Lying for Death Ray Pt 4 – James Ray’s obsession with death continues

May 8, 2016

As we saw in the previous posts, duped journalist Lizzie Crocker has allowed the convicted killer James Arthur Ray to use her spot on the Daily Beast as a platform not only to advertise his deadly scam, but also to lie about the acts for which he was convicted. Crocker refused to interview the families of his victims and plays dumb about the facts of his conviction. Ray is well connected in the media, so sucking up to him is obviously a good career move. Either that or Ms Crocker is even dumber than Ray is, which I doubt.

But on with the final few sentences of this disgraceful piece of fraudulent journalism. For the climax of the article, Crocker recounts how James Ray gave her a sample of his profound wisdom.

Ray then told me a story from the Baghavad [sic] Gita, the ancient Hindu text which he read several times in prison, about Arduna [sic] and Krishna.

As with everything else in the article, that single sentence is riddled with lies and stupid errors. To start with, there is no one in Hindu mythology called “Arduna”. There is an “Arjuna”, and maybe Ray said it correctly and Crocker misheard him and didn’t bother checking before embarrassing herself. Or maybe Ray confused Arjuna with Iduna from Norse mythology and misspoke. Or maybe Ray misheard it from whoever mentioned it to him, because the one thing which can be excluded is the hilarious idea of Ray reading the Bhagavad Gita (note the spelling, Ms Crocker!) even once, to say nothing of “several times”.

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Information Pack for Journalists: James Ray’s 26 Favorite Excuses

April 25, 2016

Journalists are often confused by the James Ray “sweat lodge deaths” case. This doesn’t surprise me, although the case is in fact extremely easy to understand —

Ray, a failed self-help teacher, deliberately tried to cook people to within an inch of their lives, to induce the onset of heat stroke, in order to make them feel they were experiencing an altered mental state.  Read the rest of this entry »


Lying For Death Ray Pt 3 – New lies: now a doctor is responsible for Ray’s crimes!

April 24, 2016

I really don’t expect journalists to understand complicated details of difficult court cases. But I do expect them to exercise caution when interviewing convicted criminals about the crimes they committed. This is especially important in Ray’s case, as it was the media who gave him a platform for softball, self promotional interviews. Four deaths later, and they are still queuing up for round five. Three homicide convictions hasn’t convinced any of them that maybe they should be a little more careful before jumping into bed with him.

The previous post dealt with so new lies about the death of Colleen Conaway. Lizzie Crocker interviewed Ray and asked him about it — good move for a journalist… but didn’t consider the possibility that his might be a lie — really, a bit dumb, given she already knows about the multiple homicide convictions.

I am going through her article in detail, partly demonstrate how quickly this crook can send a journalist off the rails. If you simply take dictation from this fellow like Lizzie Crocker has done, he will play you for a fool, and use you to blame the victims and insult the dead.

Crocker’s article continues:

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Lying for Death Ray Part 2 — Cover up of Colleen Conaway’s death continues

April 24, 2016

In the previous post, I got about half way through Lizzie Crocker’s atrocious parroting of the deadly spiritual teacher James Ray’s lies.

Here’s a tip for anyone — journalist, fake journalist, customer — about listening to James Ray: He is not someone who tells the truth. Not a word. It just doesn’t happen. Ray only has two modes:

(1) Advance grinning and spouting lies (teachings, manipulative statements);

(2) retreat, protesting innocence and claiming to the be the victim, while lying and covering tracks.

It is truly difficult for people to believe he is so dangerous, so deceitful, and above all, so utterly and shockingly stupid that he was prepared to risk killing his own customers. But that is exactly what the jury found him guilty of — and they didn’t know the half of it! (Because Ray’s $5 million law team prevented them from hearing the rest… If the facts are really the way Lizzie Crocker presents them, then why did Ray’s lawyers try so hard to keep all mention of such details out of court?)

James Ray is a walking demonstration of the complete lack of standards and ethics in the self-help industry, the total lack of consumer protection, and the reflexive habit of many to hold “spiritual teachers” to far lower standards than they hold anyone else to. Skepticism and deliberate inquiry can be some protection against this, if people are lucky enough to have discovered that it’s necessary. But anyone can be conned — con artists trigger responses in people, that are safe and normal nearly all the time. They exploit loopholes in social customs and weak points in normal social interactions. A skilled con artist can make otherwise secure people feel helpless and insecure. And in that state, people naturally tend to be more trusting and to take risks they normally would not take.

People who were lucky enough to recognize the red flags around James Ray usually make one of two choices. Either:

(a) Get out and warn others; or

(b) Say “Oh well, that’s business, and I might get rich if I kinda sidle up to him nicely.”

Crocker may have chosen some version option (b), but doesn’t seem to have woken up to how extreme and unusual Ray’s behavior has been, or how easily his lies can be exposed today simply by spending 5 seconds on google. We have seen her support Ray through phase 1 (“he still wants to help people”), and 2 (“tragic accident”). In this post, we get some new lies from Ray about his involvement in the horribly sad death of Ray’s first victim, Colleen Conaway, all dutifully reported as fact by his new journalistic chump. (By “lies” I mean, demonstrably false statements that contradict well known and easily confirmed facts, both from direct evidence, and police records.)

Crocker’s train wreck of an article continues:
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Lying for Death Ray – Crappy PR for James Ray presented as journalism (Part 1)

April 23, 2016

This is a long post and it probably won’t interest all that many people, so I’ve put it below the fold.

Enter failed self-help teacher and deadly criminal, James Ray.

Enter struggling film maker Jenny Carchman, and struggling journalist Lizzie Crocker….

Read the rest of this entry »


From a Theologian in 1909: Stop Deceiving Children About Science

March 18, 2016

I recently found an old book in a second-hand bookshop here in Berlin, entitled Darwin: His Meaning for Our Worldview and Values. It’s a small collection of essays by scientists and academics, and was published in 1909 — 50 years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, and 49 years after it appeared in translation in Germany. The essay that struck me most was written by a theologian called Friedrich Naumann. (Biographical details at the end of this post.)

Warenhaus A. Weiss, Schöneberg, 1907. Das Haus steht noch und ist ein lohnendes Objekt um die Verschandelung von Bauwerken zu studieren.

Schöneberg, Berlin, 1907 (source)

Naumann begins by noting that although religious people don’t usually accept evolution, they do concede that Darwin was a decent fellow who was sincerely seeking the truth. This is already a stark contrast to today where the religious frequently hold Darwin more or less to have been inspired by the devil, and evolution to be “lies straight from the pit of hell”.

Naumann then makes an interesting and rarely made point: that Darwin’s ideas were in fact no more “anti-Christian” than a great many other ideas which had already been proposed for quite some time, albeit without any complaint about them from the church. Religious leaders, he says, failed to discuss these new ideas and discoveries amongst themselves, and withheld them from parishioners.

He continues:

Through the writings of Darwin and Haeckel, what was until then the preserve of scientists erupted into public awareness. For many, “Darwinism” came as a completely unexpected “anti-religious” revelation… Those of us who experienced the years 1860 to 1890 in the company of pious Christians, remember how powerful the waves were. Even today the waters have not been stilled.

From his tone, I suspect Naumann would be quite surprised if he knew that the shock waves would still be felt in many countries more than 100 years later.

Next, he makes an important and I think undeniable point — undeniable even from a Christian perspective:

Darwinism would have come as less of a shock to the pious if they had already been speaking more openly with each other about scientific discoveries and the implications for religion. This rarely happened. Although some religious thinkers like Schleiermacher familiarized themselves with current scientific learning and “adjusted” their Christianity accordingly, those who preached in the church or taught in the schools deliberately and timidly avoided presenting these new ideas and discussing their implications.

Deliberately and timidly avoided teaching such ideas in the churches and schools. Exactly.

There follows another noteworthy passage.

Look, we’ve long known that the Bible does not place the sun at the center of the solar system; that it presents heaven as being located above the earth… Similarly, the Creation and the Great Flood were known even before Darwin to have been derived from earlier oriental myths, and cannot be taken as historical events. Had the faithful already been clearly and unreservedly informed of these facts, then Darwinism would not have arrived like a hailstorm on the field of religion.

A hailstorm on the field of religion. And how telling it is that even science teachers today avoid teaching evolution for fear of upsetting the faithful (or losing their job). It is even customary for academics to place trigger warnings and apologies prior to any mention of human origins. 

Yet in 1909 it was already clear that such pussyfooting ultimately serves no one. Those who reject science, merely find that they have to push back harder and harder in their denial as science progresses — and become proportionately stupider and stupider. Naumann would have been stunned to discover that climate change is rejected by political leaders in the US because they and the voters believe that God promised Noah that there would be no more floods. I can understand why people are shocked by the idea that we are a species of ape, but…. getting upset about Noah’s Ark being a myth????

Our theologian continues, to make a rather rhetorical argument that Jesus would have embraced Darwinism, because he was the quintessential reformer. I am in no position to comment on that (and neither was he of course, but it’s his religion not mine, so I will let it pass). The Bible, he points out is itself a historical record of reform and changes in religious thought. And he makes another excellent point when he says that by failing to teach the facts of science:

we allow people to develop false hopes. This sets them up for disappointment and confusion if they ever discover the truth.

These days, theologians are reluctant to write as boldly as this. Even the most science-friendly theologians keep one hand cautiously on the hand brake whilst discussing anything to do with science. But Naumann clearly believes that if God created the earth and its creatures, then the study of nature is a path to God. Modern theologians are far more nervous about that “if” being in there.

Religions of course, always face a dilemma, not only with science but with facts in general. Even St Augustine noticed it’s hard to proselytize when some doctrines are clearly false or hilariously stupid. He saw no option but to “interpret” the craziest parts of the Bible allegorically. But once that decision has been taken, it’s hard to stop reality swamping in and ruining dogmas that useful or even essential to the whole faith. Once Noah’s Ark is accepted as a myth (as Naumann conceded in 1909, and as Ken Ham doesn’t concede in 2016), then why not also concede that the “Virgin” Mary was a mistranslation that even the early Christians were informed about by the Jews? Don’t expect a coherent answer from any theologian. There’s too much riding on it. Naumann himself could have, or maybe should have known about this, but he says nothing about it. Is it too close to the bone? Did he know it and simply blend it out? 

I see no way to rescue believers from this collision of their faith with reality. But I also see no alternative to Naumann’s positive attitude to science.


For the record, Friedrich Naumann (1860 – 1919) was a somewhat recognized theologian, priest, and author, who was involved in politics, (for the most part on the progressive side). A foundation named in honor of Naumann is connected to the mainstream but distinctly right-wing Freie Democratische Partei (FDP) in Germany. This Foundation, ironically, promotes climate-change denial. Unfortunately, he advocated a mild form of eugenics — a position that was opposed on ethical grounds by other writers in that book. Naumann was, however an outspoken activist for women’s rights, and other worthy causes. 

Posted by Yakaru


The Book That Changed Bruce Lipton’s Life (This is really stupid)

March 18, 2016

Welcome back to the series “Lipton Meets Sheldrake“. This is the fifth and final installment.

Long time readers will probably have scrubbed from their mind (if they ever tortured their mind by reading it in the first place) a statement in Part 1 by Bruce Lipton, where he was blithering incoherently about having read a book that changed his life and convinced him to quit his job as a tutor in biology, get on the spiritual path, and become a wealthy cancer quack. The book was about quantum physics and was called The Cosmic Code. It was written by someone called Heinz Pagels.

Fans of modern esoteric spirituality can waste a lifetime reading any of the thousand or so books about “quantum spirituality”, without ever discovering that what they are reading has little or nothing to do with actual physics. So it didn’t surprise me at all that an ignorant buffoon like Lipton would get sucked in to this fad as well. Even the book’s title appears prescient of later trends (it was published in 1984, long before the Da Vinci Code, the Moses Code, The (fill in blank)____ Code), and even the author’s name sounds suspiciously New Agey. Heinz is a good German name, and Germany is Grand Central Station of Complicated Pseudo-Science, and Pagels reminds one of Elaine Pagels, the nice person who wrote nice books about early Christianity — all impressive “woo” credentials for the book that convinced the young Dr Lipton that “the field” is in fact consciousness, and that everything he learned in biology is “all wrong”.

I’d never heard of Heinz Pagels before, so I googled him. Surprisingly, Lipton had in fact got both the title and the author correct. (Classical pseudo-scientific methodology strictly insists on shoddy referencing, to make it harder to check sources.) Pagels, it turns out, was indeed married to Elaine Pagels, and died rather tragically in a mountain climbing accident. Unexpectedly, however, he was in fact a genuine, highly regarded physicist.

…So what possessed him to write a pseudo-physics book that convinced the gullible young Bruce that the (non-existent) “field of consciousness” equates with one or more of the various “fields” which physics deals with?

….And — more to the point — why, shortly after writing such a book would Pagels write a strongly worded affidavit for a court case against the Transcendental Meditation movement, rejecting any such idea?

No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud.

Fraud? Lipton says that Pagels’ entire book centers on making exactly that claim. Pagels continues:

Individuals not trained professionally in modern physics could easily come to believe… that a large number of qualified scientists agree with the purported connection between modern physics and meditation methods. Nothing could be further from the truth….

The claim that the fields of modern physics have anything to do with the “field of consciousness” is false….

To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics, the labor of generations of scientists, so willfully perverted provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions.

I suspect that at this point, readers fall into one of two categories:

(1) those who are thinking “Huh? Why did Pagels change his mind? What’s going on?”; and

(2) those who are familiar with the degree of stupidity that Dr Bruce Lipton is capable of.

I often get attacked by Lipton fans who, when challenged, realize they actually haven’t got a clue what Lipton is talking about. Not one of them has ever summed up any aspect of his ideas succinctly. They won’t even try. It’s no surprise that they have trouble understanding him: even Lipton himself gets his own ideas wrong. It is entirely appropriate that such a spectacular career in random senseless blithering and deadly quackery was launched by reading a book he couldn’t make head or tail of, and which in fact said the opposite of what he thought it said.

Here’s my advice to anyone turning to Lipton in search of a cancer cure or hoping to learn something: there’s a good book to read that will rescue you from Lipton’s insane quantum babble. It’s called The Cosmic Code, by Heinz Pagels.

Posted by Yakaru