A glimpse into the vague and blurry mind of a proud None


I don’t go to church on Sundays anymore, so it’s so kind of the New York Times to serve me up a bit of that familiar sanctimonious, self-congratulatory bullshit from a guy named Eric Weiner. Weiner is a smug member in good standing, he thinks, of that demographic called the Nones: people who don’t belong to a church, but maybe believe in a higher power. Or maybe not. It’s a broad catch-all category, so their beliefs are hard to categorize.

All I can say is that if Eric Weiner is at all representative, a lot of Nones are idiots.

For a nation of talkers and self-confessors, we are terrible when it comes to talking about God. The discourse has been co-opted by the True Believers, on one hand, and Angry Atheists on the other. What about the rest of us?

I believe xkcd has already addressed this attitude.

I can also quote myself: “squatting in between those on the side of reason and evidence and those worshipping superstition and myth is not a better place. It just means you’re halfway to crazy town.”

I must also point out that Weiner is making a common mischaracterization of atheists: we aren’t sitting around fuming at the world, and we’re not primarily angry. Most of us are pretty damned happy with the universe (or at least, aware of reality), and we mainly get angry at denialists and fools — people with whom we should be angry — and if you aren’t pissed off at people who set environmental policy by the backward whims of their bible, or who deny civil rights to people because they don’t like their private behavior, or who vote for political candidates on the basis of how loudly pious they are, then there is something wrong with you.

And yes, there is something wrong with Eric Weiner.

Nones are the undecided of the religious world. We drift spiritually and dabble in everything from Sufism to Kabbalah to, yes, Catholicism and Judaism.

He says that like it’s a good thing. Does he even realize that these are mutually antagonistic religious views? Does he care that they say very different things about the nature of the universe? Nah. Here’s the heart of Weiner’s essay:

We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

WHY? I may not believe in Emperor Ming the Merciless, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in Satan, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in Ceiling Cat, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in elves, but I hope to one day. These are absurd statements. They speak of someone who has decided what the answer should be, and is prepared to rationalize that conclusion.

The atheists he doesn’t like have a better answer: we will embrace reality, whatever it is. And we will work to discover that truth, not bury it because we have a fantasy we like better.

Weiner’s concluding solution is so oblivious to history that I read it with disbelief. How does something this stupid get into the pages of the New York Times? (I know, it’s incredibly common, but it’s just so annoying.)

What is the solution? The answer, I think, lies in the sort of entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined America, including religious America.

We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.

It’s been done. The entrepreneurial spirit of America spawned Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Jim Jones, David Koresh, JZ Knight, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Mary Baker Eddy, Helen Blavatsky, Werner Erhard…we are the home of thousands of wacky, weird, novel religions which flourish unchecked and draw in all those mentally unmoored people who drift spiritually until they waft into the orbit of the latest cult fad.

Guess what, Mr Weiner? They’ve made god an even greater embarrassment.

I have a better idea. Instead of inventing yet another religion designed to make the gullible feel good about themselves, how about if we grow up, shed the superstitious preconceptions, and instead strive to see the truth about nature? How about if we all become atheists?

Comments

  1. Didaktylos says

    Another one of those people who have god-shaped hole in their psyche because their upbringing consisted of having god-shaped nails hammered in.

  2. davidct says

    He has an underlying assumption that religion is valuable if one could get it right. I don’t think he could conceive of a world without it.

  3. Sastra says

    “I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment.”

    Behold, Mr. Weiner — the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship! The prayers of a “None” have been answered!

    The problem here of course is that the gentleman isn’t really taking religion seriously. Oh, he would probably heatedly deny that and point to the wonderful smorgasbord “search” he is doing through the many religions, picking up this aspect here and that tradition there in order to find a form of spirituality which is going to work for him. The whole issue doesn’t come down to what’s true, but what’s true for him. Let’s try to find some kind of golden balance which is reasonable enough to be personally fulfilling.

    That’s not taking religion — or God — seriously. That’s an example of taking yourself seriously.

  4. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious.

    What the fuck? Thirty thousand different ways of being Christian aren’t enough? What the hell more does he want? A non-religious religion? We already have Unitarians, don’t we?

  5. jimvj says

    He believes that the Enlightenment was a very good thing, and doesn’t wish to return to an age of raw superstition; yet he wants a Jobs like guru to teach us a new way to believe in that raw superstition!?!

  6. ChasCPeterson says

    He just wants the app.

    Wouldn’t that be cool?
    Interactive spiritual dabbling while waiting for the bus.

  7. says

    It would never work. All those new entrepreneurial religions appealed because they fit existing fantasies about everything from the American Indians (Mormonism) to Freudian psychology (Scientology). They were all also completely wrong and made up. While he might get his intuitive religious operating system someday, it won’t appeal to everyone, not even all of his “Nones” and it’s still doomed to get bottom out on the sandbar of reality because there’s no actual iPhone God for his operating system to run on.

  8. coralline says

    Another one of those people who have god-shaped hole in their psyche because their upbringing consisted of having god-shaped nails hammered in.

    “This is an interesting worldpsyche I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

  9. VegeBrain says

    “We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious.”

    Wow, this one had me laughing so hard I almost spewed my morning tea out of my nose.

    A Steve Jobs? Of religion? What a hoot!

    As PZ and other people have pointed in this thread, WE ALREADY HAVE THAT! Myself, I was the unfortunate recipient of the religious product James and Ellen White manufactured, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church they formed. I’m sure many other Pharyngulites could come up with a long list of different religions and sects of religions they had the misfortune to encounter.

    Does this twit have any idea at all how many religions there are in this country? Hasn’t he even paid attention as he drives around at all the different churches for all the different religions there are that are in every town?

    Maybe that’s what should be done: come up with a list of different religions and sects within religions and send them to this ignorant jerk.

  10. skepticmike says

    An unstated reason for the existence of “nones” is personal experience with the anomalous (or what one perceives as anomalous). Either that, or first-hand accounts from trusted individuals who report anomalous experiences.

    Recent surveys indicate around 50% of Americans report such experiences, which is enough in the minds of many to produce cracks in the foundation of a purely materialistic worldview.

    In the cultural anthropology class I teach, I ask how many students have experienced phenomena they interpret as anomalous. In one section no hands went up; in my second section half the hands in the class went up. One student reported repeated nocturnal visitations from a “ghost” (a shadowy figure). Another student reported being knocked backward when a minister waved a hankie soaked with holy oil in his direction.

    Whether it’s ghosts, poltergeists, weeping icons, near-death experiences, UFO’s, or any of hundreds of other categories of spooky events, it’s what keep the “nones” on the fence and the religious clutching their prayerbooks.

    The proper attitude toward any of these experiences is, of course, deep skepticism. Strenuous efforts at debunking are also called for. But outright dismissal of these deeply personal experiences simply alienates people.

    None of these experiences supports the idea of a Christian god (or any god), since each culture’s experiences mirror the belief system they are embedded in.

  11. ManOutOfTime says

    Would it kill these people to pick up a book? Or even just to Google the shit they are about to spew into the public square? I would be merely rolling my eyes at Weiner’s thesis if I could get past the aren’t-I-a-clever-Freshman attitude and complete lack of connection to the deep and broad literature already covering the problem space he thinks he has discovered. I am embarrassed for him. I can forgive the juvenile search for “meaning” and “spirituality” – that’s a depot many of us pass on the trip from Crazy Town to Reality World – but if you actually want to appear smart, do some work and think it through. You may in the end come to the very intelligent conclusion that the rest of us will be better off without another column of faitheist inanity.

  12. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Strenuous efforts at debunking are also called for. But outright dismissal of these deeply personal experiences simply alienates people.

    How many ghosts we have to prove don’t exist until it can be said that ghosts in general don’t exist?

  13. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    We need a Steve Jobs of religion.

    QFT

    I for one need to find new and better ways of exchanging real wealth for things that I don’t want or need.

    And those things should be sharp looking and conspicuously branded, so people can see what I did.

  14. frankb says

    My father was a fourth generation minister but quit soon after seminary because of the poor pay and the hypocrisy involved. We attended a Methodist church for about twelve years until my dad got fed up with the hypocrisy among the congregation. We switched to a Unitarian Universalist Church where he still is today. He could not give up God but got as far away as he could and freely let his children choose their own path.

    I guess I was a None for a while, attending Quaker meeting for a few years and drifting away from that. Pharyngula turned me into an atheist for good. There are many Nones out there who need to be reached by atheists. Now if we can only identify them so we can adopt them, we can show them the light.

  15. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

    In other words, he hasn’t found the particular flavor of goddism which suits him.

    And what version of “we” does he keep using: the royal we, the editorial we or the pregnant we? Or does he have a mouse in his pocket?

  16. andyo says

    Steve Jobs was the Steve Jobs of religion. Zing!

    I for one hope that “Nones” becomes popular, so we can distinguish more easily the wishy-washy self-congratulatory 50-50 annoying “agnostics”, and the other agnostics.

  17. ramblindude says

    We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

    Wow. He’s not a “none”; he’s a “some.” The very idea of being a genuine none is deeply disconcerting to him.

    This is what religion has done to us over the centuries. In exactly the same way that mind/body dualism and biblical Dominionism over nature has infiltrated and altered our collective thought, Weiner is a perfect example of how pervasive is the collective assumption that we must believe in “something,” anything, as long as it … well, resembles something biblical in character.

  18. Cuttlefish says

    I tried on a new piece of clothing
    It was fuzzy and silken and red
    It looked quite a lot like a sweater
    But there wasn’t a hole for my head.
    I struggled to put it on anyway,
    But no matter what angle I tried
    My arms found their sleeves without problem,
    But my head stayed completely inside.
    There’s something that’s wrong with this picture
    And I’m quite at a loss, what to do—
    So I talked to the guy at the counter…
    He suggested I try it in blue.

    It may be the style, or the fashion
    But it keeps me from using my head
    So instead of just wishing it fit me
    I’ll try something different instead.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2011/12/11/fashionable-nonsense/

  19. raven says

    I don’t have a problem with Nones or No religions.

    The No Religions cover a huge amount of territory, apathetics, Deists, some New Agers, Pagans, agnostics.

    They aren’t going to be trying to overthrow the US government to set up a hell on earth theocracy. They aren’t going to try to sneak creationism into our kid’s science glasses or threaten to kill me.

    As long as people leave me and my society alone, who cares? If the fundies would just stay under their rocks and tell their lies and screw up their own lives, I wouldn’t care much either. Free country and if someone wants to create a little mini-hell based on fear and ignorance, no one can stop them.

  20. says

    I do believe in God, but I hope not to one day.

    Perhaps when someone like Steve Jobs learns that there’s money to be made in religion. Oh, right, there’s a whole lot of those, so maybe I’ll not believe in God soon enough.

    ‘K, done.

    Glen Davidson

  21. consciousness razor says

    And what version of “we” does he keep using: the royal we, the editorial we or the pregnant we? Or does he have a mouse in his pocket?

    ‘Tis, we’re not Nones*, according to him, or just an insignificant fraction of them. We didn’t leave religion because it is tied up with politics, but because we think religions aren’t “true,” thus we’re “Angry Atheists.” We’re not the kind of people who think religion needs to be taken out of the public sphere and should be privatized instead, at the hands of some brilliant person who was recently deceased and so cannot take issue with the association.

    *We’re also not Nuns, I think. I’d have to check. I’ll get my coat.

  22. Gregory Greenwood says

    We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.

    This sounds like an Apple executive introducing a new product line, the iFaith – like the religion of yesteryear (and retaining 100% of the nonsensical woo theists have come to expect), but slighty more newage trendy and a whole lot more expensive…

  23. subbie says

    I’d love to believe there was a loving, just and omnipotent intelligent being governing the universe. I’d love it if good works were always rewarded and evil was always punished. I’d love it if innocents never suffered.

    Unfortunately, the overwhelming evidence we see is that none of these things is true. There is no evidence of any governing intelligence. Good works are not always rewarded and it seems evil is seldom punished. And it’s beyond doubt that innocents suffer daily.

    Of course, if it were that important to me to believe that there is a god, I could rationalize away the significance of the evidence against one. I could imagine that good will be rewarded later, when nobody will see it. And I could imagine that evil will be punished later, when nobody will see it. And I could imagine that the suffering of innocents will be made up to them later, when nobody will see it. The problem with believing these things, aside from the fact that there is and can be no evidence in support of them, is that it makes many less inclined to do anything about rewarding good, punishing evil, or protecting innocents in the real world. Of this phenomenon, there is a copious amount of evidence.

    So by all means, let what you want to believe dictate how you view the world and the evidence can go hang. It won’t fix any of the problems of the real world, but hey, at least you feel better.

  24. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    I may not believe in Emperor Ming the Merciless, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in Satan, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in Ceiling Cat, but I hope to one day. I may not believe in elves, but I hope to one day. These are absurd statements.

    One day, I hope to believe in the Robot Devil. At least he’s portrayed as being a real, physical being and Robot Hell is a real, physical place.

    Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. …

    You’re absolutely correct, PZ. This statement is creepy and cult-y. I’m sure Jim Jones would identify.

  25. EvoMonkey says

    He’s not a “none”; he’s a “some.”

    I don’t where Eric Weiner lives, but every city of fairly decent size that I have lived in has a group of like-minded “somes”. As already pointed out he could go to a UU church or a Quaker meetinghouse. It isn’t hard to find alternate sources of ‘spirituality” – even midsize towns usually have a meditation center, a food co-op or a public library where just about every flavor of life philosophy has a meeting or at least pins up flyers.

    I think his real problem is that true believers of any life philosophy eventually see “somes” like Weiner as insincere gadflies. And the local “Steve Jobs” of even the flakiest nonjudgemental groups want some level of commitment (i.e money) from their followers.

  26. says

    Nones are the undecided of the religious world. We drift spiritually and dabble in everything from Sufism to Kabbalah to, yes, Catholicism and Judaism.

    I thought that “none” meant “not any” – as in, “How much beer is left? “None.” Or, “How much of this salad would you like to have?” “None, thanks.” Or, “How much religion do you have?” “None.”

    This guy should label himself as an “Everything” rather than a “None.”

    I have no religion; I have none. I am an atheist and can’t imagine existing in any other way. Reality is sufficient for me. I am NOT a “seeker” and don’t have any desire or hope to find any religious anything. Or everything, as he seems to enjoy. If I’m “angry” about religion, it’s the same anger I have for any person or institution that lies, steals, oppresses, devalues, excludes, hates, kills, etc.

    I know tons of atheists and I would not characterize them as “angry” though I think “outspoken about the truth” would be apt. (And that’s a GOOD thing.)

  27. kemist says

    In exactly the same way that mind/body dualism and biblical Dominionism over nature has infiltrated and altered our collective thought, Weiner is a perfect example of how pervasive is the collective assumption that we must believe in “something,” anything, as long as it … well, resembles something biblical in character.

    And if you don’t, you’re “close-minded” and “angry”.

    But the thing is, every time I’ve dared to express disbelief in whatever kinds of bullshit, it’s me who’ve gotten the angry retort and refusal to consider an alternative explanation from a believer.

    I didn’t know a snort of laughter could be used to express anger. And I didn’t know “open-mindness” consists in refusing to consider that gods might not exist.

  28. David Marjanović says

    Most important, it would be highly interactive.

    Yeah, with a god who talks back.

    Excuse that I’m too tired to laugh today.

    A Steve Jobs of religion…wait, you mean Apple isn’t a religion?

    Thread won.

    Cuttlefish will never go out of fashion! Brilliant.

    QFT!

  29. raven says

    OT but related. Oh look, the fundies are at it again.

    ..Officials: Calif. parents asked man to beat child
    AP – 20 hrs ago………IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — An Irvine couple who suspected their 15-year-old son of smoking turned to a man believed to be relied on in their church to violently discipline children, authorities said.

    The parents asked Paul Kim, 39, to discipline their son after finding a lighter in his possession, dropping the boy off at Kim’s Chino Hills home with permission for the beating, San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokesperson Cindy Bachmann said Saturday.

    Kim hit the child with a metal pole about a dozen times, causing severe bruising on his legs, according to Bachmann. The pole was about an inch in diameter, investigators said.

    One of the many proofs that xianity is false is the routine production of monsters by the fundie perversion.

    It turns out torturing and beating their kids is quite common in some of their cults. Occasionally they end up killing them.

    This is just a form of human child sacrifce to their Sky Monster god. The Dark Ages aren’t gone, they’ve just retreated into weird cults.

    This particular group is really stupid even by fundie standards. In their torture beating How To manuals they have advice on how to avoid Child Protective Services. Rule 1 is to try and not leave any marks. Ooops.

  30. Luc says

    This reads a bit like “former religious person disappointed with religion seeks new charismatic leader to follow”.

    Take a chance and think for yourself about the big questions Mr. Weiner. You don’t need Steve Jobs. The world is out there for you to be amazed at.

  31. Sastra says

    raven #26 wrote:

    As long as people leave me and my society alone, who cares?

    I do.

    I think the problem here is that the sort of “faith in faith” which the Weiner-like Nones are endorsing is not only contrary to the values of the Enlightenment and an honest search for truth — but it’s what lays the foundation for the scorn against atheism and atheists. The people who keep their religion directly out of politics still believe and promote the view that it’s important to be spiritual. It’s noble to be religious. Believing in “higher” realms of transcendent Mystery is a sign of deep, humble sensitivity and connection to divinity. Someone who goes on a spiritual journey and makes this leap of faith is the right kind of person: real, authentic, enlightened, and capable of striving towards the best capacity of what it means to be human.

    Which makes us … what? The opposite.

    Oh, but I’m sure they mean it in the nicest way. No offense intended. To each their own. Sure.

    I don’t buy it. The faith-loving Nones, Deists, New Agers, and pagans who don’t try to convert others or force them to follow their religious views and yet make a big fucking deal about the personal importance and benefits of God and faith and being the sort of person who is “open” to God and faith are not really “on our side.” They’re taking our best characteristics and treating them like vices. They’re weaving a magical mystique around sloppy thinking and intellectual dishonesty while self-consciously tolerating the spiritual deficients among them. We atheists, you see, lack that super special quality of WANTING to believe in God and wanting to be the type of person who wants to believe in God. We’re stuck in the lower realms. We’re a different kind of person than they are — and it matters.

    I’m sorry, but even though they’re technically leaving us alone politically, the smug, condescending attitude from this untouchable High Ground really bothers me. It’s divisive. It’s trouble.

    It needs to be addressed and it needs to be attacked. Otherwise, the prejudice against us will constantly erupt. HOw could it not?

  32. Brownian says

    God, I find these militant ‘nones’ just as annoying as the fundamentalists.

    No, not for a reason so trivial as they disagree with me and vocally tell me so (which is the only reason they have to find atheists annoying).

    It’s because, when push comes to shove, some of them will act as fundamentalists with regards to abortion, or gay marriage, or other issues of equality. They’re simply looking for ‘truths’ to parrot, and political slogans are tailored to mimic religious ones. Tell them ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman,’ and they’ll mouth it as happily as they’ll ask if a dog has the Buddha nature.

    ‘Nones’ and accommodationists, despite their assertions, hold their beliefs just as stridently as everyone else. The problem is not that their positions aren’t held with fervour; it’s that they’re not very well thought out. They seem to be either abject idiots, like Weiner, who treat reality as if it were in warming trays at a $10 buffet—sample what you will; it all ends up the same in the end—or they’re opportunists who secretly believe as those annoying atheists do but are afraid to say so for fear that they’ll lose the support of grandmothers in Topeka and have to find some other way to pay for their multi-faith megachurch back-patting project, or whatever the hell it is they do.

  33. Owlmirror says

    There’s a phrase I often throw out as a synonym for “God”: “an invisible person with magical superpowers”. I’m trying to approach some sort of definitional precision, while also being somewhat provocative — does my (usually religious) interlocutor disagree with that definition, or think it inappropriate? Most of the time, religious people appear to tacitly agree with it, or at least, express no definite complaints.

    But in sharp contrast to that, in a recent argument about morality over on Sb Dispatches, Gray Falcon complained that I was grossly mischaracterizing Christian beliefs in God with that phrase.

    And the specific word that was being complained about was “person”.

    When I asked for the definition that Gray Falcon preferred, I got back: “the base force of creation, an energy beyond human comprehension. ”

    And this prompted me to write: “Would you say that this is an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds us and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together?”

    Which Gray Falcon appeared to approve of.

    I suspect that perhaps Eric Weiner, like many who have a sufficiently incoherent idea about what God is or might be, might well be happy to be a Jedi.

  34. Sastra says

    We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.

    Paging Michael Dowd! Michael Dowd to the white courtesy phone! There’s a call from a Mr. Weiner.

    At least Michael doesn’t try to throw the atheists under the bus by castigating us as “angry.” I think his gospel of Evolutionary Christianity (i.e. atheistic naturalism) is confusing, but Weiner sounds like he’s confused so it could be a good fit.

  35. Brownian says

    this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive.

    “And there’s nothing less encumbered than intuition. Now, everyone, let’s begin to workshop this new faith. When you think of God, what do you think of? Don’t censor yourself, just let your intuition free!”
    “Guy in a white beard!”
    “Very, good. Okay, [writing on smartboard] so we’ve got ‘guy in a white beard’. Good. Now, what does he want with us?”
    “He sees we’ve fallen, and he wants us to again find the true path. Like, he’s our father, and he wants us to succeed.”
    “Okay, I’ll just write ‘fallen from path’. Is that okay?”
    “Can god be a woman? Like, our mother instead of our father?”
    “Sure. [writing] ‘God is a woman’.”
    “Also, can there be more than one god? What if there are lots, and some of them are like animals?”
    “Sure. [writing] ‘Some are animals.’ That’s good for now. So, does everybody see how we’ve been able to come up with a completely new, interactive paradigm for religion, once we’ve allowed ourselves the freedom to intuit?”
    [In unison] “Yes.”

  36. Brownian says

    .I suspect that perhaps Eric Weiner, like many who have a sufficiently incoherent idea about what God is or might be, might well be happy to be a Jedi.

    .

    I should have covered the “What if god is an energy we, like, can’t even comprehend, man?” contention in 44. I knew I was missing something.

  37. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Owlmirror #42

    And this prompted me to write: “Would you say that this is an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds us and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together?”

    Which Gray Falcon appeared to approve of.

    So Gray Falcon thinks god is like duct tape. It has a light side, it has a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

  38. ericpaulsen says

    I thought atheism WAS for the rest of us? Plus wasn’t Steve Jobs for Buddhism, apparently even he didn’t think a new way was necessary and he WAS Steve Jobs.

  39. Sastra says

    Owlmirror #42 wrote:

    And the specific word that was being complained about was “person”.
    When I asked for the definition that Gray Falcon preferred, I got back: “the base force of creation, an energy beyond human comprehension. ”

    And yet you will note that this “energy” has many of the qualities we assign to personhood — mental qualities. Hardly beyond our comprehension: it suspiciously seems to fit with our experience of ourselves. It’s a moral force which responds directly to human thought, distinguishes between good and evil, and basically acts the way we would expect PK to act. Hell, it IS PK (psychokenetic energy.)

    So I think Gray Falcon is splitting hairs here. This energy is not like physics energy: it’s like woo-woo ‘energy.’ His God is a supernatural Force and thus it’s got elements of pure mind. Instead of God being “a person” it’s the essence of personality spread out over the universe. Big deal. Not much of a difference, I think.

    In the beginning was the Force and the Force was with God and the Force was God.

  40. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    In the beginning was the Force and the Force was with God and the Force was God.

    The duct tape Force is strong in this one.

  41. Lycanthrope says

    Eric Weiner:

    …and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment.

    I quote from 16 Things Atheists Need Christians to Know:

    So far as being a Christian is concerned, you’re either a member of a persecuted minority, or part of a solid majority. Figure out which one of those is the case, and then live with it. You don’t get to switch back and forth depending on whether you think you can smother dissent better at any given moment by either whining that everybody’s always being mean to you, or bellowing that this is your house and you make the rules.

    I am disappointed that someone who purports not to be a Christian buys into their persecution complex. Who is embarrassed to utter the word “God”?

    ramblindude @22:

    Wow. He’s not a “none”; he’s a “some.” The very idea of being a genuine none is deeply disconcerting to him.

    Well played, sir. And a hat tip to Cuttlefish for another excellent piece.

  42. Brownian says

    So Gray Falcon thinks god is like duct tape.

    “And Red Green is Its prophet. Now, let us bite off a piece, and cover the whole in our hearts.” [One by one the members of the congregation come forward, bite off a piece of tape from the enormous roll at the altar, and affix it over an embroidered hole in their Supplicant’s Suspenders, across their left breast.]

  43. Sastra says

    Brownian @44

    That was brilliant. And after they’ve got a long list of all the many, many intuitive ways to think about God and come to understand what God is, the leader of the workshop can bring it all together by adding in that the above are all metaphors which point to a God which is indescribable and about which nothing can be said.

    Boy, there’s so much here to talk about! That seminar’s going to have to go on for years!

  44. kantalope says

    Can I be the new messiah? I don’t have a black turtleneck but I do have a dark-green one (branding you know). I don’t particularly like to shave, so the scruffy look is no problem. I am sure that I would like to ride around in a private limo, plane and helicopter.

    The voices in my head could certainly convince me to tell my followers to: “buy a smartphone so that I may communicate the better with the my flock”. I’m thinking an app kinda like a magic eightball/20 questions. I could set up a paypal account to accept “donations”. I don’t mind not paying taxes. It is not my parent’s basement – but I could set up the “prayer lair” in “a” basement.

    When Rick Perry asks me to bring rain to Texas – I can do at least as well as the status quo. Yup, I’ll need to tweak my resume a bit – but consider my application as “in”. And Kantalope for None-Messiah!

    —“He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjz16xjeBAA

  45. Jim says

    Seems to me that christians main weapon is projection. Ever watch a tv evangelist: angry angry angry. Ever watch christians talk about gay rights or women’s rights: angry angry angry. Ever witness an evangelical sermon: plain anger and hatred.

    Atheists, like liberals, use humor and irony to make a point. Both of these seem alien to christians.

    I was having a discussion with a believer in youtubes comments once. He accused atheists aof being angry. I pointed out that tv ministers and church ministers are always giving angry sermons. that christians get angry if you wish them a happy holiday rather than a merry christmas. Then I asked him if he had ever seen evangelicals discuss gay marriage. Pure anger. When faced with that he didn’t have much to say.

    Calling christians on their anger is useful.

  46. edwardseedhouse says

    I think what we need is a “Gospel of Reality”. Gospel means “good news” and there is plenty of good news, in fact far more good news, in the scientific understanding of reality (slightly incomplete as we must admit openly) than in any of the so called “Gospels” of the Christian addendum to the Torah.

    A “Gospel of Reality” needs to be extremely well written and contain both prose and poetry of great beauty. And it could be because knowledge of reality gives us a world that is ever so much better than the writers of the christian “gospels” could ever think of.

    I think many if not most “believers” believe because they think the knowledge that science gives us is bleak and dismal and so they flee from it into what they think is more comforting.

    The truth is that the universe we have discovered via science is far more wonderful and amazing than any promised “heavenly” afterlife. Read the Christian views of what “heaven” is like and you’ll think “man, what a boring place”.

    I wish I had the scientific knowledge and writing skills to do this, but alas, I don’t.

    Maybe we need a committee of great writers as happened with the King James translation, but also on the committee would have to be really knowledgeable scientists. Because the “Gospel of Reality” must, as well as being beautiful and moving, but also, of course, accurate.

  47. stonyground says

    I had a moderate Methodist upbringing. In the late Sixties in the UK it was obvious to me that people like us who still attended a place of worship on Sunday morning were a bit odd. This was despite the fact that even in 2001 most people in the UK still identified as Christians. I was in my mid teens before I was even aware that there were religions other than Christianity, we had ‘religious education’ at school but that was a misnomer. What we really had was Christian propaganda.

    The realisation that there were different religions, all making different claims about things that no-one can possibly know helped to make me an atheist. This guy started out being aware that there are different, contradictory religions and yet still hasn’t worked out that all except one of them has to be full of shit, and that it is very, very likely that they all are.

    Sad.

  48. edwardseedhouse says

    That last sentence, should read “Because the “Gospel of Reality” must, as well as being beautiful and moving, also be, of course, accurate.”

    Is there any way to edit a message after it’s been posted? I can’t find any and don’t sufficiently understand what the implications for site security might be. But it would be lovely if I could do that.

  49. Akira MacKenzie says

    Unlike PZ! I’ll proudly admit to be an “angry” atheist. If you were surrounded by the willful stupidity of the religious you’d be really pissed off too. However, I admit that I don’t know which infuriates me more: the latter-day primitives who wallow in supsticion or the intellectual cowards (e.g. agnostics, “weak” atheists, faitheists, Accomodationists) who are willing to provide aid and comfort to the supernaturalist cancer that is rotting the species!

  50. Owlmirror says

    And yet you will note that this “energy” has many of the qualities we assign to personhood — mental qualities.

    Actually, a lot of the argument I was having with Gray Falcon hinged on that very point.

    I wrote: “And does this “energy” have thoughts, feelings, desires, awareness, consciousness?”

    And Gray Falcon responded: “We have no way of knowing.”

    Which seemed to me, at least, to imply that God could be mindless!

    Which baffled me — given that the argument was over morality in light of the existence of God.

    My questions, at the time:

    If the alleged “energy” or “force” of which you wrote above does not have thoughts, feelings, desires, awareness, and consciousness, then what, exactly, does it have to do with the concepts of right and wrong; with justice?

    Are not thoughts, feelings, desires, awareness, and consciousness a basic requirement to have and understand the concepts of right and wrong; to think that there is such a thing as justice, and desire to implement it?

    As so often happens with these sorts of arguments, it stalled out with the questions remaining unanswered.

    To be somewhat charitable, Gray Falcon did write at one point: “Now, I’d like to apologize for all those nonsensical rants from earlier. Looking back, I have no idea what I was writing.”

    But I suspect that what was being referred to was the claim that Gray Falcon’s vague and fuzzy and potentially impersonal God-concept was held by most Christians, not the the vague and fuzzy and potentially impersonal God-concept itself.

  51. blbt5 says

    The cartoon says it all – the Nones feel they are superior. But they also want to be courted, a game that, happily for atheists, the True Believers fall for every time.

  52. consciousness razor says

    Sastra:

    I’m sorry, but even though they’re technically leaving us alone politically, the smug, condescending attitude from this untouchable High Ground really bothers me. It’s divisive. It’s trouble.

    I agree (as usual), but one quibble: I doubt that they actually are “leaving us alone politically.” They might claim their muddle-headed bullshittery has no political implications for them (or just social ones in general), but it almost certainly does more often than they realize.

    Errr.. sort of what Brownian is saying in the comment after yours.

    Anyway, I’m not sure if that’s what you meant, but I wouldn’t concede that point.

  53. jayarrrr says

    This Weiner got *PAID* for writing this drivel?
    Boy, am *I* ever in the WRONG business…

    “We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious…”

    Benny Hinn
    Oral Roberts
    Billy Graham
    Gene Scott
    Joel Osteen
    Rod Parsley
    Paul and Jan
    Jim and Tammy
    Rick Warren
    And so many more I can’t think of them all.

    This guy is proof positive that if your mind is open too far, your brain will indeed fall out.

  54. Brownian says

    Read the Christian views of what “heaven” is like and you’ll think “man, what a boring place”.

    I’ve got the T-shirt. (Now I want one of Cuttlefish’s sweaters.)

    Errr.. sort of what Brownian is saying in the comment after yours.

    Oh, yeah. How did I miss that? Well said, Sastra.

    Thanks to Sastra and Owlmirror, I’m not going to let that “God is an energy we can’t even understand” go without challenging its propronents on the idea that such a god still, in all its ineffibleness, knows and thinks and wants, just like humans. It’s the opposite of recognising that “science doesn’t know everything”; it’s looking at the vastness of the universe, practically incomprehensible to human brains, and deciding that at its core it must be just like Dad, only magic.

  55. Brownian says

    Alverant, it’s here, by Deborah Markus.

    So far as being a Christian is concerned, you’re either a member of a persecuted minority, or part of a solid majority. Figure out which one of those is the case, and then live with it. You don’t get to switch back and forth depending on whether you think you can smother dissent better at any given moment by either whining that everybody’s always being mean to you, or bellowing that this is your house and you make the rules.

    I think we get it wrong, sometimes. These two positions are actually one, in the minds of many. Members of my family hold this, and I suspect it’s not uncommon in the minds of other Catholics.

    It’s not that they’re a persecuted minority. It’s that they’re persecuted because they’re the majority, and what makes it worse is that they built this house in which minorities are allowed to get so uppity, and they built out of their own magnanimosity, but watch out! because even their generosity has its limits.

    It’s the manifesto every abuser reads from.

  56. says

    His “None” religion is vaporware. Someone will claim that they have some great idea for the product, provide the basic code needed to write apps for it, then the product itself will never materialize, and everyone will be left running the apps via emulation in other religions, because they just ever so badly want to play the game that never got released for the real product, which never got out of Beta testing. Basically, its going to be the Apple IIgs of religions. Trying to bridge the gap between the old and new world, but neither the old, or the new, world wants the damn thing.

    Well, sort of, in principle it wasn’t a bad system, but things from how it mimicked drive access, instead of allowing you the same method as before, to how nothing in it was as directly understandable/accessible as the older 65C02s where, made it, in some respects, the worst of both worlds, while not quite giving you the best of both either. Any sort of, “Its religion, but its secular too.”, is bound to have similar design flaws. lol

  57. Gregory Greenwood says

    Brownian @ 68;

    It’s the opposite of recognising that “science doesn’t know everything”; it’s looking at the vastness of the universe, practically incomprehensible to human brains, and deciding that at its core it must be just like Dad, only magic.

    QFT. That, right there, is religion in a nutshell. Some people look at the vastness of the universe, and their minds rebel. Not satisifed with the answer ‘we don’t know all this stuff yet, but we are working on it’, they instead flee to that which they find famliar and comforting – they anthropomorphise the universe. They project human hierarchical and patriarchal authority structures onto the world around them, and thus arrive at nasty, authoritarian deity myths like Yahweh.

    And when the obvious inability of any human analogue to actually create the universe or perform any of the more extreme feats attributed to their deity begins to cause too much in the way of cognitive dissonance, then they fall back to their one-size-fits-all answer; it’s magic. The words may vary, but the sentiment is the same. God – like various brands of sorcerer, spirit and other types of supernatural creature that have littered mythology throughout recorded history – is afforded an exemption from the usual rules of the natural world, a ‘get out of reality free card’ that amounts to carte blanche for theists to spout all the ridiculous tripe that one finds in various poorly written works of fantasy fiction religious texts with a straight face.

    Magic sky fairy/daddy – it really is the most accurate way to describe that which theists call ‘god’. Maybe that is why they get so ticked off when we use the phrase; they don’t like being confronted with the ludicrousness of their own beliefs.

  58. says

    And when the obvious inability of any human analogue to actually create the universe or perform any of the more extreme feats attributed to their deity begins to cause too much in the way of cognitive dissonance, then they fall back to their one-size-fits-all answer; it’s magic. The words may vary, but the sentiment is the same. God – like various brands of sorcerer, spirit and other types of supernatural creature that have littered mythology throughout recorded history – is afforded an exemption from the usual rules of the natural world, a ‘get out of reality free card’ that amounts to carte blanche for theists to spout all the ridiculous tripe that one finds in various poorly written works of fantasy fiction religious texts with a straight face.

    There’s a huge bias in the human brain towards believing that a person is responsible. We see faces in clouds, we see monsters in the dark, we can’t believe that a perfectly simple nautilus shell pattern could have evolved naturally. It makes sense evolutionarily; it’s much more important to know when there’s a fellow primate in your territory than it is not to waste a couple of minutes looking under the bed. But the downside is that on some very basic biological level we find it easier to believe that a person with super powers simply just happened to exist for all eternity than to believe that matter arose out of vacuum fluctuations–even though the latter is theoretically testable and has lots of evidence to back it up.

  59. Lycanthrope says

    Ah, good point, Brownian, thanks. In any case, I don’t understand it. Just like I don’t understand the fearmongering about Sharia law. How do they think the 2% of the population (or whatever percentage Muslims are in America) is possibly going to impose this on the other 98%?

    And Sastra, I bow down to your comment #40. Definitely bookmarking this page.

  60. Sastra says

    Owlmirror #62 wrote:

    As so often happens with these sorts of arguments, it stalled out with the questions remaining unanswered.

    I suspect that the questions remain unanswered because they aren’t being asked by the right person: the believer themselves. Those who believe “The Force” as God don’t seem to have thought much about what they’re believing in. They’re so busy patting themselves on the back about not believing in a silly, personal, anthropomorphic God that they haven’t bothered to reason out exactly why this “energy” version of God is still recognizable as God — but all the other forms of energy we’re familiar with (or, like ‘dark energy,’ not particularly familiar with) aren’t God candidates. Or even close.

    Last year on Pharyngula there was a similar discussion on “The Force” and its resemblance to the vague and blurry God of the vague and blurry believers and the brilliant Paul W. (what the heck has happened to him I don’t see him around anymore!?) wrote the following:

    Not coincidentally, the essence of the Force is profoundly and very directly related to important things. The Force isn’t good or bad—it has a light side and a dark side—but it is all about good and bad, and truth and falsity, and skill and ineptness. It “knows” what’s good or bad, and what’s true or false, and what will work and what won’t. (You might be confused as to whether you’re on the light side or the dark side, and unknowingly get sucked into the dark side, but The Force itself isn’t confused at all, not even a little bit. It just knows, because its essence is to know that shit.)
    The Force is a whole lot like a lot of religious entities, like Luck, Fate, Chi, Karma, or Plato’s supreme Form of The Good, or Teilhard de Chardin’s teleological whatsit that inexorably tends toward the Omega Point. It’s somehow essentially bound up in the structure of reality and is very much about some kind of truth involving values or goals…. Pervasive supernatural entities people are prone to calling God always have a certain key feature based on certain key unconscious assumptions.
    It’s always assumed that there’s an essence of something-like-a-mind even if it’s overtly denied that it’s anything like a mind at all. It’s always something that can know, or tend toward a goal.

    consciousness razor #66 wrote:

    I doubt that they actually are “leaving us alone politically.” They might claim their muddle-headed bullshittery has no political implications for them (or just social ones in general), but it almost certainly does more often than they realize.

    You’re probably right, though I think I was specifically thinking about the very liberal religious when I said they were keeping their bullshit out of politics — ‘very liberal religious’ meaning spiritual not religious: people who believe in some vague “higher power” that’s like an energy force, etc. If you get vague enough then the consequences of your God being true become equivalent to the consequences of your God not being true — when it comes to political decisions. It cashes out the same way.

    Maybe. As you point out, it’s faith. You can’t make rules about where faith has to lead you.

    My other concern is that the consequences of believing in belief — and thinking that it’s a significant personal step forward to do so — lead to very bad results regarding how one thinks about atheists. The God may be fuzzy — but the disdain for the unenlightened is stil;l crystal clear.

  61. says

    A Steve Jobs of religion.

    The religion itself is actually made by underpaid and overworked Chinese kids who kill themselves when they don’t make quota.
    Steve adds his magic dust to make this religion seem cool, and everyone lines up around the block to hear the service every week, paying three times what it should have cost to get in.

    And the followers become more violently devout than any of any previous religion.

    Great. That’s exactly what we need.

  62. thewhollynone says

    from PZ: “All I can say is that if Eric Weiner is at all representative, a lot of Nones are idiots.”

    But you see this whiner is not a true None at all. He just claims to be a None while he searches for the particular god teat which will taste sweet to him. Such adolescent thinking is typical of those who have not the courage to cut ties completely with holy mother church and contemplate the universe with eyes wide open.

  63. says

    The only wacky embarrassment here is your lumping Werner Erhard in with a bunch of cult leaders and religious teachers. Werner, whom I venture to say you know little or nothing about, is a great teacher and humanitarian whose programs have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over a period of forty years, helping to build an honest, open, loving society.

    Though Werner’s programs have nothing to do with religion, he has done what “organized religion” has tried to do for thousands of years, to inspire people to wake up and realize their true greatness.

  64. consciousness razor says

    Not satisifed with the answer ‘we don’t know all this stuff yet, but we are working on it’, they instead flee to that which they find famliar and comforting – they anthropomorphise the universe. They project human hierarchical and patriarchal authority structures onto the world around them, and thus arrive at nasty, authoritarian deity myths like Yahweh.

    Indeed, and isn’t just anthropomorphizing per se which is the problem. Their concept of what an anthropos is is utterly mistaken. Like Sastra and Owlmirror and a bajillion others have said before, there is some assumption that deep down, humans themselves are not a natural being but a supernatural one. If you reverse it, “god” is just a metaphor for them, so they are the ones who ought to get a free pass, who can do whatever they want no matter what. If they were only constructing an analogy between a kind of natural being (humans) to explain another natural being (the universe), it would be somewhat less of a problem that the analogy fails in many respects. Instead, it’s just fractally wrong, stupid all the way down. The only thing they get right is that they’re nasty authoritarians, though they wouldn’t admit it.

  65. says

    Considering that from what little I know of Steve Jobs’ religious life, he was a fairly bog-standard Buddhist of no particular weirdness, that’s a rather odd position to take. Less concretely, Steve Jobs’ thing was creating end-to-end solutions from previously separate building blocks. If I wanted that, I’d look up the local Baha’i group.

  66. says

    Not coincidentally, the essence of the Force is profoundly and very directly related to important things. The Force isn’t good or bad—it has a light side and a dark side—but it is all about good and bad, and truth and falsity, and skill and ineptness. It “knows” what’s good or bad, and what’s true or false, and what will work and what won’t.

    lol There is an assumption in original SW canon that the reason for the “imbalance” in the force is that the Sith exist, and some sort of return to the old ways would be better. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that you allow for the games, and the main author that has been authorized to write most of the books in the universe, the real reason is that the Jedi and Sith are both idiots, there is no light and dark, but a spectrum, and that is why the Jedi’s strict rules and demanding order, and their absurd attempts, even in the first two movies, to “prevent” the problem, by only picking kids young enough they can’t be corrupted, all fail, and the Sith reappear.

    The Jedi sit around waiting for the universe to tell them what to do, and disdain those that won’t. During the Madalorian wars, the council did that, while the younger ones ran off to fight it, and most died, or turned Sith. The conclusion: not sitting on your ass, waiting for the universe itself to do something = darkside. And so on. In reality, when one side sets itself up as the arbiter of all good and light, the rest only have two choices, which depend entirely on how strong that light/good group is, and how deem the indoctrination happens to be: 1. Form an order that is out of sight of the radicals, and try to work out a more sane solution, or 2. Start wearing black. If you where originally part of the light/good groups, then the very fact that you where indoctrinated into that makes it way more likely you will land in the dark/evil side, even if you are, in reality, neither. But, once you decide you are, its easy real easy to slide into being such, especially if there are things from among all the silly BS you learned, which you can’t let go of.

  67. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    … whose programs have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over a period of forty years, helping to build an honest, open, loving society.

    Good lord. If this doesn’t sound like a televangelist or cult leader, I don’t know what does.

  68. consciousness razor says

    You’re probably right, though I think I was specifically thinking about the very liberal religious when I said they were keeping their bullshit out of politics — ‘very liberal religious’ meaning spiritual not religious: people who believe in some vague “higher power” that’s like an energy force, etc. If you get vague enough then the consequences of your God being true become equivalent to the consequences of your God not being true — when it comes to political decisions. It cashes out the same way.

    Sure, I can agree with that. A belief can be so vacuous or arbitrary that anything would be consistent with it, and I do think many liberal religionists are morally in line with secular ethics. All I meant to say is that none of that is a given: there’s nothing in their beliefs stopping them from being hateful bigots, just as there’s nothing stopping them from being decent, caring open-minded people.

  69. says

    Though Werner’s programs have nothing to do with religion, he has done what “organized religion” has tried to do for thousands of years, to inspire people to wake up and realize their true greatness.

    He has done what “organized religion” has tried to do for thousands of years, to control when and what people eat, when and how they go to the bathroom, and discourage them from speaking their minds.
    EST was a cult, nothing more.

  70. unclefrogy says

    whishy washy oatmeal BS is so hard for me to understand and this time of year it gets even worse.
    The reaction of “the war on christmas” to me sounds like perfect example. It in all of its intensity a defense of some cultural celebration that joins all of the people together and can participate in.
    This fool’s reaction and his “search” seem so full of nostalgia to ignore completely the problems of religious belief like truth, honesty, intolerance and persecution look completely out of touch with the real world in any way. His lament that he has not found the answer yet but can propose one is so off putting that the only retort I can see involves a cream pie.

    Where I live there are a lot of immigrants from Latin America the local church (RCC) observes things in the way they would in Mexico with processions and parades with “folkloric dancers”
    in indigenous costumes feathers and drums and all. It strikes me that the place for religion in society may well evolve in to a celebration of folklore. While the society as a whole gradually adopts more rational accommodation and acceptance to our differences but makes its collective decisions in reality openly. The different religions becoming “Folkloric Ass.” involved in their different cultural activities and traditions rather like historic re-en-actors, folk dance clubs or “trekkies”.
    The absolutely last thing we need is some great founder of a new synthesis of religious belief.
    ugh.

    uncle frogy

  71. Azkyroth says

    They aren’t going to try to sneak creationism into our kid’s science glasses or threaten to kill me.

    …aside from many of them enthusiastically embracing of quackery and struggling to have it accepted societally on the same level as actual medicine, of course.

  72. Sastra says

    Azkyroth @88

    Good point. Though there are of course people who endorse both creationism AND alternative medicine.

  73. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    The only wacky embarrassment here is your lumping Werner Erhard in with a bunch of cult leaders and religious teachers.

    So right. He should be listed with the cult leaders and con artists, not the cult leaders and religious teachers.

  74. Rey Fox says

    to inspire people to wake up and realize their true greatness.

    Oh my god. Hold onto your wallets, everybody.

  75. AlanMac says

    We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

    The belief in belief is strong in this one, Obi-wan.

  76. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    feralboy:

    He has done what “organized religion” has tried to do for thousands of years, to control when and what people eat, when and how they go to the bathroom, and discourage them from speaking their minds.

    I didn’t know what “est” was, so Wikipedia to the rescue!

    “est”, short for Erhard Seminars Training, offered intensive communications and self-empowerment workshops.[16]:384 Their purpose was “to transform one’s ability to experience living so that the situations one had been trying to change or had been putting up with, clear up just in the process of life itself.”[16]:384 Participants at est workshops had to adhere to strict rules and were given designated breaks for bathroom visits and one meal break.[16]:384 They were not permitted to smoke, eat or drink during the workshop.[16]:384 Sessions lasted from 9:00 am to midnight or the early hours of the morning, with one meal break.[16]:384 Participants were frequently referred to as “estholes”; they had to hand over wristwatches and were not allowed to take notes, or to speak unless called upon, in which case they had to wait for a microphone to be brought to them.[16]:384 The second day of the workshop featured the “danger process”.[16]:384 Groups of participants were brought onto the stage and confronted by est staff, trying to provoke a reaction; afterwards, participants were asked to “imagine that they were afraid of everyone else and then that everyone else was afraid of them.”[16]:384 This was followed by lectures on the third and fourth days, covering topics such as reality and the nature of the mind, ending with the conclusion that “what is, is and what ain’t, ain’t,” and that “true enlightenment is knowing you are a machine.”[16]:384 Participants were told they were perfect the way they were and were asked to indicate by a show of hands if they “had gotten it”.[16]:384

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Erhard#Est_era_.281971.E2.80.931984.29

    And we’ve got this howardschumann douche defending these practices? Howard, seriously, you have got to be kidding us. “est” sounds like a page out of the cult brain washing hand-book.

    Fucking scary stuff.

  77. consciousness razor says

    Kagehi:

    lol There is an assumption in original SW canon that the reason for the “imbalance” in the force is that the Sith exist, and some sort of return to the old ways would be better.

    Are you referring to Annakin here? I thought it was implied that he did bring balance to the force by going to the dark side. The Jedi were just wrong because they thought he would be one of them and eliminate the Sith while staying on the light side. In a way, that’s just what he did when Luke convinced him to turn on Palpatine… at least until the next Sith comes along. I guess I assumed elements of the “dark side” were so common in everybody else that a few very strong characters on the light side would balance things out. But if you have a bunch of powerful Sith running around, then things immediately go out of whack.

    The Jedi sit around waiting for the universe to tell them what to do, and disdain those that won’t. During the Madalorian wars, the council did that, while the younger ones ran off to fight it, and most died, or turned Sith.

    Given that this happened much earlier, didn’t the Jedi learn their lesson, or do they always do that? Is that part of the reason the light side creates an imbalance? I’m curious, because I’ve never read any of the Star Wars books.

  78. blainedelancey says

    @skepticmike #11
    A significant portion of these anomalous experiences may be the result of transient dysfunctions of the temporal lobe. I have had one spontaneously that I can recall (seeing a flying humanoid figure in the night sky), and later I learned that they could be induced via meditation techniques, and furthermore that I, and anyone else who practiced, could shape them til I saw what I wanted, I lost interest completely.

  79. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I’d be happy to give my all-too-frequent anomalous experiences.

  80. chigau (違う) says

    Brownian @44
    So that was you Facilitating™ my recent Team-building torment meeting!
    Do you often manifest as a tall, Jamaican woman?

  81. says

    The posts about Werner Erhard only reveal the ignorance and cynicism of the posters. They know nothing about the man, his programs, and the effect they have had in the world. All they know is the misinformation passed along by the corporate media and the psychiatric establishment, whose purpose is to discredit any discipline that actually produces results.

    I know it’s asking a lot but try thinking for yourself. Better yet, take the Landmark Forum and discover what’s true and what’s a lie.

    “We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family.

    “We can choose to make our love for the world be what our lives are really about.

    “Each of us now has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity, and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet.”

    “We must have people capable of real heroism. Not the kind of heroism which ends up in glory, but the kind of heroism which ends up in the truth, in what works, in what is honest and real being brought out and made available to others.”

    Werner Erhard

  82. Crudely Wrott says

    We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious.

    Aww, c’mon. How many thousands of years does it take? Jumped up Jehosephat!!

    There are only so many ways, so many opportunities to make fools of others and and even more limited number of ways to make a fool of one’s own self. All of these avenues are well explored and exploited ad naueseum to the total profit of the current state of affairs. Which is obviously, perceptably and demonstrably indistinguishable from any past state of affairs.

    Net gain after all these thousands of years, these interminable permutations of smug privilege laced with being privy to some Higher Knowledge and contaminated by a groveling expectation of conformity to dogma which is informed by a self-limiting set of morals derived from the pure necessity of covering ass. In other words, the benefit to humanity fades into background noise ever giving, even giving! the appreciation of humanitarian benefits of faith-based morals. There is no gain. Zero.

    No one is born with, or develops later in life under some greater or lesser duress, a god shaped hole it their hearts. Nor any other kind of holes, on hopes. Any kind of hole there is not good news. What most everybody is born with is an irresistible curiosity to see what things are and how they work. In real life. In practice. Those who’s nascent need to explore the world and learn from experience must have been somehow crushed early in life.

    Imagine the blunt dullness of losing interest in the place we find ourselves. Try to understand the lonely and poorly lit hours, weeks, years spent generating new apologetics for what is so clearly laziness on a colossal scale. So many are afflicted.

    It is they who need to be adopted and nurtured. Led back to health.

    *grumble grumble*

  83. hillaryrettig says

    >We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

    Sounds like he’s a nonbeliever who is afraid, or finds it socially inconvenient, of nonbelief.

    If so, I agree: he is representative of a large group of (supposed) theists.

  84. Crudely Wrott says

    edit:
    Those who’s nascent need to explore the world and learn from experience must have been somehow crushed early in life are the truly needy, the unfortunates, the diminished, the pitiable. >includes painfully laconic grin<

  85. says

    They know nothing about the man, his programs, and the effect they have had in the world. All they know is the misinformation passed along by the corporate media and the psychiatric establishment, whose purpose is to discredit any discipline that actually produces results.

    How the hell do you know what I know? I’m basing my opinion on things I read and saw way back when EST was new and hip, and on having encountered some EST graduates along my path. And on shit like this:

    “We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family.”

    A lovely quote which you provided. It’s straight out of Mein Kampf.

  86. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    So because I will not swallow your particular brand of woo, your particular cult, your particular secular religion, I am the one who is closed minded, irrational, and lying? And the possibility that some do not buy his wooist pseudoscientific bullshit automatically means that it can only be explained through a vast conspiracy of big business, media, and psychologists? Thanks, but I’ll stick with reality.

  87. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    They know nothing about the man, his programs, and the effect they have had in the world. All they know is the misinformation passed along by the corporate media and the psychiatric establishment, whose purpose is to discredit any discipline that actually produces results.

    Oh noes! The poor conman cult leader professional development guru is being persecuted! The big, bad media is out to get him!1!!!one!

    You know who else felt he was unjustly persecuted for his cult-like practices? Jim Jones.

    Actually, no, it sounds more like a defense of Scientology. Poor L Ron!

  88. EvoMonkey says

    I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment.

    That will really inspire the “nones” to reach for their wallets and fill the collection plate.

    Weiner needs to be his own “Steve Jobs” and start the Church of the Latter Day Posers (Reformed).

  89. says

    If you are looking to wikipedia to do your thinking for you, you are in big trouble. Most of what was reported were outright falsehoods. How would I know, well for starters I participated in about ten trainings in the 70s and worked with Werner for seven years. I found him to be a great teacher and a man of complete integrity whose sole purpose in these programs was to make others great.

    There were regularly scheduled bathroom breaks and one dinner break during the day. Those with a medical reason sat in the back row and could go to the bathroom at any time. Having people getting up and wandering around,coming and going, would have been a major distraction to the work that was being done.

    Taking notes defeats the purpose of the training which is to have experience their own power. It was not about information and note taking not only would be irrelevant but distracting. People were allowed to take notes during the breaks. The danger process did not involve people lining up in front of the room. It involved getting in touch with the fact that the people in life you are so afraid of were just as afraid of you.

    Every technique used during the training was used for one purpose and one purpose alone – because they worked.

    What was said in the training was that people’s lives were run by their belief systems, their act, their rackets, their making others wrong, and not taking responsibility for who they really are. Underneath that is a profound respect for the power of human beings to live a satisfying and fully productive life in which they are able to give and receive love. I have never in my adult life experienced such total love and support as I did during the two weekends of the training.

    On the second day of the training, people were given an opportunity to leave with a full refund. Few if any ever did. Most participants signed up because there was something in their life that wasn’t working and they were after results, not having smoke blown in their ear and being patted on the backside.

    The greatest testimony to the success of Werner’s programs is that they have been offered all over the world, in schools and prisons as well as hotel ballrooms for over forty years. Any program that did not produce results, that was only around for the money would have died out a long long time ago.

  90. KG says

    Any program that did not produce results, that was only around for the money would have died out a long long time ago. – howardschumann

    So, what’s your view of Scientology? And while you’re hear, where are the peer-reviewed studies in widely respected journals showing the benefits of EST?

  91. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    If you are looking to wikipedia to do your thinking for you, you are in big trouble.

    Heh. What makes you think that any of us here are letting someone else do our thinking for us? As you say, lots of people have paid good money to spend hours locking in a hotel ballroom in these courses. I know of two. One a good friend, one and ex-friend. One has recovered (though it took years).

    And thank you for accusing me of letting someone else do my thinking. My super heavy duty irony meter is now broken.

  92. says

    I look at this as progress. Dumb as his premise is, Eric Weiner realizes that “God” is embarrassing. So embarrassing that one doesn’t want to say the word out loud.

  93. says

    How many ghosts we have to prove don’t exist until it can be said that ghosts in general don’t exist?

    The physics of “ghosts” are really problematic. If they’re immaterial they’re going to also be invisible and not have any mass, which means they’d be left behind as Earth goes zooming away from them. For a ghost to be able to seen, heard, or felt it would have to be made of some kind of matter/energy which would mean conservation would apply. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that ghosts, in general, cannot exist because there is no way for them to exist.

    A sneaky way of handling the whole ghost question is to play compatibilist and argue that the only useful existence ghosts could have is as a “haunting” within the subject’s mind – i.e.: a figment of the imagination. :)

  94. consciousness razor says

    On the second day of the training, people were given an opportunity to leave with a full refund.

    What does that mean? Shouldn’t they have had the opportunity to leave with a full refund the minute the program began?

  95. raven says

    Any program that did not produce results, that was only around for the money would have died out a long long time ago. – howardschumann

    Not so. Xianity has been around for 2,000 years.

    One of the more outrageous xian cults, the prosperity get rich quick schemes are doing really well….for the cult leaders.

    Scientology promises that you can become a god and create universes. What is EST offering?

  96. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    I don’t have any popcorn!

    Here, take mine. I hope you don’t mind, I always make them extra salty.

    I have to go to bed anyway. But I’m sure the destruction of the cultist will make for a lovely read to go with my morning coffee.

  97. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    I found him to be a great teacher and a man of complete integrity whose sole purpose in these programs was to make others great.

    *cough!*Jim Jones*cough!*

    … and one dinner break during the day.

    And how long was that “day”? Four hours? Eight hours? More?

    It was not about information and note taking not only would be irrelevant but distracting.

    So, wait. One would have to pay money and actually attend these conferences with the expectation that information wasn’t going to be conveyed? Sounds counter-productive and rather stupid, if you ask me.

    Every technique used during the training was used for one purpose and one purpose alone – because they worked.

    Define “worked”. What exactly was the goal?

    Also, some proof that these techniques “worked” would be appreciated.

    Underneath that is a profound respect for the power of human beings to live a satisfying and fully productive life in which they are able to give and receive love. I have never in my adult life experienced such total love and support as I did during the two weekends of the training.

    *cough*Jim Jones*cough*

    Your life must be rather empty if the greatest love you’ve received is from a room full of strangers. Not to mention that you had to pay for this privilege of stranger love.

    On the second day of the training, people were given an opportunity to leave with a full refund. Few if any ever did.

    Brain washing will do that to people.

    So will Stockholm Syndrome.

    The greatest testimony to the success of Werner’s programs is that they have been offered all over the world, in schools and prisons as well as hotel ballrooms for over forty years.

    Prisons and hotels! That’s the cream of the crop right there! Color me impressed!

    If this program was so successful, then you’ll be able to tell me the recidivism rate of the prisoners who attended these little meetings, right?

    Any program that did not produce results, that was only around for the money would have died out a long long time ago.

    Obviously you’ve never encountered The Secret, or any other self-empowerment woo, for that matter.

  98. unclefrogy says

    Crude said,”No one is born with, or develops later in life under some greater or lesser duress, a god shaped hole it their hearts. Nor any other kind of holes, on hopes. Any kind of hole there is not good news. What most everybody is born with is an irresistible curiosity to see what things are and how they work. In real life. In practice. Those who’s nascent need to explore the world and learn from experience must have been somehow crushed early in life.

    Imagine the blunt dullness of losing interest in the place we find ourselves. Try to understand the lonely and poorly lit hours, weeks, years spent generating new apologetics for what is so clearly laziness on a colossal scale. So many are afflicted.

    It is they who need to be adopted and nurtured. Led back to health.”
    —————————
    I can remember when I was very young being confronted with the realization that the adults did not really appreciate life and all of this wonderful stuff around us. That they were not excited to be here and wonder at what this all was and how it worked. It has bothered me to this day and at times has left me feeling isolated from other people but not from “nature”.
    The thing that bothers me still the most about it is that the reaction to questioning is often so negative and sometimes violent.

    This guys desire for a synthesis a new way to do religion is just a way to justify the punishment for questioning what is real while being unable to accept any of the existing religion ideas of god indicates that at some level he can not accept that he is guilty and still has questions.

    uncle frogy

  99. says

    Independent research studies have indicated that the vast majority of graduates felt it was the most valuable course they ever took. This is an independent study whose results were published online by Landmark education.

    http://www.landmarkeducation.com/menu.jsp?top=21&mid=80&bottom=116

    I don’t need scientific studies, however, to tell me what I already know through personal experience. Like everyone else I was skeptical and had heard all kinds of horror stories. All of them turned out to be untrue and the basest form of fear mongering. Not only have I done it but every member of my family, and I can personally vouch for the drastic improvement in the quality of their lives.

    I do not know anything about Scientology because I have never taken any of their courses. How nice it would be if the rest of you could say the same about the Landmark Forum.

    People need to begin to trust their experience rather than bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science. If you haven’t noticed, the rate of mental illness has increased ten fold in the last fifty years, while people continue to waste money going to therapists for 20 to 50 years without any measurable results. But they are “professionals” and have a title.

    If science was sincerely interested in seeing what works for people, they would study the techniques used By Werner Erhard that have produced immeasurable satisfaction in their lives.

  100. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I don’t need scientific studies, however, to tell me what I already know through personal experience.

    Because personal experience always trumps reality. Right.

    So who is refusing to think for one’s self?

  101. says

    helping to build an honest, open, loving society.

    With EST people in charge, “taking responsibility for the whole human race.”
    Your new society sounds charming.

    Every technique used during the training was used for one purpose and one purpose alone – because they worked

    I could Machiavelli good argument against that sort of thinking.

    Wow, hotel ballrooms? I am impressed.

    What we’re talking about here is a group of people who believes they should be in charge of everything, regardless of the consent of everyone else, because they’ve had assertiveness training. It gave me the heebie-jeebies 30+ years ago, and it doesn’t sound any more attractive now.

  102. says

    It strikes me that the place for religion in society may well evolve in to a celebration of folklore.

    Perhaps performance art. I often wondered how effective a cure for religion it would be if we simply started subsuming it in competitive eventing. What do I mean? Well, imagine if there was a completely secular “fire and brimstone preaching” competition in which it was obvious the entrants didn’t believe a thing they were saying, but were simply performing for point-scores. (Announcer: “Ooooh, Barton Smith has pulled to an early lead thanks to that absolutely humongous hat that he’s wearing. And he just rapped the kalam cosmological argument – that’s going to be a tough act to follow…” Announcer 2: “I’m still waiting to see what 3 time world-champion Jay ‘Crusher’ Jones comes up with. Remember the knockout blow he scored in Las Vegas last year when he hit The RabbidRabbi with a chair?” etc) Or it just becomes an excuse to have occasional pointless ceremonies and then a pot luck dinner with “hot dishes” containing too many fried onions? (Some of my family are Minnesota lutherans so I can see how religion is already trending in the direction of a pot luck social club)

  103. kevinjones says

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry. The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do. I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition. As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith. I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening. Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths. Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure.

  104. consciousness razor says

    I don’t need scientific studies, however, to tell me what I already know through personal experience.

    As if anyone actually knew anything from personal experience. Science gives us knowledge, whereas personal experience can lead you to believe science will never tell you anything which will contradict it. You need scientific studies precisely because they could tell you that “what you already know” is in fact wrong.

    People need to begin to trust their experience rather than bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science.

    Gods like verifiable empirical evidence, I guess, not woo-woo bullshit about trusting their personal experience.

    If science was sincerely interested in seeing what works for people, they would study the techniques used By Werner Erhard that have produced immeasurable satisfaction in their lives.

    How would scientists do that exactly? Do you think this satisfaction immeasurable or measurable?

  105. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    There is a difference between voicing ones views, which is tolerated, and expecting us to swallow them if they are unevidenced bullshit. We do the former, but not the latter. That must make us closed minded and intolerant in your inane opinion. Show us otherwise with something other than opinion. Try here: Google Scholar.

  106. says

    Funny to see est become a topic in this thread. It is wacky ’70s nostalgia time?

    One thing you’re likely to find wandering between religions is that the stuff they do agree on often tends to be oppressive crap, like that women should submit to men and that certain types of consensual sex acts are evil. Good way to have your personal bigotries re-enforced

  107. Stacy says

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views

    Who is not being allowed to “actually voice his views”?

    We’re voicing our views on his views. You have a problem with that?

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    Actually, there is much proof that it is. But bald assertions like these are sort of pointless.

    Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure

    I agree. Good thing nobody here is doing that.

    How old are you, Kevin?

  108. Azkyroth says

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    On the contrary. He has certainly been allowed to voice his views. And then we voiced ours.

    Same as with you. Dumbass.

  109. Sastra says

    howardschumann #121 wrote:

    I don’t need scientific studies, however, to tell me what I already know through personal experience.

    That depends on what you’re claiming that est did 1.) for you and 2.) for others. If you’re using your personal experience of what you found enjoyable, interesting, and useful, then personal experience is fine. After all, an objective scientific study on whether or not you found est to be enjoyable, interesting, and useful would arrive at the same conclusion as you did. That’s because it’s measuring how satisfied you feel. How “empowered” you feel. Okay.

    Trouble is that further claims involving less subjective and more objective measures about you or other people require … objective measures. Science.

    My understanding is that est and the philosophy of Werner Erhard involve a jumble of ideas and concepts from all over — and a lot of fuzzy and not-very-well defined claims about how to measure its success. I don’t know enough about it to say how useful it is, though it does sound like it encourages a lot of subjective validation. And your claims for it have sounded suspiciously grandiose: change the world?

    It does not seem to have taught you caution.

    If science was sincerely interested in seeing what works for people, they would study the techniques used By Werner Erhard that have produced immeasurable satisfaction in their lives.

    Can you give one specific example of a technique used by Warner Erhard which “works for people” and explain what it is, how it works, and why scientists haven’t or won’t study it? Narrow this down. Don’t say something like “personal assessment” or “taking responsibility” or some other deepity.

  110. says

    The bottom line folks is that if you haven’t done the Landmark Forum or any program offered by Landmark education, you simply do not know what you are talking about. You’ve got some notion of the way you think it is because you’ve heard stories or read Rick Ross and the anti-cult crusaders or other hate mongers, none of whom has ever done the programs.

    What is true is that I’ve received immeasurable value in my life from est, value that has lasted 40 years. It is really not important to me what you may or may not think about Werner or his programs. I’ve gotten the value and that is all that matters, so say what you want.

    “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism” – Sir William Ostler MD.

    “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance” – Albert Einstein.

  111. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    You may want to check on your emotions filter. He sounds amused to me.

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    How does anyone here, much less PZ, stop Wiener writing his views?

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    If religion is not superstition, then hows about you present some actual evidence to show that a god, any god, doesn’t even have to be the Abrahamic god, exists? When you can show evidence that gods exist, religion will move out of superstition. Until then, it is superstition.

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    Then, if you do not rely on superstition, if you do not rely on fail, please present some actual evidence to show that a god, any god, exists.

    I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening.

    Well, bully for you. If you sin, will you god forgive you no matter how horrible the sin?

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    Really? Bats are birds, the whole Exodus thing, the Noatic flood, creating the earth in six days, creating woman from a man’s rib, Adam and Eve’s children fouding cities . . . .

    Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure.

    Though there is much to dislike (homophobia, misogyny, slavery, genocide, killing children because they mock your baldness), one can dismiss the bible based on geology, physics, cosmology, biology, genetics, palaeontology, microbiology, history, Egyptology, archaeology and, basically, reality itself.

  112. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    The bottom line folks is that if you haven’t done the Landmark Forum or any program offered by Landmark education, you simply do not know what you are talking about.

    Just like religion. Until you believe, you cannot understand it. Thank you very much for proving our point.

  113. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Independent research studies have indicated that the vast majority of graduates felt it was the most valuable course they ever took.

    Valuable how? You still haven’t defined anything.

    Weasel.

  114. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    kevinjones #125

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    We’re not angry. Contempt is not anger.

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    How are we stopping him from voicing his views? He published in a major newspaper. We’re commenting on and rebutting his arguments. That is not being intolerant.

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    Since we consider religion to be both myth and superstition, why shouldn’t we so describe it? Or does our dismissal hurt your goddist feelings?

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    I was right, your goddist feelings are all upsettipoo because we dismiss your superstitious delusions as superstitious delusions.

    I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening.

    It’s kind of hard for a fictitious being to st[r]ike anyone with lightening. Or even lightning. It’s only superstitious delusionists who think that.

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    Then you’ll have no trouble giving us evidence that the Bible isn’t full of superstitious myths.

    Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure.

    We don’t dismiss your superstitious myths because we don’t like them. We dismiss them because they’re superstitious myths, aka bullshit.

  115. Sastra says

    kevinjones #125 wrote:

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    And the fact that you apparently see criticism as a form of suppression shows that you are not really for freedom of ideas, but for freedom from criticism for the privileged ideas. The measure of toleration is how you handle dissent. It is not refraining from dissent. You’re welcome to disagree — but tell us why. Listen and you will be listened to.

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition. As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    Does God exist? Is Christianity true? Answer those questions without using “faith.”

    Would you get the same answers?

    If not, this is a problem. It might suggest why religion is being dismissed.

  116. raven says

    xian kook:

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    No there is not. Even most nonfundie but xian biblical scholars, historians and archaeologists don’t believe that anymore.

    You have to be dumb, a wild eyed religious fanatic, a liar, or all three to believe that the bible is anything but fairy tales.

  117. says

    The bottom line folks is that if you haven’t done the Landmark Forum or any program offered by Landmark education, you simply do not know what you are talking about.

    You’ve got some notion of the way you think it is because you’ve heard stories or read Rick Ross and the anti-cult crusaders or other hate mongers, none of whom has ever done the programs.

    As I indicated earlier, my notions are based on first-hand reports I’ve read and graduates of the program I’ve met, including a boss in the early 1980’s who drove a 50-year old business into the ground in a matter of weeks by “taking control of her life” in such a manner as to alienate the entire staff, which quit.
    And further, I’m basing it on your writings, the quotes you are providing, and your reliance on quotes in the first place. Quoting your authorities over and over again, like it constitutes evidence of anything, is especially ironic when those quotes are about rejecting dogmatic thinking.
    If you’re going to live your life according to the collected quotes of an historical figure, I suggest Ben Franklin. You won’t come off quite so humorless.

  118. Louis says

    I am really offended that none of you have taken the love of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (BBHH) into your hearts. You know nothing about Her

    Even the Christians and sundry other religious folks here deny Her. Haven’t you heard about Her Hooves? Her Flowing Mane? Why do you hate Her?

    The bottom line is that none of you have ever even read Her Gospels, nor taken any of the amazingly good value courses I offer about Her.

    “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism” – Sir William Ostler MD.

    “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance” – Albert Einstein.

    Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I said Good Day!

    {Disappears in a pink fluffy huff}

    Louis

  119. Crudely Wrott says

    People need to begin to trust their experience rather than bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science.

    Now, Harold, listen: science neither is nor has any gods at all. It has it heroes and paradigm shakers as does any other human enterprise. If there are those who engage in something as senseless as worshiping science or anything that results from science they are as ill informed and inattentive as you.

    Sadly, you nor any of them will acknowledge the distinction.

    Worship: impeding human development for lo, these long, long days.

  120. Stacy says

    You have to be dumb, a wild eyed religious fanatic, a liar, or all three to believe that the bible is anything but fairy tales.

    I suspect he’s just a kid. That’s how his post read to me, anyway.

  121. KG says

    howardschumann,

    with reference to your link to “independent studies”@121. Following all the links, I found precisely one peer-reviewed study, from 1995. The paper is mostly a rather waffly discussion of the notion of a “paradigm”, and the place of paradigm-shifting in education, followed by a brief account of a seminar after which a lot of the students reported increased awareness of possible need to improve in various ways.

    Like, wow, man. Far out. Sign me up.

  122. Sastra says

    howardschumann #132 wrote:

    It is really not important to me what you may or may not think about Werner or his programs. I’ve gotten the value and that is all that matters, so say what you want.

    I’ll tell you something that you didn’t get from Werner and his programs: the ability to express yourself clearly in the face of criticism and give satisfying explanations of a difficult subject. All you’re doing is complaining over and over that we don’t understand. We don’t get it.

    If so, we are not being enlightened by you. Vague generalities about how the program was really, really valuable isn’t illuminating. After all, you could be talking about any self-help program, couldn’t you?

    But you’ve got the value. Good for you. I hope you’ve got a bag to put it in. I would hate to see the value spill out on the sidewalk and in the street and into PZ’s blog. Keep it safe and tightly under wraps. We enjoyed hearing about it.

  123. mikelaing says

    If science was sincerely interested in seeing what works for people, they would study the techniques used By Werner Erhard that have produced immeasurable satisfaction in their lives.

    Wait, what?
    Science is a tool that finds out what works, period.
    There are several known methods that work for people like Werner, Deepak, etc. Ignorance, denial, bullshit, wishful thinking… need I go on?

    Science is interested in seeing what works for people, that is why we laugh at his buffoonery, and yours, because you lack common sense and knowledge that is freely available.

  124. raven says

    kevinjones #125

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    Kevin, this is projection. Fundie xianity is based on pure, raw hate. It’s all hate, all the time. Chances are 99% of your religous activities are based on reinforcing and channeling that hate. No hate = no fundie-ism.

    It’s different for normal people. No fooling, although this is clearly a thought beyond your comprehension. Mostly we are moderately amused at Weiner and making fun of his poorly thought out article.

    Fundies like you are also pretty stupid. Where did we prevent Eric Weiner from publishing his article in the NYTimes? There is a link in the OP pointing to it, for Cthulhu’s sake. He ought to be glad we at least read it and cared enough to dissect it.

  125. says

    In reference to Howard’s post @98 about Landmark Forums: the Landmark Forums are popular in the morridor. Lots of mormons have already been taught to be so gullible that they are primed to be willing targets.

    Here’s a comment from ex-mormon “wiserwoman” about Landmark Forums:

    One can learn some useful things from the Mormon church, and one can learn some useful things from the Landmark forums….

    Both organizations (Mormonism and Landmark) are good at squeezing hours and hours of volunteer time out of faithful low-level leaders.

    Ultimately, the agenda both of the Mormon church and of the Landmark forums is 1) to keep current members/participants active/enrolled (and thus paying tithing or paying the Landmark forum fees,) and 2) to proselyte / recruit others into the church/programs—i.e. still more people who then will tithe or pay the Landmark forum fees. The more who commit, the more money the organization takes in.

    One of the “promises” Landmark participants make is to “carry out all the assignments.” In other words, WITHOUT knowing in advance what you’re going to be “assigned,” you promise to do whatever you’re told!, i.e. “assigned” to do, by the Landmark forum leaders. Sound familiar? And surprise, surprise: your main assignment is to convince a number of people you know to attend a recruitment meeting, billed in disguise as your “graduation” from the forum. The more people you bring, the more you are praised. Just think what a help a RM background would be for this!

    So if you enjoyed the backhanded tactics of the Mormon church, then give Landmark a try. It’s pretty dynamic and interesting, and by the time you figure out what their agenda really is, you already will have plunked down a chunk of cash a few times. You’ll feel a nice sense of déjà vu when that happens.

    Here’s another direct experience description:

    My first hand experience was in going to an orientation meeting with a friend who had been through the “Forum.” It was one of the creepiest experiences of my life. When I got up to go to the bathroom, they sent a guy to follow me and wait outside the bathroom to escort me there and back. (I’m female, no less.) They claim going to the bathroom is really resistence, and attempt not to face your issues or not face whatever emotional crap they think their meetings bring up for people. They have a large number of mind control rules during their meetings (which are alot like testimony meetings but with intense emotions). They do not allow you to take notes, move around in your seats, get up to go to the bathroom, eat or drink, etc.

    After the orientation meeting (where I actually signed up) they had someone call me every couple days to ensure that I would follow through with my “integrity.” They talked to me about “integrity” trying to brainwash me into not backing out. I finally told one of them on the phone that I changed my mind because they sounded too much like they had just landed off a UFO. It was surreal. But it was all about brainwashing me into giving them my money,

    My friend who had attended “the Forum” ended up paying more and more money for more follow up courses and crap. $700 here and another amount over there. And she can barely support herself as it is. It’s purpose seemed to be to make you psychologically/emotionally dependent so that you’d have to pay them to keep attending.

    And more:

    They create the problem, break you down, sleep-deprive you, manipulate you into an emotional state, only let you have a bathroom break when they allow it, and then try to convince you that they have the answer to the problems they’ve convinced you that you have. And interestingly enough, I have never heard anyone who sings the praises of it, trying to get others to sign up too, put into any kind of coherent words, just what they really got out of it – just a lot of meaningless buzzwords. It’s an empty scam.

    Note that the above excerpts are all taken from people with direct experience.

    A few people might get something out of attending a Landmark Forum, just as a few people benefit from taking part in a multi-level marketing scheme. But for the vast majority, it’s a rip off and a waste of time. Not to mention the fact that it’s really unethical to physically and emotionally manipulate people in the way the Forum leaders do. Even if the end result is occasionally good, the manipulation is wrong and is to be avoided. Certainly, that type of manipulation should never be taught, and teaching manipulation is another aspect of the Landmark Forum setup.

  126. raven says

    People need to begin to trust their experience rather than bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science.

    Cthulhu this doesn’t even make any sense. It’s gibberish.

    OK Howard S., you’ve convinced me. I need to stay away from EST so my mind doesn’t turn into oatmeal like yours did.

    1. There are no gods or goddesses of science. I’m available but no one but my cats want to worship me. Hmmmm, well scratch that one, it seems to be the other way around.

    2. What’s wrong with science? It’s the basis of modern 21st century civilization. Our world wasn’t built by religious fanatics looking for outgroups to hate. It was a lot of hard work by educated people and took a few centuries.

    I suspect he’s just a kid. That’s how his post read to me, anyway.

    Maybe. It certainly does read like something a 12 year old would write. Problem is, a lot of fundies write at a 12 year old level. In fundieland he could be the president of a bible college.

    Hopefully he is 10 or 12. Then there is hope for him. A lot of people do grow up.

  127. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    I just have to say how impressive it is that Didaktylos won the entire thread all the way back at #1.

  128. says

    Mr. Sastra: I cannot explain to you why the programs work just as I cannot explain why the medication I am taking for epilepsy works. All I care about it is that it does.

    Any explanation would be meaningless at any rate because it is an individual growth experience. Since everyone has enrolled to work on different obstacles in their life, the results are different for everyone, though every graduate that I know has reported a great deal of value.

    I could care less if science thinks its terrific or not. I could name at least ten areas of my life that have turned around since I did est but since that material is personal, I will not do so. In order to know something about it, the first thing you need to be is open to personal growth, that means being willing to move toward a new level of satisfaction in your life.

    If you don’t think that you could benefit from this type of course, then you would have no further need to explore the programs. If you are interested in expanding from where you are, however, I would recommend that you contact the Landmark office nearest you, read their website or attend an introduction in your area to see if it’s something you want to do.

    http://www.landmarkeducation.com/

  129. says

    I cannot explain to you why the programs work just as I cannot explain why the medication I am taking for epilepsy works. All I care about it is that it does.

    Really? You do realize that someone on this thread probably can right?

    I could care less if science thinks its terrific or not.

    We call that denial.

    The answer for someone who actually is confident is “I’m SURE science will validate me”. What you’re saying is “I’m pretty sure in my heart of hearts this is not true but am very afraid of that truth”.

  130. raven says

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition. As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    Oh Kevin, xianity is all one big superstition.

    KJ: I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    Why? According to your mythology, your Big Daddy is going to barbecue us forever when we are dead.

    According to your mythology, you have the One True Religion. So why should you care that 99% of the world’s population doesn’t believe it.

    And guesss what? We don’t really give a rat’s ass whether you are disturbed or not. Why should we? BTW, you are the one who incorrectly called atheists “angry”. Were the ones that should be disturbed but mostly we are just having fun with a mindless fundie.

    In case Kevin comes back (dubious, I think he ran out of thoughts), how old are you and how many grades of primary school did you make it through?

  131. Zinc Avenger says

    Hi kevinjones @125!

    Congratulations on no longer believing that thunderstorms are the wrath of a deity. This is, believe it or not, progress. Once upon a time the idea of Franklin’s lightning conductor was heresy! After all, who is a mere human to think he can deflect the wrath of god! Now we know it’s just electricity. Isn’t that funny! People used to think it was god, now we know it is as natural as rain – which also used to be attributed to god, now I come to think about it. Actually everything we know that we didn’t used to know has been attributed to god. How strange. You might almost think that “god” is synonymous with “our ignorance”. Maybe he just does stuff we don’t understand, but it seems the more we know the less he does. Poor guy, once he could create universes, now he can’t so much as change the charge on a single electron. Your god does less every day as we find out more about how the world works.

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    I’ll refer you to an article by Greta Christina. Anything I add to that would be like trying to join in an orchestral performance with a kazoo.

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    Want to play a game? Talking snakes. Explain how that’s not a myth. Unless you think it’s literally true… In which case you’ll be able to prove it with all that proof. Unless you don’t have the proof? Maybe people you trust have the proof. They tell you that all the time! They must be telling the truth. They have the proof and you can’t see it because they’re just… um… keeping it safe. Of course. That has to be it! They must have a good reason for not showing it to you, right? Maybe it’s secret proof.

  132. says

    ‘Tis @136

    It’s kind of hard for a fictitious being to st[r]ike anyone with lightening. Or even lightning.

    The mormon god does strike people with lightening. But it must be in low doses, over time.

  133. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    howardschumann #154

    I cannot explain to you why the programs work

    Ya gots ta believe. Iffen ya don’ believe, then yer doomed. Doomed I say!

    I could care less if science thinks its terrific or not.

    Science doesn’t think it’s terrific. We think science works. We have our doubts that your brand of woo works.

    I could name at least ten areas of my life that have turned around since I did est but since that material is personal, I will not do so.

    And I could mention at least ten areas of my life which have changed in the past several years but since that’s boring, I won’t.

    In order to know something about it, the first thing you need to be is open to personal growth, that means being willing to move toward a new level of satisfaction in your life.

    Ya gots ta believe. Iffen ya don’ believe, then yer doomed. Doomed I say!

    If you don’t think that you could benefit from this type of course, then you would have no further need to explore the programs.

    Since we think EST is bullshit and you’ve done zip point shit to enlighten us about your favorite brand of woo, then we still think EST is bullshit.

    If you are interested in expanding from where you are, however, I would recommend that you contact the Landmark office nearest you, read their website or attend an introduction in your area to see if it’s something you want to do.

    Contact our propaganda mill.

    Are you done? Will you stop proselytizing your bullshit now? Thank you. Have a nice rest of your life. You don’t even have to collect a porcupine.

  134. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Lynna, OM #158

    The mormon god does strike people with lightening. But it must be in low doses, over time.

    The mind boggles.

  135. Sastra says

    howardschumann #154 wrote:

    I cannot explain to you why the programs work just as I cannot explain why the medication I am taking for epilepsy works. All I care about it is that it does.

    I wasn’t asking ‘why’ the programs work. I was still trying to get at what the program is. Specifically.

    All I’ve heard from you are vague generalities and platitudes followed by a heartfelt testimonial that it works. Maybe you make to-do lists. Maybe you vibrate crystals. Maybe every day you try to do something you don’t want to do. Maybe you’re working your way through the Great Works of Literature. Who knows? Not me. And if it’s different for everyone, maybe you don’t either. It’s everything and it’s nothing.

    The only thing I do know is that it’s obviously not a program for enhancing and sharpening one’s powers of explanation.

    I could care less if science thinks its terrific or not.

    Which is a very strange thing to say considering that you’re promoting the program as objectively useful. Science is a search for consensus among people who use techniques that evolved to eliminate bias and errors. If “science” doesn’t think much of it then it’s probably got a lot of biases and errors involved.

    In order to know something about it, the first thing you need to be is open to personal growth, that means being willing to move toward a new level of satisfaction in your life.

    I see a problem here: it sounds to me that if a person isn’t satisfied with the program then the fault must lie in them — not the program. This is going to make it very difficult to determine whether the program really works or not.

    Do you see that problem too?

  136. says

    People need to begin to trust their experience rather than bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science.

    People who worship, who see anything in this world as worthy of blind obedience and submission, have a hard time with the idea that some of us just don’t think that way or relate to reality in those terms.
    Human experience is simply not a reliable guide to how the universe works–most of the important stuff is going on at scales (of time, of size, of speed) completely outside any sort of direct experience. Using emotion, intuition and pronouncements by authority figures is like measuring the galaxy by holding a ruler up to the sky. It’s the wrong tool; it may help you deal with everyday life, but it’s not necessarily going to help you understand anything else.
    But I must say, the idea of using authoritative quotes to decry our dogmatic thinking is most amusing.

  137. Sastra says

    kevinjones #125 wrote:

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith. I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening.

    Interesting. What you call “superstition” is what we would call “testability.”

  138. says

    Here’s another first-person account of a Landmark Forum, or at least of the beginning of one:

    All of us visitors were shuffled off to a high pressure sales pitch, where they wanted a decision NOW, but were light on the details of what they were providing. I turned them down, as did the others.

    We were able to join the main meeting after a while and whatever my friend did or received or whatever turned out to be very minor. The whole thing was a recruiting ruse.

    I remember my friend being very anxious about arriving on time, because they had convinced him to make a commitment about that. They’re big on commitments as a form of control.

    I’ve heard other accounts where participants were required to set up the chairs before the meeting to some horribly small degree of accuracy. The chair positions aren’t nearly that important and it’s really just a control lesson.

    Here’s another first-person account that gives a few more details about an actual forum:

    A good friend told me he was getting an award, and wanted to share the “event” with me.

    I was there for 2 hours, and I kept waiting and expecting, but he was never recognized at all in front of the group.

    At the door, they asked me for my email & phone number (which they used to follow up twice afterwards – I did not take or return their 2 calls).

    Content: The main speaker drew a circle on a board, with a small “pie” indicating the amount of knowledge A) “we know that we know.”
    The rest of the circle was B) “what we know that we don’t know,” C)”what we don’t know that we know, and the largest pie, D) “What we don’t know that we don’t know.”

    (Jeese! Who cares about all that?)

    One thing I DID find useful was to focus on how often we say “but.” (e.g. I want to go to Palm Springs, “BUT” I don’t have the time.) Rather, they say, we should change the “BUT” to “AND.” (e.g., I want to go to Palm Springs, AND I don’t have the time.) Not all that powerful, but an interesting comment on how we might be limiting ourselves from doing things.

  139. says

    Here’s another detail from a Landmark Forum:

    They have the gall to make you sign a release of all liability for both negligence or intentional acts for anything that might happen there. Those releases aren’t legally valid but they try to make you believe they are and they try to enforce them in court if they’re sued.

    I’ve also heard Landmark Forums as “paying money to cry all weekend.”

    Once people have paid money for something, they tend to pressure themselves into thinking that it was worth it. Scam artists depend on this “protecting your investment” tendency.

  140. F says

    These are so full of win.

    We need a Steve Jobs of religion.

    We’ve had those. How do you think we have religions in the first place? But why not go with the religion of Jobs himself? The religious sort of Jobs/Apple fans are ready to convert you. I’m surprised you haven’t already heard their message.

    take the Landmark Forum

    This guy is right, but should have stopped the sentence here and added an exclamation point. Over the top, people. Conquer and lay waste to Landmark, and secure the position.

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    lolwut i don’t even bwahahahaha ow irony meter hot

    I didn’t expect such hilarity in a thread about “nones”.

  141. says

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    Give it a try! It’s easy!

    I’m guessing that you already dismiss all religions other than yours as myths or susperstition. So you pretty clearly know how to do that part of it. Now just apply the same level of “*giggle* what a load of bollocks” to your own religion and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

    There must be… 50 ways to lose your religion. As Paul Simon would say.

  142. consciousness razor says

    In case Kevin comes back (dubious, I think he ran out of thoughts), how old are you and how many grades of primary school did you make it through?

    I noticed kevinjones wrote dumped his turds of wisdom in three different threads in quick succession. He mentioned his wife having a miscarriage in the British Journal of Psychiatry thread, and thought this was sufficient to claim women suffer after having abortions. Probably only worth responding to for the sake of others actually following the conversation.

  143. says

    Another interesting tidbit about Landmark Forums: Yes they are very long. That one meal break is part of a day that begins a 8AM and goes to 10PM. In one other first-person account, the day began at 9AM and went to midnight.

    So, yes, they use a standard brainwashing technique.

  144. consciousness razor says

    oops, scratch “wrote” in my last comment. I figured that wasn’t descriptive enough, but forgot to delete it.

  145. No One says

    kevinjones says:
    11 December 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry. The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do. I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition. As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith. I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening. Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths. Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure.

    “Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events.” – Wikipedia

    Suggested reading:

    Might I suggest that reading “The Golden Bough” by Sir James George Frazer, a catalog of supernatural causality on the planet earth:

    http://www.bartleby.com/196/

  146. crissakentavr says

    And those things should be sharp looking and conspicuously branded, so people can see what I did.

    …You mean, with the fewest logos and geegaws and pinstriping, instead being as simple as possible in exterior form?

    Gosh! How conspicuous. 9-9

  147. says

    ‘Tis, supposedly the mormon god turns Lamanites (Native Americans) “white and delightsome” over time. The mormon god lightens them as they come to accept him as the one true god, and as they conform to all mormon precepts, especially tithing.

    Mormons used to take Lamanite children off the reservations and house them with true-believing mormons. The true-believing mormons would expose the kids to less sunlight, and then claim that they were becoming more “pure.”

    Mormons recently had a revelation about “white and delightsome,” realizing that it was possibly offensive. So they changed their sacred text to read “pure and delightsome.”

    At the October 1960 LDS Church Conference, Spencer Kimball utilized 2 Nephi 30:6 when he stated how the Indians “are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.” He said, “The [Indian] children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation” (Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-3).

    During the same message Kimball referred to a 16-year-old Indian girl who was both LDS and “several shades lighter than her parents…” He went on to say, “These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.”

    Struck by lightening.

  148. Stacy says

    I noticed kevinjones wrote dumped his turds of wisdom in three different threads in quick succession. He mentioned his wife having a miscarriage in the British Journal of Psychiatry thread

    Oh dear. I would’ve bet he was eleven years old.

    Raven, though we didn’t make a formal wager, I feel I owe you a coke.

    *pops tab, holds out can*

  149. raven says

    Raven, though we didn’t make a formal wager, I feel I owe you a coke.

    *pops tab, holds out can*

    Thanks. But it is a bit unfortunate that he seems to be stuck thinking like a 12 year old. Some things are beyond hope.

    PS He didn’t make any sense on the BJoPsychiatry thread either. It was just babbling.

  150. raven says

    Once people have paid money for something, they tend to pressure themselves into thinking that it was worth it. Scam artists depend on this “protecting your investment” tendency.

    This is the fallacy of sunk costs AKA throwing good money after bad.

    It’s a common and powerful one that gets even a lot of rational people. The stock markets run on it.

  151. Aquaria says

    Am I an atheist? I don’t believe in Yahweh, but I’m prepared to believe that Ceiling Cat exists.

    Ceiling Cat does exist, and she lives with me. Her name is Annie. Bow before her, heathen. Everyone else does.

  152. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    [OT]

    …You mean, with the fewest logos and geegaws and pinstriping, instead being as simple as possible in exterior form?

    Gosh! How conspicuous. 9-9

    There is a balance to be struck between elegance and identifiability. I’m not talking about a NASCAR jumper, but rather something simple and pretty with, like, one big logo on it.
    [/OT]

  153. Azkyroth says

    Hmm.

    This thing with howardschumann is kind of eerie. “I can’t explain it. You just don’t GET IT” is what 90% of my attempts to learn from neurotypicals about the patterns and logic underlying the expectations of neurotypical culture reduce to.

  154. says

    You have to be dumb, a wild eyed religious fanatic, a liar, or all three to believe that the bible is anything but fairy tales.

    Now, now, Raven, you know that’s not true. There’s also a very lengthy collection of tribal laws and customs with prescribed punishments for disobedience. And some immensely tedious genealogies, and supposedly prophetic, mostly incomprehensible wild-eyed rantings. Plus lots of pseudo-history, a whole big bunch of mostly boring hymns and sermons, a collection of proverbs of very mixed quality, and even a smidge of erotic poetry that sneaked in somehow.

    If it were nothing but.fairy tales it would be a much more entertaining read.

  155. Azkyroth says

    Once people have paid money for something, they tend to pressure themselves into thinking that it was worth it. Scam artists depend on this “protecting your investment” tendency.

    As do the small number of truly shitty college professors, come to think of it. I would have blown off my first Calculus II attempt much sooner if I wasn’t thinking about how I already paid for the course, and…[/free-associating]

  156. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    howardschumann (pssst. . dumplin’, you get to use spaces between words for your display name. This is not WebTV):

    Mr. Sastra

    Why did you assume Sastra was male?

  157. Azkyroth says

    I noticed kevinjones wrote dumped his turds of wisdom in three different threads in quick succession. He mentioned his wife having a miscarriage in the British Journal of Psychiatry thread

    Oh dear. I would’ve bet he was eleven years old.

    Well, I suppose it’s still possible, but usually it’s only the girls the fundafucks are marrying off at 10-11.

  158. Azkyroth says

    If it were nothing but.fairy tales it would be a much more entertaining read.

    Though “nothing but erotic poetry” would be even better.

  159. says

    Just a wishy washy deist getting paid, apparently, to prattle on. Then the thread gets highjacked by some poor sap who got duped with EST and never even figured it out.

    I must thank the commentor who differentiated contempt from anger. That’s a keeper.

    Fine note PZ.

  160. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Lynna, OM #175

    Originally I thought you were talking about lightning. Now I understand the point about lightening.

    One thing I find interesting about the LDS Church is how the hierarchy arbitrarily changes doctrine and scripture for political reasons. The church expanded into the Caribbean and Brazil and folks there were decidedly unimpressed with Brigham Young’s refusal to allow black men to hold the priesthood. So the “Prophet, Seer and Revelator™” gets a message from Heavenly Father that Brigham’s bigotry is now inoperative and blacks can become priests. The change from “white and delightsome” to “pure and delightsome” is the same thing, 19th Century bigotry is superseded because the untermenschen weren’t joining the church.

  161. David Marjanović says

    I won’t bother copying all of comment 83 just to slap a “QFT” on it. I’ll just say “Kagehi for Molly”.

    But in sharp contrast to that, in a recent argument about morality over on Sb Dispatches, Gray Falcon complained that I was grossly mischaracterizing Christian beliefs in God with that phrase.

    And the specific word that was being complained about was “person”.

    When I asked for the definition that Gray Falcon preferred, I got back: “the base force of creation, an energy beyond human comprehension.”

    And this prompted me to write: “Would you say that this is an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds us and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together?”

    Which Gray Falcon appeared to approve of.

    Hilarity ensues.

    Instead of God being “a person” it’s the essence of personality spread out over the universe. Big deal. Not much of a difference, I think.

    In the beginning was the Force and the Force was with God and the Force was God.

    Very good points.

    Who is embarrassed to utter the word “God”?

    In public? People in secular societies (roughly First World minus USA), for similar reasons as why they don’t go around telling everyone how much money they make or whether they like blowjobs: it’s considered a private, outright intimate matter. In most of the same societies, it’s a default assumption that everyone belongs to the country’s biggest Christian denomination.

    Ayern may Gahd blessm Merica.
    – W

    I don’t believe in God/ID/creationism, but I hope to one day.

    That’s why I ride motorbike without a helmet.

    :-D

    In the late Sixties in the UK it was obvious to me that people like us who still attended a place of worship on Sunday morning were a bit odd.

    Wow! Austria reached that stage about 30 years later.

    Indeed, and isn’t just anthropomorphizing per se which is the problem. Their concept of what an anthropos is is utterly mistaken. Like Sastra and Owlmirror and a bajillion others have said before, there is some assumption that deep down, humans themselves are not a natural being but a supernatural one. If you reverse it, “god” is just a metaphor for them, so they are the ones who ought to get a free pass, who can do whatever they want no matter what. If they were only constructing an analogy between a kind of natural being (humans) to explain another natural being (the universe), it would be somewhat less of a problem that the analogy fails in many respects. Instead, it’s just fractally wrong, stupid all the way down. The only thing they get right is that they’re nasty authoritarians, though they wouldn’t admit it.

    QFT!

    The posts about Werner Erhard only reveal the ignorance and cynicism of the posters. They know nothing about the man, his programs, and the effect they have had in the world.

    What world, when I’ve never heard of him?

    “We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family.

    That’s called Clear the Planet™. I’m sure it’s trademarked.

    “We must have people capable of real heroism. Not the kind of heroism which ends up in glory, but the kind of heroism which ends up in the truth, in what works, in what is honest and real being brought out and made available to others.”

    What – scientists are heroes? Is heroism measured by the impact factor or the H factor?

    I have never in my adult life experienced such total love and support as I did during the two weekends of the training.

    Every cult is like that.

    I don’t need scientific studies, however, to tell me what I already know through personal experience.

    So, the sun and indeed the entire universe goes around the Earth, the continents and ocean floors don’t move, atoms don’t exist (matter is continuous), and water flows from south to north if all you know is Egypt?

    bend down on their knees and worship the Gods of science

    That’s a contradiction in terms. How could this metaphor ever work? Science is the attempt to prove every testable idea wrong. The Nobel prize winners are the greatest destroyers.

  162. Aquaria says

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    We’re angry at stupidity. I’m sure you’re going to give us many reasons to keep being angry, starting off with this much stupid.

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views

    Do you understand how fucking stupid this is?

    Let me spell it out for you, dumbfuck lying sack of shit:

    CRITICISM DOES NOT EQUAL INTOLERANCE!

    Someone who didn’t tolerate these views would bomb the NYT and the writer’s house and execute him. You know, like so many of you christslime do with things you don’t agree with.

    shows that you really are not for tolerance

    Says the guy who thinks it’s perfectly okay to lie about others.

    but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    As opposed to lying about people who don’t share your own deluded christslime views.

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    Show us the evidence that anything in your Bronze Age delusion is real.

    We’re waiting.

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    You believe that a guy rose from the dead. That’s not based in reality, dumbass.

    I do not believe if I sin that God will stike me with lightening.

    But you believe that an emo slacker rose from the dead to save your sorry hide so that you can spend eternity kissing a genocidal scumbag’s ass. Totes different.

    Also, there is much proof that the Bible is not full of myths.

    Funny, not one archaeological dig has confirmed your genocidal manual.

    Not one.

    Just dismissing something becuase you do not like it, is not a very good measure.

    Just accepting something because it makes diddums feel special is the stupidest “measure” of all, shit for brains.

    Go play on the freeway. You’re too stupid to be at the adult table.

  163. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Go play on the freeway.

    THAY HAV NO PROLLEM WIV VIOLENZ THRETZ WHEN ONE A THEM DUZ IT HYPOCRITES OMG BABOON1111!two!!

    /slimepit

  164. David Marjanović says

    Mr. Sastra

    Why did you assume Sastra was male?

    That should be… interesting.

    *pretends to make popcorn*

  165. Aquaria says

    Shit. I hate html. It left off a long paragraph about all the archaeological digs that show that things like the Exodus and Solomon’s Temple haven’t been confirmed by archaeology, despite most of the land between Egypt and Israel being turned over for just that purpose.

    We can find older cultures than the babble having lived in those areas, but not one bit of confirmation about the things the babble claims.

    Come on, Kevin. Show us what in your genocidal manual is real?

  166. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    *pretends to make popcorn*

    I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed, David. It appears howard has left the building; probably on his way to some consciousness-raising seminar at the Holiday Inn off Rte. 89. Or the local prison maybe. It probably involves squatting over a compact mirror and getting “comfortable” with their taints.

  167. says

    David #189:

    Regarding “clear the world”, Erhard actually was involved with Scientology for a while. I think est/Landmark is officially considered squirrel tech, so you’re more right than you know.

    Erhard got a pretty thorough shredding in Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus by Martin Gardner, which should be required reading for anyone who wants to read some history of the Human Potential Movement of the 60s and 70s. In the est chapter, Erhard comes off as being somewhat more honest than most other cult leaders (he admits that no one actually needs what he’s trying to do) but there still seems to be very little of value there apart from getting old ladies to feel less embarrassed about singing dirty songs. You don’t need a three-day seminar with extremely limited bathroom breaks to pull that off.

  168. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    All I care about it is that it does.

    Then you should have no trouble providing real evidence, not just your lying word. Try here, or shut the fuck up. The plural of anecdote is not evidence.

  169. consciousness razor says

    It probably involves squatting over a compact mirror and getting “comfortable” with their taints.

    Well, that would be the mirror image of their taints. Hopefully, it will provide comfort to them that it looks the opposite to everyone else. Uhhh… but hopefully not everyone else. I, for one, do not want to see the taints of our new self-help cult overlords.

  170. says

    Also, Erhard has a reputation for having the personality of a moldy sponge. I have no idea what bearing that has on anything, but it certainly makes one wonder how he managed to build a cult following, given that charisma would seem to be a requirement.

  171. mandrellian says

    I’m afraid I have about as much respect for wannabe spiritualist dilletantes as I do for fundamentalists with bombs up their arses.

    What a vapid “seeker”, what a noncommittal “thinker”, what utter tripe his philosophy – “dabbling”, like some first-year taking a few superficially interesting but ultimately useless classes (“bludges”, to use my Oz vernacular) to artificially boost his academic record. I loathe this kind of vacuous spirituality. It’s post-modernism at it pretentious worst and intellectual cowardice of a particularly irritating variety.

  172. kemist says

    I find that you are very angry when you write this, so maybe he is correct about atheists being angry.

    If I tell you I’m wondering how you manage to tie your shoelaces while breathing, does it make you angry ?

    Of course it does, and it should. It’s condescending, just like what that vacuous doofus in the article wrote about stawmen atheists.

    We’re humans, and like all humans we sometimes feel angry, as is our goddamn right. We also dislike to be condescended to like most humans.

    The fact that you cannot allow someone to actually voice his views shows that you really are not for tolerance, but tolerance to people who have the same views as you do.

    And where did PZ or anyone kept this idiot from expressing himself, pray tell ? The stupid article was published, wasn’t it ?

    This thing is, dearest cupcake, that your right of free expression isn’t a right not to be criticized.

    I also find it disturbing that you dismiss religion as myths or superstition.

    Why ? That’s what they are. That’s what everybody calls them once they inevitably fall short of adherents. Don’t xians call Zeus and Poseidon myths ? Actual people used to believe in them quite seriously.

    As a Christian I am not superstitious about my faith.

    bwahahahahahahahahah !

    I guess you’d call a hindu supersticious.

    Your magic is true, theirs is superstition, isn’t it ?

    Clueless.

  173. Weed Monkey says

    howardschumann:

    I cannot explain to you why the programs work just as I cannot explain why the medication I am taking for epilepsy works. All I care about it is that it does.

    You know, if you had some actual evidence it works, it would be interesting and people would be scattering to gather more data, and even trying to figure out how it works. You saying so is meaningless.

  174. DLC says

    He’s missing one of the “new ways to experience religion”.
    that way is “not experiencing any”.
    Let’s try experiencing this from a different perspective:
    Let’s say that since you were old enough to do so your parents made you drink a glass of Goat’s milk with every meal. Now let’s assume that you also happen to be lactose intolerant. Wouldn’t you eventually arrive at the conclusion that drinking that glass of goat’s milk was a bad idea ? You say, Mr Weiner, that you are seeking a new, lightweight, streamlined religion. But isn’t “no religion” ever so much more lighter ? isn’t “no beliefs” more streamlined ? Non-belief is not really a new idea, it goes back to before there were gods to believe in. Do you really need a crutch to lean on, Mr Weiner? Can you not walk alone, unassisted, out of the miasma of religion ? Don’t take my word for it, try for yourself and you’ll see that there are so many interesting and amusing things about reality that you’ll never miss God.

  175. Owlmirror says

    Why do people insult my beliefs by calling them superstitions? They’re all true.

    If you hope (out loud) for something good, and don’t knock on wood, the wood elves will make sure it doesn’t happen.

    If you break a mirror, the mirror fairies will make sure that you have seven years of bad luck.

    If a black cat crosses your path, the black cat imps — servants of Basement Cat — will make sure that something bad happens to you.

    If you walk under a ladder, the ladder goblins will trip you up and hit you with hammers.

    If you go somewhere that’s labeled “13”, the triskaidekakallikantzaroi will saw into the foundations and bring it down all on your head.

    These are all true facts, you unbelievers.

  176. says

    This discussion could go on and one, but since almost everything that’s said about Werner and his programs are lies, there is no purpose.

    Of course, like in everything, there are those who did not have a positive experience but their number is very small. Also know that since the inception of est in 1971, Scientology has launched attacks through the media to discredit Werner and everything he stood for since he was hated by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard who accused Werner of taking members away from Scientology. This coordinated campaign to discredit Werner and his programs is reflected in bogus articles, blogs, and statements of people who did the Forum only to get ammunition to discredit it.

    For a complete look at Scientology’s campaign to harass and discredit Werner including death threats, see the following link to an article on the Los Angeles Times:

    http://www.wernererhard.com/la_times.html

    There are those whose mind is so closed that absolutely nothing that anyone could say would make the slightest difference. To those people, I would simply say, it is instructive to notice how your lives are run by paranoia and fear.

    Since the values in The Landmark Forum are life-affirming, reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    175,000 people each year take the Landmark Forum and its associated programs. In total 1.2 million have done it since its inception including well known scholars, artists and writers, people from the entertainment industry, scientists, psychologists, people almost from every walk of life. It is offered in 19 countries worldwide. Most people claim that it is the most valuable course they have ever taken.

    Those who are sincerely seeking information about Werner can visit his website:

    http://www.wernererhard.com

    There are many valuable interviews with Werner and excerpts from his talks on YouTube.

    To find out more about Landmark Education, visit their website:

    http://www.landmarkeducation.com

    I can say no more.

  177. says

    There are those whose mind is so closed that absolutely nothing that anyone could say would make the slightest difference. To those people, I would simply say, it is instructive to notice how your lives are run by paranoia and fear.

    *BEEP* END SIDE ONE. PLEASE TURN TAPE OVER OR REWIND

  178. Weed Monkey says

    howardschumann

    it is instructive to notice how your lives are run by paranoia and fear.

    Please explain.

  179. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I cannot explain to you why the programs work just as I cannot explain why the medication I am taking for epilepsy works. All I care about it is that it does.

    I know what you mean. I don’t understand how the corticosteroid I take for my sinuses work. I don’t even know how the aspirin I take for my chronic knee pain works. But I know that scientists have studied this. I know that scientists have tested the effectiveness and safety of the drugs. And I also know that there are scientists who have figured out how corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories work. I care that it works, but I care more that I know it will work because of science. Do you understand that?

    You honestly believe that EST works. You think it is as effective as your epilepsy medication. Has EST been studied? Have scientists studied EST to find out if it actually works? Has EST been studeid for effectiveness and safety? See, if I am going to do something that will ‘change my life’, I want far more evidence than I require for the two medications I take regularly. A medical fuckup may kill me. A change-my-life-through-a-cult-like-programme could fuck up my life, my family, my career, and my ability to be who I am. Do you understand that?

  180. kemist says

    There are those whose mind is so closed that absolutely nothing that anyone could say would make the slightest difference. To those people, I would simply say, it is instructive to notice how your lives are run by paranoia and fear.

    Since the values in The Landmark Forum are life-affirming, reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    lol wut ?

    I can say no more.

    THIS TAPE WILL NOW SELF DESTRUCT IN 3 … 2…

  181. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I can say no more.

    But will Howard live up to his namesake and actually ‘duck’ out? Or will he fail to stick the flounce?

  182. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but since almost everything that’s said about Werner and his programs are lies, there is no purpose.

    Even by you, if you can’t cite the academic literature showing efficacy….

    For a complete look at Scientology’s campaign to harass and discredit Werner

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with proving it actually works…

    reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    Then there should be academic literature proving that. Or are you and other disciples just liars, bullshitters, and delusional fools, believing without evidence?

    Those who are sincerely seeking information about Werner can visit his website:

    Sorry, third party evidence, like the academic literture, is more reliable and less likely to be lying and bullshitting. You would know that if you weren’t brainwashed…

  183. says

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ. It’s a toss-up. Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school. Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

  184. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Good lord, you couldn’t sound more like a paid spokeperson if you tried, Howard. Are you, in fact, a paid spokesman for EST? Or do you just really, really, really, really love EST so much that you traipse all over the intertubes leaving “reviews” like this one for free?

    Werner’s programs, in my view, are still extremely valuable tools to deepen our self-awareness and Symon’s film Transformation is a fitting beginning to the acknowledgment of his true greatness.

    This type of writing is best suited to a private diary. How too bad that you don’t have any friends to gently pull you aside and tell you when you’re embarrassing yourself.

  185. says

    Howard now you’re sounding mad…maybe what they say about those angry faithists is correct eh?

    Tell me what was so rude and indecent? Was it people pointing out that you don’t answer questions, demanding something to back up your assertions rather than “I super double double super chocolate pinky swear!”, the pointing out how flimsy your justifications are, or was it comparing your favored cult to their arch rivals?

  186. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ. It’s a toss-up. Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school. Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    And you BOY, need to learn to respect the need for third party evidence to support your lies and bullshit. You have none. All you can do is say “believe me and my ideology”, which without that third party evidence, is the same thing every godbot does when they claim their imaginary deity exists, and then can’t point to the eternally burning bush to support their claim. You can’t support your claims. Ergo, lies and bullshit BOY.

  187. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    And you still, quite rudely, refuse to answer any question from anyone here.

    And good job sticking the flounce, Howard. You couldn’t even be honest about that, could you?

    Again, there are people (the ones who developed and studied the drug) who do know how you medicine works. You claim EST is more effective than medicine. Fine. Point us to some peer-reviewed literature showing the effectiveness and safety of your programme. Can you do that?

  188. says

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ. It’s a toss-up. Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school. Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    And a booming punt goes rocketing into the granite-grey sky.

  189. Brownian says

    @everything howardschumann has written so far:

    The surest evidence that you haven’t learned a goddamn, fucking thing at your magical, mystery, empowerment bullshit is that you have no idea how to convince people of its efficacy other than to chant how wonderful you found it and shriek indignant bafflement that we aren’t immediately swarming to the nearest EST centre to be awakened.

    And that’s what we’d have to do to be open-minded in your book, right? Sign up on your say-so? That would make us independent thinkers? “Well, some random dolt internet frothed on about this; so I’d be a fool not to fork over my cash.”

    I mean, seriously: even if your life were miraculously turned around because of this man, why didn’t he teach you anything about human nature? Why is the only method you can think of to share this wonderful discover with us is to sound like the type of product testimonial you’d hear on late night television, minus the content? Why are you so bad at persuasion?

  190. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Yet another idiot who doesn’t realize that refusing to explain your (voluntarily offered) beliefs when asked to is far ruder than asking someone to explain their beliefs.

  191. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Paging Sastra – paging Sastra!

    You wanna talk about vague and blurry minds? Howard’s fairly a parody of his own stock type straight out of central casting. From his Amazon review of a book criticizing Werner Erhard and his snake oil [emphasis mine]:

    Very soon, however, we are introduced to pejorative language which, far from being a description of what is taking place, is heavily loaded with negative connotations. Phrases such as “fuzzy syntax-twisted jargon of est” is used to categorize the promise of transformation.

    To understand what Werner meant by “understanding is the booby prize” is to understand that truth cannot be known as a concept but only through personal experience [read that sentence again, and again, and again. It’s the Everlasting Gobstopper of unintended recursive irony]. Thus the training was not about information or techniques, it was experiential, that means it was about experiencing how powerful you really are to have the things you want to have in life. This was done through processes that allowed people to look at their lives and take responsibility for it.

    It was also pretty clear that the ground of being of the training, where the trainers were coming from, was love and support.

    When I clicked on the link in Howard’s username up popped Facebook. It said “content not found.”

  192. kemist says

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ.

    Seems like the emperor is naked.

    Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school.

    Sounds like somebody needs to learn internet slang.

    Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    Says somebody who likes to condescend to those who don’t believe in his pet cut by calling them “drowned in negativity” and “paranoid”.

  193. Brownian says

    I really wish the-get-enlightened-quick-schemers would understand that if your claim is that you’ve become a better person through this program (and it would have to make you one, if it promises a better world through complete uptake), you wouldn’t have to convince people: you’d be noteworthy for your goodness. You wouldn’t have to explain to everyone that they’ll only be able to see it when they themselves have bought the program.

    That’s the Emperor’s Robes territory; that’s Transubstantiation. It’s old hat. It doesn’t make you sound new at all.

  194. Stacy says

    Hey Howard, did you know shoving cat turds up your nose cures the common cold? Go ahead try it! Why are you so closed minded!?

    Ing, you silly. You don’t do it like that. You charge tens of thousands for a series of weekend seminars that culminate with a revelation about how shoving cat turds up your nose cures all of life’s problems and how important it is to reach out to the whole world so that the Human Family can become actualized and loving and peaceful by utilizing your patented cat-turd-nose-stuffing technique.

  195. says

    Those “atheists” that found god and then wrote a book about it – the ones that the religious like to parade around gotta come from somewhere.

    I’ve never called anyone this word, not even in my head, but it conveys the whole attitude of the article. Slut. He sounds like an intellectual slut.

  196. Rey Fox says

    Also know that since the inception of est in 1971, Scientology has launched attacks through the media to discredit Werner and everything he stood for since he was hated by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard who accused Werner of taking members away from Scientology.

    KOOK FIGHT!!!

  197. consciousness razor says

    Werner Erhard on superstitions. He’s yelling for basically the whole 7:41, so that’s pretty annoying, but occasionally there are some interesting statements.

    Still, it’s just a long series of assertions, full of sound and fury. Nothing terribly remarkable about them. I don’t know why this sort of thing would be any more helpful than any other bit of philosophizing, especially compared to that based on reason and evidence.

    So why such opacity and defensiveness, Howard? Can’t you just say what it’s about and accept that it may be flawed in some way? Or do we all have to pay to go to a seminar to find out for ourselves?

  198. Happiestsadist says

    Hey now, thomascaldwell, I’ll not have you disparaging sluts that way. He’s a ridiculous narcisssist.

    Nothing wrong with being a slut.

  199. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I googled Howard Schumann and found:

    at http://www.cinescene.com/howard/transformation.html

    Words and phrases such as “transformation”, “empowerment”, “making a difference”, “getting it” and so forth have become part of the vocabulary of the culture, even to the extent that they have been pre-empted by advertising agencies who seek to use them to make a profit. Werner did not write books or go out on the lecture circuit to great applause from true believers and functioned in an atmosphere of non-agreement and non-acceptance. His genius did not lie in any concepts or ideas but in the enormous contribution his programs made to people’s lives (including my own). Although the training, now The Landmark Forum, in recent years has moved away from the fringes and closer to the mainstream, Werner’s programs, in my view, are still extremely valuable tools to deepen our self-awareness and Symon’s film Transformation is a fitting beginning to the acknowledgment of his true greatness.

    ©2006 Howard Schumann
    CineScene

    on http://filmbalaya.com/2011/01/28/indiefest-2011-transformation-the-life-and-legacy-of-werner-erhard-review-trailer/

    I first took Est in 1974 and worked with Werner Erhard for seven years. I always found him to be a man of the highest integrity and a brilliant thinker who has done much to change the current materialist paradigm into a more healthy spiritual one. Werner’s program helped to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and the fact that his programs are still being offered after 36 years is a testimony to their value.

    No one was “embarrassed” in the training. People found that it was a safe place to open up and share about things in their lives that they had hidden for too long. Whatever technique that was done in the training was done for one reason – because it worked. The training was not only immensely valuable for me but every member of my family has done it including my two sons and both of their wives.

    Your rant is based on the fact that you have not participated in these programs and can only guess what they were about or repeat negative comments from others who also have never done it. I recommend that you take The Landmark Forum before reviewing a film like this. Then you might discover the difference between your ass and a hole in the ground.

    Apparently Howard Schumann either has so little to do in life that he trolls the internet looking for mentions of EST and Werner Erhard so that he can shit his ‘you have to believe to understand’ where ever the phrases show up or (and this is my bet) he an employee of, contractor for, or in some other way is being paid by Erhard. Time magazine, film reviews, you name it, he’s there — professional or obsessed?

  200. says

    @Thomascaldwell

    Intellectual Golddigger looking for a good sugar daddy

    Ing, you silly. You don’t do it like that. You charge tens of thousands for a series of weekend seminars that culminate with a revelation about how shoving cat turds up your nose cures all of life’s problems and how important it is to reach out to the whole world so that the Human Family can become actualized and loving and peaceful by utilizing your patented cat-turd-nose-stuffing technique.

    I knew I was doing something wrong.

    @ Herbert I mean Harold (obscure reference ahoy!)

    Look up the outsider test. If you can’t convince an outsider it isn’t worth talking about.

  201. says

    Why would someone change his name from John Paul Rosenberg to Werner Hans Erhard?

    ***

    If a black cat crosses your path, the black cat imps — servants of Basement Cat — will make sure that something bad happens to you.

    That’s ridiculous.

    Black cats are good luck.

    ***

    reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    Wait – huh? Wouldn’t that be precisely the people to whom it would appeal? What would be the appeal to people who already appreciate our common humanity and are capable of expressing joy?

  202. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    kemist @201:

    I’m wondering how you manage to tie your shoelaces while breathing

    Velcro!

  203. says

    reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    I have a magic toad that cures cancer…but you can’t be sick when you use it

  204. says

    #205 marks perhaps the first time I’ve ever seen Scientology used as part of a Galileo Gambit. Impressive degree of difficulty, but the East German judge looks like she’s rolling her eyes at that. We’ll join howardschumann and his coach in the kiss-and-cry after the commercial for his score.

  205. chigau (違う) says

    My IQ has three digits.
    My age has only two, both greater than 4.
    ——
    Here howardschumann, you need one of these:
    /(-_-)\
    lalala

  206. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Howard Shumann:

    Are you paid to troll the internets looking for those taking your saviour’s name in vain, or are you an obsessed troll trying to protect you saviour’s name for free?

  207. DLC says

    Est-Fool Howard Schumann : no, Howard, I do not need to “Experience” your mind-bogglingly self-centered stupidity to be able to label it as such. Nor do I need to experience Naziism, Stalinist communism or Eastern Orthodox Catholicism in order to understand that those things are also complete utter bollocks.
    I don’t need to go to Guyana and drink Kool-aid with Jim Jones in order to know what he was up to.

  208. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    BrianX #243

    …what the hell does “intellectual slut” even mean?

    It’s akin to “mendacious intellectual pornography.”

  209. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Although the training, now The Landmark Forum, in recent years has moved away from the fringes and closer to the mainstream, Werner’s programs, in my view, are still extremely valuable tools to deepen our self-awareness and Symon’s film Transformation is a fitting beginning to the acknowledgment of his true greatness.

    Funny how he equates “fringe” with good, useful, and even great. Even though it’s moving towards the mainstream, it’s still “extremely valuable” as a tool.

    Preserve me from new age hipsters, please.

  210. chigau (違う) says

    … life-affirming, reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives …

    That actually sounds a bit like TET.

  211. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ. It’s a toss-up. Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school. Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    If howardschumann is an advertisement for EST then I’m not interested in the product.

  212. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Lynna:

    So, yes, they use a standard brainwashing technique.

    Boo yeah! Called it!

    Josh:

    It probably involves squatting over a compact mirror and getting “comfortable” with their taints.

    O.o
    XD

    Listen, when I was in college, there was a lot of “squatting over a mirror and getting comfortable with our genitals”. But, I went to a woman’s college. And joined a club promoting healthy sexuality. And promptly dropped out.

    My lady parts are way prettier than any taint.

    howard:

    Of course, like in everything, there are those who did not have a positive experience but their number is very small.

    Say it with me now: “fallacy of sunk costs”.

    Fallacy of sunk costs!
    Fallacy of sunk costs!
    Fallacy of sunk costs!

    Ever wonder why cults (I’m thinking Peoples Temple, here) have so few defectors, so few people that are disappointed enough with their experiences to leave?

    It’s the whole “You’re a wonderful person. DON’T GO POTTY ‘TIL I SAY SO!” type of “leadership”. It’s a slap in the face, followed by kind words. That would fuck anyone up.

    Scientology has launched attacks through the media to discredit Werner and everything he stood for since he was hated by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard who accused Werner of taking members away from Scientology.

    So, it’s the media and Scientology that brought est down? *snorts!* That’s the worst fucking conspiracy I’ve heard all week.

    But, the battle of the kooks is strangely satisfying.

    To those people, I would simply say, it is instructive to notice how your lives are run by paranoia and fear.

    Dude, I baked a cake today and totally enjoyed myself. Just because you’re such a sad excuse for a human being doesn’t mean that the rest of us are.

    Besides, if someone is suffering from low self-esteem (or whatever the fuck. Still not exactly sure what’s being sold here), how is one fucking weekend going to help them?

    Since the values in The Landmark Forum are life-affirming, reinforcing our common humanity and expressing the joy that for many people has been suppressed all of their lives,it is not surprising that this course would not appeal to those whose lives are drowned in negativity.

    *cough*Jim Jones*cough*

    Really, you should read Raven by Tim Reiterman. If I recall correctly, Jones also said that you will never feel love like the love of the Peoples Temple. Sound familiar?

    175,000 people each year take the Landmark Forum and its associated programs. In total 1.2 million have done it since its inception including well known scholars, artists and writers, people from the entertainment industry, scientists, psychologists, people almost from every walk of life. It is offered in 19 countries worldwide.

    So?

    Really, how many Catholics are there? Does that prove that Catholicism is good or right or helpful?

    I can say no more.

    Good, I hope you shut the fuck up and take your cultist ass somewhere else. We aren’t going to be so easily swayed– go find some easier targets, asshole.

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ.

    Bzzzzt! Failed to stuck the flounce. How fucking rude, howard.

    Go ahead, guess how old I am. Or, hey, take a stab at my IQ, you festering colostomy bag.

    Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    Ha! I have plenty of respect for those that don’t blindly support a cult and don’t expect me to take their unsupported bullshit without question.

    Josh:

    How too bad that you don’t have any friends to gently pull you aside and tell you when you’re embarrassing yourself.

    Howie’s only love comes from fellow seminar attendees– he’s a sad, pitiful person. :(

    And insulting our IQs, howard? Not very decent or respectful, asscake.

  213. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Howard Shumann:

    Are you paid to troll the internets looking for those taking your saviour’s name in vain, or are you an obsessed troll trying to protect you saviour’s name for free?

    If you know about these types of cults, no one gets paid but the upper folks. So…

  214. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    If you know about these types of cults, no one gets paid but the upper folks. So…

    True. But I also entertain the fantasy that Howard Schumann, ESTroll Extrordinaire, will actually answer a fucking question.

    So, Howard Schumann, I see your name showing up anywhere anyone mentions EST or your saviour in a less than adulatory manner. Are you an obsessed troll or a professional troll?

  215. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Audley, your Lovely Lady Parts (TM) not withstanding, I think poor Howie needs to do less nether-part-gazing. But he is a lost cause, I know. Having invested the past 35 years of his life (sheesh. . I wince to think about it) in defending a fad that went out of fashion with Kristy McNichol, he ain’t about to give it up. What ever would he say?

  216. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Josh:

    Having invested the past 35 years of his life (sheesh. . I wince to think about it) in defending a fad that went out of fashion with Kristy McNichol, he ain’t about to give it up.

    That’s so… sad and pathetic, but not really all that surprising. Howard is really starting to sound like he’s got nothing else– he won’t even take credit for whatever successes/happiness he’s had in his life.

    *head shake*

  217. hotshoe says

    Also, Erhard has a reputation for having the personality of a moldy sponge. I have no idea what bearing that has on anything, but it certainly makes one wonder how he managed to build a cult following, given that charisma would seem to be a requirement.

    Dunno why people would say that. I met him a few times and my experience is that he was so charming and magnetic it was almost impossible to keep from following him around; he had an ability to connect (or appear to connect) with each casual passerby in a way that most politicians only wish they could, and yet the charm seemed to be completely natural and flow from his authentic self rather than to be an act merely to sell something. Of course, he was in fact a salesman, and the most effective sales are surely the ones where the salesman somehow convinces the customer that the only concern is for the customer’s welfare, not for anything as crass as money. However, Erhard was also honest that he wanted money, and if you didn’t want to come up with the seminar fees, there were no “scholarships” … like leasing a luxury car, there was an element of glamour in being able to buy into enlightenment while others had to settle for the “cheap church” brand of social awareness.

    I’m an EST graduate from the early years, attended a few other trainings in a couple of years, cleaned Erhard’s kitchen in his SF home (yes, really, I volunteered for a stint at housecleaning one morning – probably the last time I’ve ever cleaned an oven). I loved what I sat through; I felt no stress about bathroom breaks and didn’t experience anything that felt like brainwashing, rather the liberation of confronting reality for what may have been the first time in my young life. It certainly didn’t do my any harm, and maybe that’s because I didn’t stay involved, or maybe that’s because EST (then) was only designed for a limited amount of repeat business. Unlike Scientology (or Jim Jones) the message I heard was that you were supposed to “get it” and then head out and get your life working.

  218. hotshoe says

    Why would someone change his name from John Paul Rosenberg to Werner Hans Erhard?

    I don’t know why he picked the new German name, but I recollect he wanted to ditch his old name because he was in some kind of trouble with the law – missing child support payments, or something relatively minor like that – and he needed a fresh start.

    He told a funny story at a party about driving west in a “borrowed” car that they splashed mud on the license plate because they thought the person they “borrowed” it from might have had a change of heart and reported it stolen. So they got stopped along some podunk road and while they’re about to freak out, the helpful lawman just asks them how the car got so muddy and brushes off the plates but doesn’t radio in the numbers to check. Whew!

    I always assumed once he started getting money and fame with EST, that he made good on the obligations he had run away from. Who knows.

  219. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    like leasing a luxury car, there was an element of glamour in being able to buy into enlightenment while others had to settle for the “cheap church” brand of social awareness.

    And this is the first thing I have read today which would explain why people would pay lots of money for an amorphous feel-good self-assertiveness program — staying ahead of the neighbors. As crass materialistic one-upmanship it makes sense.

  220. hotshoe says

    like leasing a luxury car, there was an element of glamour in being able to buy into enlightenment while others had to settle for the “cheap church” brand of social awareness.

    And this is the first thing I have read today which would explain why people would pay lots of money for an amorphous feel-good self-assertiveness program — staying ahead of the neighbors. As crass materialistic one-upmanship it makes sense.

    Well, that, and the elements of “you get what you pay for” and “free advice is worth the price” and other proverbial valuations of paying for the (presumed) benefit of expertise.

    It seems different now, since we’re all connected to each other on the internet and people really are giving away the best advice for free.

  221. Azuma Hazuki says

    For whatever this is worth, everyone, have you considered re: howard that he might have arrived at a kind of vague “enlightenment” through sheer force of will, or experience, or just having his everyday boundaries shaken enough that his mind has time to slap together a lifetime’s worth of experience?

    This program sounds, in a bizarre and darkly hilarious way, like a type of Mahayana (specifically Rinzai Zen) meditation retreat. Like, the entire thing is a kind of existential koan with western-psychological overtones. Maybe the point is to get the mind both focused (hence seclusion) and introspective (hence the removal from the outside world).

    Personally I’ve been much better served by years and years of science education, mostly self-taught, done in a humanistic frame of mind. It’s possible to put yourself in a state of agape, I suppose you could call it, by trying to figure out which values would arise from a naturalistic and evolutionary understanding of our place in reality. There is still the is-ought problem there, but I experience a kind of quiet, internal lightness and laughter while doing this.

    The conclusion I came to was basically “don’t take yourself so damn seriously. You know the how and the why, and has it made you happier? No. But you can be. Just be. Now you know. Stop searching and live.”

    That doesn’t sound so different from howard’s experience, right? The main difference is I didn’t need to go all woo-woo and culty for it; I did it alone. If we all end up in the same (good) place, does the method matter so much? I just dislike the fact that so much is charged for it and the obvious brainwashing techniques on display there :/

  222. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Damn. I cannot write worth a fuck. I am truly incompetent and should not be allowed anywhere near a keyboard. If hotshoe got that out of my writing then I need to go back to writing in my first language (which would suck, because English is my first language). Hotshoe, I am sorry that my writing was so fucking pathetic that you thought I was praising the value of the expensive programme. Sorry.

  223. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    but I recollect he wanted to ditch his old name because he was in some kind of trouble with the law – missing child support payments, or something relatively minor like that

    Oh yeah, that. That minor thing. A kid of his needing food and clothes. A woman taking care of his kid that needed money to feed and house the child. That minor thing.

  224. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Why the hell would you assume that?

    Why, Ing, because it’s just a Minor Thing. Duh.

  225. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I took the “relatively minor” to mean “not a serial killer”.

    I didn’t.

  226. consciousness razor says

    I took the “relatively minor” to mean “not a serial killer”.

    I didn’t.

    Well, either way, I’m convinced. Sign me up for EST. Do I give my wallet to Howard or Werner?

  227. theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade says

    @ Josh

    It probably involves squatting over a compact mirror and getting “comfortable” with their taints.

    S.O.L (Snorfled Out Loud)

    ……………………..

    More on EST (The leopard has changed it’s spots but not its ways): Linky- “The Landmark Forum: 42 Hours, $500, 65 Breakdowns” (My lost weekend with the trademark happy, bathroom-break hating, slightly spooky inheritors of est.)

  228. litchik says

    If you hated the NYTimes as much as PZ (and I) did you will definitely not want to read the sorry book he is pimping with that piece. http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Weiner/e/B001H6RWIY

    Was listening to an interview on NPR while cooking dinner and was ready to throw the radio into the disposal when I remembered we have TWO NPR stations and a ton of college stations. I did hear him say he is into Kabbalah now because it is spiritual and Jewish. Uh huh.

    I’m into reason now because it’s sane and, honestly, a fascinating way to experience the world. Ask a question, seek actual answers. Wow.

  229. ckitching says

    I find it a little ironic that he’s looking for a “Steve Jobs” of religion. The Jobs Reality Distortion Field is an often mocked feature of the company he was iconic for. It’s ironic that he would put forth the idea that we should be looking for a religion this, when it’s exactly this feature that often drives people leave their religion. Perhaps the reality distortion field merely needs to be stronger?

  230. theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade says

    @ Bro Ogg 258

    a professional troll?

    (My guess:) Nail on head. TL;DR of the article I linked:

    And then, without warning, he launches into the hard, hard sell. “I am committed to having every one of you register for the Advanced Course tonight,” he says. He’s no longer smiling. We can demonstrate our commitment to ourselves, to David [est-ite], to Landmark—all for $650, a $200 discount—but only if we act now.

    Before I get up and leave for good, I spot Rose. She’s sitting in the front row, gazing expectantly at David, ready to take the next step toward Transformation, Possibility, and Enrollment™.

    Money all the way down….

  231. hotshoe says

    Don’t get all shitty with me, Josh, Official SpokesGay. When my mom had to leave my dad, he was minimally decent enough to pay the court-ordered child support (nothing for her, of course, because she left him). Then he never raised the amount for us one dime, and by the time we all were teenagers we were buying used tennies at the Goodwill to keep from going to school barefoot and she was choosing which man to date based on who could be counted on to pay for bags of groceries at the PX. Dinner, thank god! I mean, thank you, Steve. I mean, thank you, Mom, for sleeping with Steve so that he would be in a mood to feed us. I prostituted myself for a pair of good shoes to wear to a high school party. This isn’t the oppression Olympics and I don’t feel sorry for myself, especially compared to some kids I knew. But I’m well aware of what happens when a father doesn’t support his kids, or anyways not enough.

    I don’t get what’s your excuse for jumping to the most negative possible interpretation of what I wrote. Yeah, okay, you had no way of knowing that I had personal experience with hunger and needing clothes. Yeah, okay, I get that I’m not really one of your regular friends. But is that a good reason for you to assume I’m a heartless bastard who thinks child support is no big deal to families who need it ? What it is, is no big deal to the state apparatchiks, who won’t make efforts to collect or enforce support judgments. They think it’s relatively minor, and even when they don’t have any serial killers to chase, they’re not going to chase deadbeat parents across state lines.

  232. unclefrogy says

    look here one of the main things that puts me off when I hear about all these movements or cults or processes that are said to save you or change you make you whole or any of the other fantastic claims they share including all these new age Gurus and born again preachers.
    They all ask for money all the time. All their great secret knowledge requires me to pay for their upkeep before they give it away . If they got the f’n secret to fix the world once and for all to save all of us and make it a heaven on earth why are they always asking for money in some way.
    goes for howard and the so none superstitious christian
    what is the deal about money?

    uncle frogy

  233. duckbilledplatypus says

    @Josh, 184:

    howardschumann (pssst. . dumplin’, you get to use spaces between words for your display name. This is not WebTV):

    Actually, if you try to create an account here through freethoughtblogs, because you’re not actually using any of the social media login options on offer, the registration form provided makes a point of not allowing you any space. Or capital.

    Hence my own username. :/

  234. says

    Guess I’m imagining those spaces in my name then.

    .
    .

    oh ok, go to your name at top left and hover over to get the menu. Select “edit my profile”. Enter a nickname.

  235. bastionofsass says

    howardschumann (pssst. . dumplin’, you get to use spaces between words for your display name. This is not WebTV):

    You dissin’ me about my chosen spaceless nym? *hard stare*

  236. Duckbilled Platypus says

    Guess I’m imagining those spaces in my name then.

    .
    .

    oh ok, go to your name at top left and hover over to get the menu. Select “edit my profile”. Enter a nickname.

    Ah, thanks.

    I assumed that people with spaces in their names had actually logged in using one of the other social media. Hadn’t thought of editing the profile yet since I assumed changing a nick wouldn’t be an option (I’m more used to forums, where it isn’t).

    Two wrong assumptions there. :/ I realize now that there is a difference here between an account name and a display name.

  237. Aquaria says

    I don’t get what’s your excuse for jumping to the most negative possible interpretation of what I wrote.

    Uh–Josh didn’t do that, cupcake. He was bashing this estcompoop turd who did that to his ex-wife and kids.

  238. Aquaria says

    And I know all about scumbag so-called fathers who do absolutely nothing for their kids after a divorce. You got child support. Lucky you. Hell, I couldn’t even get a fucking birthday card out of my piece of shit father.

  239. David Marjanović says

    I don’t even know how the aspirin I take for my chronic knee pain works.

    Aspirin sabotages the production of prostaglandins, which are necessary for pain perception. IIRC, it reacts with one of the involved enzymes and doesn’t leave (for some time).

    I don’t know what’s lower here, the age of the posters or their IQ. It’s a toss-up. Sounds like some of you need to review grammar school. Apparently you never learned common decency and respect for others.

    :-D

    I love self-contradictory paragraphs. Especially when they’re this short!

    Look, dude, some of us are scientists. We’ve trained long and hard to _unlearn_ the package of ritualized lies that is called “politeness” or even “common decency”. We’ve trained long and hard to call a spade a spade. You make a claim, you provide the evidence that supports it. Is that clear?

    “I super double double super chocolate pinky swear!”

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    So true!

    And you[,] BOY

    Fuck that shit already. Your ageism is annoying. Not everyone is the precise kind of southern-US macho who is best insulted that way, so stop using it as your default approach!

    And that’s what we’d have to do to be open-minded in your book, right? Sign up on your say-so? That would make us independent thinkers? “Well, some random dolt internet frothed on about this; so I’d be a fool not to fork over my cash.”

    Full of win.

    Why would someone change his name from John Paul Rosenberg to Werner Hans Erhard?

    Oh! Ouch.

    Ouuuuuuuuuuuch.

    …what the hell does “intellectual slut” even mean?

    I don’t know. It sounds kinda hot.

    I don’t know why he picked the new German name

    OK, I’ll spell it out. Rosenberg is mostly Jewish, John Paul strikes me as American Catholic. Werner, Hans and Erhard are very, very German first names (OK, Hans is just “John”, but a stereotypically German form of it).

    Godwin.

  240. theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade says

    …what the hell does “intellectual slut” even mean?

    “Architect”

    I don’t know. It sounds kinda hot.

    Why thank you sailor… *winks*

  241. MMXI Vole says

    I’ll try something different instead.

    But isn’t this the first step on the road to atheism?

    You try one after another until you realize (with a shining light bulb over your head) that (1) all those alternatives are just one big collective PITA, and (2) you’re an atheist.

    Be patient. Give these people a chance. They’ll be with you eventually, they just need to find their own way at their own pace.

  242. kemist says

    Aspirin sabotages the production of prostaglandins, which are necessary for pain perception. IIRC, it reacts with one of the involved enzymes and doesn’t leave (for some time).

    COX-2 reversible inhibitor. Binds both COX-2 (prostaglandin synthesis) and COX-1 (stomach lining protection).

    Which explains why I never could tolerate the stuff myself. I’m a heavy ibuprofen user for pain relief. Also induces stomach ulcers, but doesn’t make me sick after a single dose.

  243. kemist says

    We’ve trained long and hard to _unlearn_ the package of ritualized lies that is called “politeness” or even “common decency”.

    I would say that the major unlearning you have to do while studying science is that of the so-called “common sense”.

    People who say things like like “I don’t care how it works” while refering to the scientific underpinning of things don’t understand that science is also needed to tell you if something works at all, especially in such complicated systems as living things, where there are way too many variables to conclude on efficacy without statistical tools.

  244. hceverett says

    “Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day. We have a dog in this hunt.” What nonsense! Why would anyone hope for delusion, no matter how comforting? Or how about As PZ says, this is the psychology of “mentally unmoored people who drift spiritually until they waft into the orbit of the latest cult fad.”

    I for one am more optimistic about the Nones than Eric Weiner is. I suspect there lurks within many Nones a healthy self respect that keeps them at a distance from institutions that would lull them into their own comforting brand of illusion. It’s precisely that self respect that Weiner is dismissive of that presents an opportunity for Humanism. Humanism is the only stance that says “We offer a way of life that makes us better people – more loving, less angry – and at the same time fully acknowledges the troubling uncertainties and hard truths of life in the real world.”

  245. says

    Apparently Howard Schumann either has so little to do in life that he trolls the internet looking for mentions of EST and Werner Erhard so that he can shit his ‘you have to believe to understand’ where ever the phrases show up or (and this is my bet) he an employee of, contractor for, or in some other way is being paid by Erhard.

    I’m with Brother O. on this analysis.

    I’d like to point out the “written by committee” style of Howard Schumann’s posts. Not only do the posts wallow in vague assertions while providing no details, no concrete examples, and no peer-reviewed studies to demonstrate efficacy, the posts also sound like bullshit refined via the committee process.

    Not only is Howard probably being paid to do this, but he/she is restricted to committee-approved text. Layers of Sad.

    I laughed out loud when Howard called Sastra “Mr. Sastra.” An attempt to be chilling and polite at the same time falls spectacularly flat when one assumes that any really intelligent post must be generated by a human being with a penis. Sadness layered on sadness. At least it was good for a moment of bitter laughter.

  246. alwayscurious says

    I know it’s late to reply to post 193, but my two-bits on the subject of Middle East archaeology strengthens Aquarus’ claims.

    Let’s just do a short comparison of the translations of “Dead Sea Scrolls” and “Nag Hammadi Scriptures”. Both were ancient religious texts discovered in the mid-1940’s in the Middle East. The Nag Hammadi translation was completed and printed, basically in full, within 30 years or so of it’s discovery.

    But the Dead Sea team hadn’t been completed 60 years later & I believe is might still be incomplete. So why the hold up? A certain number of prelates on the Dead Sea Scrolls decided not to be equal & active members of the research team. Many have suggested (and provided strong evidence for) the prelates stalled their end of the project because they didn’t want the general public to have access to the documents that had been found–it would be too challenging for their faith.

    So why should major religions dig in the Middle East? Well, the most close-minded sects of Christianity certainly don’t want to support any dig that might uncover something contradictory to their truth claims–be it just a perceived contradiction or an actual one. I would expect that more dogmatic Christian sects to back away from archaeology in direct proportion to their understandings that the findings don’t align with Biblical truths. Lip service to the notion to the contrary, Christian dogma appears to gain more by simply letting the sleeping sands hide their ancient tales.

  247. says

    My post at 98 refers to Brother Ogvorbis’s post at 235.

    Well I fucked that up. Probably not worth correcting, but here it is anyway:

    My post at 298 refers to Brother Ogvorbis’s post at 235.

  248. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I would say that the major unlearning you have to do while studying science is that of the so-called “common sense”.

    Like.

  249. kerfluffle says

    “Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day. We have a dog in this hunt.”

    Erm…not so much. I’m a bit like the person he described. Turned my back on my childhood Christianity, spent my time flipping through Joseph Campbell looking for a way out of my growing disbelief, created my own little happy but non-involved ruler of the universe for a while, all that malarkey.

    Faith is a hell of a drug. It’s a little push when you need it most. It’s a friend when you’re lonely. It asks for nothing tangible and gives back tons of intangible. But faith, by its very nature, doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Just one little unanswered question, one little inconsistency and the whole bit unravels like a sweater, leaving you cold. For some people it’s easy to just put on another sweater. For some of us, it was a favorite and we put in a lot of time shopping for one that fits as well. Until we give up and get on with our lives because we finally realize that we’re ok without it.

    Mixed metaphors aside, if I answered PZ’s question of why I am an atheist, it would be very short. I am an atheist because I don’t believe in god. I have unraveled my faith.

    To Weiner I’d say that I don’t hope to find god. I just get nostalgic for the days when things were that simple.

  250. David Marjanović says

    I would say that the major unlearning you have to do while studying science is that of the so-called “common sense”.

    That’s true. I was (sort of) trying to say that politeness, arguments from authority, ad-hominem arguments*, and other forms of confusing people with their ideas come as a package that is part of just this common sense that so often misleads.

    * In case howardschumann doesn’t know, that’s not the same thing as an insult or as “getting personal”.

  251. says

    I’m sorry, but if I wanted to do a flakey ’70s style “personal empowerment” program it would be Exegesis, not est. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exegesis_(group) Mike Oldfield went through it and I like his music. He even got a wife out of the deal(much to his apparent chagrin, as the marriage lasted only a few weeks). Of course it sounds about as silly as est, and its about as relevant in 2011.

    We need to stop calling not walking under a ladder superstition. Not walking under a ladder is common sense. Walk under it and whoever is on the ladder might accidentally drop something on you, fall on you, or you might knock the ladder over trying to get through the gap between it and whatever it’s leaning against.

  252. CJO says

    But the Dead Sea team hadn’t been completed 60 years later & I believe is might still be incomplete. So why the hold up? A certain number of prelates on the Dead Sea Scrolls decided not to be equal & active members of the research team. Many have suggested (and provided strong evidence for) the prelates stalled their end of the project because they didn’t want the general public to have access to the documents that had been found–it would be too challenging for their faith.

    But what in the contents would be so challenging to the Christian faith? The gnostic texts in the Nag Hammadi library are arguably more explosive in that regard. I think the inertia that caused delay in publication of the DSSs was institutional: the approved scholars on the initial project treated the scrolls as a personal scholarly sinecure. They doled them out to favored students and considered that they had all the time they wanted to do the work. They fought tooth and nail against any democratizing of the editorial process, because they didn’t care about the general public. They were the experts, and the rest of the world could wait until they were good and ready to publish. It had a lot more to do with scholarly infighting. Frankly, the texts are far beyond the average pew-sitter’s ability to contextualize and even ask intelligent questions about how they might affect their faith. And I don’t know of any tenet of Christianity that would be challenged by the scrolls, other than a particularly naive version of inerrancy, which could only be challenged by translation of the Biblical texts in the scrolls, which were not among those of greatest scholarly interest, or the ones, by and large, the publication of which was delayed. And Strugnell, deVaux, et al, were mostly Catholics. Why would they have been so interested in propping up a Protestant doctrine, to the point of engaging in conspiracy to do so?

    Now some particularly idiosyncratic and evidence-defying interpretations of the scrolls (Eisenmann mostly) claim they are much later than the consensus dating and that they illuminate a radical revision of Christian origins. But they’re not that late, and the concerns of the sectarian texts are far removed from those of earliest Christianity. Perhaps the fact that Eisenmann was among those who were most instrumental in opening up the process and getting photographs made public has led some to believe that the pushback he experienced was a tacit admission he is right on the part of those who resisted his efforts. But it doesn’t follow. I’m not defending the unconscionable delays on the part of the publication team. It amounted to scholarly malfeasance. But the motive was not the preservation of cherished Christian doctrine.

  253. douchebaggins says

    I’m going to tag in, and give Howard Schumann a rest from the beating he’s taken, hopefully to be able to alter the conversation about Werner Erhard, est, and the Landmark Forum, at least a little bit.

    Full disclosure: I did my first Landmark course at the beginning of 2000. I have since done most of the available courses, and I have been a volunteer. I have been trained to talk to people about the Landmark Forum (and I realize the no-win trap — if you hated Howard’s squishiness [sorry, dude!], you’ll absolutely detest how slick I am). I have never been compensated for my volunteering time. I never did the est training. I have never met Werner Erhard. Like Howard, the positive effects the courses have had on my life have been profound — and like Howard, sometimes I have a hard time articulating the benefits. But I’ll give a few examples:

    – Before the Landmark Forum, I was convinced that I had blown it with women, and that I would never be in a loving relationship again. In the Landmark Forum I saw that this stemmed from an incident with my ex-wife that I had forgotten about; once I saw that I made that decision, I was able to move past it, and I found love a few months later. I’m now happily married (9 years this March), with four kids.

    – Before the Landmark Forum, it seemed like my parents were constantly disappointed in me. In the course I saw that I had created that view, and now we are very close. They are still disappointed in me much of the time (atheist, liberal, etc.), but I don’t let that stop me.

    – When I was in 6th grade, I blew my lines onstage during a performance of West Side Story. I said to myself, “I shouldn’t be a performer”, and I was in the audience for the next 25 years. As a result of seeing that in the Landmark Forum, I was able to give it up. I sang to my wife at our wedding; two nights ago I played bass in the band at our company Xmas party, in front of 200 people. Whereas I used to be terrified to speak in front of a few people, I have conducted training programs to audiences of up to a hundred engineers.

    Now, you could read those examples and say, “Big deal, I could have figured that out on my own.” And you probably could, given enough time. But there are two problems you (we) face: One is that you can’t figure it out on demand — mostly these insights come randomly, like epiphanies. The other problem is that, in most cases, you (we) don’t know where to start looking. So mostly your (our) breakthroughs come by happy accident.

    The Landmark Forum is a guided tour through the internal conversations we have — about ourselves, each other, “life”, “reality” — that allows you to gain quick access to those areas where you aren’t as effective as you want to be. Yes, it’s grandiose to talk about it like this, and it sure as hell sounds familiar — it’s a religion, it’s a cult, it’s a sales pitch, I’ve heard this before. That’s because you’re comparing it against what you already know, and there’s been a shit-ton of bunk to precede these claims — and because Pharyngulistas have hair-triggers for anything even remotely religious, woo, or otherwise quacktastic, it’s not surprising that so much dander has been raised in this thread (by the way – Nones, fuck’em, amirite?).

    But here’s the thing: It’s not that. Yes, the est training, when it was offered in the 1970’s, prevented people from leaving the room to pee. That was thirty years ago; these days, you get up from your chair and you go to the bathroom. Yes, some (many?) people are invited to events at Landmark and are turned off by the hard sell (I’d venture to say that most of y’all would have that reaction, because you’re expecting it, and you’ll find evidence for it). I’ve noticed that the vast majority of negative reviews online are written by people who either attended an introductory seminar (and didn’t sign up) or who started, but did not finish, the actual Landmark Forum. That’s all valid criticism, but I don’t know how much stock I’d take in a movie review written by someone who left after the opening credits.

    The results people get out of the Landmark Forum are varied and personal, but they all coalesce around seeing life in new perspectives. The science word is “ontology” – the study of being. This has primarily been the domain of philosophers (hence the valid complaint that the est training and Landmark don’t offer any new ideas), but Landmark has also been staying atop of recent developments in neuroscience, especially those having to do with memory and experience. (Note that this is an area that science does NOT do a good job of, at least not yet. Neurobiologists cannot translate their knowledge of synapses and firing potentials into the experience of consciousness. Psychiatry and psychology deal mainly with pathology, not with the ordinary operation of a healthy mind.) Landmark’s courses have you look at your experience of life, of consciousness, and in a way that’s not religious or moral. It literally gives you a new way to see life — and with that, a new experience of life. Now, you may hear that and say “BFD”, or you may think you’re already at Operating Thetan, in which case: Vaya con huevos, amigo. Rock on with your all-knowing self.

    But if you’re open to the idea that it might be interesting and even useful to examine the machinery that interfaces between the outside world and what you call your mind, you might find the Landmark Forum a valuable use of your time (3-1/2 days) and money ($500).

    Third-party evaluations of Landmark’s programs can be found at Landmark’s site, including reference to a Harvard Business Review paper that’s lamentably (some might say conveniently?) out of print.

    A fun site that describes the Landmark Forum as a “Top Adventure”.

  254. bird.is.the.word says

    But if you’re open to the idea that it might be interesting and even useful to examine the machinery that interfaces between the outside world and what you call your mind, you might find the Landmark Forum a valuable use of your time (3-1/2 days) and money ($500).

    If I want to examine the machinery that interfaces btw the outside world and my mind I will take a class in sensory neuroscience.

    I can think of a zillion other useful ways to spend $500 that will allow me to “see life in new perspectives” that don’t involve hotel conference food.

  255. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    DoucheBaggins

    The Landmark Forum is a guided tour through the internal conversations we have — about ourselves, each other, “life”, “reality” — that allows you to gain quick access to those areas where you aren’t as effective as you want to be. Yes, it’s grandiose to talk about it like this, and it sure as hell sounds familiar — it’s a religion, it’s a cult, it’s a sales pitch, I’ve heard this before.

    You don’t need Landmark to get a tutorial in that. There is an excellent therapeutic approach called cognitive behavioral therapy which has peer reviewed studies attesting to its efficacy, which is aimed at doing the same thing. I don’t know if Landmark also has the benefit of that validation, but the conversation on this thread leads to be skeptical, as do other things I’ve read about that organization.

    Another thing:

    But here’s the thing: It’s not that. Yes, the est training, when it was offered in the 1970′s, prevented people from leaving the room to pee. That was thirty years ago; these days, you get up from your chair and you go to the bathroom. Yes, some (many?) people are invited to events at Landmark and are turned off by the hard sell (I’d venture to say that most of y’all would have that reaction, because you’re expecting it, and you’ll find evidence for it). I’ve noticed that the vast majority of negative reviews online are written by people who either attended an introductory seminar (and didn’t sign up) or who started, but did not finish, the actual Landmark Forum

    This talk about long days of therapeutic training with no bathroom break, and paying money to spend a weekend crying is the main thing that arouses my skepticism about landmark. CBT comes in 1 hour therapeutic sessions, and in books you can read on your own time. I don’t think there is a therapeutic reason for the long, confrontational workshops landmark purportedly uses, but they sound like standard procedure for breaking down your autonomy so that you can be manipulated and violated. Rather than employing ad hominems against people who are speaking out against landmark, why don’t you find citations that support the specific theories and practices that landmark is employing? Do they have scientific support for their more controversial practices?

  256. KG says

    Third-party evaluations of Landmark’s programs can be found at Landmark’s site, including reference to a Harvard Business Review paper that’s lamentably (some might say conveniently?) out of print. – douchebaggins

    We’ve already been directed there by your fellow estbot. There’s precisely one accessible peer-reviewed paper, from 1995, which is extremely unimpressive – the only actual evidence it gives is of immediate positive responses to a wprkshop. Do you have anything better? Or any evidence for your hint of a conspiracy involving the Harvard Business Review paper?

    *crickets*

  257. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    - Before the Landmark Forum, I was convinced that I could not do math. Thanks to the Landmark Forum, I realized that this was the result of an unconsumated love affair with my hight school math teacher and, once I discovered this, I can now divide by zero!!!

    If it actually works, there would be peer-reviewed studies available showing that it works and theorizing on how it works. Likea aspirin (thanks).

  258. douchebaggins says

    Mr Bird:

    Sensory neuroscience will tell you nothing about your experience of life, which is a bit more elaborate and nuanced than chemical stimuli. To the neurobiologist, the brain is a collection of cells that exhibit electrical activity. Nothing in this discipline explains how consciousness arises. Your experience of life is a function of your mind, not your physiology.

    The tuition at a Landmark course does not include meals, so you won’t be subjected to the hotel’s rubber chicken.

    Hurin:

    employing ad hominems against people who are speaking out against landmark

    You mean when I suggested that it was useful to know the experience level of someone when considering how to weigh their criticism? Goodness, I don’t know what came over me.

    There are parallels between Landmark’s programs and CBT, although I am certainly not an expert in the latter. But just because Landmark’s programs are not delivered in one-hour blocks in a quiet therapist’s office does not invalidate the different delivery method.

    but the conversation on this thread leads [one] to be skeptical

    You’re being generous in calling it a conversation, since it’s been a sustained attack on Howard Schumann. But yes, based on that, it certainly does lead one to be skeptical.

    This talk about long days of therapeutic training with no bathroom break, and paying money to spend a weekend crying is the main thing that arouses my skepticism about landmark

    (A) It’s not therapy.
    (2) You can pee freely. And there are breaks throughout the day.
    (iii) It’s not about crying.

    But if you think it’s about these things, then your skepticism is rightly aroused, because that sounds like an awful time!

    I don’t think there is a therapeutic reason for the long, confrontational workshops landmark purportedly uses

    Again, it’s not therapy. It may or may not seem confrontational — that’s subjective. (Because sometimes it’s helpful to start from the assumption that you don’t have it all together, which not everyone may want to hear.) The program starts at 9am and goes to 10pm, over three days. It’s that long because that’s how long it is (yes, tautological) and that’s how long it takes to delivery the material. If Landmark could deliver the results by having you read a book, they’d be in the publishing business.

    I’ve provided the references that are available to me, on Landmark’s website. Did you check them out? I also rely on my own experience, as well as the experiences of friends and family who have participated — given that the content of the courses focuses on altering the experience of life, that’s a valid data set to use, especially in the aggregate. To be honest, I’m not sure there exists an analysis that would satisfy this audience; essentially you’re asking for an evaluation of an educational method of a private company, and there are all kinds of problems with the credibility and impartiality of such a report. At the risk of sounding like Deepak Chopra, there are aspects of human experience that aren’t currently well-characterized by science, yet, and this domain is largely where Landmark’s work happens.

    KG:

    My own experience is that the results are lasting. I have been through other experiences where the buzz faded within days or weeks, but that has not been the case here. Simple example: Not that I went looking for it, but the road rage that I could reliably count on just disappeared after that weekend 11 years ago. Serenity now!

  259. douchebaggins says

    Brother Ogvorbis:

    If it actually works, there would be peer-reviewed studies available showing that it works and theorizing on how it works

    Um, no, not necessarily. Again, Landmark is a private education company with a particular teaching method. A peer-reviewed analysis is not necessarily mandatory. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Congrats on that dividing by zero thing — very powerful stuff!

    (And you could, in the privacy of your own home, consider that the things that happened to you a long time ago still might have a hold on you today. Most of us share a common experience, something of the nature of “I raised my hand, and gave the wrong answer” or “I asked Susie Derkins to the prom and she laughed at me in front o fher friends”, where we said, “Wow, that sucked; never again.” Just consider it, anyway.)

  260. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    (And you could, in the privacy of your own home, consider that the things that happened to you a long time ago still might have a hold on you today. Most of us share a common experience, something of the nature of “I raised my hand, and gave the wrong answer” or “I asked Susie Derkins to the prom and she laughed at me in front o fher friends”, where we said, “Wow, that sucked; never again.” Just consider it, anyway.)

    No shit. I am well aware that who I am is a combination of chemistry and experience. This is called psychology. And I am painfully aware that past experiences can adversly affect who I am now. I am still dealing with nightmares, stress reactions, and ghost smells. And now, I suppose, you will tell me that your stress-inducing hard-sell will magically help me but you, and anyone else involved with the con, refuse to say how. No thanks.

  261. Brownian says

    Again, it’s not therapy.

    Of course it is: confronting old habits and thought patterns with the aim of making positive changes in one’s life?

    Now I’m suspicious at the lengths you’re going to deny that it’s a form of therapy, only because such denials are often made with the intent of circumventing regulations on who can practice therapy and how. Are you told to tell people it’s not therapy? If so, do they give a reason for this?

    I do appreciate your explanations, douchebaggins.

  262. kerfluffle says

    douchebaggins, are you for real?

    Reading your list, it sounds like something from an SNL skit. “I blamed my ex-wife and blammo! new wife! I thought my parents were disappointed in me. They are! 30 years after 6th grade, I learned different social skills!”

    I understand why you picked these examples. They are the most universal and probably work on people who don’t want to invest in real therapy or are mildly dissatisfied. They all rely on the idea that we are scarred from minutia.

    It’s also the same spiel you can get from Scientology, the recently jailed James Arthur Ray, and a dozen other new age gurus. I have to wonder why you brought it here?

  263. bird.is.the.word says

    I thought we had gone over this already with the other guy, but that’s Ms. Bird to you! Okay, so let me get this straight. You claim that your magical seminars allow one to “examine the machinery that interfaces between the outside world and what you call your mind”, but when I say that I would rather learn about that from a neurobiologist, you say that a neurobiologist can’t tell me how consciousness arises? So? Can your magical seminar? Didn’t think so.

    And at least a neurobiologist would recognize that while my experience of life is a function of my “mind”, my “mind” in turn is a function of my physiology because it is tied to the physical brain.

    Last but not least, $500 and I’d have brownbag enough food for 13 hours? Do you at least provide coolers? Jeesh.

  264. satanaugustine says

    Douchebaggins:

    It literally gives you a new way to see life — and with that, a new experience of life.

    So does LSD and acid is a helluva lot cheaper. You can pee freely on acid, too, just like with the new and improved est you describe.

    Your experience of life is a function of your mind, not your physiology.

    What? You sound like a dualist here. What we call mind is a result of physiology. How could it be anything else?

    Psychiatry and psychology deal mainly with pathology, not with the ordinary operation of a healthy mind.

    Psychiatry, yes. Psychology, not necessarily. In fact all of the insights and life changes that you attribute to est are usually achieved in psychotherapy, which is often administered by a psychologist (who must have a PhD or PsyD to practice). Also, the differences between a pathological mind and a healthy mind are really not as clear cut as you make them out to be. If you had a healthy mind, why would you need est? You even state:

    Because sometimes it’s helpful to start from the assumption that you don’t have it all together, which not everyone may want to hear.

    In what way is “not having it all together” different from pathology? (And I’m not talking about schizophrenia when I use the word pathology. Schizophrenia is no more amenable to psychotherapy than it would be to est).

    Like Brownian said, what you describe is therapy. It just isn’t regulated nor does require any professional training or licensure. And skepticism should be the default position for the claims you’re making, especially in lieu of any evidence other than the anecdotal that have been provided in this thread, and perhaps even more especially when the entire method for producing the alleged results is kept hidden because it the proprietary information of a private company. Furthermore, all of the claims you make have been made for every religion I’ve ever heard of, though the most obvious comparison is Scientology. Scientology and religion “work” for many people as well. It doesn’t mean that it’s not utter bullshit.

  265. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Still no evidence douchebaggins, and your word is worthless (skepticism in action). Now, pony up some third party evidence or shut the fuck up, like any person of honor, honesty, and integrity would do when challenged to provide evidence. I suspect you and honesty long since parted ways…

  266. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    There have now been three ESTers on this thread. All three have tried, with the same degree of success, to explain why their personnal saviour’s, Werner Erhard’s (or whatever his nom de con is) vague and blurry alternative religion is radically different than all the other

    thousands of wacky, weird, novel religions which flourish unchecked and draw in all those mentally unmoored people who drift spiritually until they waft into the orbit of the latest cult fad.

    and all three have, to me, pushed EST even further into the category of ‘wacky, weird, novel religions’ spawned in the great entrepenurial United States. Do they even notice that they use the same arguments (you have to believe to understand; scientists want it to disappear because it actually works; all those other ones are cults, not us!), the same tired tropes, the same pseudo-religious, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-psychological babble designed not to enlighten, but to separate consumers from their money. PZ, you were spot on. Erhard is a perfect example of Steven Jobsian modern consumerist religion (without the usefulness of the product, without the social conscience, without the actual ability to change the world, of course).

  267. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Hmmm. Blockquote fail. That middle pseudo-paragraph should be in blockquotes as it is a direct quote from PZ (above).

  268. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Douchebaggins

    (A) It’s not therapy.
    (2) You can pee freely. And there are breaks throughout the day.
    (iii) It’s not about crying.

    A) Its pseudotherapy. It bills itself as something that will enable improvement in outlook and behavior, which is the providence of therapy. Unlike real therapy it cannot warrant itself as an effective treatment for any real psychological maladies.

    2, and iii) Its not about the specifics that I mentioned. I’m calling attention to a specific pattern of operation which I’ve heard landmark uses.

    I’m specifically talking about items like this:

    I’ve had kinder starts to the day. We’re still taking our seats when Jerry begins shouting: We’re ugly people. Disgusting. Our behaviour is entirely governed by a need to look good which makes us liars, fakes and frauds.

    ‘You’re disgusting,’ he shouts. ‘You just don’t realise quite how disgusting you are yet.’ He pauses. ‘But you’re just about to find out.’ His timing is impeccable; we’ve hardly woken up and we’re already hanging on his every word.

    This morning, he says, he is going to force our resistant minds to recognise how fetid and mean our personalities are. He shouts, he mocks, he refuses to let us ask questions. He tells us we’re liars and ridicules the stories we tell about our own lives

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/dec/14/ameliahill.theobserver

    An item from an account written by a reporter who went to one of these things.

    So you can quit being deliberately obtuse now. I am specifically denying that this sort of charade has any utility for therapy, and I defy you to show otherwise.

    There are parallels between Landmark’s programs and CBT, although I am certainly not an expert in the latter. But just because Landmark’s programs are not delivered in one-hour blocks in a quiet therapist’s office does not invalidate the different delivery method.

    My point is that CBT is not about a “delivery method”, no “delivery method” is necessary. You read a book by Burns or Ellis (technically a proponent of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, which is very similar) and learn to reevaluate situations in a more rational manner. A therapist may or may not aid in this process by helping you contextualize difficult experiences or suggest behavioral exercises. There is no grandstanding. There is no 12 hour exhaustion therapy session that (as far as I’m concerned) can only function to help lower your defenses so that you can be compromised.

    Additionally CBT is transparent. Its proponents are up front about how it works. Its been studied by researchers. There is no behind closed doors, or patented secret. This is another way in which real therapeutic systems are different from cults.

    If Landmark could deliver the results by having you read a book, they’d be in the publishing business.

    If landmark’s effects were based on the ideas being disseminated, then it would be able to. It appears that landmark’s effects are based on a process that first degrades you, exhausts you, and then offers you warm acceptance along with vague and contrived language about “transformation” at the end of the ordeal.

    I’m well aware of how this works. I survived 2 years of something similar at an “emotion growth” boarding school run by CEDU family of services, which btw, purchased rights to use an adaptation of the landmark advanced course as its capstone. I’ve experienced about 9 “transformations” myself, both as an initiate and a student support, and I can tell you that they are bullshit, and so is the pop-psychology that they are founded upon. Even at the time I was vaguely aware there was something wrong with the “therapy” I was getting. I was fully able to appreciate the contrast later, when I finally made it into the office of a real therapist.

  269. says

    If Landmark could deliver the results by having you read a book, they’d be in the publishing business.

    One suspects that if Landmark could charge $500 for a book, they would be in the publishing business.

  270. mikelaing says

    I’ve had kinder starts to the day. We’re still taking our seats when Jerry begins shouting: We’re ugly people. Disgusting. Our behaviour is entirely governed by a need to look good which makes us liars, fakes and frauds.
    ‘You’re disgusting,’ he shouts. ‘You just don’t realise quite how disgusting you are yet.’ He pauses. ‘But you’re just about to find out.’ His timing is impeccable; we’ve hardly woken up and we’re already hanging on his every word.
    This morning, he says, he is going to force our resistant minds to recognise how fetid and mean our personalities are. He shouts, he mocks, he refuses to let us ask questions. He tells us we’re liars and ridicules the stories we tell about our own lives

    He goes on to say,

    “Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land, the diseases with which the Jerry has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur — nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Jerry overthrew in fierce anger. All the nations will ask: ‘Why has the Jerry done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?’ And the answer will be: ‘It is because this people abandoned the covenant of Jerry…. They went off and worshiped other therapies…
    “You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Jerry. “Therefore this is what I will do to you, peons*, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your Jerry, O Peon.”

    *peon

    Someone with the lowest social standing, such that commoners may pee on them with impunity. One social level below serfs, untouchables, and freshmen.

  271. says

    Are you referring to Annakin here? I thought it was implied that he did bring balance to the force by going to the dark side. The Jedi were just wrong because they thought he would be one of them and eliminate the Sith while staying on the light side.

    Well, yes and no. In the cartoon version there is a point where he, Asohka and Obi-Wan, get involved in some mysterious vision. In it there is an Archon, and his two children. One child is pure light, the other pure dark. The pure light one only acts indirectly, until one of his companions is killed, then sacrifices herself to save them, while the dark one is plotting from moment one to have both his sister and father killed by the visitors. During this the dark side one gives Annakin a vision of all the stuff he is going to do in the future, including the blowing up of Alderan and says, “This must happen.”

    He didn’t bring it back into balance, he merely set the stage to let someone else do so after, by basically wiping out the Jedi, and helping hunt down the Sith so completely as well, under Palpatines tutelage, that once both he and the emperor fell at the second death star, the only things left was Luke, and nearly all prior information about both the Jedi and Sith teachings had been scattered, or lost. I.e., the Jedi order had to be rebuilt from scratch.

    Given that this happened much earlier, didn’t the Jedi learn their lesson, or do they always do that? Is that part of the reason the light side creates an imbalance? I’m curious, because I’ve never read any of the Star Wars books.

    Well, not sure how much is covered in the books, but the, “Old Republic”, games hint at the Jedi order having been damaged, and or, fractured several times, including the original break, where they set themselves up on Yavin, to build their original home, and something there dragged some of them to the dark. The Madalorian war gets kind of interesting, since the existing order is basically wiped out at the end of the second game, only to be rebuilt by the people that had followed one of the exiles. This exile might have played the part of Luke, except that he/she (the games let you pick, so…) chose not to remain, and instead went hunting the edges of known space for the remnants of the enemy.

    My take on the whole thing is that they kept learning the wrong lesson. Rather than trying to figure out what the real causes of the dark side where, and how to help people avoid it, they first just got spooked that it happened at all, then later they banned all knowledge that they classified as, “of the dark side”, and created the Sentinel branch of Jedi, who where set to wipe out any sign of the darkside. When that failed, they had to rebuild, but got stricter, and stricter. By the time of the first three movies they have given up entirely on trying to guide people in the force, and resorted to sort of brain washing anyone young enough to not be already taunted.

    Annakin didn’t balance the force, he, instead, simply played the part of the one that erased both of the old orders, so that someone else could rebuild from the ground up. So, sort of like Obi-Wan’s comment to Luke about Darth Vader, its a matter of how you look at it. lol The old order couldn’t change and adapt any more. Every attempt them made to do so resulted in disaster, because their assumptions of how to solve the problems didn’t work. Confronted with Revan, they tried to erase his memory, then set him off to hunt down the super weapon he had discovered – failure, one of his companions had to defeat him (this is assumed, in the game you can either save, or kill, Revan, since at that point in it Revan gets tempted to lead the fleet into attacking the Republic, and you then play as the follower. Confronted with one of Revan’s followers, who had been exiled, and lost touch with the force, they where scared of what that meant, so chose to deny it, rather than understand it, result – one of the people with him/her (almost wish they didn’t let you pick, its less confusing to explain) kills what is left of the council, one of the major Jedi on the side lines goes bad, and has to be stopped too. The order has to be rebuilt, from the ground up.

    One gets the sense that this happens over and over again, ever since the original split, where the Sith, and those simply declared such, due to not following the rules, went one way, and the Jedi order tried to fix the problem with more and more limitations on what was allowed. The Jedi order even, at one point, may have allowed families, but by the time of the movies, that was, “strongly suggested against.”, and actively discouraged.

    As for the books, one of the recent ones, Hand of Thrawn, I think, talks about another order, out in the fringes. I don’t remember the name. But they are described by one character as, “seeing the force not as black and white, but a spectrum.”, and having abilities that neither Jedi nor Sith ever managed to achieve. Within the same context, as the New Republic is trying to keep from fracturing, Luke goes to a world where there is a ceremony, related to war victims, in which different people had different colored lights, representing difference grievances that caused the conflicts, and they sort of blend together, forming a complex pattern of lights, instead of remaining separate. Sort of a message to both the Republic, and probably the Jedi, that its diversity, and a mingling of ideas that leads to balance, not trying to enforce some single, inflexible, order over things. That, after all, was Palpatine’s idea of how to fix the republic.

    I tend to think that the overall picture is probably close to correct, though I could be missing something. I haven’t exactly read all of the books. But, the games, or specifically the earlier ones, which where set after the end of the sixth movie, sort of have a similar theme too, and it fits into why it was necessary to have a madman, and a very powerful ex-Jedi, crush the Jedi and make this less than happy for the Sith(they hunted down pretty much everyone, not just the remaining Jedi, and even, according to the games, destroyed most of the sites where crystals for sabers came from, though later synthetic ones where developed, but only after the Empire fell, and the few survivors, from either side, could start to come out of hiding). I tend to suspect that, despite some of the license taken with them, they generally follow the precepts of what the 7th-9th movies would have been, since they involve the rebuilding of the order.

  272. says

    All they know is the misinformation passed along by the corporate media and the psychiatric establishment, whose purpose is to discredit any discipline that actually produces results.

    Ha ha ha!! That’s a good one. The corporate world is one of the biggest purchasers of bullshit and woo in existence. How many of them do the whole, “Which color are you on our silly color chart, and what does that mean about your management skills?”, or all the, “team building”, exercises? Not to mention the whole, “brain storming”, idea, which has been shown, in several studies, to actually produce fewer, and less creative ideas, than just telling everyone to sit at their desk for a few hours thinking of stuff, then come back and present ideas? If it sounds like it can increase productivity, make the morons working for them happier, and doesn’t cost them a lot, they are all for it, even if its complete idiocy.

    Oh, wait, maybe that is the problem, how much does it cost to be on this guys program? That might be enough to derail them buying into it, at least for the non-CEOs. Otherwise, if anything, the media is even more idiotic at promoting this stupid BS. We just had a post talking about how they might not show all episodes on some channel that claims to be science/fact based, but where 90% of its programming is idiocy, psychics, and halfwits looking for the, “Tomb of Jesus”. If it sold, they would be buying it so fast its not even, at all, funny. So, why isn’t it selling? It can’t be a corporate and media conspiracy, neither one lives in reality to start with, so selling yet another BS self help product would have them both salivating over the right to sell it on TV, whether it worked or not.

  273. John Phillips, FCD says

    Sastra @ #40, imagine your post as QFFT, for his type are as much enablers of those who hide behind the excuse of faith as are the ‘moderate’ believers.

    BTW Sastra, it’s way past time you got another clenched tentacle cluster for your OM.

  274. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    douchebaggins @307:
    Awe, what a heartwarming story you paint. *barf!*

    Landmark (est, whatever) has you so fucking bamboozled that you can’t even take credit for your own successes– you’re giving that away to strangers and you’re happy to do it!

    That’s nothing short of pathetic.

    Sensory neuroscience will tell you nothing about your experience of life, which is a bit more elaborate and nuanced than chemical stimuli. To the neurobiologist, the brain is a collection of cells that exhibit electrical activity. Nothing in this discipline explains how consciousness arises.

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    How is this not a fucking cult? We get it, *science* can’t explain everything, therefore est (or Landmark or whatever the name gets changed to)!

    Your experience of life is a function of your mind, not your physiology.

    THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR MIND AND YOUR PHYSIOLOGY! Consciousness is a function of your physical brain, not some separate entity! Dualism is complete and utter crap.

    The tuition at a Landmark course does not include meals, so you won’t be subjected to the hotel’s rubber chicken.

    So, wait. I would have to pay several hundred dollars for this abusive shit AND Landmark doesn’t even bother to feed me? Just what the hell would I be paying all of that money for? I’m sure I could hire someone to call me a loser for a weekend for much less.

    Jesus Christ.

    You’re being generous in calling it a conversation, since it’s been a sustained attack on Howard Schumann.

    That’s because Howie is a festering shitbag cultist. You’re not much higher in my esteem, by the way, but give it a little while, I’m sure you can drop even lower.

    I’ve provided the references that are available to me, on Landmark’s website. Did you check them out?

    Fuck no. Peddle your woo somewhere else.

  275. dmu111 says

    P.Z., you and your people are relentless. You have someone who agrees with you more than half-way and you bitch slap the hell out of him. Sure he didn’t make you feel good by calling you “angry Atheists”, by why would he say that? Perhaps he saw the episode of the Daily Show when Jon Stewart ridiculed the president of American Atheists for his tasteless comment about the cross in the 911 memorial. Perhaps he read one of these threads were P.Z. throws out some meat and the wolves come pouncing. When did the Atheists adopt the Rush Limbaugh method of argument by treating opponents like crap and calling everyone idiots. I remember back in the 1980 and 90s when we had Atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov who relayed on rational, level-headed and measured arguments to win people over. Can we get more of those kind of Atheists back? I miss them.

  276. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    You have someone who agrees with you more than half-way and you bitch slap the hell out of him.

    That was agreement? No. That was fuzzy accomodationism which just enables those who prefer fantasy to reality. Think that is too strong? Read the comments by the Esters.

    And using gendered insults is not acceptable here.

    I remember back in the 1980 and 90s when we had Atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov who relayed on rational, level-headed and measured arguments to win people over. Can we get more of those kind of Atheists back? I miss them.

    I miss Sagan and Asimov, too, so knock off the sancimonious tone-trolling. Consider your concern noted.

  277. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Shorter dmu111: Waaaah waaah waaah! You damn kids get off my lawn!

    Your concern and use of gendered insults has been noted.

  278. says

    I remember back in the 1980 and 90s when we had Atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov who relayed on rational, level-headed and measured arguments to win people over. Can we get more of those kind of Atheists back? I miss them.

    If I recall correctly people like you mocked them as pussies and whimps.

  279. says

    When did the Atheists adopt the Rush Limbaugh method of argument by treating opponents like crap and calling everyone idiots.

    See the XKCD above.

    Limbaugh’s problem is that he either lies or is grossly apathetic to the truth.

    Btw please tell me if you see anyone here mocking AIDS victims or people who have abortions or the like. If anyone does those Limbaugh things I don’t think they should be welcome.

  280. chigau (違う) says

    dmu111
    No one who says

    We Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day.

    agrees with me half-way. Anyone who doesn’t believe in supernatural entities but wants to, is not on the same side as I am.

  281. coralline says

    there are aspects of human experience that aren’t currently well-characterized by science, yet, and this domain is largely where Landmark’s work happens.

    Then maybe they need to start doing some studies, eh? You know, actually publish something useful and falsifiable.

  282. anteprepro says

    You have someone who agrees with you more than half-way and you bitch slap the hell out of him

    Yep. Criticism is a form of violence when the culprit is an atheist. We know you believe this in your heart, as many others do. Yet we are as skeptical of that, as we are of any other claim coming from particularly mealy-mouths.

    Sure he didn’t make you feel good by calling you “angry Atheists”, by why would he say that? Perhaps he saw the episode of the Daily Show when Jon Stewart ridiculed the president of American Atheists for his tasteless comment about the cross in the 911 memorial.

    Silverman’s quote: “The World Trade Center cross has become a Christian icon. It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their God, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross.”

    Yeah, not seeing how it is tasteless. It’s insulting, but only because it shows how tasteless the beliefs regarding that “miraculous” cross are if you bother to look at them through the lens sane people call “logic”. Why bother pulling the punches when pointing out that it is stupid to pretend that cross-shaped shrapnel is some kind of gift from God as a memorial for tragedy that He could have easily prevented? How could one be gentle about pointing out the irony of that? He could have easily not mentioned the inconsistency, but the fact that people are pretending its a sign from God is pertinent to his case. Pointing out that it is logically inconsistent as well was just a little icing on the cake.

    Perhaps he read one of these threads were P.Z. throws out some meat and the wolves come pouncing.

    New to the internet, are you? Also: Serious Business.

    When did the Atheists adopt the Rush Limbaugh method of argument by treating opponents like crap and calling everyone idiots.

    Did I miss the memo where the people we criticize were shown to not actually be idiotic on the subject they were criticized for? No? So it’s tone trolling all the way down, then?

    I remember back in the 1980 and 90s when we had Atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov who relayed on rational, level-headed and measured arguments to win people over.

    I’m sure those postiively mythicized old atheists would just be as reviled as the negatively mythicized “new” ones. If you want the atheists who meet your bizarre criteria for discussion, I’m sure you can find any number of them. They are the ones who spend the majority of their time telling other atheists to shut up and accept religion. I’m sure that caters to your preferences nicely.

  283. KG says

    Landmark is a private education company with a particular teaching method. A peer-reviewed analysis is not necessarily mandatory. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. – douchebaggins

    Not mandatory, but a company with any real confidence that its methods perform as advertised would surely want to gain the credibility that only competent peer-reviewed studies focused on actual, sustained improvement in performance or contentment could provide. In such a case, absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and evidence that Landmark sells its courses to people and companies that don’t know enough to demand positive peer-reviewed studies before forking out considerable sums of money and their own/staff time. IOW: suckers like you.

  284. mikelaing says

    there are aspects of human experience that aren’t currently well-characterized by science, yet, and this domain is largely where Landmark’s work happens.

    Well if it isn’t the old ‘science hasn’t discovered it yet’ inanity.

    I remember back in the 1980 and 90s when we had Atheists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov who relayed on rational, level-headed and measured arguments to win people over.

    What a very strange thing to say. They didn’t win you over, did they? Furtheremore,

    When did the Atheists adopt the Rush Limbaugh method of argument by treating opponents like crap and calling everyone idiots.

    When idiots started treating Bill O’Rielly, Carl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Robertson as gurus. When they started calling everyone else idiots, promulgating lies and fairy tales, trying to make Christianity sacred(lol), ridiculing science, teach creationism in public school, and when they and apologists kept spewing the same, well debunked, nonsense over and over like we were idiots and didn’t understand. To name a few reasons.
    When idiocy became the norm, we started treating idiots like idiots. When growed up people started proselyting dangerous ideas like abstinence education only, and not handing out condoms because they promoted sin, and becoming rabid pro-lifers who want to make healthcare decisions based on ideological mysticism and physically threatening and killing patients and doctors. When these same ‘moral majoritiers’ made Jerry Falwell their de facto political leader.

    You getting the picture? When stupid stupid has become so fucking thick that the idiots have become unable to make decisions rationally, yet want to tell the rest of us what to think and do, like increase taxes on all the poverty stricken parents they force to have children by denying contraception and medical health issues so they can cut the taxes on the filthy rich psychopaths that already hoard the wealth amongst themselves.

    When the idiots are so willing to become sheep that they willingly obey the people that slit their the throats of the peons that ignorantly, not only happily follow each other to slaughter, but try to make it law that everyone else should be slaughtered, too.

    When we realized that even the meek and under-spoken masses condoned this trend by continuing to practice the religions that dictate fantasy as the path to knowledge, suffering as the path to happiness, and condemnation and judgement as the ultimate law above what society dictates. The fucking accomodationists and neo-liberal chicken-shites that give the extremists legitimacy, these dolts aren’t policing their own, so that the major, if not only, contenders for leadership of the most powerful, yet morally backwards nation on the planet are certifiable cuckoo crackers that think prayer is a responsible method of dealing with economic and physical crisis, that think that not only following outdated policies that demonstrably royally fuck the economy and most people up, they want to apply these policies even more stringently because they worship Reagan, and leaders, even when they have failed to grasp reality.

    Because condoning and practicing magical thinking as an underlying philosophy inoculates the religious and the pansies against reality and inhibits their pursuing education and the ability to think as necessary to survival, it is becoming critical that they begin to understand that closing their eyes and saying ‘la – la – la – la – la'(praying for each other) is a dangerously incompetent way to deal with shit these days.

    Mainly, I(we) treat idiots and politeness fairies(think Tinkerbell) with contempt and disdain because otherwise they start to become Pollyannas that lose all ability to make distinctions between thinking, and wishing.

  285. says

    (And I’m not talking about schizophrenia when I use the word pathology. Schizophrenia is no more amenable to psychotherapy than it would be to est).

    That does not appear to be the case. (See, for example, the Open Dialogue project in Finland.)

    ***

    To the neurobiologist, the brain is a collection of cells that exhibit electrical activity. Nothing in this discipline explains how consciousness arises.

    What are you talking about?

    …my own experience, as well as the experiences of friends and family who have participated — given that the content of the courses focuses on altering the experience of life, that’s a valid data set to use, especially in the aggregate… At the risk of sounding like Deepak Chopra, there are aspects of human experience that aren’t currently well-characterized by science, yet, and this domain is largely where Landmark’s work happens.

    This doesn’t hold any water. If you’re talking about changes in “experience” or levels of experience or contentment or whatever, this must have some meaning to you and others that can obviously be characterized by science. If improvement can’t be characterized in some form that has a referent beyond the words, it’s meaningless verbiage. You are making a scientific claim: that this program has positively altered your and others’ experiences of life. You can’t then turn around and argue that this claim is not accessible to science.

  286. kerfluffle says

    Markita Lynda, happy Winter Solstice, everyone! says:

    Kerfluffle, I sent your paragraph about faith to my too-religious cousin.

    Wow, thank you. That’s very flattering. Although based on a recent Thanksgiving, you may get something back like “God provides a sweater for all occasions, he never leaves you cold.” or “God wouldn’t let that sweater unravel if you left it in His hands and didn’t pick at it.”

    Too-religious relatives always seem to have a ridiculous come-back. Which can occasionally be used as pithy highlights in a story about why this Thanksgiving was awkward. So there’s that.

  287. douchebaggins says

    So exciting to get so much mail! I’ts like a pen-pal Christmas.

    Brownian @ 315:

    Prior to doing the Landmark Forum, I spent eight years in conventional, flat-on-your-back, talk-about-your-mother individual psychotherapy. The Landmark Forum is not therapy. During my course I didn’t interact with the instructor at all. We did not talk about my specific issues. I watched and listened to the instructor talk to other participants about their issues. I saw (because it’s always easier to see what other people’s problems are than it is to see your own) that I also might have these issues, and I could see new ways to relate to them. This new perspective gave me a new and more powerful way to relate to the issues in my life. If you call that therapy, fine; I call it an inquiry.

    A familiar experience that many on this thread may share is how you felt when you realized that there is no God. For some it was a gradual process, but for others it was a light bulb going on. The Landmark Forum is a place where you can bring that same sort of insight to all areas of your life. If you call that therapy, fine. It’s not therapy.

    Kerfuffle @ 316:

    I chose my examples because they are universal. Even though we’re all unique snowflakes, there really isn’t much variety in our “scarring” (your word, not mine) experiences: Mom liked you best, raised my hand and gave the wrong answer, looked like a dipshit in front of the cool kids, realized I was out of my league, etc. It’s an examination of these basic experiences, and, more specifically, our common response to them, that gives the Landmark Forum its utility. And we’re not scarred — but I assert that there are areas in your life where you don’t feel effective or confident or powerful, because of those past experiences.

    Ms Bird @ 317:

    Sorry for gender mixup.
    And sorry, but a neurobiologist knows nothing about consciousness. She cannot take you from synapse potentials and neuronal pathways to The Mind. My magical seminar doesn’t attempt to explain how consciousness arises, nor does it need to. It starts with the premise that it exists, and starts the exploration there.
    Refigerators are provided at most Landmark offices, as are microwaves, for participants to use. And most offices are located near restaurants if you don’t want to bring your own meals.

    Satanaugustine @ 319:

    First, awesome nym.
    Second, thanks for the respectful and insightful response.
    Look: Of course the mind is a product of the physical brain — how could it be any other way? However, knowing that provides nothing. It gives you no access to examining your experience of life.

    Let me be clear: There’s nothing in the Landmark Forum that you couldn’t achieve in working with a competent therapist, or in a meditation practice, or careful contemplation, or dropping acid, or studying philosophy. The end result of all those things is a new perspective on life. Usually it takes a long time to reach those insights; the Landmark Forum just gets you there faster, by virtue of how it’s delivered (in a group, over three intense days) and the actual conversations that are held.
    As for the “having it all together” comment – I didn’t mean it in terms of healthy brain function / pathology. I meant that there are areas of life where we tolerate things being bad, but pretend like they don’t affect us. Anyone not spoken to a parent or sibling for years, and you have a really compelling explanation for why not? Anyone suffering in an abusive relationship but you can’t get out? Anyone knows they’ve got a weight problem but can’t seem to get to the gym or to the produce aisle? We tolerate all sorts of bullshit suffering in our lives and convince ourselves we’re powerless to alter it. Aren’t you interested in examining why that might be? Landmark presents a model of the human experience, and they are very careful to not call it The Truth. It’s just an effective model.

  288. says

    I think back in my fence-sitting agnostic days, I was a None too, without knowing the term. I thought that atheists were also arrogant as theists in being so certain that god did not exist (or existed).

    But this wasn’t anything a few years of lurking on Pharyngula couldn’t cure ;)…

  289. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Landmark presents a model of the human experience, and they are very careful to not call it The Truth. It’s just an effective model.

    Bullshit. If landmark is simply presenting a model, then why all the vagaries about what they are actually saying, and why hasn’t the model been published? Scientists propose models all the time; it doesn’t usually entail locking your fellow scientists in a hotel conference room and screaming pseudoscientific crap at them for 13 hours.

  290. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Let me be clear: There’s nothing in the Landmark Forum that you couldn’t achieve in working with a competent therapist, or in a meditation practice, or careful contemplation, or dropping acid, or studying philosophy. The end result of all those things is a new perspective on life. Usually it takes a long time to reach those insights; the Landmark Forum just gets you there faster, by virtue of how it’s delivered (in a group, over three intense days) and the actual conversations that are held.

    The part that I emphasize in italics is exactly the sort of claim a peer reviewed study should be used to validate if it were actually true.

    As for the rest, my experience has been that seeing a therapist is not like meditation, dropping acid, studying philosophy, or a number of other religious/spiritual activities I tried to help “get a new perspective on life”. The former did in several weeks what the latter bunch failed to do over 20 something years. That’s just an anecdote, but I’ve already provided a link to the relevant data upthread.

  291. Brownian says

    If you call that therapy, fine. It’s not therapy.

    Don’t fucking assert shit at me. I don’t care if you discussed handjob techniques with hookers for four days—if you’re asserting that the program does what you say it does, that’s fucking therapy, no matter how special and wondrous and magical it is in your eyes.

  292. douchebaggins says

    Brownian @ 351:

    I have direct experience with individual and group psychotherapy. I have experience with woo — a weeklong retreat with Gary Zukav, Oprah’s favorite physicist, and several Scott Peck-inspired group encounters. I’ve dropped acid dozens of times. I’ve meditated. I have studied the social and psychological effects of religion, largely through what I’ve learned here on Pharyngula. I know a thing of two about Scientology. In short, I know what I’m talking about.
    When you have participated in the Landmark Forum, then I’ll be inclined to listen to your assertions about what it is and isn’t. Until then, stop railing against something you don’t understand nor apparently care to learn about.

  293. Brownian says

    When you have participated in the Landmark Forum, then I’ll be inclined to listen to your assertions about what it is and isn’t. Until then, stop railing against something you don’t understand nor apparently care to learn about.

    Look fucknut, not all of us are so fucking stupid that we need to throw ourselves at every con artist’s feet in order to learn that cons exist.

    I’m glad that Landmark Forum cured your acne and made you move on from your terrible, terrible ex. You sound like a wonderful person; just not one who can be trusted with their own money, and I’m glad so many others are taking care of it for you.

    But, what you’ve described fits any reasonable definition of therapy (I’m sure you’ll understand this when you pay someone to tell you what therapy is.) I’ve asked you why you claim it is not, and you simply assert that it isn’t.

    But, since you’re the type of idiot that thinks personal experience triumphs over all, then all I’ve got to say to you is that you won’t know how fucking good thinking is until you’ve tried it.

    That’ll be $500, you fucking chump.

  294. Brownian says

    I have direct experience with individual and group psychotherapy. I have experience with woo — a weeklong retreat with Gary Zukav, Oprah’s favorite physicist, and several Scott Peck-inspired group encounters. I’ve dropped acid dozens of times. I’ve meditated. I have studied the social and psychological effects of religion, largely through what I’ve learned here on Pharyngula. I know a thing of two about Scientology.

    Oh, yeah: so have I, so take your “you don’t know until you’ve been there” and wrap it up as a Christmas present to the fancy new you.

  295. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    When you have participated in the Landmark Forum, then I’ll be inclined to listen to your assertions about what it is and isn’t. Until then, stop railing against something you don’t understand nor apparently care to learn about.

    Amazing. I guess the pseudo-religious “you cannot understand it until you have experienced it” is taught in the course. This is a great argument to use when you have lots and lots to hide.

  296. Brownian says

    This is a great argument to use when you have lots and lots to hide.

    Or a great big fucking space where your brain should be.

  297. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Or a great big fucking space where your brain should be.

    Maybe the brain is just out getting washed?

  298. Brownian says

    Maybe the brain is just out getting washed?

    Never a good idea. Once shrunk, it’s nearly impossible to stretch it back to its original size.

  299. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When you have participated in the Landmark Forum,

    And what is your cut for recruitment? I distrust everything you say. It is all self-referential, and there is no third pary evidence that what happens really works. Just your lying and bullshitting word that it does.

    You are using the same tactics every creobot who comes here uses: “belive me, I’m right”. Sorry, you are wrong until you can provide proper evidence you are right from legitimate sources outside of yourself and what you are selling. Welcome to science, not your opinion.

  300. douchebaggins says

    Hurin @ 323:

    I’m sorry you went through a cult-like experience; it sounds like a pretty shitty time. And it sounds like CBT was helpful in — recovering? — from it. Good on ya. My path was the inverse of yours; after 8 years of conventional therapy, it had done for me what it was going to do. I stopped seeing my therapist the week after I did the Landmark Forum, with his blessing (since it was his suggestion anyway). There are many paths.
    I think you’re making a distinction without a difference when you keep talking about “therapy.” Who cares what the source of one’s improved outlook is, if it positively alters your life? I had a peak experience at a Grateful Dead show in 1991; should I sue the estate of Jerry Garcia for practicing therapy without a license because of that transcendental solo during Morning Dew?

    Dr Audley @ 332:

    Easy, tiger.
    I do take credit for my successes — after all, I’m the one who asked my wife-to-be on that first date, I’m the one who picked up the bass again and sought out other musicians, I’m the one at the helm of my life. But I wouldn’t have seen any of those actions as “safe” were it not for the insights I had gotten while in my magical cult meeting.

    THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR MIND AND YOUR PHYSIOLOGY! Consciousness is a function of your physical brain, not some separate entity! Dualism is complete and utter crap.
    “Dualism” is someone else’s term, not mine.
    As for your all-caps assertion: Yes, there is.

    KG @ 343 and others seeking credible validations:

    This is an area that Landmark is actively working on (comprehensive, defensible and falsifiable evaluations), and I don’t have more info beyond that. When such a report becomes available, I’m sure there will be an eager audience here to a priori shit all over it review it objectively.

    Salty Currnent @ 345:

    You are making a scientific claim: that this program has positively altered your and others’ experiences of life. You can’t then turn around and argue that this claim is not accessible to science.
    I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was making a scientific claim, although I think the social sciences have accepted metrics that could measure such a claim. And I’m not arguing that the claim is accessible to science — it is, with well-designed evaluation protocols. I just don’t have those data. What I am saying, perhaps boldly and open to ridicule, is that science has not done a lot of investigation into the nature of human being, as its own discipline.

    Hurin @ 349:
    If landmark is simply presenting a model, then why all the vagaries about what they are actually saying, and why hasn’t the model been published?
    Because the model, and the ideas laid out on a piece of paper, make no difference in and of themselves. You’d read them and say, “Know that… know that… that’s stupid… don’t believe that for a second… That’s common sense, I paid money for this?” A major component of the Landmark Forum is experiential — the conversation of the weekend (which is 3×13=39 hours, you ready to sign up now?) takes time to unfold. At the end of it, you have a new way to look at your life.

    Brownian @ 352:

    The Landmark Forum might help with that desire, although I’m still holding tight to mine — there’s a lot of stupid in the world.

  301. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    We gots us a real True Believer™ here. Long on self-testamonials, short on peer-reviewed papers.

  302. douchebaggins says

    Brownian @ 354:

    I like you, you’re feisty.

    since you’re the type of idiot that thinks personal experience triumphs over all, then all I’ve got to say to you is that you won’t know how fucking good thinking is until you’ve tried it

    I think that my personal experience of my own life is, in fact, a pretty fucking handy measure of my own satisfaction, especially since I’ve stopped deluding myself about where my life isn’t working. If I say that I’m significantly happier, more content, more confident, and more productive as a result of my participation in the Landmark Forum, who are you to deny that?

    Here’s the crux of the biscuit: PZ posts about Nones, lumps Werner Erhard in with a bunch of religious psychopaths. Howard Schumann and I try to correct that, and make assertions about the effectiveness of the est training and the Landmark Forum. Regular readers hear all of that through the lens of the creotards who show up every day to spout their nonsense, and we have this delightful but predictable descent into name-calling. As a long-standing reader of this blog, I know what a faith-sourced assertion sounds like, and I can see how what I’ve said may raise all sorts of hackles. The Landmark Forum is the real deal, and for those of you who are interested in a new set of ways to look at life, I recommend it. For those of you who think you’ve already got it all figured out: Don’t believe everything you think.

  303. John Morales says

    douchebaggins:

    For those of you who think you’ve already got it all figured out: Don’t believe everything you think.

    <spoing!>

  304. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    As a long-standing reader of this blog, I know what a faith-sourced assertion sounds like, and I can see how what I’ve said may raise all sorts of hackles.

    And yet you keep spouting exactly the same faithist, nonsubstatial, anti-science, wooist bullshit.

  305. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    At the end of it, you have a new way to look at your life.

    Prove that allegation with third party evidence. Put up or shut the fuck up. If you can’t put up, and can’t shut up, you are nothing but a proven liar and bullshitter.

  306. KG says

    This is an area that Landmark is actively working on (comprehensive, defensible and falsifiable evaluations), and I don’t have more info beyond that. When such a report becomes available, I’m sure there will be an eager audience here to a priori shit all over it review it objectively. – douchebaggins

    Neat: draw atention away from the admission that no, there isn’t any worthwhile evidence for the efficacy of the stuff you’re peddling, by pairing it with a pre-emptive dismissal of any and all criticisms of whatever may be presented in future.

  307. says

    For those of you who think you’ve already got it all figured out: Don’t believe everything you think.

    Yeah, you guys might think you’re happy, but you’re not.

  308. Brownian says

    : PZ posts about Nones, lumps Werner Erhard in with a bunch of religious psychopaths. Howard Schumann and I try to correct that, and make assertions about the effectiveness of the est training and the Landmark Forum

    Why? What basis do you have to suggest that Werner Erhard is different from these ‘religious psychopaths’ and therefore PZ needs correcting?

    Because I can guaran-fucking-tee you I can find a proponent of every one of those ‘religious psychopaths’ who will attest that they are “significantly happier, more content, more confident, and more productive as a result” of their interaction with Joseph Smith, or L. Ron Hubbard, or Elizabeth Clare Prophet, or Jim Jones (okay, maybe not Jim Jones), or David Koresh, or JZ Knight, or the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, or Mary Baker Eddy, or Helen Blavatsky, as well as Werner Erhard.

    Who are you to deny their experiences?

    This is how it fucking works, douchebaggins: either Werner is the real deal because you and that moron howard say he is (and so far, that’s all you’ve done), and that applies to every other ‘religious psychopath’ on that list so Werner is no different than any of these ‘religious psychopaths’, or you two accept that your personal testimony means more or less jack shit in this context.

    Because I know people who say that J.Z. Knight, as Ramtha, transformed their lives, and their testimony means exactly as much as yours with regard to est.

    So, unless you got something better than “I think it worked for me and that’s all that matters”, you’re done here on the basis of your own argument.

  309. douchebaggins says

    Nerd of Redhead, I don’t get a cut. No toaster, no discounted tuition, no discount blowjobs at the compound commissary.
    As Pollyanna-ish as it sounds, what I get out of having other people do the course is that we have different types of conversations. We don’t spend a lot of time complaining or arguing for why things can’t be, which is what people usually do.

    And for those of you who think I’ve been hornswaggled or brainwashed: I’ve been in meetings with Landmark’s leaders, vigilant for the conversation about deception, duplicity, and cult-like behavior. Instead I hear concerns about how to make Landmark’s events less of a hard sell, and how to convey the benefits of the programs without sounding like an infomercial. So more people will pay for the courses? Yes, so more people pay for the courses. It’s a business.

  310. Brownian says

    So, thanks to douchebaggins, we can conclude that PZ was right: Werner Erhard is no different than Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Jim Jones, David Koresh, JZ Knight, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Mary Baker Eddy, or Helen Blavatsky, because they’ve all got people who will swear by them, and who are we to deny that?

    Right, douchebaggins?

  311. KG says

    douchebaggins,

    Regular readers hear all of that through the lens of the creotards who show up every day to spout their nonsense – douchebaggins

    I generally see through lenses, but presumbly est the Landmark Forum enables initiates to hear through them. We see the close similarities between your assertions and those of creobots.

    As a long-standing reader of this blog, I know what a faith-sourced assertion sounds like, and I can see how what I’ve said may raise all sorts of hackles.

    Even you recognise that you sound like a creobot, and yet this honking great clue still doesn’t alert you to what’s been done to you. Sad.

  312. douchebaggins says

    Ok, everyone. You win. You’re right, I don’t have a paper from Science or Nature or JAMA or whatever-the-fuck authority you would consider credible. I have my own experience, and the experience of thousands of people who are leading different and better lives because they drank the Kool-aid, parted with $500, got yelled at, peed on, and were deprived of a delicious sandwich. But until I have my data, I’ll retreat back into the shadows and watch for the next unsuspecting schmoe to wander into this lively commons. Always funner to watch it happen to someone else.

  313. Tethys says

    Instead I hear concerns about how to make Landmark’s events less of a hard sell, and how to convey the benefits of the programs without sounding like an infomercial.

    Several independent, peer-reviewed, science based studies with statistical analysis would be acceptable proof.

    Unless you can provide this, you’re peddling woo.

    I find it amusing that hard selling, and infomercial are the terms you used to describe it.

    Gullible people, how do they work?

  314. John Morales says

    douchebaggins:

    I have my own experience, and the experience of thousands of people who are leading different and better lives because they drank the Kool-aid, parted with $500, got yelled at, peed on, and were deprived of a delicious sandwich.

    You know, Scientologists beat you in every single department, there. :)

  315. douchebaggins says

    KG, nothing has been “done” to me. I appreciate everyone’s concerns for my well-being, but give it a fucking rest: I’m 45 years old, I can differentiate between being manipulated (really!) and being presented with a set of ideas to try out. I know what manipulation sounds like; my parents are Fox News converts.

    Stacy, you ask what I was doing there. I said early on that I was a volunteer, and in my first years around the office I was skeptical as you were. If there was a conversation about expanding the cult, I didn’t hear it.

  316. Brownian says

    But until I have my data, I’ll retreat back into the shadows

    And then next time you get the urge to stand up and yowl “But, but, Werner Erhard and Landmark Forums are different!” when someone lists them alongside Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, David Koresh, JZ Knight, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Mary Baker Eddy, and Helen Blavatsky, you’ll remember that each and every one of them has “thousands of people who are leading different and better lives because they drank the Kool-aid” who would be willing to stand up and say the exact same fucking thing.

    Do you get it now or will I have to berate you for a few more days before the epiphany takes?

  317. Brownian says

    Actually, if there’s any take-home message from this conversation it’s that line between what is and what is not a “cult” is pretty blurry, and that the term is probably useless other than as a pejorative in the mouths of laypeople.

  318. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I can differentiate between being manipulated (really!) and being presented with a set of ideas to try out.

    Spoken like a true believer.

    I had a friend sucked into one of these “self help” cults and he said the exact same words to me after shelling out thousands of dollars, months of commitment and a good chunk of rationality.

    Good job living up to it.

  319. douchebaggins says

    John Morales, the Landmark Forum is substantially cheaper and less invasive than Scientology. If you’re going to be taken in by a life-wrecking cult, at least have the good fiscal sense to save some ducats.

    Tethys, I use the terms “informercial” and “hard sell” because that’s the common experience that some people have. It’s actually a significant barrier — people think, “Wow, this is uncomfortable, will the course be like this too? No thanks.” I could deny that this exists, and then be accused of hiding something.

    Anyway, you’re late to the conversation. We’ve already estalbished that I have no business opening my mouth until I have the papers, statistics, 8×10 color glossy photographs, and PowerPoint slide deck to back up my assertions. Given that standard, it’s surprising that the allowed tags don’t include superscripts for all the references that should be called out.

  320. John Morales says

    douchebaggins:

    I’m 45 years old, I can differentiate between being manipulated (really!) and being presented with a set of ideas to try out.

    Perhaps you should consider what someone you respect once wrote: “Don’t believe everything you think.”

    PS Meet a Scientologist

    (Their business is better than your business)

  321. John Morales says

    douchebaggins:

    the Landmark Forum is substantially cheaper and less invasive than Scientology.

    Like I wrote: they beat you in every department. :)

    We’ve already estalbished that I have no business opening my mouth until I have the papers, statistics, 8×10 color glossy photographs, and PowerPoint slide deck to back up my assertions.

    It’s been established that your testimonial is as worthy as those of any other sucker.

    (If this is the new you, the old one musta been pretty sad)

  322. douchebaggins says

    Whatevs, amigos. I know what I got. Sorry to have bothered everyone; at least everyone got some sparring in.

  323. Brownian says

    We’ve already estalbished that I have no business opening my mouth until I have the papers, statistics, 8×10 color glossy photographs, and PowerPoint slide deck to back up my assertions.

    Oh, a persecution complex. Yet one more way in which neither you nor howardschumann appear much different than those who follow ‘religious psychopaths’.

    Is this magical difference that sets you and the esters apart from everyone else like the Catholic concept of transubstantiation? Or is it somehow detectable? Do we need special glasses? X-ray crystallographers? A neutrino-detector?

    C’mon, throw us a fucking bone here.

  324. Tethys says

    Landmark Forum woo is substantially cheaper and less invasive than Scientology woo.

    AFAICT the only supporting fact you’ve provided is your nym douchbaggins.

  325. Brownian says

    the Landmark Forum is substantially cheaper and less invasive than Scientology.

    Like I wrote: they beat you in every department. :)

    Less invasive than Scientology, but more intense than psychotherapy.

    I’ve got a new marketing slogan for you, douchebaggins:

    “Landmark Forums: the Goldilocks of Personal Transformations!”

  326. John Morales says

    [meta]

    douchebaggins:

    Sorry to have bothered everyone; at least everyone got some sparring in.

    Sparring?

    Heh.

    (Nice one, O chew-toy!)

  327. douchebaggins says

    Brownian, you’re right, I’m being overly dramatic. Withdrawn. I know what type of information is required for this audience and I don’t have it. I have my own experience to reference, which I think is appropriate since the Landmark Forum is intended to alter experience (or, to get completely woo, to alter the experience of experience). But it sounds like a weak testimonial to you, especially since you didn’t know me before. That’s another reason why it’s difficult to explain to people what it’s about — people sign up largely based on the changes they’ve seen in people in their lives, not because they read some ad copy and fall for it. I doubt I’m going to convince anyone of anything that you don’t already believe.

  328. douchebaggins says

    Tethys, congratulations! 80 posts between my initial post and your calling out my nym! You’ll be in the He-Man Troll-Haters Club as soon as you tell that girl over there she smells like doody.

  329. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have my own experience,

    Bullshit. You are a proven liar and bullshitter without third party evidence, and you know that, but you keep proselytizing anyway preacher. What a loser…

  330. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    I doubt I’m going to convince anyone of anything that you don’t already believe.

    So if I do not take your personal testimonial of your experiential experience at face value and sign up, I am closed minded. And if I ask for some third party evidence, studies, something, then, obviously, I will only believe what I believe and my mind cannot be changed? Bullshit. Evidence will change my mind. Peer-reviewed studies will change my mind. Anecdotes from three different Esters, who all, by some odd coincidence, use the same vapid and empty phrases will not change my mind. They will make me more suspicious of the programme, of you, of your motives. But, I guess asking for actual evidence just proves that I am closed minded and will only believe what I want to believe.

  331. douchebaggins says

    Nerd of Redhead, really? I DON’T have my own experience? I’ll go straight to the psych ward after work to handle my delusions. Huh – I thought I was here. I even stuck my finger into my brain matter to prove that my sensory organ is still giving rise to Mind. Weird.

    As for that I’m a proven liar: Tell me where I lied. You can discount my assertions and call them bullshit, but I have told no lies. Not that it matters, angels on pinheads and all that…

  332. Brownian says

    I have my own experience to reference, which I think is appropriate since the Landmark Forum is intended to alter experience (or, to get completely woo, to alter the experience of experience).

    Why is it so hard for you to understand that everybody could claim that with equal validity about every experience?

    So, you’re convinced it worked for you. Are you unable to understand how not compelling to anyone that should be? That New York cabbie seemed pretty convinced he was offering me a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge. Jenny McCarthy seems pretty convinced that vaccines caused her son’s autism.

    Can you possibly conceive of why your personal beliefs are no more credible than theirs?

    But it sounds like a weak testimonial to you, especially since you didn’t know me before.

    And even if I did and agreed with you that your change was due to Landmark Forums, that wouldn’t make it so, any more than you and I agreeing that the Echinacea-infused homeopathic concoction you took cured your cold would.

    That’s why we invented double-blind testing: we are, every one of us, unreliable witness, especially when it comes to causality and our own personal experiences.

    The fact that Landmark Forums claim they “alter the experience of experience” is not a get-out-of-having-to-have-objective-evidence-of-efficacy-free card, any more than the experiential process of talk psychotherapy renders CBT immune to efficacy studies.

  333. John Morales says

    [meta]

    douchebaggins:

    As for that I’m a proven liar: Tell me where I lied.

    You’ve already forgotten this: “But until I have my data, I’ll retreat back into the shadows and watch for the next unsuspecting schmoe to wander into this lively commons.”?

  334. Tethys says

    80 posts between my initial post and your calling out my nym!

    I appreciate the fact that you gave yourself an accurate nym, and tenaciously prove that you are proud to be a douchbag.

    You’ll be in the He-Man Troll-Haters Club as soon as you tell that girl over there she smells like doody.

    There’s a mens club for ridiculing gullible trolls?
    *yawn*

  335. douchebaggins says

    Brother Ogvorbis, here’s the deal: You are rightly skeptical to doubt a testimonial of a stranger. I’ve followed you on PZ’s blog, and have a small sense of who you are, but the opposite is not the case, so my own experience carries no weight for you. You’re scientific in your thinking, and data would at least give you a reason to consider the claims. I have found the following links – most are stored at Landmark’s site, but they were conducted by independent research groups.

    This study describes how participation in the Landmark Forum improved employee attitudes toward learning.

    This study from the USC Marshall School of Business looked at how Landmark’s business programs improved outcomes at a mining company. Text of the study available for $3 through USC — I guess they’re for-profit too.

    This survey of Landmark graduates could use better statistics, but they did interview 1,300 people.

  336. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    Yeah, douchebaggins, I guess I really do think of myself as small. And obviously, I need to spend lots of money to have people yeall at me. Yeah, that’ll help my PTSD. Fuck off.

  337. says

    I’m 45 years old, I can differentiate between being manipulated (really!) and being presented with a set of ideas to try out.

    It is well known that those who think themselves too smart to be manipulated or conned are the ideal marks right?

    Cause you just gotta convince them to TRY to give a LIIIIIIIIIIIIITLE bit, and then they’ll do all the work to convince themselves that it was the right decision. Grade-A-sucker.

  338. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I DON’T have my own experience?

    How do we know you aren’t a semi-functing delusional fool, like any other preacher? That is why third party evidence is required, as it also takes us from having to accept your inane and insane opinions as anything other probable lies. You see, we question everything, including you. And you failed to back up your assertions with evidence. Hence, you lie and bullshit, since you can’t put up, and you can’t shut the fuck up…As people of honesty, integrity, and truth would do…

  339. says

    @Douchebaggins

    Do you know what “conflict of interest” means? I hovered over the links to see if any would not send me to Landmark. Nope, no reason to click. Don’t want to read their hype machine.

    This survey of Landmark graduates could use better statistics, but they did interview 1,300 people.

    Ah yes the GRADUATES. Let’s focus on the people who went through the whole investment and thus would look really really foolish if they admitted to being conned! Pay no attention to anyone who doesn’t count as a graduate!

  340. Brother Ogvorbis, OM . . . Really? says

    the USC Marshall School of Business

    And wow. A study from a business school about the effectiveness of a psychological programme is jsut what is needed. And from the same school that brought us ratfucking.

  341. says

    I have my own experience to reference, which I think is appropriate since the Landmark Forum is intended to alter experience (or, to get completely woo, to alter the experience of experience).

    …That’s another reason why it’s difficult to explain to people what it’s about — people sign up largely based on the changes they’ve seen in people in their lives,

    As I was saying before, you would need some working definition of the “experience of experience” and these changes TO COMMENCE a meaningful evaluation. Until you’re specific and clear, no study can be done and your claims can simply be dismissed as verbal nonsense.

  342. says

    Yeah, douchebaggins, I guess I really do think of myself as small. And obviously, I need to spend lots of money to have people yeall at me. Yeah, that’ll help my PTSD. Fuck off.

    Would you like to try my intensive three week course in therapeutic grenade juggling?

  343. Weed Monkey says

    douchebaggins, what ever you say ranges from “hilarious bullshit” to “one anecdote”. Whichever it amounts to, the more scientifically inclined would like to have some serious data.

  344. douchebaggins says

    Brownian, trust me: I’ve been thoroughly spanked for trying to raise my personal experience to the level of evidence. Won’t do it again; like I said, I know what I got, but just because I say so doesn’t mean you should drop everything, least of all your useful skepticism.
    However, I take issue with your comment about cause-and-effect: I’m abundantly clear that the Landmark Forum had a step-function shift in my perspectives, as opposed to being a happy accident. A double-blind experiment would be difficult to design (what do you have the control group do, sit in a ballroom for three straight days?).

    John Morales: Nicely played! I am a big ole liar. And I keep lying! Find any other substantive lies?

  345. says

    abundantly clear that the Landmark Forum had a step-function shift in my perspectives, as opposed to being a happy accident. A double-blind experiment would be difficult to design (what do you have the control group do, sit in a ballroom for three straight days?).,

    Get several sample sets of people seeking improvement, try to normalize so they have similar issues, put one group through therapy, one through Landmark, one through fake Landmark, and one through nothing.

    Compile psychological and self assessment of issues they went in with over time and have a 3rd party with no access to what group was what compile the data and statistics. Compare and contrast the standard therapy, the tested therapy, the placebo, and the control group.

  346. says

    Oh obviously the interviewers don’t know what process the subjects went through when they evaluate and compile the data, and the subjects won’t be told if they’re taking real Landmark or fake.

    I’m curious to see what results we have if the study pays for the Landmark for the patients and removes the sunk cost fallacy from the picture.

  347. Brownian says

    However, I take issue with your comment about cause-and-effect: I’m abundantly clear that the Landmark Forum had a step-function shift in my perspectives, as opposed to being a happy accident.

    No, it’s not, no matter how strongly you feel that it is.

    A double-blind experiment would be difficult to design (what do you have the control group do, sit in a ballroom for three straight days?).

    LOL, you’re right—double-blind would not be feasible.

    But do they not do more than just sit at these sessions? Surely, they must have a technique for all those half-thous they charge people. The control would do something else. Guided imagery. CBT. Whatever. Then you measure the long-term outcomes.

    It’s not like researchers throw their hands up, stymied at how they can possibly measure efficacy of interventions. That’s how we know CBT works.

    Just because you don’t want the science applied to your pet process doesn’t make it inapplicable.

  348. Brownian says

    LOL, you’re right—double-blind would not be feasible.

    Ah, Ing is smarter than me:

    Get several sample sets of people seeking improvement, try to normalize so they have similar issues, put one group through therapy, one through Landmark, one through fake Landmark, and one through nothing.

  349. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    douchebaggins, we won’t take your unsubstantiated word for anything other than a lie. And you appear you can’t just fade into the bandwidth like a person of honor and integrity would do. Instead, you are trying to get PZ to give you the banhammer for not progressing your argument. Which can only be done with third party evidence….

  350. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    DB

    Ok, everyone. You win. You’re right, I don’t have a paper from Science or Nature or JAMA or whatever-the-fuck authority you would consider credible. I have my own experience, and the experience of thousands of people who are leading different and better lives because they drank the Kool-aid, parted with $500, got yelled at, peed on, and were deprived of a delicious sandwich. But until I have my data, I’ll retreat back into the shadows and watch for the next unsuspecting schmoe to wander into this lively commons. Always funner to watch it happen to someone else.

    I’m glad that landmark helped you, but I don’t even need to dispute your assertion that it did in order to explain why they should be proving their efficacy and using published methods from peer reviewed publications.

    As it turns out my mental state was actually arguably better at 17 when I left Northwest Academy (the CEDU school I went to) than it was at 15 when I was admitted. I have several rationalizations for why this occured:
    1)I was forced to stop using drugs
    2)I was given feedback for obnoxious behaviors that I had developed by my peers, and was subsequently able to change those behaviors.
    3)I lost some fear of confrontation/socialization
    4) 2 and 3 lead to better friendships, which lead to better self esteem

    The problem is that all of these benefits (save for the first) were purely serendipitous, and came with enormous amounts of baggage due to the faulty way in which the place was conceived. The “program” as the therapeutic side of the school was called, was cobbled together from elements taken from synanon, landmark, the seed, and pop psychology/spirituality by a former member of synanon with no formal psychological or medical training. We were forced to assimilate his insane ideology, regularly subjected to degrading pseudo-therapeutic exercises designed to help us “deal with our feelings”, and forced to disclose the intimate details of our private lives to groups, including (psychologically untrained) staff members, who would later use these delicate matters as weapons to convince us that we were broken, and needed “the program” to survive. Neither Mel Wasserman’s idiotic pseudo-psychology nor his awful therapeutic methods had demonstrated support from the psych literature. If CEDU had been assembled by someone with a grounding in the psych literature, then I might have gotten the same benefits without having to spend the following 7 years of my life slowly deprogramming myself.

    If the place I had gone to had been run by an organization primarily dedicated to helping people, rather than making money, they would have used proven methods, instead of whatever it is they used. Additionally, if people would start demanding peer reviewed demonstration from places like landmark, or AA, or whatever other psychotherapy cults are out there, places like CEDU would loose credibility.

    So yes, I agree that people might be helped by landmark, or (even more likely) might think they were. I still feel vindicated in dismissing it until a citation is provided.

  351. says

    This is an area that Landmark is actively working on (comprehensive, defensible and falsifiable evaluations), and I don’t have more info beyond that.

    Right, so like all nonsense programs, its going to borrow from the scientific ones, until it sort of works, then claim that it did all along. Tell me, does Landmark have one of those super special internal documents that things the 12-step have, which say, “We have no idea, and don’t really care, why 90% of the people drop out of the program, fail to complete it, or suffer recidivism to their prior poor state, but as long as the only 10% are around to tell everyone how great it was for them, we only have to nudge that number up a little bit, so its closer to programs that are legally required, by the state, to show how they work, how well, and why people leave.”? Or, is there the same special rule for non-religious cults as their are for religious based “rehab”?

  352. says

    This survey of Landmark graduates could use better statistics, but they did interview 1,300 people.

    I could probably find 10 times that who thing Airborne helps them fight colds. This is despite the fact that they proved that:

    1. It wasn’t invented by a teacher.
    2. It wasn’t tested clinically.
    3. The doctor(s) supposedly testing it clinically don’t exist.
    4. The place it was tested doesn’t exist.
    5. These things where proven in court, and they had to adjust their labeling (haven’t checked, but I am betting it now has a disclaimer, or some such some place, or maybe some idiot overturned the original, “You can’t sell this crap.”, order.)
    5. Its completely useless, just like a dozen other, virtually identical products, all of which do jack shit to help anyone, other than by making the gullible think it does.

    The entire self help industry works like this, and there are just enough percentage of people that have relatively minor real problems, a lot of imaginary ones, and a high statistical odds of falling for the next BS idea that comes there way, to always have thousands of fools, ready to tell you that it, “Worked for them.” Throw in a fairly large chunk of money, and another 10%+ will say it worked, because, as said before, they spent a shit load of money on it, so it *has to have*. You want real help, there is this Brit, named Wiseman. He wrote a book, called 59 Seconds. It covers all the shit that *does* work, based on the scary concept of actually paying attention to how people think, and why, not just throwing ideas out, and hoping one sticks long enough for the con artist to profit from it.

    Some of it may even get used, by shear accident, by some “self help” groups. But, then, as I said in the prior post, a lot of older ones are revitalizing themselves, by stealing things that work, without altering the basic framework that keeps people shoveling money into their already fat wallets. But, all of it, even the stuff that works, only works by either a) substituting one problem/addiction with a new one, b) promoting the group as necessary, and c) not doing anything that will really cure (a) or (b). After all, (b) is often the replacement for (a), so if you don’t need a distraction, or new obsession, any more, because the original problem was truly resolved, then you damn well don’t need to keep paying to go any more, or attend more meetings.

    This is a slight difference with psychology, since that tends to try to deal with much bigger issues, but the intent is still, if at all possible, to render, for the person attending sessions, to not have to keep going to them. If you can’t stop, the problems recur if you do, or somehow there is yet one more problem you need the groups help with, they are not curing you, and they probably are not **trying** to do so.

    Atheists often say that their main goal is to be rendered irrelevant. The same is true for any competent psychotherapist. Cults, self help gurus, and programs that intentionally replace what ever your problem is with an addiction, or constant need, for the program itself, don’t give a damn about curing you. If they ever did, you wouldn’t need them any more.

  353. KG says

    a step-function shift in my perspectives – douchebaggins

    Yuck. Use of that phrase alone is evidence of the damage est Landmark has done you – unless you already gabbled in business-speak before they suckered you.

  354. jentokulano says

    Exactly what does he think Jobs created? Does he think Jobs worked in the R&D department of his own company? Or is he saying all religions should be headed by corporate CEOs who get fired and then sneak back in when their new company gets bough out by their old one? Bizarre analogy.