Disclaimer: this article is only critical of the subculture of aggressive and bullying sceptics, NOT sceptics who are mature, polite and reasonable in their conduct. If you identify as a sceptic but are also tolerant and well-mannered, this does *not* apply to you.
When a movement or a group - whether religious or secular - contains some foundational principles that are downright insidious and threatening to others' personal freedoms (and, in some cases, safety) thoughtful and intelligent criticisms are often made. This is why there are insightful critical commentaries on fundamentalist Christianity, radical Islam, the Ku Klux Klan, Nazism, Soviet and Chinese communism and various other social and political structures. Dogma, totalitarianism, oppression and bigotry of all stripes are subjects which invite mature and impassioned dissent.
However, when a movement or a group contains NONE of the aforementioned unpleasant characteristics and is generally innocuous in nature - both in its defining principles and the majority of its adherents - there is very little of significance or substance to attack. Therefore, the attacks these groups and people DO get, tend to be rather shallow - superficial at best, and bullying at worst.
The group labelled as the "New Age" - and most of the individuals that comprise it - are an example of what I am describing. I do have an interest in some subjects that the New Age covers, and appreciate parts of it, but I believe I am being objective when I give my perspective that, overall, the New Age as a group is harmless and non-threatening, with no discernibly negative affect on society at large.
See, the New Age "movement" wasn't, and isn't, really a movement in the classical sense. The New Age is largely fairly disorganised and is a melting pot of different spiritual and alternative science views, ranging from Western esotericism to Eastern mysticism to the paranormal (and the scientific study thereof, parapsychology) to holistic health/medicine and natural ways of living. There is no foundational dogma and no rules about what to believe or *not* to believe, which is what makes defining New Age views so difficult. At most, it can only be said that "many" New Agers may have a certain point of view, but this by no means suggests that *all* do. For example, the New Age is not *necessarily* theistic - while many New Agers do believe in some concept of deity/ies, this is not a requirement. Many New Age and spiritual beliefs have nothing to do with the concept of deity, so it is entirely plausible for a New Ager to also be an atheist and vice versa. (If anyone is confused by this, remember that atheism is MERELY the lack of belief in God/s. It does *not* preclude any other spiritual views, and an atheist who believes in ghosts, an afterlife and paranormal abilities is no less of an atheist than one who doesn't believe in those things.)
The New Age also has no strict moral code or instructions - it's essentially a group that is free of these things. There are no sets of prejudices - the New Age has nothing to say on race, sexual orientation, gender or alternative belief systems, and so is devoid of intolerance of prejudice. There may be some individuals who subscribe to a New Age worldview who happen to ALSO have some prejudiced ideas, but these views are not New Age in origin, nor are they influenced by the New Age - unlike the way that a member of the KKK is a racist by dint of being a member of the KKK to begin with.
Neither is the New Age known for trying to impose its viewpoints on unwilling or disinterested parties. Think about it: when have you ever had a New Ager knock on your door in an attempt to spread their ideas? It just doesn't happen. New Agers typically don't care about getting converts - they're happy to inform people if people COME TO THEM but they generally don't go looking. What many MAY enjoy is being open about their spiritual choice/lifestyle and discussing it - but there is a difference between being open about who and what you are and having a conversation and/or debate about it, and actually trying to force your way of thinking onto other people.
Taking into account all of the above, my experience has led me to believe that a great deal of organised scepticism's attacks on the New Age are lacking in depth and amount to little more than superficial sneering and mockery. (Not ALL criticisms - there are some intelligent countering views that make some salient points) but it seems like far too many "sceptical" writings on the New Age follow the arc that I first outlined. What is actually offered is very often no more than bullying and abuse.
Perhaps this is because there isn't really THAT much about the passive and non-threatening New Age onto which one can mount frequent sustained and intelligent criticisms. The New Age is so overwhelmingly harmless that most of the attacks have to stoop to ridicule and name-calling, rather than say anything of substance.
Aggressive sceptics probably know that they can't call out the New Age movement on grounds of discrimination and bigotry. Attacking the New Age on those grounds would be untenable - the movement simply has no principles which promote discrimination or bigotry. Since this is the case, it is also difficult to criticise the New Age on generic standards of morality. At best, what can be legitimately criticised is an individual who happens to be fraudulent or who is using their status for personal gain - but in these cases, they are personal flaws of the INDIVIDUAL and they are no more endemic to the New Age movement than plagiarism is endemic to writers and the literary establishment in general.
It is my contention that when aggressive sceptics wage their war on the New Age, they have very little to actually work with, which is why the discourse so often descends into petty name-calling. (It also might be that some of these people are just plain immature and bigoted.) Cases in point are James Randi, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, who love to hurl the abusive and offensive epithets "woo" and "woo-meister" at any and all alternative spiritual and scientific notions, and the people (including professional academics, scientists and investigators) who choose to keep an open mind and actually look into these things.
Or, take Tim Minchin's incredibly prejudiced poem 'Storm' in which he proceeds to berate a classic strawman of a New Ager for being open to auras and paranormal abilities. While it is admittedly cleverly written and perhaps amusing in parts, I think it is one of the most bigoted pieces of writing I have ever seen, lacking in nuance and any attempt to seriously engage with the deeper concepts of the New Age. In my opinion, it is pure prejudice in poetry.
Consider this: when people like Martin Luther King were speaking out against entrenched racism in the United States, and of particular groups that sought to promote such racism, did they overwhelmingly resort to childish taunts and mockery? Maybe occasionally, but in almost all of the attacks upon racial bigotry that I have seen or read, what you get is intelligent and informed criticism, taking to task backwards attitudes and those that propagate them. How often did Martin Luther Kind point and laugh and call names? He engaged seriously and maturely with what was then a very severe problem across certain swathes of the United States.
When you have grave problems to fight, you argue against them thoughtfully and intelligently. Playground taunts have no place in serious and mature discourse.
The shallowness of much of organised scepticism's attacks on the New Age highlights the fact that there is very little that they can legitimately seriously assault. Think about this: if sceptics had significant meat to sink their teeth into, would they throw around words like "woo" and "woo-meister" with such regularity? No, they would be busy confronting the negative issues with intellect and reason. It doesn't take much intellect or reason to call somebody a "woo-woo", let me tell you.
The reason so much sceptical criticism of the New Age is lacking in maturity is because there is not very much in the New Age which is negative or problematic enough to A) warrant such criticism and B) weave an intelligent attack around. The New Age movement "aims to create "a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas" that is inclusive and pluralistic. It holds to "a holistic worldview", emphasising that the Mind, Body, and Spirit are interrelated and that there is a form of monism and unity throughout the universe. It attempts to create "a worldview that includes both science and spirituality" and embraces a number of forms of mainstream science as well as other forms of science that are considered fringe." Oooh...how scary! How terrible!
Since there is such a dearth of negativity and danger upon which to mount an attack, aggressive sceptics are usually forced to resort to juvenile and bullying behaviour and, on occasions, dishonesty and misrepresentation in order to manufacture the erroneous idea that the New Age is actually a threat.
And so much of the attacks really do seem just like bullying. Okay, some New Age ideas can seem pretty "out there" and a little bit of laughter and mockery is to be expected and can be taken as just light-hearted teasing. But when there is a consistent and sustained campaign consisting mainly of ridicule and insults, it ceases to be moderate and harmless teasing and becomes prejudice and bullying. It is bullying to constantly castigate people by telling them they are stupid and crazy. And really, what kind of person systematically harasses people for being what they consider to be unintelligent? If someone abused mentally retarded people and called them "stupid" they would rightly be called out on their tormenting. Not that I am trying to imply that New Agers actually *are* mentally retarded or stupid in any way - most of them are of average, or above average, intelligence.
Now, I am not saying that the New Age is totally perfect and without flaws. *Some* New Age ideas can be fluffy and vague, and there are *some* insightful sceptical responses. But by far the majority, in my experience, have been hateful and bigoted. My suggestion to the aggressive and bullying sceptics is that rather than demonising an entire group of mostly harmless people, perhaps you could actually engage with New Agers themselves and what it is they actually believe in. Explore, learn and, if you still have questions or criticisms, pose them in a mature and reasonable way. Make suggestions to New Agers as to how they some of their views could evolve, come up with ways in which to test some of the New Age notions. Take a little time to absorb yourself into some of the people and culture that you are belittling, rather than restricting yourself to your little boxes and throwing stones. (Note that these are *suggestions* rather than orders.)
Hopefully, I don't come over as *too* angry in this article, but I am, admittedly, somewhat angry that New Agers (and other practitioners of alternative spirituality) have been bullied and humiliated for so long. I am tired of the puerile personal attacks and infantile slurs. I am not going to stand for being called an "idiot" simply because I choose to make my mind up in favour of the existence of a spiritual reality.
Of course, there is freedom of speech and expression so aggressive sceptics, you are entitled (up to a point) to continue with your abusive behaviour all you want. You can keep on calling names, mocking and hurting other people's feelings. But don't be surprised if your antics win you few friends (aside from some of those who already share your views) and don't be surprised if the targets of your attacks get fed up and start to stand up for themselves.
A precursor to a conversation with ceramic artist Dana Morton of Earthborne Art.
The ancient association between textiles and ceramics and their role in the multi-tiered cosmos ideology.
Hello, I hope your are all having a great start to the New Year!
I have made discoveries that will help answer many of the questions you folks have about the world we live in. I just read a post about whether there is life after death and I believe my discoveries help answer that and many other questions.
I recently put together the video below to show some of my evidence one picture after another, and at nearly a half hour long you will see more obvious 'stuff' than you have ever seen before. And it just happens to be repeatable evidence meaning I can incorporate myself into scenes with creatures unknown to science.
At the end you get a better understanding of why I did this video. It wasn't initially intended to be seen by the public, but to find someone that deals with this stuff to sit down with me and go over my evidence and knowledge, which is far beyond anything I've expressed publicly.
My discoveries are doing a number on my life. Once you see the video you'll realize just how mind consuming such discoveries would be, and making a living the way I'm used to has become almost impossible.
I am not looking to get this out for the entire world can see, just to find someone who may be able to allow me to be a scientist so I can learn more about what is going on without losing my home.
I realize this is an unusual post, but would appreciate some intelligent feedback and maybe even advice.
Thanks so much and I'll look forward to hearing the good, bad and the ugly. Unfortunately I'm used to it by now, but I do respect all comments and opinions. Most of the people closest to my heart are folks that would rather not know about this stuff.
Please check it out and let me know what you think.
http://youtu.be/R-acYJUuh94 - Over 250 amazing images showing everything you can never imagine.
two researchers in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different types and sizes of objects.
Sort of true, sort of mental image, sort of false alarmism. Sort of true, though!
Two scientists believe that they have proven that God exists.
Analyzing a theorem from the late Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel with a Macbook has proven that God exists, say the two scientists–Christoph Benzmüller of Berlin’s Free University and his colleague, Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo of the Technical University in Vienna.
More here: http://epochtim.es/cGIy
EXAMPLE DIET PROGRAM PERIOD - MENU I (FEMALE: 1300 Calories) Interim Planning WOMEN Everyday Food: 1500 calories - free day with Customized fat loss info by Kyle Leon
Daily Food Planning: kyle Leon review
Milk group: 2 servings
Meat group: 5 servings
Vegetable group: 2 servings
May and the group: 3 servings
Bread and cereal group: 4 servings
Oil group: 2 servings
Additional: The above 1,200-calorie foods, high-calorie food plan is added to the selected about 300 calories.
MID-TERM DIET PROGRAM MENU EXAMPLE II (FEMALE: 1500 Calories - free day) Interim Planning MEN Food Day: 1600 calories
Daily Food Planning:
Milk group: 2 servings
Meat group: 6-7 servings
Vegetable group: 3 servings
Fruit group: 4 servings
E fuck-grain group: 5 servings
Oil group: 2-3 servings
Appendix: The above 1,500 calories per day of about 100 calories of food planning the groups consisting of an additional provided.
EXAMPLE DIET PROGRAM PERIOD - MENU III (MALE: 1600 Calories) Interim Planning MALE Everyday Food: 1800 calories - free day
Daily Food Planning:
Milk group: 2 servings
Meat group: 6-7 servings
Vegetable group: 3 servings
Fruit group: 4 servings
Bread and cereal group: 5 servings
Oil group: 2-3 servings
Additional: The above 1500 calorie food plan, high-calorie foods are added to the selected about 300 calories.
EXAMPLE DIET PROGRAM PERIOD - MENU IV (MALE: 1800 Calories - free day)As can be seen in the interim period rates of protein and carbohydrate-balanced, slightly increased the amount of fat with Customized fat loss reviews by kyle Leon
I’ve been planning on writing an article like this for some time and was finally inspired to actually do so by coming across what I can only describe as a shocking piece of bigotry and hate speech from this article from the Guardian -
The article was published in December 2006 and seems to have either gone unnoticed or people have passed by without complaint. Which I find a little disturbing, and it also speaks volumes about our current culture, in which bigotry towards psychics, mediums and other people involved in New Age or occult practices is still socially acceptable.
Guardian writer Julie Bindel was taken to task for allegedly transphobic comments, but as far as I can tell, there appears to have been no criticism of the prejudice in Charlie Brooker’s article.
Let’s go through some of the pertinent (and most disgusting) comments:
Article’s title: “When it comes to psychics, my stance is hardcore: they must die alone in windowless cells.”
Need I say more? I’ve seen people advocate better treatment for mass murderers.
Brooker openly calls for all psychics and mediums to be placed in jail – “I think every psychic and medium in this country belongs in prison. Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they’re doing. In fact, especially them. Give them windowless cells and make them crap in buckets.”
He then goes on to disaparage people who believe in psychics, grudgingly admitting that they have the right to believe what they want, but calling them “dangerous idiots.”
In my opinion, it’s Mr Brooker who more properly qualifies as a “dangerous idiot”.
Brooker is calling for the oppression and marginalisation of a group of people, a minority group who are different, a group that is outside what is considered “normal” or “mainstream”. Why? Because he *believes* they are all either fraudulent or mentally ill.
Well, there are also people out there who “believe” that all gay people are either fraudulent or mentally ill. That way of thinking may, thankfully, be less prevalent than it used to be, but it still, sadly, exists. Some people, for example think that gay people “make themselves gay” for show (which covers the fraudulent part), others believe that homosexuality is some kind of mental illness that needs to be treated.
See the similarity? If someone proposed (due to their beliefs) that all gay people be herded into prison, there would justifiably be an outcry and a storm of criticism. But when someone suggests the same thing of psychics and mediums, we have silence.
I agree that genuinely fraudulent psychics are a problem and perhaps some sort of jail sentence would be an appropriate punishment. But there is a huge difference between saying that genuinely fraudulent psychics should face the long arm of the law and saying that *all* psychics and mediums belong in prison.
Many psychics and mediums (in my opinion the majority) are quite genuine and sincere in what they do. They honestly believe they have an ability and their objective is to comfort people and help with the grieving process. They want people to be comforted by the fact that their loved ones still exist and that they will one day be reunited.
Even Brooker admits that not all psychics and mediums are frauds and that there are those who “believe in what they are doing.” (Brooker calls them “demented” – charming!) If they believe they have the ability then, regardless of whether or not they actually have it, they are not fraudulent, and therefore are not guilty of any crime. Yet Brooker still advocates sending these individuals to prison. “Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they’re doing. In fact, especially them.”
Let’s just think about this for a minute.
If Brooker believes these people are mentally ill, why is he saying they should go to prison and live amongst criminals? Shouldn’t he be encouraging sympathy and empathy instead? Shouldn’t he be advocating help for these people, rather than imprisonment? Shouldn’t he be calling for humane treatment instead? Are mental illness and self-delusion crimes now?
Silly me for thinking that the appropriate way to treat the mentally ill (or those thought to be mentally ill) is to show compassion, tolerance and to offer services that can help them. I suppose Brooker and his ilk think they should all be rounded up and placed in jail cells (or possibly concentration camps?)
Not only is Brooker displaying hate and bigotry against psychics and mediums, he’s also demonstrating how heartless he is to people he considers to be mentally unwell. Not only is he a bigot, but he has no compassion to boot.
There is also good evidence (including scientific evidence) to suggest that some paranormal phenomena exist and that some psychics and mediums have a genuine ability. Instead of calling for their persecution, perhaps Brooker’s time could be better spent reading some of the large body of research that has been conducted for over a century.
And that’s exactly what Brooker is calling for. He’s saying that *all* psychics and mediums in the country should be in prison. Not just some, not just the ones that are actually fraudulent, but *all* people calling themselves psychics or mediums. He’s encouraging the persecution and oppression of a minority group. He’s also demonising people who believe in psychics and calling them “dangerous”. Hmmm, remind you of other people who like to label gay people or people of different races as “dangerous”?
It’s no different to racism or homophobia in my opinion. The reason I think this is because I believe that psychic ability, such as clairvoyance, is a natural ability that people are born with. I think everyone has the potential to develop these skills, and that some people are born with a more “natural” ability for it. Rather like someone can learn to be a painter, but others are natural painters, who need little coaching or education.
I think people are naturally imbued with psychic ability (or the potential to develop it) and in that sense it’s no different to the race someone is born into, or the sexuality someone is born with. They didn’t choose it – they were born that way. So bigotry against psychics and mediums is no different to racism or homophobia, in my opinion, and it’s equally as disgusting. The difference is, that racism and homophobia are no longer so socially acceptable. But, as the lack of criticism of this article attests, bigotry against psychics and mediums largely is still socially acceptable.
If someone wrote an article for the Guardian stating that all non-white people belong in prison, or that all gay people belong in prison, it would quite rightly cause outrage. But because the target was psychics and mediums, there was nothing.