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Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license.

For discussion: http://blog.ted.com/2013/04/01/a-note-to-the-ted-community-on-the-withdrawal-of-the-tedxwesthollywood-license

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    Apr 3 2013: Some new stats on what American voters think. Data to consider in the selection of TED content by popular opinion, especially when considering the numbers of people these percentages represent.

    Conspiracy Theory Poll Results
    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/04/conspiracy-theory-poll-results-.html

    Detail on the poll:
    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_National_ConspiracyTheories_040213.pdf

    Some excerpts:

    37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not.

    29% of voters believe aliens exist.

    28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order.

    21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up.

    20% of voters believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism, 51% do not.

    15% of voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals (the so-called Tinfoil Hat crowd).

    14% of voters believe in Bigfoot.
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      Apr 3 2013: And yet the public isn't stupid enough to fall for the nonsense TED is trying to pull.

      John, maybe you would feel more secure having Jerry Coyne tuck you in bed at night while keeping away all those people with dangerous and scary ideas. But most people would rather make up their own minds. When organizations like TED decide to make up our minds for us, that's when things get really scary.

      So if you want an anonymous science board editing your thoughts, that's up to you. But the rest of us would prefer to think for ourselves.
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        Apr 3 2013: No, this is when things get scary:

        Nazi Pseudoscience
        http://organizedhell.devhub.com/blog/662830-nazi-pseudoscience/

        Nazi eugenics
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_eugenics

        The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics
        http://hnn.us/articles/1796.html

        Bourgeois pseudoscience
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourgeois_pseudoscience

        I think, with the death of the generation that survived and/or lived through the 1930s and World War II, people like you have forgotten what "really scary" actually looks like. The kind you fear is trivial compared to the other kind.

        In Nazi Germany, people made up their own minds and came to conclusions that were horribly, devastatingly wrong. The same thing has been true in the U.S. The sad reality is that the public is often not only stupid, but also mean, even to the point of being genocidal. Jews know this. Native Americans know this. African-Americans know this. We should ALL know this.

        Without Sanctuary
        http://withoutsanctuary.org/

        Letting people make up their own minds does not always result in good things, which is why the wisdom of successful organizations such as TED is required, expected, and deeply appreciated.
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          Apr 3 2013: So it's not the general public you don't trust to think for themselves, it's only people younger than yourself you don't trust, is that it?

          You forget that many of the greatest atrocities required the public to believe what they were told without question. Controlling what people see has an effect on what they believe. The Nazi's knew that. Jerry Coyne knows that. So does TED.

          Censorship and willful blindness have led to terrible tragedies.
        • Apr 3 2013: I see your point Mr. Hoopes, but I don't share your fear. For one, I think that the existence of a free and open Internet significantly alters the equation. Hence why we can even have this discussion.
        • Apr 3 2013: You underestimate the fear and worry experienced by young people living on the edge of ecological collapse.

          I have a kid. I don't know if the world he lives in has a future. This scares me.
        • Apr 3 2013: What's a wise TEDx look like?
        • Apr 3 2013: That's a good point, Lewis. There are good arguments for how implications of philosophical materialism actually promote the kind of thinking that logically lead to ecological collapse. To paraphrase Bernardo Kastrup (who was a TEDx speaker, by the way): if only matter exists, then the only viable goal to have is the accumulation of material goods; if consciousness ends upon cessation of brain metabolism, then there's nothing to lose, so take what you can while you can; if existence is random and meaningless, then this spares us any responsibility for achieving something meaningful in life. There are powerful psychological consequences to holding this philosophy. That is why this discussion is important.
        • Apr 3 2013: John, are you suggesting that if, eg, Larry Dossey or Russell Targ are allowed to speak at a TEDx event then something akin to the Holocaust will surely follow on account of it. That, I would suggest, is exactly the kind of crazy thinking you claim to be against. It is a completely fantasy. There is not the slightest evidence to suggest anything like it could even be remotely true. Thus I will only note that many brilliantly educated, critically thinking scientists, were heavily involved in the horrors to which you refer. Thus your whole claim here, from premise to conclusion, and everything in between, and everything surrounding it, and everything within a hundred miles of it, is preposterous.
        • Apr 3 2013: A more rational and scientific approach?

          From A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World:

          The important question is, In what spirit are we going to face the issue? There we come to something absolutely vital. A clash of doctrines is not a disaster-it is an opportunity. I will explain my meaning by some illustrations from science. The weight of an atom of nitrogen was well known. Also it was an established scientific doctrine that the average weight of such atoms in any considerable mass will be always the same. Two experimenters, the late Lord Rayleigh and the late Sir William Ramsay, found that if they obtained nitrogen by two different methods, each equally effective for that purpose, they always observed a persistent slight difference between the average weights of the atoms in the two cases. Now I ask you, would it have been rational of these men to have despaired because of this conflict between chemical theory and scientific observation? Suppose that for some reason the chemical doctrine had been highly prized throughout some district as the foundation of its social order:-would it have been wise, would it have been candid, would it have been moral, to forbid the disclosure of the fact that the experiments produced discordant results? Or, on the other hand, should Sir William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh have proclaimed that chemical theory was now a detected delusion? We see at once that either of these ways would have been a method of facing the issue in an entirely wrong spirit. What Rayleigh and Ramsay did do was this: They at once perceived that they had hit upon a line of investigation which would disclose some subtlety of chemical theory that had hitherto eluded observation. The discrepancy was not a disaster: it was an opportunity to increase the sweep of chemical knowledge. You all know the end of the story: finally argon was discovered, a new chemical element which lurked undetected, mixed with the nitrogen. ... (continued below)
        • Apr 3 2013: (cont.) But the story has a sequel which forms my second illustration. This discovery drew attention to the importance of observing accurately minute differences in chemical substances as obtained by different methods. Further researches of the most careful accuracy were undertaken. Finally another physicist, F. W. Aston, working in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge in England, discovered that even the same element might assume two or more distinct forms, termed isotopes, and that the law of the constancy of average atomic weight holds for each of these forms, but as between the different isotopes differs slightly. The research has effected a great stride in the power of chemical theory, far transcending in importance the discovery of argon from which it originated. The moral of these stories lies on the surface, and I will leave to you their application to the case of religion and science. In formal logic, a contradiction is the signal of a defeat: but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress towards a victory. This is one great reason for the utmost toleration of variety of opinion. Once and forever, this duty of toleration has been summed up in the words, 'Let both grow together until the harvest.' The failure of Christians to act up to this precept, of the highest authority, is one of the curiosities of religious history ..

          http://quod.lib.umich.edu/g/genpub/AGG6699.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext
        • Apr 3 2013: John Hoopes -" Letting people make up their own minds does not always result in good things, which is why the wisdom of successful organizations such as TED is required, expected, and deeply appreciated."

          John I am sure the victims of the concentration camps agreed with those sentiments as the gas was administered.
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        Apr 3 2013: No, it is people who think as you do that I don't trust.

        The problem is not when the public is required to believe what they are told. That rarely works. The problem is when they do.
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          Apr 3 2013: Well, I think you have the right and ability to think for yourself, is that really so scary a concept? Of course, everyone else should have the same privilege.

          What qualifies you to be society's thought police? What qualifies TED or Jerry Coyne?
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        Apr 3 2013: Those are good things to consider. I hope you will.
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          Apr 3 2013: You've said you think the public is stupid. I think the public would take issue with that. I don't think TED needs to become the thought police.
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        Apr 3 2013: You refer to "the public" as if it's of one mind. It's not. I don't think there's any danger of TED arresting people for what they think. However, the staff of TED have done a great job of mamaging content so far. I don't think they should delegate that task to the general public. Would you?
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          Apr 3 2013: You don't think very highly of the public. It seems TED suffers from the same problem. But people are not as stupid as you (and TED) seem to think. They can spot censorship. They know when they are being lied to. They can recognize "damage control" for what it is, a lame attempt to win back the public's approval after messing up big time.

          It's the public that made TED what it is, not Jerry Coyne. TED needs to remember that.
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        Apr 3 2013: Noah, you say, "if only matter exists, then the only viable goal to have is the accumulation of material goods; if consciousness ends upon cessation of brain metabolism, then there's nothing to lose, so take what you can while you can; if existence is random and meaningless, then this spares us any responsibility for achieving something meaningful in life. There are powerful psychological consequences to holding this philosophy."

        What you've just described has been used to mischaracterize and target Judaism and Jews in particular and was the basis for Nazi antisemitism. In fact, targeting that "materialism" was at the heart of the ideology that resulted in the Holocaust. That dangerous rhetoric is more hushed today, but nonetheless present, often couched in complaints about a "Zionist conspiracy." The hoax of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a method for spreading lies that materialism was at the heart of Judaism. Education and the internet have still not been successful at putting that pseudohistory to rest.

        Protocols of the Elders of Zion
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion

        However, the truth is quite different. I think the Jewish concept of "tikkin olam" ("perfecting the world") is especially valuable, as is the essence of Torah as stated by Hillel: Do not do to others what is hateful when done to you.

        Tikkun olam
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikkun_olam

        Hillel the Elder
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_the_Elder

        I think the horrific experience of the past means we should be circumspect about demonizing any particular philosophy, including Judaism, atheism, scientism, and materialism. I think fears for the future of planet are well-founded, but we should never forget the horrors of the past. The former are only imagined; the latter are tragically real.

        The issues you discuss are part of a larger collection of ideas known as antimodernism.
        • Apr 3 2013: John, what are you saying? Where have I mischaracterized materialism, or targeted Judaism, or controverted the golden rule, or "demonized" anything? I am really taken aback by your new offensive. Do you imply I am an advocate for forgetting the horrors of the past?

          As I mentioned elsewhere you betray a woeful lack of philosophical understanding. What reasons do you have for assuming I am mischaracterizing anything? What is your evidence that I am opening the door to human injustice?

          These aren't criticisms leveled at materialists, but logical corollaries of its philosophy. You probably don't believe that any other credible philosophy exists, which demonstrates the extent of your ignorance. I paraphrased Bernardo Kastrup because I find his rational articulation of idealism very compelling. What's that? Oh, it's the exact same philosophy of Hitler? Better stick to materialism then since nothing destructive ever came of that.

          Well John, thanks for irrationally invoking Godwin's law. If you're interested in researching Bernardo's revitalized idealism you can start here:

          http://www.etvita.com/2013/03/making-case-for-idealism-et-vita.html

          And by the way, I find your suggestion that I'm a Nazi sympathizer (Reductio ad Hitlerum) in poor taste.
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        Apr 3 2013: Steve, you write, "John, are you suggesting that if, eg, Larry Dossey or Russell Targ are allowed to speak at a TEDx event then something akin to the Holocaust will surely follow on account of it. That, I would suggest, is exactly the kind of crazy thinking you claim to be against."

        No, I'm not suggesting that. I think that would be crazy thinking.

        "Thus your whole claim here, from premise to conclusion, and everything in between, and everything surrounding it, and everything within a hundred miles of it, is preposterous."

        If one spins out that argument as you do, not I, that's true. Your interpretation is preposterous.
        • Apr 3 2013: Well you kinda are arguing that. You are arguing that someone has to filter the information the foolish public receives because we all know what happens (the Holocaust) when the public are simply given information and allowed to make their own mind up. Now, ignoring the simple fact that in Nazi Germany the public were told exactly what to think and no mind making up took place at all, that point can only have some relevance here if it is related to TED's decision here. And since the force of your argument is entirely dependent on the severity of the consequences (ie, the Holocaust), you are basically engaging in argumentum ad holocaustum, and claiming that we must agree with you here because otherwise piles of bodies. It's nonsense. It's irrelevant. It's overblown. And it's everything I've come to expect from your arguments. What relevance does the holocaust have here, none, drop it.
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        Apr 3 2013: Gary asks, "What's a wise TEDx look like?"

        I think Chris Anderson is about to tell us.
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        Apr 3 2013: No, Steve, I am not "kinda arguing that." Your interpretations of what I write are consistently bizarre. Please stop misconstruing my words and my ideas in these discussions.
        • Apr 3 2013: Well what is your point about the holocaust if not that that's what happens when the public get to make their own minds up? And what is its relevance here if not that it supports the idea of a curator with a firm hand?
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        Apr 3 2013: My point is that the public often "makes up its mind" in ways that are stupid, violent, and genocidal.

        My point is the same as that made by Charles Mackay in 1841.

        Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusions_and_the_Madness_of_Crowds
        http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Popular-Delusions-Madness-Crowds/dp/1604594411
        http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24518

        It is as relevant today as ever, especially with the Internet.

        "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." -- Charles Mackay
        • Apr 3 2013: Yeah, but Mackay's quote is quite clearly against the herd (or rather flock) mentality that you are advocating. That is, you are advocating us (the flock) being given only the information deemed appropriate for us (by TED) so that we will not get to, or there will be no need to, think for ourselves. But that's exactly what Nazi Germany was all about. People didn't think for themselves there and what they heard was totally controlled by others. And so your only point can be that Chris Anderson is a good shepherd whereas Hitler was not. Thus your analogy is the wrong way round for your Mackay quote and even it it wasn't, your argument would be so out of proportion that it has nothing going for it at all.
        • Apr 3 2013: "It is as relevant today as ever, especially with the Internet."

          You could make the claim that the Internet has "still not been successful at putting pseudohistory to rest" as you do above, But you're in effect suggesting that, were the existence of an Internet able to dispel untruths and ignorance, it "ought" to have already done so. The implication is that, since it has not done so absolutely, then its existence significantly contributes to the level of misinformation, hence the "especially." The "is-ought" problem, succeeded by a black/white fallacy.

          In fact, I don't accept your premise. I think there is reason to think that the existence of the Internet has a moderating effect on the currency of ideas. That this process is gradual is not evidence against its actually occurring.
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        Apr 3 2013: Steve, that's yet another interpretation that I would characterize as bizarre. I am not advocating that you be given only the information deemed appropriate for you by TED. That would be absurd. Don't you have access to other sources of information? Schools? Libraries? The Internet? If you are utterly dependent upon TED, your knowledge will be severely flawed. As much as I like TED, I wouldn't advise relying upon it as your only source of information.
        • Apr 3 2013: I think you underestimate the reach of TED. How often do people link you to TED videos? For me, it happens quite regularly. For better or worse, TED has insinuated itself into the public conversation on legitimacy, much like Wikipedia has.

          People expect TED to abide by their slogans and mission statement. Very few are aware of the extent to which TED actively curates its brand.

          TED is in a unique position to influence what is considered intellectually legitimate, if not outright dictate it. The concern is that whatever doesn't make the grade will be further suppressed irrespective of its actual claims to legitimacy. Surely you can appreciate TED's great responsibility here.

          I know you disagree that any of these things are legitimate, and it may be you are right, but in case you are not (babies in bathwater), it would be better to let a guilty man go free than to execute one who is innocent.
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        Apr 3 2013: Sandy, you claim: "They know when they are being lied to."

        Do they? I think the statistics I quoted at the top of this thread indicate otherwise.
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          Apr 3 2013: I hope Chris Anderson takes a good look at what you've written, John. If someone like you speaks for TED, it really is going down the tubes. Your message is very clear, you don't think people can be trusted to think for themselves. If that is what Chris Anderson thinks, I wish he would save us all a lot of trouble and announce that to the world as you have done. It would be the honest thing to do, don't you agree?
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        Apr 3 2013: Saying "you don't think people can be trusted to think for themselves" is a bizarre misinterpretation of what I've been saying here. I'm confident that Chris will understand the points I've been making better than you have. In fact, I think you provide an excellent example of why at least one person can't be trusted to correctly interpret the information or arguments with which they've been presented.
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          Apr 3 2013: I can tell you that most people reading this won't be giving you any thumbs up. I bet Chris will want to distance himself from the all the things you've been saying.
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        Apr 3 2013: "I can tell you that most people reading this won't be giving you any thumbs up."

        If that's so, perhaps it will also be further evidence of the point I've been trying to make.

        "I bet Chris will want to distance himself from the all the things you've been saying."

        I hope that we shall see.
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        Apr 3 2013: Adrian, I think you're right. I am confident that ultimately it has been science and rationality that has kept many of us from being burned at the stake.

        Remember Hypatia!
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia
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          Apr 3 2013: So why would you be against having a well-credentialed physicist like Russell Targ present work that has been published in the journal Nature?

          Isn't Nature a bastion of science and rationality?
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        Apr 3 2013: Noah, I'm sorry, but your erratic twists and turns of logic are absolutely baffling to me. I don't know how to untangle where you've gotten. I suspect some of it has to do with the limited "Reply" features and the difficulty of tracing specific subthreads. Why do you assume the worst of me?
        • Apr 3 2013: I apologize, too, Mr. Hoopes, if indeed there has been a misunderstanding. What have I attributed to you that you object to?
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        Apr 3 2013: Noah, you wrote: "And by the way, I find your suggestion that I'm a Nazi sympathizer (Reductio ad Hitlerum) in poor taste."

        That's a fallacious non sequitur if I've ever seen one. Reductio ad absurdum as well. I never suggested that you were a Nazi sympathizer.

        That said, it may be useful for you to consider the role of actual Nazi sympathizers in the construction of antimodernism. Here are two books on the subject that I've found worthwhile, one written for a nonacademic audience and the other for an academic one:

        Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen, by Gary Lachman
        http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Occult-Right-Radically-Unseen/dp/0835608573

        Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, by Mark Sedgwick
        http://www.amazon.com/Against-Modern-World-Traditionalism-Intellectual/dp/0195396014

        (Note that Lachman's book draws upon Sedgwick's.)
        • Apr 3 2013: You suggest that there is a degree of isomorphism between what I wrote and Nazi rhetoric.

          That is a textbook case of reductio ad Hitlerum -- an egregious logical fallacy.

          You're obviously aware of the absurdity of reductio ad Hitlerum, as evidenced in this exchange:

          Hoopes: I happen to think that the world could benefit from superior pedagogy. I must be an idealist as well as an elitist.

          Grobbelaar: Didn't Hitler also think that?

          Hoopes: Yes, I suppose so. Does that make it bad, or do the details of the pedagogy matter as well?

          Yet that doesn't prevent you from pursuing it here.

          You write: "it may be useful for you to consider the role of actual Nazi sympathizers in the construction of antimodernism."

          Why would this be useful to me? I can see how saying so is useful for you in giving the impression that my comments are trivial. I assure you they are not, but you don't seem interested enough in philosophy of science to find out.
        • Apr 3 2013: Thanks John, interesting links. But, from a quick search (i.e. specifically the review by Michael Fitzgerald), Sedgwick doesn't seem to be privy to much impartiality in analyzing Traditionalism. Care to comment and/or share more links in answer to Fitzgerald's compelling critique of Sedgwick's work maybe please?

          "The book purports to be a scholarly document, but it fails on several counts to meet the criteria of such a work." - Fitzgerald
          http://www.religioperennis.org/documents/Fitzgerald/Sedgwick.pdf
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        Apr 4 2013: Noah, you write:

        "You suggest that there is a degree of isomorphism between what I wrote and Nazi rhetoric."

        Okay, but it is a looooong stretch from that to the conclusion that I've suggested you're a Nazi sympathizer. So long a stretch that I consider it to be an absurd non sequitur.

        "That is a textbook case of reductio ad Hitlerum -- an egregious logical fallacy."

        No, it's really not. I never even mentioned Hitler. Do you honestly believe that it is impossible to discuss Nazi ideology without committing a fallacy? What kind of twisted ideology is that? If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a Nazi sympathizer determined to quash any negative implications about the Reich or the Fuhrer.

        Your comment about my interest in the philosophy of science is insulting and dismissive. I'm sorry, Noah, but my conversation with you is over.
        • Apr 4 2013: Please learn what "Reductio ad Hitlerum" means. It's one of the most misunderstood fallacies in online discussions.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum

          Wiki: "Reductio ad Hitlerum is a form of association fallacy. The argument is that a policy leads to – or is the same as – one advocated or implemented by Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich and so "proves" that the original policy is undesirable."

          Let me reiterate. You suggested that there is a degree of isomorphism between what I wrote and Nazi rhetoric. Why? It's not made explicit. In what way am I saying anything comparable to Nazi ideology? You allude to some anti-Zionist propaganda. That's great! But it doesn't discredit my comment at all; in fact it's completely irrelevant other than as a minor historical coincidence -- talk about stretches! But you seem intent on demonstrating the inherent ideological dangers lurking underneath. Really!

          I agree, what I said was was a stretch, but here you are, suggesting brazenly that I am opposed to discussing Nazi ideology and may in fact be what you said you did not mean to imply. You're the one that brought up Nazis at all! Demonstrate their relevance please!!

          You say: "my conversation with you is over."

          Indeed. It should have been when, instead of pursuing a dialogue, you eagerly misinterpreted my meaning with your questionable analogy. Can you appreciate my position in this? From where I sit, you could have explained yourself much better.

          Good Luck!
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        Apr 4 2013: You're welcome, Wian. To make things easier for you, here's a link to an online excerpt of a relevant chapter from Lachman's book:

        Archangels of Our Darker Natures
        http://www.realitysandwich.com/archangels_our_darker_natures

        (Yes, I know. It's on a woo-friendly website, but I like Lachman's work.)

        I would respond about the critique of Sedgwick, but it will have to wait until I'm not pecking with one finger on an iPhone.
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        Apr 4 2013: I know this blows my credibility Noah, but I apparently don't have any with you so what the hey? One final reponse and I'm done.

        I know perfectly well what "Reductio al Hitlerum" is, which is how I know it doesn't apply. I was not trying to refute your argument, but to augment your understanding. Now I'm sorry I even bothered.

        No, I didn't make things explicit for you. I apparently overestimated your intelligence. My mistake.

        What offends me most is that you say I "allude to some anti-Zionist propaganda." That's wrong. I specifically mentioned the "Protocols", which is not anti-Zionist but anti-Semitic (that means anti-Jewish). There's a difference and it's worth learning.

        I'm done.
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        Apr 4 2013: Wian, if you read the review you cited carefully, you'll see that it was written by a self-professed Traditionalist whose bias is made evident from the start. The review includes ad hominem attacks and insinuations about Sedgwick of a personal spiritual nature, peppered with speculative statements and resentful jabs. I don't think it represents a fair or impartal appraisal.

        Sedgwick's book does have some shortcomings, among them factual errors. For example, he gets important details wrong in writing about the affair between Aleister Crowley and the wife of Ananda Coomaraswamy (something I checked against independent sources. I don't know if there are others.

        I was surprised to find that there is no mention in the book of Godfrey Higgins, an early 19th century author whose "Anacalypsis" is critical for understanding the origins of some mahor ideas.

        That said, I do like this book and think Sedgwick makes some important points. It's worth reading. Sedgwick opens new territory into which I hope others will venture. The nature of the material means it will be the subject to biased misinterpretation, so good critical thinking skills are required.
        • Apr 5 2013: Thank you, John. I followed up a bit. Excuse the nitpicking now. I’d like to address this specific thread, for I find it quite relevant to the broader issue at hand.

          Noah initially wrote, “There are good arguments for how implications of philosophical materialism actually promote the kind of thinking that logically lead to ecological collapse.” Noah then paraphrases TEDx speaker Bernardo Kastrup to make his point.

          You then later on categorize this as “dangerous rhetoric,” and state that “targeting […] "materialism" was at the heart of the ideology that resulted in the Holocaust”, and that the “issues [Noah] discuss are part of a larger collection of ideas known as antimodernism.”

          Then you refer two books, one by Mark Sedgwick and the other by Gary Lachman as basis for the consideration of the role that Nazi sympathizers played in the construction of antimodernism, namely, “Against the Modern World” by Sedgwick and “Politics and the Occult” by Lachman (with Lachman's book drawing upon Sedgwick's).

          Then I point out that Sedgwick's been accused of not being privy to much impartiality in analyzing Traditionalism and then link to Michael Fitzgerald's compelling critique of Sedgwick's work. You then ‘accuse’ Fitzgerald of being “a self-professed Traditionalist whose bias is made evident from the start” and that it “includes ad hominem attacks and insinuations about Sedgwick of a personal spiritual nature, peppered with speculative statements and resentful jabs.”

          That said, I will acknowledge that what you categorize as “attacks” and “jabs” (which specifically and respectively showed Sedgwick’s [Edited: possible bias], as far as I can tell) possibly portrays Fitzgerald’s own [Edited: bias] (as well as possibly those of Poindexter and Horvath in the following reviews) because of them being Traditionalists.
          http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/Public/articles/browse_g.aspx?ID=239
          http://www.istenivaros.hu/roberthorvath/RHorvathSedgwickFinal.pdf

          (Part 1 of 6)
        • Apr 5 2013: (Part 2 of 6)

          But, ya, these are Traditionalist scholars… Still, ultimately, just as Sedgwick writes on his website, “In the end, the real test should be of the work [itself].”

          Although you acknowledge that Sedgwick’s book does have some shortcomings (factual errors, etc.), Traditionalist scholars also maintain that it is a very inaccurate portrayal of the core ideas of contemporary Traditionalism. This School is chiefly associated with the names of Guénon, Coomaraswamy and Schuon (note: not solely Guénon’s writings), with other followers (and their respective followers) not all being acknowledged generally.

          Says Fitzgerald, “Many readers will be very surprised to see the names of Julius Evola, Mircea Eliade and Alexander Dugin on [Sedgwick’s list of “The Seven Most Important Traditionalists” used throughout the book], because many aspects of each of their writings deviate significantly from the other men’s writings and from the central ideas of the School.”

          Sedgwick’s new definition of a Traditionalist as a “follower of Guénon in one sense or another, or a follower of such a follower” allows the author to trace Dugin back to Evola, and then Evola back to Guénon. The author therefore paints Traditionalism in political terms, as the advertising story lines for the book assert in connecting Traditionalism with “Fascism, Nazism and anti-democratic forces in post-Soviet Russia.”

          “Dr. Sedgwick is the first author to link Traditionalism to these political movements and to coin the term “political Traditionalism” […] “Political Traditionalism” is a non sequitur because it is inconsistent with the apolitical nature of Traditionalism, which is focused on a study of the underlying spiritual truths and practices that live at the heart of each religion. The fact that Dr. Sedgwick has coined such a term indicates that he does not understand the foundational principles of Traditionalist thought and that the ambitious scope of his elaborate schema is intrinsically flawed.”
        • Apr 5 2013: (Part 3 of 6)

          Moreover, [Edited: the reviews show that] Sedgwick does not explore the actual writings or thought of any Traditionalist author in detail. He re-defines Traditionalist terms out of context, overemphasizes them and distorts Guénon’s views, ignoring the contributions of these other acknowledged founders.

          As for Lachman, I generally like his blog entries on that website. Like you acknowledged, Lachman draws upon Sedgewick’s [questionable] work. This he does through exploring the influence of the work of Evola and “other Traditionalist thinkers” on the historian of religion Mircea Eliade. Both of them rejected liberalism, democracy, and “modernization,” writes Lachman. But, it’s been shown that Evola isn’t recognized as part of the core formative thinkers of the School; he was a follower who only used some of the ideas to support his own views.

          Now, you previously wrote, “I think the horrific experience of the past means we should be circumspect about demonizing any particular philosophy, including Judaism, atheism, scientism, and materialism.” But, in this same thread you then propagate a book that basically does just that… Only, it seems, this time around, it’s just not against any philosophy You may hold…

          I concede that nefarious “occult politics” can have very unfavorable consequences. But, in another blog entry, Lachman himself says that, “One of the central themes of [his book] is the idea that, contrary to popular belief, occult politics does not always mean far-right or fascist politics.”

          Thus, the “fascist sensibilities” displayed by the figures analyzed by Lachman, such as du Lubicz and Evola, are outliers (albeit very dangerous ones) when analyzed vis-à-vis the School demonized by Sedgwick’s work, which you care to advocate here.
        • Apr 5 2013: (Part 4 of 6)

          Certainly they are occasions to be vigilant about by both materialist ideologues and others alike. But it seems like you’re using them solely as scare tactic to obstruct any discourse whatsoever which may color materialism as a socially- or environmentally harmful worldview. This would be very shortsighted and irresponsible.

          For comparison purposes, how is the following critique of Sam Harris being a “scientific racist” dissimilar?
          http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/20134210413618256.html
          I only share the this to show how all atheists may come forth as being demonized by a writer through similar logic, instead of only the writer’s intended group (cf. the first two 'best' comments).

          The reviews above also show that Sedgwick fails to clarify “what characterizes “modernity” for Guénon or other Traditionalist philosophers or why and in what ways they may disagree with it.” Therefore, to better clarify this School of thought, the following:

          First and foremost, contemporary Perennialists acknowledge acceptance and inclusivity as being vital to human survival. For them mutual tolerance, understanding, and ultimately appreciation among members of different religions and cultures is critical to peaceful co-existence both within nations and globally.

          Some of their critiques of modernity echo that of philosopher A.N. Whitehead namely the “compartmentalization” of knowledge and disciplines. To them, the goal of life on earth is to become integrated. This vision is not very different from that of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, wherein a comprehensive interdisciplinary paradigm is proposed.

          A holistic worldview is called for without which it’s believed the environmental crisis cannot be addressed properly. Similar to Hancock’s censored TEDx talk, they believe that there is no way of solving the environmental problem without realizing that nature and all forms of life are sacred.
        • Apr 5 2013: (Part 5 of 6)

          Says Hancock, “Ayahuasca has a very insistent message. It’s one of those universals that almost everyone who drinks the brew sooner or later reports. It’s about the sacred, magical, enchanted, interconnected, precious nature of life on earth, and the interdependence of material and spiritual realms.”

          Therefore, the awareness of the sacred should be revived. They believe that as long as this vision of nature as being sacred is lacking, no improvements in engineering and technology can heal the damage that’s been caused to the environment. Their critique of modernity is that the sacred conception of nature was given up in Europe after the 17th century.

          Perennialists thus don’t use the term “modernist” to mean the same as “contemporary” or “modern civilization.” Rather, they see it as being opposed to traditional metaphysics, which they feel should provide the principles with which a critique of modernism should be carried out because it provides “a view based upon thousands of years of human existence, upon how mankind has experienced the world, upon the wisdom of the ages which the greatest sages of the world have expounded, and it reveals the ways in which men have been able to live for a long time in happiness and harmony with themselves and with the natural environment.”

          Moreover, modern technology and science is recognized by them as being capable of the destruction of all of human life, and whole ecosystems. They thus implore that humans should again realize their duty to be stewards of the natural world and not simply its exploiters.

          They believe a new paradigm should incorporate eternal wisdom, but recognize that a new paradigm will obviously not be identical in its expression with the various traditional formulations of the perennial philosophy, i.e. modern sciences should be integrated. To them, the initiation into the new paradigm must ultimately start from a change in worldview from a matter-based universe to a consciousness-based universe.
        • Apr 5 2013: (Part 6 of 6)

          Having clarified that a bit (without necessarily espousing all personally), I’d now like to reiterate Noah by quoting the former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Willis Harman (Global Mind Change (1989)), who incidentally also acknowledged this very perennial wisdom, which Sedgwick seems to have some vendetta against,

          “Since modern society ascribes no ‘reality’ to inner experience, transcendent values have no power and materialistic values prevail. Thus it seems reasonable for society to be characterized by economic rationalization of an ever-increasing fraction of social behavior and organization. Industrialization of production of goods and services gradually extends to more and more of human activities; increasingly, they all become included in the economy. One result is monetization and commercialization (all things coming to be measurable by and purchasable in units of currency). The economic rationalization of knowledge leads to the ‘knowledge industry’: to science justified by the jobs it prepares for. Economic rationality becomes predominant in social and political decision-making, even when the decisions it leads to are unwise by other standards (such as the wellbeing of future generations). Technological solutions are attempted for problems that are basically socio-political in nature. The worth of persons (to say nothing of our nonhuman fellow creatures on earth) is assessed by their value in the economy. Humankind’s relationship to the earth is essentially an exploitive one.”

          You write, “I think fears for the future of planet are well-founded, but we should never forget the horrors of the past. The former are only imagined; the latter are tragically real.”

          Without taking away anything from past horrors, I seriously think you are underestimating what the current path and paradigm holds for the future of the planet and humanity.
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        Apr 5 2013: I'm sorry, Wian, but you are mistaken. You write:

        "Noah initially wrote, 'There are good arguments for how implications of philosophical materialism actually promote the kind of thinking that logically lead to ecological collapse.' Noah then paraphrases TEDx speaker Bernardo Kastrup to make his point.

        "You then categorizes this as 'dangerous rhetoric,'"

        That is seriously incorrect. What Noah wrote and what he quoted were not characterized by me as "dangerous rhetoric." If this is how you interpret the conversation, you are mistaken. I encourage you to go back and read more carefully what was actually written. If the conversation is difficult for you to follow or you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me to clarify.

        Furthermore, you write, "You then ‘accuse’ Fitzgerald of being 'a self-professed Traditionalist."

        I don't know why you characterize this an accusation. Fitzgerald calls himself a Traditionalist. That's what "self-professed" means.

        You also write: "That said, I will acknowledge that what you categorize as 'attacks' and 'jabs' (which specifically and respectively showed Sedgwick’s impartiality, as far as I can tell) possibly portrays Fitzgerald’s own impartiality"

        I really cannot understand how you came to that conclusion given that Fitzgerald says he is a Traditionalist and then uses ad hominem and resentful statements against someone critical of Traditionalists. How can you possibly interpret that as impartiality?

        You then write: "Moreover, Sedgwick does not explore the actual writings or thought of any Traditionalist author in detail. He re-defines Traditionalist terms out of context, overemphasizes them and distorts Guénon’s views, ignoring the contributions of these other acknowledged founders."

        Have you read Sedgwick's book yourself? If not, then your claim is based on what a biased writer has written. I advise you to think for yourself and consult the primary source.
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        Apr 5 2013: Wian, you write: "Now, you previously wrote, 'I think the horrific experience of the past means we should be circumspect about demonizing any particular philosophy, including Judaism, atheism, scientism, and materialism.' But, in this same thread you then propagate a book that basically does just that..."

        No, I don't. Your conclusions about Sedgwick's book appear to be based on a review of the book by Fitzgerald, which is readily identified as one that is not impartial and in fact is severely biased. I do not think that Sedgwick's book demonizes Traditionalism. I think it attempts both a definition--one that is not yet widely accepted--and also a careful critical analysis.

        I encourage you to avoid basing your opinion on reviews by authors who are openly biased and hostile. If possible, you should read Sedgwick's book yourself and come to your own conclusions.
        • Apr 5 2013: My “accuse” in "You then ‘accuse’ Fitzgerald of being 'a self-professed Traditionalist" is written like that because I don’t see it as an “accusation” the way you implied it would bias Fitzgerald in criticizing a work in a field in which he specializes. You have no real ground to simply infer that he does not abide by professional standards when analyzing the work.

          As for the “dangerous rhetoric,” that’s still the way I interpret it.

          What you refer to as “jabs” and “attacks” in the review (from what I could find) I contextually interpret as Fitzgerald maybe being a bit overzealous in (specifically only) showing Sedgwick’s own bias. But, disregarding all the background specifics of him, what mostly matters is the work itself, which I then highlighted. Your second last paragraph in your previous reply refers to a summary of the reviews.

          I've read what's available on Google Books, and don’t find any inconsistencies with the reviews. So far, I couldn't find any positive reviews or articles in response to stated reviews. Are you aware of some which you would interpret as more "objective" then?
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        Apr 6 2013: Wian, I think you misunderstand. You say that Fitzgerald, who says he is a Traditionalist, is "criticizing a work in a field in which he specializes". However, Traditionalism is not a field of specialization. As Sedgwick defines it, Traditionalism is a philosophy and an ideology. Someone who is a Traditionalist may not be impartial about Traditionalism, and Fitzgerald indicates that he is not. Rather, he is deeply biased and even prejudiced against what Sedgwick has to say in his critique of Traditionalism (itself a highly charged topic).

        I have not yet looked for any other reviews of Sedgwick's book, which I have read myself. However, you are not the first to direct me to Fitzgerald's hostile review. I suspect it is widely read because it is readily available for free online. Journals with reviews of academic books such as Sedgwick's are often behind a paywall and not readily available outside of university or individual subscriptions or purchases, which can be expensive. I will look and see if I can find some other reviews.
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        Apr 6 2013: Wian, in re-reading your comments above, I'm concerned that you may have mistakenly used the word "impartiality" when you actually meant "partiality," meaning bias or prejudice.

        Fitzgerald, Poindexter, and Horvath are all Traditionalists and their reviews have been published in journals that would have what Sedgwick would probably define as having Traditionalist sympathies. Note that the review by Poindexter was originally published in Sophia, a Traditionalist journal, and subsequently in Studies of Comparative Religion, a journal inclined to defend Mircea Eliade, a scholar whose work Sedgwick sharply critiques.

        I think it is important to remember that Sedgwick's book was published by Oxford University Press, which has a policy of careful peer review. The reviewers you cited all have significant axes to grind and are probably far from impartial (in the actual meaning of the word).

        Note that this issue of biased review is also central to the discussions here about literature concerning psi.

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