31 January 2011

Forbidden Geller 3

Reader Steve (now practically a contributor) has contacted me with more information regarding Geller, Byrd, and nitinol, that all too mysterious substance that has dominated the one and only controversey ever to hit The Urban Mystic (if I recall correctly). I personally have no stake in the issue, though continue on with the subject because talking about Egypt will make you, my valued couple of readers, want to slit your wrists and write graffiti on the nearest public building with your own blood yelling at the government to just waste the Muslim Brotherhood already to keep their pernicious evil from consuming the world as you slowly bleed out, fully aware that Mubarak is a monster and yet he is still better than the alternative.

Steve interviewed Eldon Byrd in 2001. He presented it to me to help provide context to the debate.

In the interview, Byrd picks apart many aspects of Gardner's article. According to Byrd, the wires given to Geller were marked with a razor and the ends were cut in such a way as to identify them later. These unique markings were later confirmed, meaning Geller did not substitute the wires for any he had prepared earlier to use in some form of trickery. Of course, Gardner does speculate that the hotel room Byrd was staying at was broken into by one of Geller's associates, the pieces of wire removed, taken back to where Geller was staying, manipulated so that they would produce the characteristic kink, and returned to Byrd's hotel room and the evidence of the break in covered up all with no one noticing. If you're willing to accept that whole shopping list of an explanation of trickery then Geller is a fraud. If you perfer the simpler explanation that Geller deformed the unique wire without prior handling it, in the presence of Byrd, then, well, he still might be a fraud but the possibility of the effect being genuine is now an open possibility. If Randall and Davis' experiment with a young boy who produced the same effect as Geller is evidence of anything then the more likely explanation seems to be that Geller, at least in Byrd's test with nitinol, is not cheating and genuinely produced a nonphysical deformity in the metal wire.

According to Byrd, Frederick Wang at the Naval Surface Weapons lab did try to remove the kink from the Gellerized wire, and that when Gardner interviewed him he caught Wang off guard. Thus, when Gardner said Wang didn't remember trying to un-Gellerize the wire, it was not because he did not try to un-Gellerize the wire but because he genuinely forgot, as all humans do from time to time. If Byrd is to be believed (and I believe him a whole lot more than I believe Gardner, who not only likes to trick his readers with the old bait-and-switch tactic mentioned in the previous post, but also thinks Randi is a credible source of information), then the un-Gellerizing did take place and was not a fabrication.

Now, I'm biased. I am biased against Martin Gardner because he likes to trick his readers, because he cites Randi as a credible source, and because he is a debunker and debunking goes against everything science stands for. I am inclined to believe that Byrd is telling the truth. Could he have been tricked? Yes. Is it likely that he was tricked? I would have to say no. Unless Geller tricked him on multiple occasions, and with the same or similar tricks, and the young boy R&D tested tricked them under much better conditions than the Byrd/Geller tests and without ever having met Geller to learn how his trick was performed, then trickery seems unlikely. Trickery is possible, in the same sense that whenever you hear someone's voice on a radio that the voice is really produced by a ventriloquist nearby and not coming from the radio, but trickery is far from the most likely possibility, regardless of what debunkers like Gardner (and Couttie for that matter) want to believe.

I'm not going to say the issue is settled, but the circumstantial evidence does seem to be pointing strongly in one direction.

Update: After looking through all the posts here at The Urban Mystic, I have concluded that, as of today, 15 posts have been on Uri Geller, or a total of 8.93% of all Urban Mystic posts. This is more than mysticism, religion, the Jews, the Bible, atheism, communism, or global warming. Looking through the tags one finds that "History" has more posts (25), but 4 of them are about the 100 Greatest Battles and one is repeated twice. History is also a broad category, not a single topic like Uri Geller. "The Urban Mystic" and "Irked-Confusion" appear more too, but that's just because everything here is self-referential. "Fundamaterialism" has 19 posts, but they are roughly divided evenly among cosmology, evolution, and the mind/brain connection, none of which out do the Geller posts alone. The same is true with "USA" (18 posts), and "REAL Science" (34 posts, including significant overlap with the Geller posts). Thanks to Bob Couttie, The Urban Mystic is more about Uri Geller than any othe single topic. There will be two more posts on this topic, my written report tearing apart Forbidden Knowledge, and the video version of it, and that's it. I don't care what Bob has to say, he is finished here after that.

29 January 2011

Forbidden Geller 2

Today I finish the articles provided by reader Steve regarding Uri Geller and nitinol, that mysterious substance whose properties no one seems to agree on. This last one was written by Martin Gardner, science and mathematics writer who had a side job in debunking.

Gardner seems to write in such a way to present the reader with one set of facts then produces a sort of plot twist, revealing something to the contrary for no evident reason. For example, he mentions the labora
tory where Byrd met Geller first, the Isis Center, saying "Is not Isis a peculiar name for a naval laboratory?" (emphasis in original) Well, I don't think so. The government always picks seemingly random names for its projects. Paperclip was the name of a project to transport Nazi scientists and research to the United States after the war before the Soviets got them. Able Danger was the intelligence operation that uncovered the 9/11 plot, or at least was going to (depending on who you ask) until red tape got in the way (wasn't Able Adam and Eve's son who was killed in a fit of jealous rage by his brother Cain? No, Gardner really speculates on the religious connotations of the name Isis). Grudge was the UFO investigation project that preceded Blue Book, so named because the Air Force didn't want to do it. Sailor Hat was a simulated nuclear blast, using hundreds of tonnes of conventional explosives, to see how well defended combat ships were. What I'm trying to say is that government projects always have goofy names, there's nothing suspicious about that.

He does reveal, in the very next paragraph, that the Isis Center was an organization created by an occult group, (possibly Theosophists, he's not too clear on that) not the Navy. Why mislead the readers by proposing the rhetorical question about why the Navy would name their laboratory Isis then? The world will never know. (Okay, I just wanted an excuse to link to that commercial)

Gardner agrees with Couttie that nitinol was not uncommo
n during Byrd's experiments. That means that the same number of people who say it was common as who say it was uncommon. Without some tie-breaker we may never know who is right.

He does make two references to Randi in the footnotes, so I'll have to subtract points for that. Anyone with half a brain knows that Randi isn't the great paragon of wisdom. He's even less reliable than the other wiki (I've had people grading papers at universities tell me the stuff some students got off Wikipedia is no better than stuff people just make up on the spot, although some of the stuff they have on different guns is pretty good).

Gardner does point out some holes in Byrd's paper, and some issues with the controlls of his test with Geller:

"Since no magicians were present during the chaotic session at which Uri bumped and kinked one piece of wire, it is impossible to do more than speculate on possible nonparanormal explanations. One scenario is that Uri came prepared
with samples of wire to which he had previously given permanent kinks (in a way to be explained below) and then straightened. He passed up the wire of lager diameter because he had not brought wire of that size. The smaller-diameter wire was then switched, by Uri or Shipi, for Byrd's sample. Uri bumped the wire while stroking it - easily done by a push with the thumbnail. Then when Byrd heated the wire it naturally lost the bump and assumed its permanent kink."

He then goes on:

" However, it is not necessary to suppose that Uri came with prepared wire. Nitinol wire is now harder to get than in 1973, but I finally obtained a sample about a foot long of the 0.5mm. wire. I cut off a small piece, and I swear by all that is holy that my very first experiment was a whopping success. Using two small pairs of pliers I bent the wire at a sharp angle. I straightened the wire, then by holding the wire between thumb and first two fingers, and pressing with my thumbnail, I created a bump at the wire's center. I put the wire in a bowl and poured boiling water ove
r it. The bump vanished and the wire assumed the shape of an angle, almost 90 degrees, with a sharp vertex. The angle was unaltered by applying a match flame.

"Excited by this unexpected success, I tried producing a sharper angle (about 3 degrees), but when I straightened the wire it snapped in half. I then repeated the experiment with a third piece, this time using nothing more than two pennies to grip the wire, and a third penny to force an acute angle. I straightened the wire, letting the angle remain as one side of the bump. When boiling water was poured over this wire the bump disappeared and the wire assumed an angle with a sharp vertex of about 75 degrees. I have it before me as I type. It is indistinguishable from the wire in plate 4 of Panati's book."

Playing Devil's Advocate,

I can say that since we have only Mr. Gardner's word to go on (he provides no pictures of this metal he bent, and there were no other witnesses) we can't know if he's lying or not. This criticism then is completely worthless, by his own standards. He then goes on into speculations of the sort of "someone could have cheated by doing X, where X is whatever Rube Goldbergian scenario I can think of but cannot prove one way or the other." Speculation of this sort is completely useless, as he himself says a few paragraphs down (he likes to repeat this tactic throughout the article), since the test was uncontrolled all speculation on it is useless. Well, then why did you spend the past six whole paragraphs doing something you yourself admit is useless speculation? Is it to add length to the article because you get paid by the word? If so I can respect that.

Gardner talks about correspondences with Byrd that point out inconsitencies in Byrd's paper, but does not actually provide us with evidence that these correspondences exist. Again, we must take his word for it, and again, Devil's Advocate, we have no way of knowing whether he's making stuff up. Gardner then goes on to do more speculation about how Geller might have cheated, but he doesn't know, he's just speculating, and what's worse, he mentions Randi again. No one is convinced by Randi's shitty magic tricks! Randi is a terrible magician, as Don Lane could attest to (I can't find the original video I was looking for, so here's this one instead).

He says Byrd had to let go of the wire at some point to get out a match and light it: "
Now surely it takes two hands to open a match folder, take out a match, close the folder, and strike the match," but there has been at least one side-show performer who could not only light a match without needing both hands, but could also roll a cigarette, strike the match, and light the cigarette, and he had severely diminished limbs that were functionally useless, so no, it does not take two hands to strike a match.

What are we left with? 2 for cheated and 3 1/2 for not cheated. Since there are no more articles, and no more opinions to assess, we can go no farther in figuring out where exactly the truth lies, which is exactly what I predicted in the previous post. I suppose I should end with the following quote made by Arthur Koestler at the top of Gardner's article, "
Uri is certainly 25 percent fraud and 25 percent showman, but fifty percent is real." I don't know what the truth is, but Koestler is probably right.

28 January 2011

Forbidden Geller

No, I won't comment on Egypt, except to say that Mubarak does want Israel to give the Syrio-palestinians "East" Jerusalem, and this is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, the big angry mob that wants to get rid of him (and probably behead him too) likely holds the standard Arab position of "KILL ALL JEWS!!!!!" so I would have to say that the US should at least publically condemn the rioters, as we would be better off with Mubarak in power than some jihadist.

On to the main topic. I read one of the articles a reader, Steve, brought to my attention in regard to Uri Geller, nitionl, and the controversey here at The Urban Mystic involving myself and Bob Couttie. Seems John L. Randall and C.P. Davis performed a similar experiment involving an eleven year old boy, who was also a metal bender, where they gave him nitinol and he produced a permanent deformation. Randall and Davis tried to remove the bend, using high voltage and tension clamps and the metal never did return to its rightful shape. The R&D article seems to agree with the original Byrd assessment that nitinol was uncommon during the time Byrd tested Geller (a claim Couttie disagrees with) and that permanent deformations cannot be created using trickery such as tying the metal in a knot and heating it with a match (one of two ways Couttie says it can be done in his book).

Who is correct? Is Couttie or are Byrd, Randall, and Davis? I will only say this one time, so pay attention: I Don't Know. Reading through the other article provided by Steve I will keep tabs on how many people agree with which position. Admittedly, just because lots of people agree on something doesn't make it true, but we can perform an interesting little game here. Sure, it won't tell us anything, but it will be a lot more fun than having to clean up the weekly blizzards that climate change has been dumping here since December.

So far, Bob Couttie stands along in the group of people who claim Geller could have cheated with the nitinol. Eldon Byrd, John Randall, C.P. Davis say Geller could not have cheated. R&D also mention a Dr. G. Rowlands who provided them with samples of nitinol and the specs of the material, and while his opinion regarding Geller is not mentioned his specs are the same as those provided by Byrd, so we can count him as half a point in the "not cheated" category. As of now the score is 1 for cheated and 3 1/2 for not cheated. Again, let me be clear that this little exercise is not a scientific assessment in any way and cannot tell us who is right. The issue likely can never be solved. Only two people know if Geller cheated or not, Geller himself and God, and neither seem to be providing us with what really happened, but this exercise can provide at least circumstantial evidence toward figuring out what happened.

Prediction: After reviewing all four reports, Byrd's, Couttie's, R&D's, and Martin Gardner's, I predict that we will be no closer to knowing whether or not it was possible for Geller to cheat with nitinol than we did when we first began.

27 January 2011

Pirates of Forbidden Water

I have finished my analysis of Forbidden Knowledge, and must now type up the nearly eleven pages of notes I took. In the mean time I will present two short articles one of my valued couple of readers, Steve, provided in the ever popular Uri Geller post about a number of other investigators' work with nitinol. I think everyone is going to comment there in the future instead of reading anything new.

While reading Forbidden Knowledge I noticed Mr. Couttie's ambivalence toward the subject of dowsing. Dowsing seems to be one of the most widely accepted "paranormal" effects, even among skeptics. This reminded me of a video I saw a few years back about dowsing. For your viewing pleasure, In Search Of... Water Seekers.

Sidenote: Integral Politics is 2,287 words long, nearly twice as long as the next longest post. Even without the long quote near the end it is still 1,994 words long, about 1.6 times as long as number two.

25 January 2011

Integral Politics

Ken Wilber answers a question about the possibility of integral politics. Yes, he naively believes that just because Bill Clinton and Karl Rove read his books that they're integral, I've already dealt with that. Please just continue watching anyway. The hardest part to implementing integral politics? Getting integrally developed people elected when their only platform is being integrally developed.

KW does make a prediction (this is 2008) that the Republicans would win the election because it's easier to get Amber (Blue) and Orange to agree than it is to get Orange and Green to agree, meaning it's easier to unite Republicans than Democrats.

Video runs 31 minutes.

On the heels of that I wrote a bunch the other day (one of the best days I've had in a long time) about integral politics after someone informed me of a video about Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spouting crap about economics. Here is my response:

The top 1% may have made 23% of all income, but they also paid 80% of all income tax. Is it really fair to have the top 1% pay all of the taxes and everyone else pay nothing? The top 1% income earners are the ones driving the economy. The billionaires Sen. Sanders hates so much don't pay income tax. They are not part of the top 1%. Ted Turner and George Soros and Warren Buffet have high priced lawyers who can weasle their way through tax loop holes and set up accounts in foreign banks to protect their billions. Taxing the rich more won't help the middle class, it will just get the people investing in economic growth to spend their money in foreign markets, setting up businesses in India and China, and killing more jobs.

Remember how Kennedy taxed the rich, found it lost federal revenue, then cut taxes for the rich and increased federal revenue? Sanders doesn't know what he's talking about.

The estate tax is disgusting. Getting rid of the estate tax will cost $1trillion in revenue? How about TARP, $700 billion? How about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $787 billion? QE1 and QE 2, $several trillion? Social Security and Medicare have unfunded liabilities of $107 trillion. Deficit spending never has and never will be a viable economic strategy.

Sen. Sanders is making $174,000 a year, just with his Senate salary, not to mention whatever he makes on the side (to get elected you have to be a millionaire). If he's so goddamn opposed to the rich why doesn't he forgoe his salary? He's a hypocrite. He is making an appeal to emotion. There is no substance here.

Correction: The top 1% pay only 50% of all income tax. The top 10% pay 80% of income tax. I had mistaken the two groups.

I then move on to address the issue of a two party system:

The problem is both parties are statist and no one can mount a viable third party opposition. They may disagree on how the government should control everyone's lives, but they both want to control everyone's lives, and most people don't realize this. They see the D's and R's beside someone's name and hate whoever has the opposite letter that they have, so every so many years we switch from one party rule to the other and back again, never solving the underlying problem. It's all just a show. I've been saying this since at least 2003, there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Not as difficult to solve as the first problem. Avarice is one of the two driving forces behind all sin, and simply taxing people won't solve the problem. Avarice can never be eliminated completely, but for the first time in history the tools exist to implement its fall from power. The only way I can see to end the crushing grasp avarice has on the world is through the reintroduction of meaning. Not subjective meaning, like "I give my own life meaning," but absolute meaning. The way to reintroduce meaning is to remove materialism. In a materialistic world meaning is impossible, and people strive only for their own gain. Materialism is subverted by integrating the Truth discovered by the great premodern wisdom traditions with the benefits brought about through modernity. This literally was never possible before because the people never had access to both. There was always someone acting as the gatekeeper (kings, religious leaders, industry magnates, academic figures), preventing the people from knowing the Truth, telling them their stories to hold power. Instantaneous global communication allows for access to the collective knowledge of humanity, allowing the integration to take place if the people are willing to stop playing with their toys and take the steps necessary to free and empower themselves. It's a hard road ahead. Most people are happy with the toys the powers that be have given them. It may take a global economic collapse, or some similarly sized global disaster, to shake people from their complacency. Who knows these things?

What's the problem with the old Left/Right dichotomy?

Many people are still thinking of the old left/right dichotomy, with Democrats (let's call them "Dems") on the left and Republicans ("Pubs") on the right. While this is largely true (there are left-leaning pubs and right-leaning dems), it ignores the fact that there is a vertical axis to the political spectrum as well, leading from anarchism on the bottom to statism at the top. I drew the following graph when I got tired of the single-axis model:

I've placed a few names where I think they should go. Things tend to cluster in places because I got the scale wrong and names are tentatively placed and had to be enlarged to be readable. Names should appear as close to whatever diagonal axis they are next to. For reference I land about 35 down and somewhere between 5 left and 5 right (I seem to migrate), so I am alienated by both parties.

While dems are generally about collective welfare and pubs about personal welfare, as you can see they are both pretty far up the vertical axis. A quick look at the policies of the previous two presidents reveal that Bush and Obama are largely in agreement economically (both enacted legislation to bail out companies, both racked up record deficit spending, record debt), militarily (Although Obama technically ended the Iraq War on 31 August, there will be troops there until at least 31 December 2012, probably longer, and he has ramped up military action in Afghanistan, he has not closed Guantanimo Bay, etc.), globally (same foreign policy, giving US land to foreign governments [trans-Texas corridor, etc.]). They differ in a few areas, but there's not a whole lot of disagreement between the two. I often say that when Obama promised "change" he meant "change in degree from Bush" not "change in kind." While they are both at about 65 on the left/right axis, on the top/bottom axis they are both 65 as well, meaning while they might want to put as much power in the hands of government in different ways, they both want to put as much power in the hands of government as possible.

I hope that clears things up.

Premodern, modern, postmodern?

Premodern is the stuff that came before the Enlightenment. The Romantics called it the "reinchantment of the world," but they weren't right in rejecting all the benefits of modernity that came with the faults.

In all premodern societies there existed absolute Truth. Different cultures tend to interpret that Truth in different ways, but by and large they are in agreement on everything that matters. Moving up from simple animism when the worlds religions started to develop (there is no one single point in time when this happened, Vedic writers such as Yajnavalkya go back to at least 1800BC, Zoroaster around 1600, Moses 1500, a typical set of dates is generally refered to as the Axial Age when most of the world's religions got started or organized) they took the vague depersonalisation of spirit and matter and organized things. No longer was there value just to my particular tribe, but now there was universal law that applied to everyone in all tribes.

Religions have two aspects, an exoteric, the things that we see from the outside, the trappings and language specific to each particular religion, and the esoteric, what is seen from those on the inside of what has always been a very small group of people who have passed on the true meaning behind the rituals, and once we sift through all the exoteric language we can see that the esoteric truths all generally agree (for example, reincarnation was central to Christianity until around AD 500 when Justinian had it removed so he could rule people's one and only life on this earth, and central to Judaism until around 1500 when it was taken out to make European Christians like Jews better - it didn't work). This esoteric core is generally called the Perennial Philosophy, and it seems to exist in nearly every religion across space and time.

This core of Truth is reached through rigorous hard work taken on by mystics of the wisdom traditions within each religion. No one is going to spend three years of hard time getting yelled at and beaten in a Zen monestary just for some hallucinations or temporal lobe epilepsy. Since these all developed prior to modernity (there's not much written on Bahai mysticism, so I don't know anything about it, but if there's anything there there that I don't know about it would be one of the few (only?) wisdom traditions to develop after modernity), they're called the premodern wisdom traditions.

That is probably the longest definition I have ever given.

Getting back to history. Each religion, while it introduced meaning into the world, also came about at a time when there was little, if any, communication between different towns and villaiges. Information was a carefully guarded commodity. People could use that information to gain power. (This is where the Scolastics and the Greek rationalists disagree. The Scolastics came up with the now famous addage "knowledge is power," but the Greeks disagreed. The Greeks said that knowledge is only useful to the extent it can benefit society. I tend to fall more toward the Greek view, but this is a tangent so I'll be moving on.) When modernity came along during the Enlightenment and rejected religion, the idea was to reject the perversion of religion that the people already in power used to gain more power over the people. What they didn't realize was that in rejecting religion they were rejecting the perennial philosophy as well, and with it, meaning. The best summary of this problem I have ever read was written by someone using the name "dmduncan" in September 2010 (Michael Prescott's Blog):

Well that has always been a problem for materialism. Ultimately, it's nihilistic. It can give us no direction whatsoever on how we should live our lives other than because this person or that says so, vs. because there is really some ultimate point to our existence that isn't a matter of any given person's taste and opinion. There is no scientific reason why people ought to want to treat each other nicely or even to live. Sure, an atheist can choose to live as a good person, but he does so in ignorance of the ultimate nihilism behind materialism. If there is no God then there simply is no good and evil apart from what you say it is, and then life becomes a war between competing and arbitrary notions of what constitutes the good. Might makes right. Whoever wins gets to decide. And it doesn't really matter how many people on the opposing side you have to kill to institute your point of view — exactly what communist regimes did throughout the 20th century; sure it will be messy, but where there is no ultimate good or evil, it ultimately does not matter who lives and who dies. Blood dries. Bones turn to dust. The memory of it is lost. Justice is just a scream of some vanquished minority before you make them extinct, and then all is peace and light again.

Sure religions produce evil people. But they also produce saints. Where are all the materialist saints? All I see from them is arrogance, venality, the provincial objective, the self righteousness of one who thinks he is god. All the same evil religion is capable of but without any belief in a right and wrong beyond themselves to mitigate their potential brutality.

A lot of materialists either don't realize this, try to ignore it, or pretend they are okay with it, but at the bottom lies nihilism, plain and simple.

The whole issue of integration is to take the best from everyone and put it together into something that is better than every system that has come before. Premodernity gives us meaning and access to the interiors (wisdom, compassion), modernity gives us tools necessary to work on the exteriors (social, physical, and biological systems) and bring those things we learned from premodernity to everyone and truly act out our wisdom and compassion on a global scale, and postmodernity gives us the idea, really for the first time in history, that everyone can have a piece of the Truth; everyone can be right about something and we need to have mutual understanding if we aren't to pick up our swords (or jet fighters) and start blowing each other to pieces. Integration of what was learned from all the previous stages of human development is what is key to saving the world.


Since the original publication a sequel has been written, Integral Politics II. It consists of 31 minutes of video, complete with eight foot notes and seven references. The videos look deeper into the left/right dichotomy, what both sides can learn from one another, what we can learn from the various movements both sides have birthed, the implications of religious and social identity plays in politics, and the foresight of the founders when writing the Constitution.

Originally it was supposed to be due the end of August. It got done the end of October. That's actually a better turn-around time than most of my projects.

21 January 2011

Forbidden Videos

Here is the video introduction to my review of Bob Couttie's book Forbidden Knowledge. I have finished my research, produced 200 pages of notes, and will spend the next two days reading Forbidden Knowledge. Once that is complete I will post my response in another video.

P.S. Google "Bob Couttie+nitinol"

20 January 2011

The Revenge of the Return of The Urban Mystic Show

No, this has nothing to do with revenge, that's just the title I recycle from time to time whenever there is a lot of sequels to something. In real life revenge never works. Never has, never will, just like socialism.

Here is the introduction to the third season of The Urban Mystic Show. It has been a year and a half since the last episode. Ten new episodes are in production, many adapted from Urban Mystic posts. The first episode looks like it will be more than 16 minutes long. It could probably be stretched to 20, and if everything goes right the others can be too. Here is the list of episodes planned:

301     Balking Hawking
302     The Son I Should Have Had
303     Seven Against Thebes
304     I'm a Zionist for the Same Reason I Support Tibet
305     Joshua, Jericho, and Hating Jews
306     The End of Philosophy
307     The Master and the Pundit
308     The Purpose of Suffering
309     Gulf War: America's Blitzkrieg
310     The Life of Alexander (temporary)

The Evils of Socialism

Yan Bielek lived under the iron grip of the socialist government of Czechoslovakia for 30 years. Now he goes around the world to warn others of the most pernicious evil in all of history. Here is an interview with him from AirMaria.com.

17 January 2011

Hitler Again

One of the earliest stories I wrote was called "Hitler Again" about a man who used genetically modified slaves to turn the moon into a giant cannon to kill millions of people and conquer the world. Later, I learned how Hitler wasn't unique. There have been many tyrants who murdered tens of millions of people throughout history. Mao starved 60 million of his own people to death because he thought they would rather have steel mills they didn't know how to use instead of farms. Stalin killed 40 million of his own people building an evil empire, 20 million to defeat Hitler, and 2 million Ukranians when he surrounded their country and tried to starve all Ukranians to death because he thought they were ethnically inferior (but we don't hear about that). Timur killed 14 million people during his quest to conquer the world, claiming to be sent from God but murdering millions of fellow Muslims who happened to belong to the wrong sect, and Hindus he felt were heathens. He wanted to kill millions of heathens, and sought guidance on whether he should slaughter all of India or all of China, and India was closer.

It's bad enough we don't hear about historic killers, instead being told that communism is great and capitalism is evil and exploitative. Another tragedy of propaganda is the murder of tens of millions of people who have not been born because lies are told that they aren't people and that it's about women's choice. If it's about women's choice where is then, logically, only males can be aborted indiscriminantly, because they have no choice. If it's about women's choice why is it that most of the people who oppose abortion are woman and most of the people who support it are men? Why is it that rich white men stand the most to benefit, all multi-millionaires who don't give a damn about women, just themselves? Why is it that the list of people waiting to adopt grows by the thousands every year, yet those in power say abortion is the only option?

Gianna Jessen survived abortion and is an outspoken critic, pointing out the lies and hypocrisy. Don't believe what the powers that be tell you. Don't believe what I tell you. Listen to first-hand testimony of someone who knows the truth about abortion from direct experience and then find out for yourselves.

14 January 2011

Alan Watts' God Complex

An hour long talk by Alan Watts on psychology, psychiatry, western thought, mysticism, and knowing you are God. Wonderful question and answer session at the end.

13 January 2011

The President's Speech

The President gave a nice speech yesterday on the Tucson tragedy. There will be no analysis. Let the man speak for himself.

09 January 2011

8 January 2011

I have no witty one-liner titles. All I have is condemnation for the recent acts of violence against government officials, the letter bombs in Maryland, and now the shooting spree in Arizona. According to the other wiki:

"Eighteen (18) people were shot, six (6) murdered, during a U.S. congresswoman's constituency meeting held in a Safeway supermarket parking lot near Tucson, Arizona, United States. The dead include a nine year old girl, a congressional aide and John Roll, the chief judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at close range and is in critical condition. Authorities have said Giffords was the the target of the attack."

The "suspect" shooter, Jared Loughner, is an evil man. Whoever sent the bombs are evil. Political disagreement does not make people turn to acts of terrorism, evil and cowardice do. Neither myself, The Urban Mystic, or anyone at Irked-Confusion Studios condone such behaviour. In fact, we condemn it.

Our prayers go out to the victims and their families.

08 January 2011

Mark Twain and Niggers

Scholar Alan Gribben working with NewSouth Books has launched the most recent attack against Mark Twain's great classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 2011. They removed the words "nigger" and "injun." That's nothing new, people have been trying to censor Twain for decades. What's so absurd is that all the people who are complaining about the removal of the word "nigger" never actually say the word, instead relying on colourful euphemisms, completely undermining their whole argument. The word itself is just that, a word. It is not alive and has no power. The power rests in the person using the word and any offense lies in the intention of the person, not the word. Removing the word won't change history and won't help race relations.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884 and was Mark Twain's great American novel attacking the rampant racism of the day. In the relentless drive of postmodernism we forget that his book was condemning racism and try to censor it, while allowing musicians and celebrities use the word "nigger" with impunity.

Toward the end of the video I mistakingly call Richard Pryor "George Pryor."

The word "nigger" appears 17 times in the video, and four times in this description.

06 January 2011

It's Just Like Watching The Detectives

Last night I watched a program on the new Oprah Winfrey channel, OWN, called "Miracle Detectives," and I must say, this is one program that disappoints on every page. First I should say that I don't watch Oprah's program (although as a boy I did, on rare occasions), but I had just finished three solid hours of research into the history of psychiatry and needed to relax so I turned on the seed (a term that has been used to refer to the television in my family for years) and was met with a rather anemic selection. I came across something called "Miracle Detectives" and read the synopsis. A man was cut in half by a train and survived (actually, he just had his legs cut off, but it was still a very serious injury), and a house drips holy oil. I decided to watch it and had to write notes out of disappointment.

The program features a man, Randall Sullivan, who owns exactly one outfit, and a woman, Indre Viskontas, who changes her clothes at least ten times an episode. Randy, if I can call him that, was in a war or something and he saw purple lightning and now he believes everything is a miracle and testing God is a sin. Indre claims to be some sort of doctor, I guess, and she believes nothing is a miracle and will latch on to any explanation no matter how unlikely or asinine it may be.

They go around investigating miracles to see, well, if they really are miracles, or at least that's the premise of the show. The truth is anything but.

On tonight's show, they go to investigate a woman who went to Lourdes in France (loading the page will resize your browser) and got some of the water. She brought it back and put it in a font in her house. When she woke up she discovered the water had turned into perfumed oil. Some time later she turned her house into a shrine, filled to capacity with icons, each of which exudes holy oil, along with the walls of the room as well. Now, I have a shrine in my house, millions of people do, but this is bordering on psychotic. There are more icons in her house, which is really tiny too, than in any church I've ever been to, even those huge old ones in the big cities that they turned into museums.

The oil has been associated with many healings. People have been healed of cancer and blindness, among other illnesses not mentioned in the program. The team goes to investigate. They visit one woman who was losing her vision due to a macular hole. Her friend gave her a cotton ball dipped in the oil, and she rubbed it on her eye every day for a week and when she went to the doctor he said the hole was gone. Randy was totally convinced. He threw his hands in the air and said "It's a miracle!" Indre said that the woman is very sad and she is using her faith as a crutch. Randy takes some of the oil to the world's leading expert on holy oil in Utah or somewhere and he smells it and says if it's real it can't contain any synthetic chemicals. Indre goes to some random eye doctor and asks about the woman's condition. He said that in 20 years of practice he has only seen two "spontaneous" healings in which a macular hole sealed up. Indre takes this to mean that the woman's case is the result of the atheist's supreme god of chance, not questioning about the two other "spontaneous" cases, which themselves might have been miracles, or, if not, were at least fantastically unlikely events and may have nothing at all to do with this woman and the oil. There might have been any number of other factors involved in those other cases, but she's not skeptical of her own skepticism, so it doesn't matter. She doesn't have to disprove the miracle, she just has to come up with any cock and balls story that might in some distant planet explain it away, and she did and was satisfied.

She brings in a building contractor who gives a very quick lookie loo of the room and says that because of the way the plaster on the walls is he can tell the room has not been tampered with, no hoses have been put in the walls to pour the oil out. He says it looks like someone splattered the oil on the walls, then he leaves.

She then calls in Joe Nickell, the skep-dick who found no evidence of anything paranormal, ever, so we know he's biased. She has an orgasm or two describing how he "debunks" things, meaning she's not interested in objectivity or science, since "debunking" is not part of the scientific method and no scientist ever has debunked anything. Science is open ended. Despite being a smug bastard he is the only one in the team with any sense and he sets up two tests. He has a camera watching a few statues for 24 hours, to see if oil spontaneously appears or someone puts it on it when no one is looking, and he takes a sample of oil to get a chemical analysis. The results are in. After one day no new oil appeared. Well, not exactly. A little oil did appear in the font, but he said it was just residue, so it didn't count, not surprisingly. He declaired it a fake and left after smelling his own farts. Randy interjected, the owner of the house says the oil comes out mostly on feast days, and only very little appears at other times in the year, and since the test was not on a feast day then it's not surprising only a little oil appeared. He just leaves. Joe just leaves. Now, if it was me I would have run a six month study on the house, not content to make pronouncements after only one night, but hey, we're not interested in science here.

The results of the chemical analysis? The oil is mostly vegetable oil with a glycol in it, most likely* propylene glycol, a synthetic chemical used in perfumes (and has it's own website, not many chemicals I know of can say that!). Randy is willing to admit he is very disappointed but falls short of saying it's not a miracle, even though according to that guy he visited when he went skiing in Utah, God doesn't use synthetic chemicals because synthetic chemicals don't know how your body works and natural chemicals do, somehow. The show ends with them looking at each other, him sad she indifferent. The camera holds on them for forth seconds with no audio.

Now Oprah is always talking about miracles. She believes President Zero is a miracle, and Deepak Chopra said on her show he was a product of "the all knowing quantum field," the kind that comes around once every thousand years. I was surprised that the Oprah channel had a show that seemed openly antagonistic to the idea of miracles. The chick on the show is a stereotypical skep-dick debunker, and the guy is extremely gullible and antagonistic to science. This is exactly how NOT to perform science and how NOT to investigate miracles. I won't be watching this program again.


*I forgot, so this is just a guess.

P.S. At 1,252 words this is officially the new longest post on The Urban Mystic!