Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Eugie Foster, 1971 - 2014

I only just heard. This is from her Facebook page, dated 27 September 2014:
Eugie Foster, author, editor, wife, died on September 27th of respiratory failure at Emory University in Atlanta.

In her forty-two years, Eugie lived three lifetimes. She won the Nebula award, the highest award for science fiction literature, and had over one hundred of her stories published. She was an editor for the Georgia General Assembly. She was the director of the Daily Dragon at Dragon Con, and was a regular speaker at genre conventions. She was a model, dancer, and psychologist. She also made my life worth living.
Memorial service will be announced soon.

We do not need flowers. In lieu of flowers, please buy her books and read them. Buy them for others to read until everyone on the planet knows how amazing she was.

--Matthew M. Foster (husband)
Eugie Foster wrote the short story "Oranges, Lemons and Thou Beside Me" which I narrated for Pseudopod in December 2006. It's one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read, let alone narrated, causing some controversy in the Pseudopod discussion forum and comments on the blog entry.

In 2008 I wrote reviews of podcast short fiction for TTA Press's now defunct The Fix Online, of which Eugie Foster was the managing editor.

A sad loss indeed, but the fruits of her creative imagination live on. You should check them out.

(photo snagged from her Facebook page)
Eugie Foster

Skepticule 86 is available for download, streaming and what-have-you

Long overdue — but delayed gratification is character-building, so they say:

Skepticule 086: Death of Christmas; God's own prayers; Anon Steve's slippery slope ECHR update; NSS AGM; Adam Rutherford on James Watson; Johno's just world for oven doors.



Saturday, 17 January 2015

Your choice to attend religious services? Apparently not.

Freedom of expression is an important right, as has been highlighted in recent days with the Charlie Hebdo affair. But what about the freedom not to attend a religious service?

Skepticule host Paul Orton explains the case of Anonymous Steve (a Skepticule contributor), who has been ordered by a judge to attend Roman Catholic Mass with his children:
Steve, a British citizen of my acquaintance, has been instructed by a British judge to attend Roman Catholic mass with his children when he has custody of them, as part of a divorce settlement.

The instruction to attend church* was something the judge introduced without being requested by the mother. The judge declared his Roman Catholicism to the court. The children only occasionally attended church with their mother before the divorce.

Steve appealed the judgement as far as he could as a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) but the Appeals Court has ruled that the original ruling should not be overturned. This would appear to set a precedent whereby it is in the remit of the British court system to demand that citizens attend services of a particular denomination.

Steve chooses not to take his children to mass, thereby leaving himself open to a charge of Contempt of Court and a prison sentence.
Read more on Paul Orton's blog, Missing God Gene.

*UPDATE 2015-01-17: "court" corrected to "church"

Burnee links — Creationism, scientific evidence and AI. And free speech, of course.

The only way to repeal blasphemy codes is to breach them | Lawyers' Secular Society
"A blasphemy code represents the very end of human progress..."

Creationism is inherently homophobic and misogynistic
Why bother arguing against creationism? After all, what's the harm? Well, this.

BBC News - Paul Nurse accuses politicians of 'cowardice' over scientific evidence
The shadow of David Nutt is cast silently over this article...

Add faithophobia to my crimes: I have no respect for religions that have little respect for me | Suzanne Moore | Comment is free | The Guardian
Religionists can say pretty much what they like as far as I'm concerned, but I don't have to respect what they say, and I have the right to say that they're wrong.

National Secular Society - Charlie Hebdo Editorial: Je Suis Charlie Means Je Suis Secularism
It's about secularism.

Can We Avoid a Digital Apocalypse? : A Response to the 2015 Edge Question : Sam Harris
Could we build an "artificial general intelligence"? Perhaps a better question is, should we?

Does Humanism require God? (Doesn't everything?)

Today's Unbelievable? — scheduled to broadcast at 14:30 this afternoon — has already been downloaded by my podcatcher. It's a discussion between Angus Ritchie, co-author of a recent Theos paper on humanism, and Stephen Law, Provost of the Centre for Inquiry UK, who has critiqued the paper on the CfI blog. I listened to the show yesterday evening and posted the following comments in the Skepticule aka The Three Pauls Podcast Facebook group while listening:
Paul S Jenkins Listening now. Trying to resist the temptation to cheer on Stephen Law's points.
13 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins Angus Ritchie's reasoning is tied up with "intrinsic values". This is absolutism, and that's why it won't fly as a reasoned argument.
12 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins Stephen Law has just asked Angus Ritchie a serious and extreme question. Angus has not yet answered it.
12 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins Damn. Justin has moved the argument on, giving Angus a breather.
12 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins Now Angus is obliquely referencing Plantinga's EAAN.
12 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins Justin reminds us that Stephen Law debated Alvin Plantinga on a previous _Unbelievable?_
12 hrs · Edited · Like

Paul S Jenkins Justin is paraphrasing Angus's argument, and diluting it at the same time.
12 hrs · Like

Paul S Jenkins "If nothing ethically matters, it doesn't matter that nothing ethically matters." Brilliant. An excellent performance by our favourite Scruffy Philosopher.
12 hrs · Like
Worth a listen if you have views on humanism and what it entails (and what it doesn't).

(At the end of the show, host Justin Brierley read out some feedback on a previous one in which William Lane Craig apparently claimed that the existence of mathematics was evidence for the existence of God. For me, Norman Bacrac's feedback hit the nail on the head by stating that mathematics is a property of physical reality. I don't think I'll be listening to that one.)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Why religious taboos need to be broken

More on the Charlie Hebdo affair, from Coel Hellier. It's full of nuggets:
Free speech is not an end in itself, we value it because we use it to examine and criticize influential ideas.
That's the point; Islam is influential. If it weren't influential we wouldn't bother with it.
The Islamic ban on drawing Mohammed is a theological taboo. The whole idea is to place Mohammed, and thus Islam, above human criticism. Drawing Mohammed is seen as disrespectful because it involves the drawer thinking for themselves about Mohammed and possibly coming to un-Islamic conclusions.
Organised religion does this kind of thing very well. Over the centuries religion has managed to insulate itself from criticism in such a way that the very notion that religion might be somehow incorrect about something has become abhorrent to many otherwise sensible people.
...we have a moral duty to question Islam, and that means a moral duty to flout the Islamic taboos that are there precisely to prevent us doing that. 
That looks like a call to action.
The cartoons drawn by Charlie Hebdo are not offensive by any proper standard — they are mild compared to those directed routinely at Western politicians — they are offensive only by the standards of a taboo that is there to protect Islam from scrutiny.

We simply cannot accept this taboo, since it conflicts with the basic principles that have raised the free West to the highest standards of economic prosperity, political freedom, and quality of life that the world has ever known. It is impermissible to try to impose one’s own religious rules onto other people, by means of taking “offense”, since that is to subject others to one’s own religion, which is exactly what Islam would like to do. 
Coel also highlights the dire plight of indigenous apostates such as Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1000 lashes for hosting a website critical of Islam:
If we in the West accept Islamic taboos, and acquiesce to Islamic strictures, then how can the Raif Badawis be expected to challenge Islam? To refuse to publish Mohammed cartoons is to say that the reformers are in the wrong! Surely we should stand in support of those who want to reform Islamic society from the inside.
Good points, clearly expressed — go read the whole thing.

Freedom of expression — who's responsible?

I consider freedom of expression to be a right, but I also acknowledge that I must take responsibility for my actions. If my actions include writing or saying offensive words, or drawing offensive pictures, I must take some responsibility for the offence. But I'm not responsible for unreasonable definitions of "offence", neither am I responsible for the actions of others when they react unreasonably to my actions.

To explain what I mean by "unreasonable" I will invoke Newton's Third Law of Motion: To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Would that this were a legal as well as a physical law. Being unexpectedly gunned down is not an equal and opposite reaction to publishing cartoons in a magazine. The proportionate response to offensive cartoons is criticism, not bullets.

John Scalzi, at his blog Whatever, gives what he calls "Disorganized Thoughts on Free Speech, Charlie Hebdo, Religion and Death". It's a meandering examination of the issues and how he feels about them, and worth reading.

at the HuffPo, on the other hand, seems to have missed the point of why free speech needs defending.
Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an "Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over" the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on "members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power".
Dubious? Possibly. Deserving death? I think not. This article misses the mark. Sacking, censure, criticism, or other forms of disapproval are in no way equivalent to what happened to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Summary execution is not equivalent to a strongly worded letter to the Times. This is not about political correctness.

And just today we have the Pope weighing in on the issue, but with a degree of equivocation that is really no help at all:

It's a bit worrying that the Pope is advocating violence in retaliation for perceived insult, but he's a religionist with a lot at stake, so the fact that he's taking the same line as Muslim extremists shouldn't be that surprising.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Burnee links for your thinks

Say What? Nicholas Wade and the Worst Idea Ever | NCSE
Creationism remains a problem in America. (Not so much in the UK, but given the current battle in Scotland that might change.)

The Demonic Humanists and the Insecure Christians | Hayley M. Stevens
Hayley was very quick off the mark with this blogpost about the first Big Questions (BBC1) of 2015. I'll be watching this in due course, but her report indicates I won't enjoy it.

Pastor Punches Kid in the Chest - YouTube

This man has confessed to child assault. He should be in jail.

Author Interview: Lance Dodes, Author Of 'The Sober Truth' : NPR
Jon Stewart talked about AA at last week's Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub. This article/audio is from March last year.

What’s the point of lampooning religion? To upset the religious? | Center for Inquiry
Stephen Law asks why Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a beloved religious figure.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Will Self collides with science

I've just listened to the first episode of "Self Orbits CERN":
Will Self embarks on a 50 kilometre walking tour of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN just outside Geneva.

Following the course of the Collider through the French and Swiss countryside, Will stops at regular intervals to descend to the tunnel and view the experiments below. He aims to complete the circuit entirely on foot.

Invited to 'feel the wonder' of particle physics, Will is unconvinced. At lunch with his CERN hosts, he questions them closely on the rationale for their work.

And as Will's journey gets under way, far from wondrous, he very soon finds himself wondering about his own capacity for misunderstanding - expressing concerns that his walking tour may be a complete waste of time.

Producer: Laurence Grissell.
"...Will is unconvinced." This isn't surprising. Disdain for scientific endeavour drips from every sentence. Will Self has made "being an arrogant prick" something of an art form, and he's very good at it. We'll see if his "concerns that his walking tour may be a complete waste of time" are applied to the LHC itself. They might not be, but I don't hold out much hope in this regard, given the distinctly deaf ears he turns towards those who would enlighten him.

Not an auspicious start to this series of five 15-minute episodes airing on BBC Radio 4 all this week, available on iPlayer/RadioPlayer for ... ages, and also available as a podcast:

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Unbelievable Hell

Recently (as in: the last few days) I participated somewhat half-heartedly in an online discussion about the validity of theology. Without reiterating in detail my established views on the subject I'll just say it is my belief that theology has minimal validity or practical use other than as an exercise in literary criticism.

By way of example, just today my podcatcher downloaded the latest edition of Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable? podcast, which once again confirmed its status as the radio equivalent of the Curate's Egg. The blurb for today's show is this:

Should Christians rethink Hell? Dr Al Mohler & Chris Date debate the traditional & conditionalist view

Saturday 3rd January 2015 - 02:30 pm
Following an article in the New York Times about scholars who adopt an annihilationist (also called 'conditional immortality') view of hell rather than the traditional 'eternal conscious torment' view, Justin is joined by two evangelicals to debate the issue.

Dr Al Mohler is President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He spoke against the annihilationist view in an edition of his daily podcast The Briefing.

Chris Date is one of the founders of Rethinking Hell and adopted an annihilationist view after he became convinced the Bible teaches it. They debate the scriptural evidence and whether scholarship is moving away from the traditional view.
I realise this isn't aimed at the likes of me, but Unbelievable? has been billed as the show that gets Christians and non-Christians talking, and often has atheists debating believers. This particular show isn't one of those — at least as far as the blurb indicates. I haven't listened to this one, and probably won't, because it appears to be concerned with stuff on a par with pinheads and dancing angels (plus it's been covered before). This is the kind of stuff I have in the past characterised, charitably, as "vacuous theology", and less charitably as "piffle".

Friday, 2 January 2015

Born Again Brainwashing

A link to the text below was posted on Facebook by Rosemary Lyndall-Wemm. It's freely copyable so I've included the whole thing:
Born Again Brainwashing
by Dick Sutphen
Original posting May 27, 1995
Posted at E-Y on June 6, 2005 

Original Title
The Battle for Your Mind
Persuasion and Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public Today

Summary Of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Birth of Conversion: Brainwashing in Christian Revivalism in 1735.
3. The Three Brain Phases: The Pavlovian Explanation
4. How Revivalist Preachers Work
5. The "Voice Roll" Technique
6. The Build-up Process.: Inducing Altered States
7. Assured Continuation: Fleecing the Flock
8. Bonding by Fear and Suggestion
9. Testimony: Creating Community Spirit
10. Miracles

11. The Grey Area of Legitimacy
12. A Game in Which the Rules Keep Changing
13. Six Conversion Techniques
14. Isolation Intimidation, Deprivation and Indoctrination.
15. The "Sell It By Zealot" Technique.
16. Wearing Down Resistance
17. Increasing Tension
18. Introducing Uncertainty About IdentityJargon
19. Lack of Humor: No Release, No Resistance
20. Not Always a Bad Thing
21. Cults: A Captive Course in Stockholm Syndrome
22. The Only Hope of Immunity
23. The US Marines as a Brainwashing Cult
24. Steps in the Decognition Process
25. Alertness reduction
26. Programmed Confusion
27. Thought Stopping
28. Thought Stopping Techniques.
29. Marching
30. Meditation
31. Chanting
32. True believers and mass movements.
33. Persuasion techniques:
34. "Yes Set"
35. Embedded Commands
36. The Power of NLP
37. Interspersal Technique
38. Practical Examples
3 9. Shock and Confusion
40. Subliminal Programming
41. Does Subliminal Programming Work?
42. Mass Misuse of Subliminal Programming
43. Vibrato
44. Extra-low Frequency Vibrations (ELFs)
45. The Neurophone
46. Technological Tools for Mass Manipulation
47. In Closing...

I'm Dick Sutphen and this tape is a studio-recorded, expanded version of a talk I delivered at the World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Although the tape carries a copyright to protect it from unlawful duplication for sale by other companies, in this case, I invite individuals to make copies and give them to friends or anyone in a position to communicate this information.

Although I've been interviewed about the subject on many local and regional radio and TV talk shows, large-scale mass communication appears to be blocked, since it could result in suspicion or investigation of the very media presenting it or the sponsors that support the media. Some government agencies do not want this information generally known. Nor do the Born-Again Christian movement, cults, and many human-potential trainings. 

Everything I will relate only exposes the surface of the problem. I don't know how the misuse of these techniques can be stopped. I don't think it is possible to legislate against that which often cannot be detected; and if those who legislate are using these techniques, there is little hope of affecting laws to govern usage. I do know that the first step to initiate change is to generate interest. In this case, that will probably only result from an underground effort.

In talking about this subject, I am talking about my own business. I know it, and I know how effective it can be. I produce hypnosis and subliminal tapes and, in some of my seminars, I use conversion tactics to assist participants to become independent and self-sufficient. But, anytime I use these techniques, I point out that I am using them, and those attending have a choice to participate or not. They also know what the desired result of participation will be.

So, to begin, I want to state the most basic of all facts about brainwashing: In the entire history of man, no one has ever been brainwashed and realized, or believed, that he had been brainwashed. Those who have been brainwashed will usually passionately defend their manipulators, claiming they have simply been "shown the light" ...or have been transformed in miraculous ways.

The Birth of Conversion:
Brainwashing in Christian Revivalism in 1735.
Conversion is a "nice" word for brainwashing...and any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalism in eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the "sinners" attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. The problem was that the new input was negative. He would tell them, "You're a sinner! You're destined for hell!"

As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. And the neighbors of the suicidal converts related that they, too, were affected so deeply that, although they had found "eternal salvation," they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.

Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are wide open. New input, in the form of suggestion, can be substituted for their previous ideas. Because Edwards didn't turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.

Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, cults, human-potential trainings, some business rallies, and the United States Armed name just a few.

Let me point out here that I don't think most revivalist preachers realize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that really worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.

The Three Brain Phases: The Pavlovian Explanation
The Christians may have been the first to successfully formulate brainwashing, but we have to look to Pavlov, the Russian scientist, for a technical explanation. In the early 1900s, his work with animals opened the door to further investigations with humans. After the revolution in Russia, Lenin was quick to see the potential of applying Pavlov's research to his own ends.

Three distinct and progressive states of transmarginal inhibition were identified by Pavlov. The first is the equivalent phase, in which the brain gives the same response to both strong and weak stimuli. The second is the paradoxical phase, in which the brain responds more actively to weak stimuli than to strong. And the third is the ultra-paradoxical phase, in which conditioned responses and behavior patterns turn from positive to negative or from negative to positive.

With the progression through each phase, the degree of conversion becomes more effective and complete. The way to achieve conversion are many and varied, but the usual first step in religious or political brainwashing is to work on the emotions of an individual or group until they reach an abnormal level of anger, fear, exitement, or nervous tension.

The progressive result of this mental condition is to impair judgement and increase suggestibility. The more this condition can be maintained or intensified, the more it compounds. Once catharsis, or the first brain phase, is reached, the complete mental takeover becomes easier. Existing mental programming can be replaced with new patterns of thinking and behavior.

Other often-used physiological weapons to modify normal brain functions are fasting, radical or high sugar diets, physical discomforts, regulation of breathing, mantra chanting in meditation, the disclosure of awesome mysteries, special lighting and sound effects, programmed response to incense, or intoxicating drugs.

The same results can be obtained in contemporary psychiatric treatment by electric shock treatments and even by purposely lowering a person's blood sugar level with insulin injections.

Before I talk about exactly how some of the techniques are applied, I want to point out that hypnosis and conversion tactics are two distinctly different things--and that conversion techniques are far more powerful. However, the two are often mixed...with powerful results.

How Revivalist Preachers Work
If you'd like to see a revivalist preacher at work, there are probably several in your city. Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in an alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.

Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trance--body relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs. Next, the assistant pastor will probably come out. He usually speaks with a pretty good "voice roll."

The "Voice Roll" Technique
A "voice roll" is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several of whom are highly trained hypnotists, when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.

The Build-up Process: Inducing Altered States
Now the assistant pastor begins the "build-up" process. He induces an altered state of consciousness and/or begins to generate the excitement and the expectations of the audience. Next, a group of young women in "sweet and pure" chiffon dresses might come out to sing a song. Gospel songs are great for building excitement and involvement. In the middle of the song, one of the girls might be "smitten by the spirit" and fall down or react as if possessed by the Holy Spirit. This very effectively increases the intensity in the room. At this point, hypnosis and conversion tactics are being mixed. And the result is the audience's attention span is now totally focused upon the communication while the environment becomes more exciting or tense.

Assured Continuation: Fleecing the Flock
Right about this time, when an eyes-open mass-induced alpha mental state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate or basket. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, "Give to God...Give to God...Give to God...." And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already-wealthy representative will.

Bonding by Fear and Suggestion
Next, the fire-and-brimstone preacher will come out. He induces fear and increases the tension by talking about "the devil," "going to hell," or the forthcoming Armegeddon.

In the last such rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a "bloody axe of God," which everyone had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone saw it--the power of suggestion given to hundreds of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.

Testimony: Creating Community Spirit
In most revivalist gatherings, "testifying" or "witnessing" usually follows the fear-based sermon. People from the audience come up on stage and relate their stories. "I was crippled and now I can walk!" "I had arthritis and now it's gone!" It is a psychological manipulation that works. After listening to numerous case histories of miraculous healings, the average guy in the audience with a minor problem is sure he can be healed. The room is charged with fear, guilt, intense excitement, and expectations.

Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, "Be healed!" This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.

For some, the healing may be permanent. For many, it will last four days to a week, which is, incidentally, how long a hypnotic suggestion given to a somnambulistic subject will usually last. Even if the healing doesn't last, if they come back every week, the power of suggestion may continually override the problem...or sometimes, sadly, it can mask a physical problem which could prove to be very detrimental to the individual in the long run.
The Grey Area of Legitimacy
I'm not saying that legitimate healings do not take place. They do. Maybe the individual was ready to let go of the negativity that caused the problem in the first place; maybe it was the work of God. Yet I contend that it can be explained with existing knowledge of brain/mind function.

A Game in Which the Rules Keep Changing
The techniques and staging will vary from church to church. Many use "speaking in tongues" to generate catharsis in some while the spectacle creates intense excitement in the observers.

The use of hypnotic techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around the country. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man's track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting.
Powerful sound and the proper use of lighting are of primary importance in inducing an altered state of consciousnes--I've been using them for years in my own seminars. However, my participants are fully aware of the process and what they can expect as a result of their participation.

Six Conversion Techniques
Cults and human-potential organizations are always looking for new converts. To attain them, they must also create a brain-phase. And they often need to do it within a short space of time--a weekend, or maybe even a day. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate the conversion.

Isolation Intimidation, Deprivation and Indoctrination
The meeting or training takes place in an area where participants are cut off from the outside world. This may be any place: a private home, a remote or rural setting, or even a hotel ballroom where the participants are allowed only limited bathroom usage. In human-potential trainings, the controllers will give a lengthy talk about the importance of "keeping agreements" in life. The participants are told that if they don't keep agreements, their life will never work. It's a good idea to keep agreements, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow to themselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who does not will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave. The next step is to agree to complete training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organizations.

They will usually have to agree not to take drugs, smoke, and sometimes not to eat...or they are given such short meal breaks that it creates tension. The real reason for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases the conversion potential.
The "Sell It By Zealot" Technique
Before the gathering is complete, the agreements will be used to ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They are intimidated into agreeing to do so before they leave. Since the importance of keeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twist the arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending a free introductory session offered at a future date by the organization. The new converts are zealots. In fact, the inside term for merchandising the largest and most successful human-potential training is, "sell it by zealot!"

At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think about the potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealots programmed to campaign for their guru.

Be wary of an organization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar. Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on a regular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking--or any regularly scheduled event used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.

Wearing Down Resistance
Alright. Now, let's look at the second tip-off that indicates conversion tactics are being used. A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.

Increasing Tension
The third tip-off: techniques used to increase the tension in the room or environment.
Introducing Uncertainty About Identity
Number four: Uncertainty. I could spend hours relating various techniques to increase tension and generate uncertainty. Basically, the participants are concerned about being "put on the spot" or encountered by the trainers, guilt feelings are played upon, participants are tempted to verbally relate their innermost secrets to the other participants or forced to take part in activities that emphasize removing their masks. One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public opinion poll, conducted a few years ago, showed that the number one most-fearful situation an individual could encounter is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building.

So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the participants. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.

The fifth clue that conversion tactics are being used is the introduction of jargon--new terms that have meaning only to the "insiders" who participate. Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make participants uncomfortable.

Lack of Humor: No Release, No Resistance
The final tip-off is that there is no humor in the least until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly "found."

Not Always a Bad Thing
I'm not saying that good does not result from participation in such gatherings. It can and does. But I contend it is important for people to know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not be in their best interest.

Over the years, I've conducted professional seminars to teach people to be hypnotists, trainers, and counselors. I've had many of those who conduct trainings and rallies come to me and say, "I'm here because I know that what I'm doing works, but I don't know why." After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.

Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversions. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people want to give away their power--they are true "believers"!

Cults: A Captive Course in Stockholm Syndrome
Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe first-hand what is technically called the "Stockholm Syndrome." This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled, or made to suffer, begin to love, admire, and even sometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.

But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfect example is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Haitian Voodoo. In her report, she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn.

The Only Hope of Immunity
The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be a Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.

The US Marines as a Brainwashing Cult
Before I go on, let's go back to the six tip-offs to conversion. I want to mention the United States Government and military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before "rebuilding" them as new men--as marines! Well, that is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I'm not making a judgement as to whether that is good or bad. IT IS A fact that the men are effectively brainwashed. Those who won't submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.

Steps in the Decognition Process
Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services, and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members must respond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise they are dangerous to the organizational control. This is normally accomplished as a three-step ˜ Decognition Process.

Alertness reduction
Step One is alertness reduction: The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplished in several ways. poor diet is one; watch out for Brownies and Koolaid. The sugar throws the nervous system off. More subtle is the "spiritual diet" used by many cults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally "spacey." Inadequate sleep is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity. Also, being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achieves the same result.

Programmed Confusion
Step Two is programmed confusion: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information, lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.

Thought Stopping
Step Three is thought stopping: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go "flat." These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusing awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use "thought-stopping" techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become "better soldiers" or "find enlightenment."
Thought Stopping Techniques
There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is marching: the thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus great susceptibility to suggestion.
The second thought stopping technique is meditation. If you spend an hour to an hour and a half a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is a great probability that you will not return to full beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I'm not saying this is bad--if you do it yourself. It may be very beneficial. But it is a fact that you are causing your mind to go flat. I've worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups see this as nirvana--which is bullshit. It is simply a predictable physiological result. And if heaven on earth is non-thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.
The third thought-stopping technique is chanting, and often chanting in meditation. "Speaking in tongues" could also be included in this category.
All three-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be very good if you are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in alpha that, although you'll be very mellow, you'll also be more suggestible.
True Believers and Mass Movements
Before ending this section on conversion, I want to talk about the people who are most susceptible to it and about Mass Movements. I am convinced that at least a third of the population is what Eric Hoffer calls "true believers." They are joiners and followers...people who want to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning, and enlightenment outside themselves.

Hoffer, who wrote "The True Believer", a classic on mass movements, says, "true believers are not intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of unwanted self. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!" Hoffer also says that true believers "are eternally incomplete and eternally insecure"!

I know this from my own experience. In my years of communicating concepts and conducting trainings, I have run into them again and again. All I can do is attempt to show them that the only thing to seek is the True Self within. Their personal answers are to be found there and there alone. I communicate that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibility and self-actualization. But most of the true believers just tell me that I'm not spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma and structure they desire.

Never underestimate the potential danger of these people. They can easily be molded into fanatics who will gladly work and die for their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves and offers them as a substitute for individual hope. The Moral Majority is made up of true believers. All cults are composed of true believers. You'll find them in politics, churches, businesses, and social cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.

Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followers want to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life--if necessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced by the activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment, for that is the bottomline in law enforcement.

A common hatred, enemy, or devil is essential to the success of a mass movement. The Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn't enough--they've added the occult, the New Age thinkers and, lately, all those who oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in their political reelection campaigns against those who oppose their views. In revolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Some human-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to join anything, thus labeling themselves as a cult--but, if you look closely, you'll find that their devil is anyone and everyone who hasn't taken their training.

There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status. The True Believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those without hope or friends. People don't look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a new order feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.

Persuasion Techniques
Persuasion isn't technically brainwashing but it is the manipulation of the human mind by another individual, without the manipulated party being aware what caused his opinion shift. I only have time to very basically introduce you to a few of the thousands of techniques in use today, but the basis of persuasion is always to access your right brain. The left half of your brain is analytical and rational. The right side is creative and imaginative. That is overly simplified but it makes my point. So, the idea is to distract the left brain and keep it busy. Ideally, the persuader generates an eyes-open altered state of consciousness, causing you to shift from beta awareness into alpha; this can be measured on an EEG machine.

"Yes Set"
First, let me give you an example of distracting the left brain. Politicians use these powerful techniques all the time; lawyers use many variations which, I've been told, they call "tightening the noose."
Assume for a moment that you are watching a politician give a speech. First, he might generate what is called a "yes set." These are statements that will cause listeners to agree; they might even unknowingly nod their heads in agreement. Next come the truisms. These are usually facts that could be debated but, once the politician has his audience agreeing, the odds are in the politician's favor that the audience won't stop to think for themselves, thus continuing to agree. Last comes the suggestion. This is what the politician wants you to do and, since you have been agreeing all along, you could be persuaded to accept the suggestion. Now, if you'll listen closely to my political speech, you'll find that the first three are the "yes set," the next three are truisms and the last is the suggestion.

"Ladies and gentlemen: are you angry about high food prices? Are you tired of astronomical gas prices? Are you sick of out-of-control inflation? Well, you know the Other Party allowed 18 percent inflation last year; you know crime has increased 50 percent nationwide in the last 12 months, and you know your paycheck hardly covers your expenses any more. Well, the answer to resolving these problems is to elect me, John Jones, to the U.S. Senate."

Embedded Commands
And I think you've heard all that before. But you might also watch for what are called embedded commands. As an example: On key words, the speaker would make a gesture with his left hand, which research has shown is more apt to access your right brain. Today's media-oriented politicians and spellbinders are often carefully trained by a whole new breed of specialist who are using every trick in the book--both old and new--to manipulate you into accepting their candidate.

The Power of NLP
The concepts and techniques of Neuro-Linguistics [Programming] are so heavily protected that I found out the hard way that to even talk about them publicly or in print results in threatened legal action. Yet Neuro-Linguistic training is readily available to anyone willing to devote the time and pay the price. It is some of the most subtle and powerful manipulation I have yet been exposed to. A good friend who recently attended a two-week seminar on Neuro-Linguistics found that many of those she talked to during the breaks were government people.

Interspersal Technique
Another technique that I'm just learning about is unbelievably slippery; it is called an interspersal technique and the idea is to say one thing with words but plant a subconscious impression of something else in the minds of the listeners and/or watchers.

Practical Examples
Let me give you an example: Assume you are watching a television commentator make the following statement: Senator Johnson is assisting local authorities to clear up the stupid mistakes of companies contributing to the nuclear waste problems." It sounds like a statement of fact, but, if the speaker emphasizes the right word, and especially if he makes the proper hand gestures on the key words, you could be left with the subconscious impression that Senator Johnson is stupid. That was the subliminal goal of the statement and the speaker cannot be called to account for anything.

Persuasion techniques are also frequently used on a much smaller scale with just as much effectiveness. The insurance salesman knows his pitch is likely to be much more effective if he can get you to visualize something in your mind. This is right-brain communication [E.g. generates emotions]. For instance, he might pause in his conversation, look slowly around your livingroom and say, "Can you just imagine this beautiful home burning to the ground?" Of course you can! It is one of your unconscious fears and, when he forces you to visualize it, you are more likely to be manipulated into signing his insurance policy.

Shock and Confusion
The Hare Krishnas, operating in every airport, use what I call shock and confusion techniques to distract the left brain and communicate directly with the right brain. While waiting for a plane, I once watched one operate for over an hour. He had a technique of almost jumping in front of someone. Initially, his voice was loud then dropped as he made his pitch to take a book and contribute money to the cause. Usually, when people are shocked, they immediately withdraw. In this case they were shocked by the strange appearance, sudden materialization and loud voice of the Hare Krishna devotee. In other words, the people went into an alpha state for security because they didn't want to confront the reality before them.

In alpha, they were highly suggestible so they responded to the suggestion of taking the book; the moment they took the book, they felt guilty and responded to the second suggestion: give money. We are all conditioned that if someone gives us something, we have to give them something in return--in that case, it was money. While watching this hustler, I was close enough to notice that many of the people he stopped exhibited an outward sign of alpha--their eyes were actually dilated.

Subliminal Programming
Subliminals are hidden suggestions that only your subconscious perceives. They can be audio, hidden behind music, or visual, airbrushed into a picture, flashed on a screen so fast that you don't consciously see them, or cleverly incorporated into a picture or design.

Most audio subliminal reprogramming tapes offer verbal suggestions recorded at a low volume. I question the efficacy of this technique--if subliminals are not perceptible, they cannot be effective, and subliminals recorded below the audible threshold are therefore useless. The oldest audio subliminal technique uses a voice that follows the volume of the music so subliminals are impossible to detect without a parametric equalizer. But this technique is patented and, when I wanted to develop my own line of subliminal audiocassettes, negotiations with the patent holder proved to be unsatisfactory.

My attorney obtained copies of the patents which I gave to some talented Hollywood sound engineers, asking them to create a new technique. They found a way to psycho-acoustically modify and synthesize the suggestions so that they are projected in the same chord and frequency as the music, thus giving them the effect of being part of the music. But we found that in using this technique, there is no way to reduce various frequencies to detect the subliminals. In other words, although the suggestions are being heard by the subconscious mind, they cannot be monitored with even the most sophisticated equipment.

If we were able to come up with this technique as easily as we did, I can only imagine how sophisticated the technology has become, with unlimited government or advertising funding. And I shudder to think about the propaganda and commercial manipulation that we are exposed to on a daily basis. There is simply no way to know what is behind the music you hear. It may even be possible to hide a second voice behind the voice to which you are listening.

The series by Wilson Bryan Key, Ph.D., on subliminals in advertising and political campaigns well documents the misuse in many areas, especially printed advertising in newspapers, magazines, and posters.

The big question about subliminals is: do they work? And I guarantee you they do. Not only from the response of those who have used my tapes, but from the results of such programs as the subliminals behind the music in department stores. Supposedly, the only message is instructions to not steal: one East Coast department store chain reported a 37 percent reduction in thefts in the first nine months of testing.

A 1984 article in the technical newsletter, "Brain-Mind Bulletin," states that as much as 99 percent of our cognitive activity may be "non-conscious," according to the director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Psychophysiology at the University of Illinois. The lengthy report ends with the statement, "these findings support the use of subliminal approaches such as taped suggestions for weight loss and the therapeutic use of hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming."

Mass Misuse of Subliminal Programming
I could relate many stories that support subliminal programming, but I'd rather use my time to make you aware of even more subtle uses of such programming.
I have personally experienced sitting in a Los Angeles auditorium with over ten thousand people who were gathered to listen to a current charismatic figure. Twenty minutes after entering the auditorium, I became aware that I was going in and out of an altered state. Those accompanying me experienced the same thing. Since it is our business, we were aware of what was happening, but those around us were not. By careful observation, what appeared to be spontaneous demonstrations were, in fact, artful manipulations. The only way I could figure that the eyes-open trance had been induced was that a 6- to 7-cycle-per-second vibration was being piped into the room behind the air conditioner sound. That particular vibration generates alpha, which would render the audience highly susceptible. Ten to 25 percent of the population is capable of a somnambulistic level of altered states of consciousness; for these people, the suggestions of the speaker, if non-threatening, could potentially be accepted as "commands."

This leads to the mention of vibrato. Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cyle-per-second range causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were not allowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered state and have fantasies, often sexual in nature.

People who attend opera or enjoy listening to singers like Mario Lanza are familiar with this altered state induced by the performers.

Extra-low Frequency Vibrations (ELFs)
Now, let's carry this awareness a little farther. There are also inaudible ELFs (extra-low frequency waves). These are electromagnetic in nature. One of the primary uses of ELFs is to communicate with our submarines. Dr. Andrija Puharich, a highly respected researcher, in an attempt to warn U.S. officials about Russian use of ELFs, set up an experiment. Volunteers were wired so their brain waves could be measured on an EEG. They were sealed in a metal room that could not be penetrated by a normal signal.

Puharich then beamed ELF waves at the volunteers. ELFs go right through the earth and, of course, right through metal walls. Those inside couldn't know if the signal was or was not being sent. And Puharich watched the reactions on the technical equipment: 30 percent of those inside the room were taken over by the ELF signal in six to ten seconds.

When I say "taken over," I mean that their behavior followed the changes anticipated at very precise frequencies. Waves below 6 cycles per second caused the subjects to become very emotionally upset, and even disrupted bodily functions. At 8.2 cycles, they felt very elevated feeling, as though they had been in masterful meditation, learned over a period of years. Eleven to 11.3 cycles induced waves of depressed agitation leading to riotous behavior

[note from Ken Adachi:: Joe Vialls reported that the CIA and Air Force employed this technique using large dish transmitters beaming down from the back cargo ramps of C135 cargo planes to incite opposing tribal factions in Rwanda to become enraged and engage in mindless slaughter and barbarism]

The Neurophone
Dr. Patrick Flanagan is a personal friend of mine. In the early 1960s, as a teenager, Pat was listed as one of the top scientists in the world by "Life" magazine. Among his many inventions was a device he called the Neurophone--an electronic instrument that can successfully programm suggestions directly through contact with the skin. When he attempted to patent the device, the government demanded that he prove it worked. When he did, the National Security Agency confiscated the neurophone. It took Pat two years of legal battle to get his invention back.

In using the device, you don't hear or see a thing; it is applied to the skin, which Pat claims is the source of special senses. The skin contains more sensors for heat, touch, pain, vibration, and electrical fields than any other part of the human anatomy.

In one of his recent tests, Pat conducted two identical seminars for a military audience--one seminar one night and one the next night, because the size of the room was not large enough to accommodate all of them at one time. When the first group proved to be very cool and unwilling to respond, Patrick spent the next day making a special tape to play at the second seminar. The tape instructed the audience to be extremely warm and responsive and for their hands to become "tingly." The tape was played through the neurophone, which was connected to a wire he placed along the ceiling of the room. There were no speakers, so no sound could be heard, yet the message was successfully transmitted from that wire directly into the brains of the audience. They were warm and receptive, their hands tingled and they responded, according to programming, in other ways that I cannot mention here.

Technological Tools for Mass Manipulation
The more we find out about how human beings work through today's highly advanced technological research, the more we learn to control human beings. And what probably scares me the most is that the medium for takeover is already in place. The television set in your livingroom and bedroom is doing a lot more than just entertaining you.

Before I continue, let me point out something else about an altered state of consciousness. When you go into an altered state, you transfer into right brain, which results in the internal release of the body's own opiates: enkephalins and Beta-endorphins, chemically almost identical to opium. In other words, it feels good...and you want to come back for more.

Recent tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that, while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one. Put more simply, the viewers were in an altered trance more often than not. They were getting their Beta-endorphin "fix."

To measure attention spans, psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland of the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, attached young viewers to an EEG machine that was wired to shut the TV set off whenever the children's brains produced a majority of alpha waves. Although the children were told to concentrate, only a few could keep the set on for more than 30 seconds!

Most viewers are already hypnotized. To deepen the trance is easy. One simple way is to place a blank, black frame every 32 frames in the film that is being projected. This creates a 45-beat-per-minute pulsation perceived only by the subconscious mind--the ideal pace to generate deep hypnosis.

The commercials or suggestions presented following this alpha-inducing broadcast are much more likely to be accepted by the viewer. The high percentage of the viewing audience that has somnambulistic-depth ability could very well accept the suggestions as commands--as long as those commands did not ask the viewer to do something contrary to his morals, religion, or self-preservation.

The medium for takeover is here. By the age of 16, children have spent 10,000 to 15,000 hours watching television--that is more time than they spend n school! In the average home, the TV set is on for six hours and 44 minutes per day--an increase of nine minutes from last year and three times the average rate of increase during the 1970s.

It obviously isn't getting better...we are rapidly moving into an alpha-level world--very possibly the Orwellian world of "1984"--placid, glassy-eyed, and responding obediently to instructions.
A research project by Jacob Jacoby, a Purdue University psychologist, found that of 2,700 people tested, 90 percent misunderstood even such simple viewing fare as commercials and "Barnaby Jones." Only minutes after watching, the typical viewer missed 23 to 36 percent of the questions about what he or she had seen. Of course they did--they were going in and out of trance! If you go into a deep trance, you must be instructed to remember--otherwise you automatically forget.

In Closing
I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. When you start to combine subliminal messages behind the music, subliminal visuals projected on the screen, hypnotically produced visual effects, sustained musical beats at a trance-inducing pace . . . you have extremely effective brainwashing. Every hour that you spend watching the TV set you become more conditioned. And, in case you thought there was a law against any of these things, guess again. There isn't! There are a lot of powerful people who obviously prefer things exactly the way they are. Maybe they have plans for...?
Modified for WWW distribution May 27/95 by Dynamic Living Media
May be freely copied and reproduced complete with all graphics.

Neither the editor nor the publisher know the current whereabouts of Dick Sutphen. Please conduct searches for the author through the usual channels. 
I did some "human-potential training" decades ago, and I recognise several of the techniques described here. But I would still question the overall validity of this piece. It seems very alarmist and "conspiracy theorist" to me. The few citations appear to be to work supporting Sutphen's thesis, while he makes many references to organisations, government, religion etc., using these techniques but provides no substantiation.

The references to hypnotism and NLP are problematic, as I understand there's little agreement about what these actually are, what they can actually accomplish, or how they work.

I have no expertise in psychology, so I'd like to hear what someone like, say, Richard Wiseman has to say about all this. Or maybe Derren Brown (not a psychologist, but a skilled practitioner of whatever is alleged to be going on here).

To cap it all, the author has apparently vanished from the face of the Earth. (Perhaps he's been abducted by aliens.)

Something else that seems odd: as far as I can tell the text in the Facebook preview of the link does not appear in the linked text. Perhaps it's subliminal text, undetectable by my browser's "Find" command...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

George Hrab talks about loss from an atheistic perpective

Let's start off the new year with some jolly fun*. Here's George Hrab talking about loss.

Geo has some down-to-earth (as opposed to up-to-heaven) things to say about grief, loss, legacy and mourning. I particularly like what he says about "owning" grief.

*Not really.
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