door is suddenly kicked open for verbal language to take over. Without math, the same events which previously fitted an exact model, can be transported into the realm of verbal constructs, where they take on the appearance of spiritual occurrences — spooky actions at spooky distances, and all that.

Of course, removing math also removes the quantum physics in its entirety, but the highly prized brand-mark and all the fancy-sounding terminology remain. Freed from the tyranny of mathematically consistent laws, Primal Physics need only obey the laws of grammar.

We are indebted to Dr Bruce for explicating the hidden laws of Primal Physics, a mysterious product which has been promoted since at least the early 1970s by moderately smart people like Fritjof Capra, and horrid foul mouthed gimps like Deepak Chopra. Physicists, still clinging to their unfashionable mathematical concepts remain baffled by the concepts and workings of Primal Physics.

In Part 3 (link), Dr Lipton will explain scientific method.

Posted by Yakaru

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