Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pastor Caught Lying For Jesus

Story here, with hundreds of comments. In brief, Daniel Florian, owner of the Unreasonable Faith blog, caught Pastor Chris Fox posing as an atheist and basically putting forward the usual ridiculous, distorted talking points of the religious machine regarding atheists and their alleged lack of morals.

The constant reiteration of this “Lord of the Flies” style argument tells me two things about religious indoctrinees. First, it seems likely that they have genuinely bought into the idea that morality is external, authoritarian, and dictatorial in nature. They further believe that it requires the “God-stamp” of authority or else it is a meaningless, arbitrary, edict imposed by one group of humans upon another. Morals are neither arbitrary nor meaningless, no matter where you think they come from. This kind of black and white, binary thinking is common among the religious, even though their behavior, like most humans, does not conform to that philosophical stance. In any event, their moral compass is (believed to be) external to themselves, and so they apparently believe they would have no morals without such a structure.

Second, it tells me that many people actually take my advice. I often tell people that if I want to learn about Jewish culture for example, I find the best people to ask about it are members of the American Nazi Party. If I want to understand the atheistic point of view, the best person to ask would be a member of the clergy. Why would he lie?

I’m not going to bash Pastor Fox too hard here. I have seen plenty of Poe posts on religious blogs, so this behavior is hardly confined to religious types. He has apologized, and stated that he realizes that this kind of behavior is misguided. Maybe he’s not lying about that.

I do want to address one of the comments on that blog that seems to have gone off on a bit of a tangent. There are two comments near the top from “revival09”. This is obviously a person with a strong belief in divine magic of the Christian variety. You can go read the posts if you want, they are a little long to post here in their entirety. These excerpts will give you the flavor.

“Hi, it should not be a great shock or revelation that a single church leader would be a hypocrite. As a matter of fact Jesus reserved his harshest words for the “church leaders”. He called them hypocrites, white-washed sepulcures, vipers.
But that could if you searched apply to anyman regardless of his profession. The problem would be if you could describe Jesus as a hypocrite.

You see He never said “Follow them”, He said “Follow Me”. In fact He said do as they say, not as they do….

…I am certainly not a theologian or schollar or anything like but I do have one advantage. I have personally witnessed numerous life changing miracles, healings, signs and wonders by Jesus.”

Yeah. It’s always just one bad apple. How many questionable acts by how many members of the clergy does it take before one apologist admits there is a pattern of behavior among a significant number of clergymen that one might label egomaniacal and immoral?

The book says that Jesus said a bunch of nasty things about the clerics. This is one of those things you have to throw in if you want to create a closed-loop delusion. Denounce the clergy when necessary. Yup. Got that base covered. No need to go outside for an explanation. House of cards intact. Sleep on.

Revival09 either believes that he has seen divine magic, or he is lying for Jesus and believes that the end justifies the means. I would really like to know why he thinks it is that God can’t or won’t heal amputees? I’m collecting the lame excuses that apologists attribute to God’s behavior in this matter.

From revival09’s second comment:

“You’re interested in knowing more about miracles? Of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be. Are you ill? Have you financial problems? Relationship problems? Is your life empty? What are you looking for from the person that you reject?...”

Note the immediate jump to conclusion. If you want to know about “miracles” you must want something. Academic curiosity is foreign to this one. There is no imagining that someone might be genuinely interested in how these witnessed “miracles” either broke the laws of statistical probability, or passed muster as not being outright fraud. Interested parties have been faking miracles for centuries. It’s a well-documented behavior of human scam artists and the Catholic Church.

"…I’m not going to try and Sell my Jesus to you. You need Him not the other way around.…”

Who wants to bet that the author cannot recognize the inherent contradiction in those two sentences?

I leave you with this thought:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow….”


It took me quite a while to figure out what Robert Anton Wilson meant when he used the word “fnord”. It took even longer to be sure. It didn’t help that those calling themselves Discordians while firmly planting tongue in cheek didn’t seem to have any idea. I can tell you with assurance that the above quote is a fnord. You will see them if you really want to and if you try.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scientology: Full Jason Beghe Interview

This is over two hours long, so it's quite a commitment. It's interesting to hear a first-hand account before decompression has a chance to set in. If you are not familiar with the jargon, and are interested, try the Operation Clambake link to the right.

Here is the Tom Cruise response:

“Jason, Jason, Jason. How could you? Thirteen years, Jason. Thirteen years! You were an OT 5! That’s higher than Jenna Elfman and Jason Lee. That’s higher than Giovanni Ribisi. You were tied with Travolta! You were tied with Travolta!!
You say that Scientology hasn’t delivered you what it promised. Jason, that’s ridiculous! Look at all the great acting roles you got once you got clear. “Danny Blaines” in Chicago Hope. “Don” in four episodes of Family Law. Jason, you were Matt’s closeted military lover in Melrose Place. You and he almost kissed!
You say you know people who are OT 8’s who are unhappy, who have migraines? That’s so glib, Jason. You’re so glib. I mean, how can we KSW when all these SPs are fighting the OTs and the orgs? Jason, if you’re a PTS then LRH will be PO’d! Maybe you should get some KFC PDQ and then R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.!
Oh, and Jason, what was with that weird fake laughter you do near the end of the video? I mean, who laughs like that, huh?
Let me tell you something, Jason. This whole thing has really hurt. Really hurt. Not only did I have to get my thetan levels checked, but this whole controversy almost ruined Suri’s birthday week. She turned two Friday! And I made her! With Katie! By having sex!
Fortunately, Jason, your little tape did not ruin our celebration. In fact I’m going to see Katie and Suri right now, because they are totally not in New York, and Katie and I are totally not having a trial separation. But before I sign off, Jason, let me leave you with these words, to quote the great Kelly Preston: Scientology rocks! Why am I sure that Scientology rocks? Because I did the research! I know!”

So what do we have here? Some Ad Hominem assaults, some false sarcasm, and a lot of childish mockery. What are we supposed to take away? "We don't take you seriously, Jason, so no one else should either!"

This is a childish and idiotic attempt at damage control. It is one giant fnord. It makes as much sense as trying to hide the Nazi Party behind a cute little old Bavarian mascot with a big white mustache and Lederhosen. Unfortunately, it works on a society with a notoriously short attention span. As time goes by, both will be remembered with equal lack of weight by too many uninterested parties.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who's Keeping Burger King Workers Below the Poverty Line?

... And so it goes....

There was a story my Strategic management professor used to tell that went something like this: In the 70's, when Toyota started to kick GM's ass, a bunch of executive types went to Japan to get a clue. Their Japanese counterpart told them, "In Japan, we make things. In the US, you play with money."

The gravy-sucking pigs have done their damage. It's time to shut them down. You can blame the Labor Unions all you want for ruining Industry in the US. In my book, it's at least a dead heat with the multiple layers of superfluous, bloated Management that (for example), JIT inventory practices created within the Auto industry and their teir I, II, etc. suppliers. I saw that first-hand. Then there's the whole Credit Industry. Pass the steak and shrimp salad.

Ever go out to dinner with a group of college friends and have to fork over extra money because the collection to pay the bill came up short? That's the way I feel as a taxpayer, being asked to kick in while these assholes keep their "earnings".

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I Could Be Wrong…

… but I sincerely doubt I am this time.

An old commenter has revisited my posts about Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Wherein I Believe That Dr. Wayne Dyer is a Gibbering Idiot” part 1, and part 2. I responded in the comments section and repeated that response below. I think some points need to be more specifically addressed.

The fierce Pet Food Emergency of Now (formerly known as Black Leopard) accuses me in his/her first recent comment of not addressing the points of the earlier comment. Let’s see if that holds water.

The Comment:

He may not be correct about everything he says, but it is actually idiotic to call him a gibbering idiot. Putting that label on the man is an instance of failure in analytical reasoning. Understand that I am not defending everything Wayne Dyer says. His model of reality may be over-extended, but he does have areas that he does very well in. His description of the behavior of neurotic people (and their failure to think positively in situations which truly call for it) in his earlier work is actually right on target. I do not agree with absolutely everything he says. It might be a 75% agree 25 % disagree kind of thing and I've often wondered what he would think of that. I don't believe that having an ego is necessarily a bad thing or causes one to be selfish,materialistic or unspiritual. What is interesting is how he can be so "cocksure" of mysticism as truth. He does have a good grasp of literary concepts. Also I don't believe that there is anything wrong with achieving goals, being proud of achievements, getting an "A" in a college course or reaching any other type of high standards of performance. You can have this big ego and still be liberal, humane, compassionate and altruistic. It depends on the semantics of the term ego. Maybe if one has high self-esteem we call that having a strong ego as opposed to overcompensating for feelings of inadequacy with a weak ego, but people assume that this is the case if they see someone striving to reach difficult goals.

My response at the time:

As stated in the post above.“Some prominent researchers* believe that our intelligence, creativity, and imagination interact with the energy field of intention rather than being thoughts or elements in our brain.”

This is a massive confusion of ideas, bordering on gibberish.I stand by my assessment. I know a flim-flam man when I hear one, and Dyer's work is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. In other words, he gibbers. If he believes that mystical stuff himself, he's an idiot. Anyone who tells you that you are tapping into a power outside yourself to accomplish your goals is both setting you up for magical thinking, and giving you a built-in excuse for failure.

I admit the phrase, “gibbering idiot” is a sound bite, calculated to create controversy and debate. The phrase, “I think that Dr. Wayne Dyer is a shrewd individual who creates semantic rat’s nests of intellectual-sounding oratory without much material content calculated to confuse an audience into thinking they are not smart enough to understand what he is trying to say, when in fact he is not saying much of anything” just does not have the same flow. There is also a well-documented phenomenon wherein con artists start believing their own bullshit. L. Ron Hubbard was such a case. If Dr. Dyer has succumbed to that ego trip, then in my opinion, that makes him an idiot, no matter how well educated he might be. How is that a failure in analytical reasoning?

Your statement: “He may not be correct about everything he says…” is also interesting. Persons running this kind of con depend on being given the benefit of the doubt. I extend no such courtesy. You meant, “might” by the way, but that is a battle long lost, and also subtly to the advantage of the con men. He can be correct about the composition of steel, the weather, the right way to burp a baby. It makes no difference regarding the assertions that I am “calling bullshit” on.

“I don't believe that having an ego is necessarily a bad thing or causes one to be selfish,materialistic or unspiritual.”

No, but we’re talking about the hypothetical state of Wayne Dyer here, not in generalities. I neglected to comment on this before for perceived lack of relevance. For the record, I think a healthy ego makes one unspiritual, and I couldn’t be happier about that. The rest of your comment is a bit of a word salad, I’ll address the points individually.

1. I’m not sure he is so “cocksure”. He might be faking for fun and profit.
2. A good grasp of literary concepts is helpful in creating fiction. The average human mind wants everything neat and formulaic. We like it when things meet our expectations or agree with our prejudices. Life is not so obliging.
3. Egoism does not necessarily correlate with achievement or striving to achieve. One can be goal-directed without being egotistical. One can be afraid of failure.
4. The only goal I can be sure of in Dr. Dyer’s case is the goal of banking his next million.
5. You say his model of reality is overextended. I say that it is a pure distortion that conforms nicely to the superstitious prejudices that have been aggressively programmed into the human race, but has little to do with reality . Reality is not decided by a consensus of opinion. You don’t get to vote on whether or not angels or leprechauns, or some pool of psychic intention energy are real. You must put up, or shut up. Just saying so is not proof.

Some other points you raise:

“Wayne Dyer would never feel that he had a need to respond to you because he believes in the principle of not caring what other people think of him and he is correct in identifying this as a fundamental principle of what is emotionally healthy.”

Not that he even knows I exist, but this behavior too is a façade. One must appear to be above one’s detractors, or have that much courage in one’s convictions or the façade cracks. His assertions cannot stand up to intense scrutiny, and this is a way to avoid it while appearing superior. Humans are social animals. While it is wrong to be a slave to public opinion, the opposite extreme is equally wrong, especially if your chosen profession is influencing other people. For them, you are merely replacing one source of external opinion with another, your own. Peer review is an important scientific and psychological principle, and that sort of opinion needs to be given some weight.

“In your conception of the world you must see yourself as a skin encapsulated ego that knows better than anyone else how the universe works.”

Straw Man Fallacy.

“As far as the distinction between mental faculties interacting with an energy field versus being thoughts in your own brain....., THOUGHTS IN YOUR OWN BRAIN?I hate to disappoint you but 1) Every thing comes from somewhere especially since 2) conservation of matter and energy states nothing is destroyed but simply changes form 3) Every bit of the matter and energy (and possibly consciousness)that you are made of came from processes such as chemical evolution that came from the "big bang" and the 4 basic physical forces of nature that were there before the "big bang". Did you think that you brought yourself into existence?”

1. I am well aware of the electro-chemical processes that allow the brain to function. I have a reasonably good understanding of how our bodies process food. The parts of the brain required to perform specific cognitive and motor functions are known, as can be demonstrated through the specific and predictable changes observed in victims of traumatic brain injury.
2. The Universe itself might be a closed system, but it is so immeasurably vast that the human brain cannot grasp it all at once. The Earth, and my body on the other hand are not closed systems. The Earth gets energy from the sun. My body ingests food and water, makes chemical changes designed to store and release energy, and excretes waste. I even make vitamin D from sunlight.
3. To directly attribute the process of chemical evolution to “the big bang”, one must first postulate alternative outcomes for the big bang. It is equally possible that the nature of proto-matter (black hole stuff) and energy made this outcome inevitable. Are there not enough possible variations in matter-energy particles without seeking more that do not conform to the nature of that which is already known? Do they not all share common building blocks?
4. There was no “nature” as you and I understand it before the big bang. There may indeed have been axioms of matter and energy. I think I was brought into existence by the process of sexual reproduction.

This is getting pretty long to be a single post, so I’ll end here with my initial response to these new comments.

Hi "The fierce Pet Food Emergency of Now",

You have done quite a bit of work here and given me some things to think about.

My blog is not abandoned. I have written a few things lately that I am not satisfied with, so they were not posted.

You accuse me of an Ad Hom. attack. I very carefully stated that this was my belief. I am not presenting it as an established fact as most mud-slingers attempt to do.

The man is a huckster. That statement is easy to prove. He sells unfounded New-Age pseudo-science to those who are subject to the techniques of mass hypnosis he employs in his "lectures". His intent is to make money. I cannot state with 100% certainty that he and the other mutually validating ilk at Hayhouse Publishing are wrong, but the burden of proof falls on those making the assertions. They have not one shred of scientifically verifiable evidence for their wild extrapolations on some of the wilder speculations of quantum mechanics. They are the modern snake oil salesmen. It doesn't matter to them whether or not their product is valid or effective, they have made a market and are vending for profit. They do not dazzle one with brilliance, they bamboozle with bullshit. Don't believe me? Watch Dr. Dyer with the sound off. Notice the props. Notice the symbolic weight of the props and what he does with them - he "endows". These are the actions of a calculating manipulator. Those who are trusting, and who have no prior experience with this type, and who are struggling to make sense of the nonsensical metaphysics they have been subjected to practically since birth, are like deer in the headlights.

So if I call Dr. Dyer an egomaniacal shitheel, that's not an attack against his beliefs. That's how I size him up.

As to his product, it shares many of the attributes of religious products and similar scams. It exploits a flaw in authority-based human behavior. I'm going to assume I don't have to take you through all the aspects of tribal alpha/non-alpha behavior. If you don't know what I'm talking about, say so, or watch a show on apes. Humans are not that different, just more language and symbols to go along with the rituals. At the outer ring of magical thinking, there is a construct. It is born of fear. Fear of adults when one is little. Fear of retribution. The construct goes, "If I push all the right buttons in just the right order, everything will be ok." The exploit is simply this: if the magic formula that promises enlightenment and/or wisdom and/or salvation and/or wealth isn't working, you must not be doing it quite right. Or put another way, you still don't quite get it, so buy another book.

* Those "promenent researchers" are other members of the Hayhouse Mutual Validation Society by the way. As far as I can tell, they gain promenence by pulling on each other's bootstraps.

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