Tag Archives: charlatanry

Persuasion, What Me Worry?

MAD-Magazine-Trump

Mad Magazine – used without permission

Trumpbert

Scott Adams, author of Dilbert cartoons, has been blogging about Donald Trump’s persuasion abilities for nine months. Adams styles himself as an expert on persuasion too, so it is no accident that he highlights Trump because he has his own books about persuasion to sell.

Adams is bold in his estimation of Trump’s abilities, believing, or having come to be persuaded, that Trump is one of the greatest of all persuaders, and, the proof of this will be articulated by a landslide election victory over Hillary Clinton. The gist of Adam’s theory of persuasion is drawn from his thin but supple comprehension of decision-making theory in cognitive and social psychology. Supple is a key qualifier because for Adams persuasion at its highest Trumpian levels is an all-purpose explanatory theory, even when it topples into tautology; ‘one is persuaded because one is persuaded, after all, every preference is produced by persuasion of some sort.’

There is a lot of research about the element of emotion and identification to be found in preference-making, decisions, and choice-making. Additionally, with the popularization of Kahnemann, Haidt, and Tsversky, and with other treatments of cognition “in practice,” and with prolix internet venues for virtual argumentation, more than ever more, people are aware of various cognitive biases, the fallacies of informal logic, and, other tactical means for making one’s own point.

Adams makes the distinction between 2D and 3D persuasion, with the latter being the realm where masters, such as Trump, practice the jedi arts of persuasion. Apparently, these advanced capabilities can arise naturally or be taught. Presumably, the capabilities operationalize a model concerned with emotional construction, but Adams is silent about specifics while he traffics in the broad brush provided by Trump’s ongoing demonstrations of efficacy.

Suckerbert

Adams is crafty! He knows that the psychology of preference-making, etc. will survive the falsification of his own folk-psychological prediction. He is one of the most successful cartoonists in all of human history. His prediction’s failure won’t change that fact. And, he knows should Trump win by landslide or squeaker, the hundreds of acolytes he has persuaded to praise his theory, will claim for Adams, victory.

(Note too: a theory of persuasion is only robust of it also can account for a person not being persuaded. Adams does not, wisely, go “there.”)

There are three aspects, among many, worth highlighting. First, the Dilbert blog has brought together over the last six months a commentariat that mostly consists of Trump fanboys. Adams was compelled to ban overt racists and Nazi sympathizers. Nevertheless, his blog collects together all the unusual suspects of the largely pro-authoritarian alt-right. The blog’s sociological mix is fascinating, and, at the same time it horrifies by showcasing the animosity and triteness of white male victimhood. Trump is their guy!

Second, the blog catalogues all the comeback lines of argument used to beat back opinions/facts contra-Trump. Many of Trump’s advocates on the Dilbert Blog style themselves to be hyper-rational, even objective, and so, for such advocates, support of Trump is a no-brainer. But the actual arguments, albeit repetitive over months, are unintentionally hilarious.

Lobotomybert

Third. Following from this no-brainer advocacy, irony rules the day on the Dilbert blog. Very early on it became obvious that many of the Trump supporters on the Dilbert blog ‘think’ alike on a single matter: ‘we have thoughtfully reached our conclusion, whereas everyone else will be subject, or prey, to Trump’s 3D powers of persuasion.

Reason for me, persuasion for you!

This makes the blog immensely more amusing–well, for me at least. All the dodgy and immature and even shocking commentary brought to bear on behalf of, and take your pick, white supremacy, men’s rights, red pill culture, biodiversity, anti-liberalism, anti-social justice, sovereign segregation, neo-monarchism, anti-feminism, sexism, Nrx, neo-traditionalism, racial segregation, anti-collectivism, (on and on might the litany go,) are each presented as being the product of objective reason rather than each position being the result of the bearer having been at some point suckered into their abject belief by a master of 3D persuasion.

Adams deploys a 3D hedge, but it doesn’t help the Trump supporters in the commentariat because these same supporters are so enthusiastic about the amazing (!) match between their prior support of Trump, and, Adams’s vaunting of their man’s abilities. The hedge is: as far as elections go, 3D persuasion only has to be effective with a portion of the electorate. This clearly doesn’t account for his theory’s lack of explanatory power, but it does open things up for pro-Trump commenters.

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Planet of the Snake-Oil Loving Apes

Lowland-Wilber.jpg

David Lane takes Ken Wilber to task, Frisky Dirt, Why Ken Wilber’s New Creationism
is Pseudo-Science
, for reprising his odd views on evolution. Those views can be encapsulated in quotes from The Guru and the Pandit. Eros, Buddha, and the Spectrum of Love, from the new issue of Andrew Cohen’s magazine EnlightenmentNext.

It’s evidence of a force that is pushing against randomness in the universe.

The fact that such a thing can happen is a miracle. It’s just unbelievable.

All of this, without exception, is driven by love.

Lane’s takedown of Wilber’s ‘esotericistic’ intelligent design is okay, but let’s face it, all the varieties of intelligent design and creationism present low hanging fruit. The abstract for the article is telling:

Love is a hot topic in the world of progressive spirituality, but you haven’t heard anyone discuss it like the Guru and the Pandit. Distinguishing between love’s personal, cultural, and cosmic dimensions, they explore how this primordial force gives rise to every new emergence in the evolutionary process.

Wilber has spelled out what he means by speaking of love’s primordial force. This can be put differently without error, and on offer then is the context, a context many times more interesting than Wilber’s new age creationism.

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in “Ken Wilber.”

Or, ending up in the Centauric Integral, another term for “Ken Wilber.”

This developmental outcome is very ironic if you’re aware of Wilber’s antipathy toward baby boomer solipsism.

As a thinker and quasi-philosopher, Wilber’s development peaked fifteen years ago. At the time he had sketched out an interesting, even compelling, albeit rudimentary, transdisciplinary methodology. It required proponents to get down to the brass tacks of formulating a sharp critical culture.

In 2001, he told Jordan Gruber,

>E.com: In the meantime, though, the grants that people could write to I-I for, none of that’s happening?

KW: No, what’s happening right now is that one of the main things we wanted to do with the original one hundred million dollars was to get it to as many people as possible doing work in this field, the general field of integral studies and integral endeavors. That’s one of the reasons that I started Integral Institute, to act as a funding source for people doing this kind of work because the marketplace doesn’t reward truly integral studies as all. It rewards New Age approaches to it, it rewards the experiential workshop approach, as it were, it rewards the green meme and the purple meme and everything in between, but it does not reward truly integral studies.

So, the only way we’re going to get real work done in this field is, frankly, if we have funding agencies that will do it. And once the real work is done, and the research is done, and we start producing really solid texts, and presentations, and articles, and research, then we can create a market off of that. That’s going to be probably three years from now.

So, what we’ve done at Integral Institute … the biggest change in our orientation happened not because of the market, but quite independent of that, a change we would have made whether the market went up or down. And that is, we went from being a kind of community of some four hundred founding members to focusing more on producing what we call “integral product,” actual books, texts, academic material in each of the ten branches. So we’re working on books in, for example, What is Integral Politics? What is Integral Business? Integral Medicine? Integral Law? Because what we found was that there were no really strong statements about an integral approach to any of these fields.

E.com: Which is one of the reasons academia can ignore it completely.

KW: It can ignore it completely, and the other things we found is that most people with very very good intentions would simply take what they’re doing and call it integral when it really wasn’t. They were leaving out certain aspects of the human condition that ought not to be left out. We could demonstrate that to them, and they would say, “OK, I guess what I’m doing is not integral.”

So before we can build community, or create a market, or have a web presence, or have conferences, we have to produce specific texts in each of these ten branches, put together by one of our core teams of recognized scholars and researchers, saying “This is our best shot as an opening statement about what integral business is, integral politics, integral education, integral medicine, integral law, integral psychology, integral spirituality, and so on.”

Actually, what happened was this was inverted. Wilber created a community, a web presence, conferences, and, crucially, a market. Wilber’s Integral has been regressing ever since. Only The Integral Leadership Review, (itself mostly off the Wilberian reservation,) regularly publishes something like scholarship. Elsewhere there isn’t a body of Integral scholarship in those other nine branches, where the scholarship works to, as the Wilberian principle goes, keep the good and throw out the bad. So, without having enabled a keen critical culture to negotiate disciplinary fields using a robust and sophisticated Integral criteria, the Integral methodology was sunk.

Wilber’s creationism is interesting because its context is not Integral biology, but rather its context (and purpose) is the yoking of Wilber’s product lines to the biggest, most fantastic, view of that which can be the reward for buying Wilber’s spiritual technologies. This value-added idea is simple:

Love works from the beginning to organize greater complexity and greater consciousness, ending up for our moment in your ability to realize your cosmic integral love-vitalized high consciousness nature.

One has to buy a ticket, or otherwise pony up.

As for biology and science, Wilber has time and time again, in interviews with Larry Dossy, and other new age thought leaders, proposed that what is bad about science, methodological materialism, needs to be reformed and revolutionized, and, he’s implied, transformed into something altogether more ‘integral-mystical.’ (Magical!) Needless to say there aren’t any cogent Integral philosophers of science. Nor is there–as far as I know–any scholarly Integral biology, Integral physics, Integral anthropology, etc.. Also, the varieties of integral-like interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship found in some fields is not under review by Integral scholars.

No, there is only the facile spiritualizing of the Wilberian spiritual technology put up for sale. ‘Adeptitude’ has taken over; sadly. The strange, anti-intellectual case is that as much as this high-minded technology harps on getting right with The Shadow, science itself is smack dab in the middle of Wilber’s own shadow. I suspect love is stuck there too because the self-agrandizing, primordial move is too easy, compared, say, to the necessarily unsparing, perspective of Rilke.

To reconfigure Carl Jung’s famous insight,

…where power marketing predominates, love is lacking.

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Why not open source the integral movement?

Visit Integral Life, the main outpost for the Ken Wilberian revolution, and see how new age it’s become. (Integral Life is the leader of the deep lifestyle movement, helping people live more free and whole lives using integral philosophy, the first genuine world philosophy for the 21st century. from the site) Having tracked Wilber for 30+ years, I find the uncritical panoply of new ageism to signify Wilberian integralism to have come full circle and returned to its transpersonal, counter-culture, origins.

Wilber and his marketers have been building this brand and its product line for some time. The more developed the brand has become, the more his framework has atrophied. Its almost as if the Wilberian integralists can’t do two things at once. So, I suppose the decision was made. And then the cash registers were installed, and so it has gone.

What it looks like is this: kitschy self-realization resources and pay-to-play products dominating critical culture to the point one can’t find the critical culture anywhere. (How is this not egocentric?)

For example, wrap your discriminating intellect and eros around this:

2012, the Aquarian Age, and the Nature of Evolution (November 19th, 2009 by Darrell Moneyhon)

Regarding Ken’s very valid point addressed in his upcoming book, that indiscriminate democracy could be disastrous, given 70% of the population is at amber or lower, I think I have a solution – a broad strategy that could avert that catastrophe. I call it 3 S, for Sustainable Social Selection. It hinges on the idea that optimal human collective adaptation is based on effective utilization of human resources – no longer on selection via organisms dying off, the old “survival of the fittest” thing.

3 S adapts by finding the right person for the right “assignment”, or “engagement”. “Survival of the fittest is replaced with “survival of the fitting-est” – not meaning that whole groups of individuals (or even organizations or ideologies) will adapt or die from not fitting in with the requirements of the times (although such a selection may occur), but meaning that collectives which are able to get the right persons in the right job will adapt best. The ability to harness the various natural aptitudes and personality orientations, or roughly speaking, “gifts”, is what helps social groups survive and prosper. When the right gifts are placed in the right niches, a kind of workable egalitarianism is formed.

Why? Because gifts will sort out the best thinkers for thinking tasks, the best dreamers/intuiters for creative tasks and early stage innovation, the best relaters for healing and facilitation of social well-being, and the best do-ers for getting projects done in an efficient and effective manner. Those “gift” catagories are mainly types, but line competencies could also be used. Gift-in-niche assignments could be made based on performance (or observed proficiency) on certain lines of development, based on some form of multiple intelligence assessment, etc.. “Gifts” in general could include, then, a blend of type and line “intelligence” – a type-by-line “fit” factor.

Because all major types and all kinds (lines) of intelligences would be utilized, productively engaged, and cherished, no gift would be considered higher than other gifts. No gifts would be given better living standards than other gifts. To favor certain gift-sets would violate the very core of the Sustainable Social Selection strategy. All gifts, all people, would be needed in such a strategy. Every one would, therefore be “equal”.

But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things. “Each according to her gift” is a 3 S motto. The foot of the collective body does not have the same (equal) access to forks as do the fingers. Nor do the fingers have equal access to shoes. Those would be poor “fits” in a survival-by-the-fitting-est scheme. The understanding and practice of intrinsic power would replace the lust for extensic power. A finger would not want access to shoes (except to help tie shoe laces!), nor would feet want to hold forks. Those “powers” would be extrinsic to the nature of the respective gifts.

Because of the respect given to all the gifts, and because of equal provisions, there would be no press for every person to have equal say in social problem-solving or social planning projects. There would be no advantage or incentive for a do-er to pretend to be a social mapper, etc. If the standard of living is equal, then do-ers would have no incentive to do what they don’t do best! They would naturally prefer practical projects over big-picture pattern analysis, etc.

While I read this, I was thinking to myself, ‘Here’s an old Greek idea!’ Then I get to the point where ‘no gift would be considered higher than other gifts’ is contradicted by this: ‘But equal doesn’t mean everyone participates equally in all things.’ This is garden-variety incoherence. Later, in an addendum, the writer suggests:

The key is get a modified democratic system which gives weighted voting privileges according to gifts, according to the person’s line strengths and/or type. This way, the “fingers” of the collective “body” aren’t voting about shoes. And the”feet” aren’t voting about eating utensiles. A thinker would have, say, one and a half vote, for big picture social policy votes. A relater would have, say, one and a half votes on specific issues related to health care.

The author contributes, by way of contextualizing this suggestion, some thoughts about an assessment regime which would sort out the overt typology of his scheme. Then at the end of his comment he sort of peels away to his core moralism.

But there is no guarantee that the behavior is following an optimal course which is in line with a person’s potential. Accordingly, both individual and collective behavior must be looked at in a dynamic, unfolding, genetic, sort of way, if we are to “behave” ourselves, and to live up to our potential.

Is the author really suggesting that by using typological assessments based in ‘moralized’ categories having to do with capturing in some definitive way a strict monological estimation of individual potential, there could then be a evolutionary progressive integral politics anchored to these behaviorally dispositive moralistic, performative, and structural identities?

The problem of the poverty of critical culture in Wilberian integralism comes to the front in Wilber’s musings.

Here is the idea that the integral world view will be, (or could be,) imposed as a matter of the natural superiority of the second tier moral consciousness. But I have a question, if the integral system hasn’t engendered a critical culture, in what way could I be convinced that second tier moral prescription isn’t, in actuality, massively egocentric, or otherwise darkened?

 

Don Beck on the 2nd Tier:

3. Do I accept that individuals, organizations, and societies must acquire these All Quadrant capacities in a step-by-step or developmental process?

6. Have I, personally, learned “when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em, and when to walk away?” Can I resist the need to control or engineer people?

9. Can I think systemically by addressing complex issues from a multi-case [multi-cause?] perspective rather than isolate a single culprit.

(2nd Tier, to me, is rigorously self-critical. Obviously this means I’m a charlatan or innovator or heretic.)

So, rather than develop a critical culture able to contest and refine and configure a future integral politics, what has come about is a product line wed to an inchoate “system,” itself born in top down elitism, and wildly over-generalized and simplistic estimations about political behavior. And, these products are tasked with pulling people into this uncritical socio-political sphere; all the while the cash registers ring.

This calls into question the Wilberian Project, almost in-total. One repetitive bit is a pisser in all this: when the second tier maestro, goes about reminding that he or she ‘is not judging,’ or refers to transcend-and-include as a work-around. This may fool people. But, I’m hearing an indelicate mash-up of Plato, Hegel and Mao!

Should one take the blinders off, now, many decades into the Wilberian Project, it is fairly obvious what pseudo-second tier seeks to showcase: an ability to do some educative banking, where you get to buy some old ‘vertical’ thought forms and climb up a little closer. (The idea that a spiritual elite possess the most able political consciousness is especially appealing when one can buy their way in, master the vocabulary, and learn how not to get passionately angry about anything.)

I state this obvious implication of enterprising integral politics with a sense of delighted irony. After all, there isn’t any substantive integral political philosophy–how could there be given what’s being recycled, heck, time shifted! here. And, it is deliciously ironic that Mr. Moneyhon has made an attempt to figure out the ‘assessment’ requirement, since, after all, there isn’t also a substantive integral psychology, let alone an applied integral psychology, upon which to build his mash-up of typology and assessment of aspirational potentials. Of course, with good reason, Centauric political leadership is yoked to integral spirituality, but this sure looks different when there comes the top-down proposal to assess somebody else’s spiritual stage using the potted categories given by integral spirituality.

(Might as well mention, there’s no methodology for doing these assessments; nor is there even a basis for a methodology. It’s a different kind of pipe dream.)

With respect to this latter field, it’s important to point out Wilberian integralism has wed its centralized entrepreneurial focus with (mostly) digital evangelism for its technology of enlightenment. Well, there’s nothing integral about the Wilberian style of commerce.

Full circle we go: how to account for the re-introduction of new age hucksters and thought leaders into the integral mix? What you get with this is a lot of free floating folk metaphysics and magical doctrines, and, above all, you get the utopian ethos built upon a future “Self-developmental” payoff. Cha Ching.

There’s little harm that can come from any of this. When Wilber shifted direction–years ago–and worked to create a marketable new age self-help technology, it became clear the ‘early alpha’ integral analytic framework would either be advanced by others, or, not.

***

Daniel Gustav Anderson has contributed an excellent piece at Integral World, Integral Theory After Wilber. His blog is thought provoking and a favorite.

From his excellent essay, one I take as a beginning:

Integral theory should be critical. By this I mean it should be dialectical; it should be scientific and examined as such, rather than transmitted as a belief-structure or a cult object. Universal and essentializing claims should be eschewed in favor of properly warranted, demonstrated, and delineated ones. If one is inclined to speculate and explore ideas with a freer hand as I myself often do, or when one sees that evidence is lacking for an idea that may reward further investigation, such speculations and ideas should be marked for what they are: explorations, thought experiments, provisional claims, possibilities for future inquiry, or (to borrow from David Lane) an instance of unknowingness. In short, integral theory should be critically self-aware of how it makes knowledge, and how that knowledge functions politically and socially. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School has much to offer in this regard, as does the pedagogy of Paulo Freire.

(There’s a lot of integral thinking and writing by persons who knew nothing, may have predated, the Wilberian ‘integral.’ I’ve come to respect greatly the variety of superb descriptive and analytic work which wanders in disciplined ways through various subjective and objective perspectives. On the web, Integral World, provides a portal for post-Wilberian thought–although quality varies a great deal. IW authors )

The spell that binds us today consists not least in the fact that it ceaselessly urges people to take action that they believe will break the spell; and that it prevents the reflection on themselves and the circumstances that might really break it. (Theodore Adorno)

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The Medium Is The Message

I’m building up to a brief presentation based in a novel concept about the ongoing bumper car action between theists, atheists and new agers; soon enough.

This video from attorney Victor Zammit has stand-alone appeal. One conclusion from viewing Zammit’s “Eight Reasons Richard Dawkins Is Wrong About the Afterlife” is that I’d not want Zammit to be my lawyer for any reason.

In this video the category errors, faults of logic, and, circular arguments pile up almost until one wants to look away. Yet, it’s really funny too. My favorite parts are the several times when Zammit appeals to the venue of a court of law and its procedures being an apt environment for sorting the controversy out, presumably into the right and wrong parties.

I carry no brief for the new atheists at all since I’m an agnostic, but Zammit here is unable to reach even the low hanging fruit. His most grotesque, albeit garden-variety, category error is to imply something about energy persisting after death in a specific form without declaring how his view reconciles the actual dispersion of embodied energy at death with the presumptive persistence of consciousness he’s enthusiastic about.

But, there’s more:

4) As part of a cumulative case, you have presented several lines of evidence supporting the afterlife. In your opinion, what is the best or most convincing or more hard to refute single piece of evidence supporting the afterlife?

Without doubt, my investigation of David Thompson’s materializations were the most impressive – because we had the time to investigate. Time is critical to come to valid conclusions – and David Thompson’s mediumship passed all tests. My wife and I sat with David Thompson every Sunday night for fifteen months. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that whenever we communicated with intelligences from the afterlife during David Thompson’s materializations, we were in direct contact with beings who are residing in the afterlife dimension. We travelled with David, the medium, and saw him before during and after séances. We helped prepare the room and tape recorded the sittings. On more than seventy occasions we were present when people were reunited with their loved ones and talked with those people after the sessions. They confirmed that they recognized specific mannerisms of their loved ones and spoke of intimate things that no-body in the séance room could have known. My wife’s father came through as did my sister. They confirmed their identity in several ways.

My wife is a professional psychologist with expertise in Scientific Method and with my expertise in the admissibility of objective evidence we came to the inevitable conclusion that the evidence qualified as objective and repeatable. This made the evidence empirical and scientific. Of course closed minded skeptics would not accept our evidence. But again, they did not raise critical issues such as what intervening variables we did not control in our experiments. No hard core skeptic took up my challenge to claim half a million dollars if they could show that there was fraud or negligence taking place in these critical afterlife experiments. Of course one condition was that if the skeptic failed, then the skeptic had to hand over half a million dollars to us. In other words, the challenge was to put up or shut up. Recent experience has shown that they shut up. from subversivethinking

Obviously in this clip Zammit provides no warrant for the decisive appeal to his and his wife’s authority. But, he hasn’t sketched anything ‘scientific’ out here at all. The minimal scientific test of mediumship would be that the channeler could raise the materialization in a controlled experiment and do so repeatedly against a control session.

(Zammit) My particular one-sided bias is the test of objectivity/repeatability. Once the test is passed, and I have had personal experience that it was administered properly, I will rigidly adhere to my decision about my conclusion.

Obviously, this framing of his own objectivity is antithetical to scientific methodology and its component of necessary provisionality.

Both theists and new atheists are working over ultimately circular arguments.

Zammit has a web site.

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Dooz Age, Unstoppable

Another flare from Integral Life.

The Integral movement is based upon principles of compassion, clarity, and inclusiveness. A willingness to step beyond our personal and cultural points of view while remaining true to our own unique perspective; to sanctify the common ground between different sciences and different spiritual traditions while fully honoring and celebrating the differences between them; to hold all the contradictions and paradoxes of knowledge gently in one hand while cutting through the confusion and fragmentation with the other—these are precisely the sorts of qualities that define the Integral movement as a whole.

The Integral movement is already beginning to sweep across the world. Though it is no longer just a revolution of the mind (ours is a revolution of the “body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature”) and though it is still in its very early stages of emergence, its influence is rapidly beginning to gain traction, right now at this very second. The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

The Integral Revolution: the result of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable subject.

When do you think the Integral movement will reach its “tipping point”?

Forced choice poll. I selected: Centuries, if at all.

This kind of marketing pitch doesn’t move me at all. I’m not much of a joiner, and, feverish and grand appeals never inspire me. But, that’s just due to my own disposition. On the other hand, appeals which thread incoherent stuff together fascinate me!

The very same currents of growth and development that set the initial stage for the sixties revolution—vertical and horizontal growth through stages and states of consciousness—have begun to flow together once again, creating an upswell of consciousness, care, and creative novelty that has not been seen in decades.

is a doozy. No, it’s a double doozy. Talk about a personal and cultural point of view… But, what stopped the flow? Why is it flowing again?

As it turns out, over the past weeks I’ve been reflecting upon the cultural history that was the context for Ken Wilber’s first appearance as a thinker, writer, and cultural critic. This refers to the late seventies and eighties. If I ponder just the thin slice of my closest cohort, and briefly unpack where this small sample was, say, in 1982, ten years after graduating from high school, my conclusion would be: revolution over, making a life—toggled on.

In this personal respect, I really have no idea what current of growth and development in days of yore this pitch is referring to. It would make more sense if names were named. “The very same currents of growth and development” implies precision (via the word ‘same,’) about precedents. Which same currents?

(Let me leap to an idea: in other schools of self-realization, might one discover that their properly applied experiential applications strip away sentimentality–completely?)

By the time the Reagan era rolled into the village, cocaine-fueled hedonic nihilism was the cosmopolitan rage, and the self-realization movement struggled to restore itself after lots of revolutionary bad psychedelic mojo had gone down. Oddly enough, politically, the southern strategy had yet to morph into the southern baptist strategy, yet, a religious call-to-arms emerged at the time to—the dour religionists hoped—beat back the coming ‘new age.’ Think of this as the reaction to Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980) and John Naisbett’s Megatrends (1982), both books were more lucrative and widely distributed annunciations of revolutionary hope and transformation than anything published in the sixties.

But, I get why, as a marketing position, it’s better to channel nostalgia back to the sixties, rather than back to the more contradictory eighties. Still, the actually “same” currents are to be found circa 1980, not circa 1968.

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The Da Wilber Code

Barry, a psychologist, has on his blog created a fantasy about a conversation between new age gurus Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen.

It’s short and strikes the bullseye, and, is very very funny. Great timing too because Barry’s parody is in the context of up-and-coming performances like this one, Conversations With the Masters. The answers to important questions such as:

* Would you like to learn the critically essential keys to human growth?

will be explored. The event is free, but bring your checkbook.

Daniel Gustav Anderson on his for-the-turnstiles blog declares:

For the purposes of scholarship and making knowledge, it is over for Ken Wilber.

This is hard to argue with after the travesty provided by Wilber’s book, Integral Spirituality, with its appalling instantiation of integral mathematics.

What jumps out for me, aside from the evidence found in Wilber’s recent books, is how completely disinterested Wilber is in the integral-like scholarship that has followed from psychological and anthropological and post-modern turns in a number of fields—over forty+ years.

Three of which, among many, are: organizational development, semiotics, and anthropology. Karl Weick has for years surveyed and analyzed the organization by galumphing through the quadrants, except his important work isn’t unfolding in integral terms or from an integral framework.

Earlier this year a colleague turned me onto the semiotician Paul J. Thibault’s Brain, Mind And the Signifying Body: An Ecosocial Semiotic Theory. It’s not technically a work based in wilberianism’s model, but it fits the bill for an integral scholarship in the superior terms offered outside of Wilber’s badly aging model.

Just sayin’.


See article about Dr. Weick, Karl Weick and the Aesthetics of Contigency (pdf) – Eisenberg, E. (2006). Organization Studies, 27(11).

Weick is author of three essential books in organizational studies: Sensemaking In Organizations; The Social Psychology of Organizing; Making Sense of the Organization: The Impermanent Organization.

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The Sweat Lodge of World Transformation

Scary, but also worth a read: For Some Seeking Rebirth, Sweat Lodge Was End John Doughtery – New York Times: October 21, 2009

The story summarizes the horrific manslaughter that resulted from a sweat lodge conducted by new age con man James Arthur Ray in Sedona, October 8. Three died, eighteen were hospitalized, and, Ray has yet to be charged. Ray herded paying customers into a dangerous environment and then—literally—allowed three to perish. His state of consciousness can easily be characterized: oblivious. On the website for the deadly new age huckster Ray, he offers bona-fides.

Throughout his life, James Arthur Ray has studied and been exposed to a wide diversity of teachings and teachers – from his collegiate learning and the schools of the corporate world, to the ancient cultures of Peru, Egypt and the Amazon. Armed with this comprehensive and diverse background in behavioral sciences, coupled with his experience as a successful, entrepreneur, and an avid thirst for spiritual knowledge, James boasts the unique and powerful ability to blend the practical and mystical into a usable and easy-to-access formula for achieving true wealth across all aspects of life.

I’ll return to this shortly.

Speaking of hucksters, here’s some excerpts of a pitch received from Ken Wilber, October 15.

This is Ken Wilber, and I wanted to take a moment to write you and tell you of the first and only organization that is the exclusive outlet of my Integral work and all projects connected with it. The organization is called Integral Life, co-founded by myself and my CEO, Robb Smith.

I’m truly excited by this organization and its development, because for the first time in history, although there are hundreds of projects and organizations and websites inspired by my work, this is the first one that has my personal seal of approval. The projects, partner organizations, academic journals and books, blogs and forums all have a quality checked by me to personally guarantee that my Integral model is being used accurately. That’s the problem with these hundreds of other applications of my work. As much as I truly appreciate the inspired use of my model by them, there are often misinterpretations of its leading ideas, resulting in less than truly Integral results.

What is an ‘integral result?’

Here’s what it looks like, symbolically speaking:


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Do Particles Bounce?

Deepak Chopra, the new age maven, regularly contributes to the Huffington Post. Today, he starts out with this:

I.

This year, the world celebrated Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. But now that all the backslapping is nearing an end, it may be time to reflect on where things really stand. When Darwin finished writing “Origin of Species” in the fall of 1859 — exactly 150 years ago — the theory of evolution became part of the Newtonian world picture. However, since that time, major puzzles of mainstream science have forced a re-evaluation of the nature of the universe that goes far beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.

I’m trying to fathom Chopra writing his opening paragraph and not feeling as if he is about to fling into the Huffington winds something both patronizing to Darwin, and, something idiotic. Alas, to the tune of cash registers ringing, Chopra takes his insights seriously. No, this spiritual advisor to Oprah is onto to something with his colleague, Robert Lanza: the spiritualization of solipsism! Via quantum mechanics!!!

Science obviously investigates what it is able to investigate. There’s no move to re-evaluate the nature of the universe, when nature is posed as a lumpen “nature” in the way that Chopra means, and has meant in the past. Still, Chopra is playing a deceptive word game here too. He actually believes science is quite incapable when it comes to the re-evaluation he’s on about.

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FUDD

Alright, I waded through Behe’s Edge of Evolution.

It provides no positive argument. At all. Counting here its argument from incredulity just for what it is: what biologists can’t readily explain to Behe’s satisfaction must allow for some other explanation. His acceptance of some features of evolution turns out to be complete non-acceptance because he’s enthused by the presumably magical cause at nearly the lowest level, the level everything above it developmentally biological rests upon, so-to-speak. If he has an idea about a superior explanation he offers it nowhere in his book.

Behe, from his Amazon blog. “Like Coyne, Carroll simply overlooks observational evidence that goes against Darwinian views.”

The biologist’s understanding of biological development may come to views that refine or overturn Darwin, but, when this happens, biologists will apprehend a demonstrably superior expanation of how this biological development occurs in nature. Behe hasn’t offered anything explanatory at all.

Behe: “That data demonstrates random mutation doesn’t explain the elegance of cellular systems.”

Okay, said elegant systems are explained by what theory of Behe’s?

By the way, pragmatically, the hallmark of design is anticipation of the prospective result of agency-in-application-to-a-result. Where there is design there is likely to exist evidence of anticipation. This allows us to discern the marvelous apparent undesigned representational veracity of the cloud looking like a bunny rabbit from a designed drawing of a bunny rabbit. Consider what cognitive features anticipation, thus design, are predicated by, contingent upon. You may arrive at a thrilling insight.

On July 1 Richard Dawkins demolishes Behe in the NYT Book Review pointing out that his central hypothesis has already been subjected to definitive experimentation.

But let’s follow Behe down his solitary garden path and see where his overrating of random mutation leads him. He thinks there are not enough mutations to allow the full range of evolution we observe. There is an “edge,” beyond which God must step in to help. Selection of random mutation may explain the malarial parasite’s resistance to chloroquine, but only because such micro-organisms have huge populations and short life cycles. A fortiori, for Behe, evolution of large, complex creatures with smaller populations and longer generations will fail, starved of mutational raw materials.

If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change, this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection. Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool of mutational variation as natural selection. Now, if you sought an experimental test of Behe’s theory, what would you do? You’d take a wild species, say a wolf that hunts caribou by long pursuit, and apply selection experimentally to see if you could breed, say, a dogged little wolf that chivies rabbits underground: let’s call it a Jack Russell terrier.

Read the review for the astonishing payoff!

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A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Wow!

An underling of Georgia state legislator Ben Bridges writes a memo tagging a Jewish Pharisee conspiracy as the cause of “secular evolution science”. Then, after lying about it in the aftermath of the memo’s stirring the pot, State rep. Bridges admits, courtesy of talkingpointsmemo:

Asked if he agreed with the Kaballah evolution conspiracy theory and the earth’s lack of motion, he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “I agree with it more than I would the Big Bang Theory or the Darwin Theory. I am convinced that rather than risk teaching a lie why teach anything?”

If this kind of thing interests you, by all means follow links back to the memo, and media hullabaloo in Georgia.

Rep. Bridges had help and it all leads back to fixedearth.com.

Consider:

WHAT IF – the Bible teaches a stationary earth (just like everyone agreed it did until Copernican and finally Newtonian “mathematics” scared the churches into thinking that “science” had proof of heliocentricity)?

WHAT IF   – Today’s Copernican-dependent, evolution-based “creation scenario” for the Universe, the Earth and all life forms including mankind is directly derived from ancient and current writings of Bible-bashing, Christ-hating Rabbinical Kabbalists??

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TO BELIEVE OR NOT TO BE

Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. Harrumph.

Fish

Dawkins is aggravated at magical precepts and objects of belief. Moreover, as many are, he finds the religious game of king of the hill destructive. But, Dawkins is somehow prevented by the mote in his eye from realizing that faith, belief, are completely normal features of the consciousness the most sentient of creatures use to navigate a world not configured to yield ‘scientific’ results in each and every case.

Were we to break down our choicemaking day in and day out and drill into our cognitive complexity, into our consciousness, we’d soon, immediately discover, that the terms of our navigation are largely funded by belief. And faith. In dumb little stuff. We believe we’ve picked the best tomato from the pile. We’re pragmatists and the core proposition underlying the utility of almost all our sundry suppositions is that we believe that they are true.

This is lost on Dawkins. In a post to follow I’ll tell of my several encounters with free thinkers, methodological materialists, and various “Brights”. Every single one is united by their shared discomfort with psychologizing and psychology. And, they’re united by their unreasonable faith that their findings per force apply to moi because “it is just so”.

Terry Eagleton. Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching (London Review of Books; Oct.19, 2006)

Dawkins’s Supreme Being is the God of those who seek to avert divine wrath by sacrificing animals, being choosy in their diet and being impeccably well behaved. They cannot accept the scandal that God loves them just as they are, in all their moral shabbiness. This is one reason St Paul remarks that the law is cursed. Dawkins sees Christianity in terms of a narrowly legalistic notion of atonement – of a brutally vindictive God sacrificing his own child in recompense for being offended – and describes the belief as vicious and obnoxious. It’s a safe bet that the Archbishop of Canterbury couldn’t agree more. It was the imperial Roman state, not God, that murdered Jesus.

Gary Wolf. The Church of the Non-Believers (Wired Magazine; Nov. 14, 2006)

The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there’s always a chance we could turn out to be wrong.

Of course, as artifice, considered from the grids of sociology and anthropology, (thus: as history,) religion, and various human instantiations of vast systems for principled organizing are interesting far beyond their arrayed assumptions. Utility, again…

Thomas Nagel. The Fear of Religion (The New Republic; Oct. 23, 2006; avail. EBSCO)

I also think that there is no reason to undertake the project in the first place. We have more than one form of understanding. Different forms of understanding are needed for different kinds of subject matter. The great achievements of physical science do not make it capable of encompassing everything, from mathematics to ethics to the experiences of a living animal. We have no reason to dismiss moral reasoning, introspection, or conceptual analysis as ways of discovering the truth just because they are not physics.

Any anti-reductionist view leaves us with very serious problems about how the mutually irreducible types of truths about the world are related. At least part of the truth about us is that we are physical organisms composed of ordinary chemical elements. If thinking, feeling, and valuing aren’t merely complicated physical states of the organism, what are they? What is their relation to the brain processes on which they seem to depend? More: if evolution is a purely physical causal process, how can it have brought into existence conscious beings?

A religious worldview is only one response to the conviction that the physical description of the world is incomplete. Dawkins says with some justice that the will of God provides a too easy explanation of anything we cannot otherwise understand, and therefore brings inquiry to a stop. Religion need not have this effect, but it can. It would be more reasonable, in my estimation, to admit that we do not now have the understanding or the knowledge on which to base a comprehensive theory of reality.

Dawkins seems to believe that if people could be persuaded to give up the God Hypothesis on scientific grounds, the world would be a better place– not just intellectually, but also morally and politically. He is horrified–as who cannot be?–by the dreadful things that continue to be done in the name of religion, and he argues that the sort of religious conviction that includes a built-in resistance to reason is the true motive behind many of them. But there is no connection between the fascinating philosophical and scientific questions posed by the argument from design and the attacks of September 11. Blind faith and the authority of dogma are dangerous; the view that we can make ultimate sense of the world only by understanding it as the expression of mind or purpose is not. It is unreasonable to think that one must refute the second in order to resist the first.

When anybody assumes that their universal theism or scientism applies to me–too–and offers as proof, “it is just so,” then I might be inclined to point out the obvious problem of presumption. On the other hand, it’s amazing to me, to this day, that many sophisticated believers haven’t given any thought to the ramifications of their universalizing beliefs.

This is aside from how unsympathetic I personally am to magical belief systems, chains of being, anthropomorphic or deistic personification, and, especially, to the concept of a godly ‘dude’ who sits at some holy control panel messing with human affairs. But, each to their own even if many can’t grok the deal via which god doesn’t mess with me and I don’t mess with god.

Incidentally, after thirty years of meditation and contemplation, it’s enough to reveal out of my own spiritual affair, that my hope for myself is that my prejudices, when deployed consciously, disrupt any propensity to do harm. As for my beliefs, I echo John Lilly, “my beliefs are unbelievable!”.

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IT ALL SEEMS TO WORK OUT AT THE BEGINNING

“Now this is called the “quantum measurement paradox.” It is a paradox because who are we to do this conversion? Because after all, in the materialist paradigm we don’t have any causal efficacy. We are nothing but the brain, which is made up of atoms and elementary particles. So how can a brain which is made up of atoms and elementary particles convert a possibility wave that it itself is? It itself is made up of the possibility waves of atoms and elementary particles, so it cannot convert its own possibility wave into actuality. This is called a paradox. Now in the new view, consciousness is the ground of being. So who converts possibility into actuality? Consciousness does, because consciousness does not obey quantum physics. Consciousness is not made of material. Consciousness is transcendent. Do you see the paradigm-changing view right here; how consciousness can be said to create the material world? The material world of quantum physics is just possibility. It is consciousness, through the conversion of possibility into actuality, that creates what we see manifest. In other words, consciousness creates the manifest world.”

An Interview with Amit Goswami

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AN ILLUMINATING PROFUNDITY

In the other direction, the foundationalism implicit in Intelligent Design is easy to identify. Although the ID cabal tries to ‘fuzzify’ and fudge this issue and insulate themselves from this obvious implication by severing a tie made by association, the tie follows from the very clear and direct association to a specific religious belief system.

The absolutist foundation is: the ‘intelligent designer’ came to center the designed creation upon the generation of Christianity. It could be said that this is what the intelligently designed creation of cosmos, (and per force milky way, solar system, earth, life, mankind, son of this God,) is all about.

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SHAMELESSLY DUMB

The essential humorous take on the evolution non-controversy has quickly passed into legendary status on the internet. Of course I’m speaking of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its infinite creative unraveling as both parody and pastadigm. The Verganza site is worthy of any and all attention the reader with a sense of humor can deploy. Dig the emails and their growing revelations about the true magnitude of the noodlie mythologem.

…back in the unreal worldly…Sohel’s blog is silly but I discovered Benson College writing professor Leonard Rosen’s essay on it. Insipid is never good, but sometimes it can fuel entertaining “super insipidry”.

Here’s Rosen’s thoughtful (?) banal riff on the reconciliation of science and ID.

Excerpt:

Biologists and intelligent designers may point to the same tiger, but because one asks how and the other why, they talk past each other. It’s a nondebate. And that’s what we can teach. Throughout history, into our own day, how and why — both, neither alone — have defined the human project. Nations that would be guided by one question, not both, usually make a mess of things. How has given us Einstein and Euclid; why, Virginia Woolf, Homer, Moses, and Mother Teresa. Have we not learned, even yet, to untangle these questions? They should be, and have ever been, debated endlessly, but never with much success in the same breath. We need both but must pursue each alone. At the end of life, no one wants another description of the tiger’s symmetry. We want what William Blake did: to know that those stripes, and our lives, are not accidents of matter colliding in the void. Until scientists, the masters of how, can give us that, we will ask why. There is no debate over intelligent design, only different ways of knowing and the mystery of tigers burning bright.

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KNOWING WHERE THE FOOD CAME FROM

Here’s a web page is dedicated to the charlatan guru Osho. (Exemplifying our point of departure for this entry.) It’s hard to say his early Bagwan Shree Rajneesh persona covered up his later crazy tendencies, or those tendencies developed in his effusive identification with his “powers,” especially powers over people. His story is well-known, (positively, positively 2 [downoad] and negatively, if you track such stuff. Osho may have gone on to a real karmic reckoning or not, but his grip on his followers remains powerful.

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