Watch out for flying debris...
Here are some more bits of space(y) debris currently orbiting around my Whirled…
Another branch of the "Not-see" Party
I owe the above pun to the great Swami Beyondananda, aka Steve Bhaerman, who hangs with the enlightened crowd but doesn’t make a big sanctimonious deal about it. I love this guy because he is a more prolific punster than I’ll ever be; I can only aspire to his level of greatness, pun-wise. (I have a feeling that if I did actually reach that level, the Rev, no huge fan of puns, would leave me for sure.) Anyway, if you follow the link above and read Swami/Steve’s article, you’ll see that it’s pretty much an indictment of the current U.S. presidential administration. I’m definitely no fan of Dubya, but I submit that there are other menacing "Not-see" factions as well – not only on the other side of the political aisle from Dubya and friends, but throughout U.S. culture and in other parts of the world.
Parts of the world such as Germany, f'rinstance, where American filmmaker David Lynch recently stood before a crowd in Berlin along with the self-styled "Raja of Germany," Emanuel Schiffgens.*
Lynch is currently touring Europe to open a series of "invincible universities" to teach the philosophy of Transcendental Meditation, or TM, with the purpose being to engender world peace. Lynch and Schiffgens are both followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded the concept of TM. Schiffgens is Lynch’s partner for establishing the Invincible U in Berlin. The plan is to recruit 1,000 students at $2,500.00 a pop, apparently to learn peacemaking TM-style, as well as yogic flying.
At one point, Schiffgens declared, "Invincible Germany! Invincible Germany! I want to hear you all say, invincible Germany!"
The audience in Berlin's Urania Theater was having none of this. "That's what Hitler wanted!" shouted one man.
Schiffgens' response? "Yes, but unfortunately he didn't succeed."
Here’s the link to a video of the Raja and the Lynch-man. Prepare to be amused and yet at the same time slightly horrified.
As you may be aware, I am not the first person to jump on this story. Jody at Guruphilac beat me to it by a couple of days, as did numerous other bloggers, and Time Magazine as well, not to mention Spiegel Online. But if you want to get right down to it, the person who beat us all to the punch regarding certain New-Wage/fascist connections is Chris Locke, creator of the Mystic Bourgeoisie blog. And I think we all owe it to ourselves to examine the historical connections Chris has taken such pains to write about. (This is not to say that everyone who embraces any kind of New-Wage/new-age idea or spiritual path is a Nazi or a fascist or a potential architect of the next Holocaust. Still, there is that history thing... not to mention the varieties of elitism among some New-Wagers, including some who seem to believe they, or their children anyway, are part of a new superior breed of human beings…)
But back to the Lynch mob. Although a bit scary, that video of Lynch and the Raja is also encouraging, because these clowns were getting heckled, laughed at, challenged, and jeered at by the German audience. Wouldn’t you love to see that happen at one of those SHAM/selfish-help/New-Wage dog-and-pony shows Stateside?
[Added on Sunday, November 18:] By the way, on one of the Maharishi's sites, Global Good News, the page on Germany has listed the "Invincible Germany" project as one of the Maharishi's successes. However, that page hasn't been updated in a while...
Bad Science, good writing
My new friend Gregory, who’s been commenting on this blog of late, sent me a link to a recent article by a British physician named Dr. Ben Goldacre, creator of the Bad Science web site. Dr. Goldacre’s article discusses what’s wrong with homeopathy. I’m not out to pick on homeopathy, particularly since several people I respect have reported good results with some homeopathic remedies. But I'm still reeling a bit from watching the video of the homeopathy "lesson" I linked to yesterday. And I thought Dr. Goldacre's article was particularly well-reasoned without being self-righteous in the way that anti-alt-med articles frequently are. The man has a captivating (and very British) style of writing that I enjoy. Furthermore, although it may be stretching things a bit, I even feel a bit of a kinship with the good doctor, as he has gotten a lot of flak from pro-alt-med factions – which somehow put me in mind of my own experiences facing The Wrath Of The Secretrons. Admittedly, however, Doc Ben's encounters have been a bit more serious than mine, and with higher stakes.
Now there are bad trials in medicine, of course, but here's the difference: in medicine there is a strong culture of critical self-appraisal. Doctors are taught to spot bad research (as I am teaching you now) and bad drugs. The British Medical Journal recently published a list of the top three most highly accessed and referenced studies from the past year, and they were on, in order: the dangers of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx; the problems with the antidepressant paroxetine; and the dangers of SSRI antidepressants in general. This is as it should be.
With alternative therapists, when you point out a problem with the evidence, people don't engage with you about it, or read and reference your work. They get into a huff. They refuse to answer calls or email queries. They wave their hands and mutter sciencey words such as "quantum" and "nano". They accuse you of being a paid plant from some big pharma conspiracy. They threaten to sue you. They shout, "What about thalidomide, science boy?", they cry, they call you names, they hold lectures at their trade fairs about how you are a dangerous doctor, they contact and harass your employer, they try to dig up dirt from your personal life, or they actually threaten you with violence (this has all happened to me, and I'm compiling a great collection of stories for a nice documentary, so do keep it coming).
For Dr. Goldacre’s full article, click here.
Dude, where’s my spam?
And, finally, I regret to tell you, Dear Ones, but for over three weeks now I haven’t received any emails at all from my favorite New-Wage spam service. I’m afraid they finally got wise to me. Maybe it has something to do with that old-nekkid-hippie potshot from a few weeks back (yes, there is a connection). But I’m still going to follow up on that story.
Oh, but I do miss my spam…
* Re Emanuel Schiffgens: Here is yet another good reason NOT to rely on Google translation. I Googled Emanuel Schiffgens and the first result that popped up was a page written in German. Despite my surname and ancestry, I do not read German. So I clicked the link to "translate this page," and here's what I got.