Saturday, December 15, 2007

Quantum Dumdums

File under: Gurubusting and Satscams

Guruphiliac hero Geoff Gilpin, author of the wonderful TM™ takedown book The Maharishi Effect, and a former resident of TM™'s loonyville in Fairfield, Iowa, has published a nifty little essay entitled Quantum Consciousness, Quantum Miracles, Quantum Failure [pdf], in which he breaks down and debunks the horrible misinterpretation and misappropriation of some of the ideas snatched from quantum physics that are commonly employed by New Age™ flimflammers and that little man who just can't and never will, the Maharishi himself:
You'd expect some dramatic results if the Maharishi Effect is as powerful as they say it is. After all, they claim that the number of people meditating in the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge in Iowa controls the number of floods and hurricanes and other natural disasters throughout the world. This effect, if it happens, is on a much larger and more public scale than the tiny blips of quantum events...

The Maharishi Effect and other paranormal claims demand a lot of faith. It's like staking everything on the lottery. Are you willing to toss out all of science, everything that we know to be true about the natural world, on the slim chance that a miracle might pan out?

When the vast majority of scientists don't take the bet, it's not because they're biased or part of some big conspiracy. They're just doing their job, the same job that any concerned, aware citizen would do.

When the TM movement comes up with solid evidence for the Maharishi Effect, they will have the faculty of every physics department in the world knocking at their door. Until then, they will continue to be ignored, which is just as it should be.
We especially liked this story, an illustration of just how far off the deep end the TM™ cult leads its adherents:
I'll always remember a dinner-table discussion about the upcoming presidential election of 1976. A few were for Ford and a few were for Carter. One perky young woman insisted that nobody in the TM movement should waste their time voting. Any day now, the Age of Enlightenment would dawn and America would adopt a caste system with Maharishi and his followers as the new lords and ladies.

I confronted her with a lame protest about Abraham Lincoln going from his log cabin to the White House. She seemed genuinely baffled by this argument. "But," she asked in a concerned tone, "don't you want to be known as Lord Geoff?"

At first I was as baffled as she was, but I got used to it. A surprising number of Maharishi's followers assumed that their service to the movement would be rewarded by a mansion with a staff of servants, a position of leadership in the coming world government, and the gratitude of all humanity.
The quantity of failure measured by recollections such as these makes it crystal clear that the old coot has had head his head directly up his ass since that day he tried to mac Mia Farrow away from the Beatles.

Unfortunately, he's got all his remaining followers still shoved up there right along with him.

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26 Comments:

At 12/15/2007 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw John Hagelin, a Maharshi person and teacher at his university in What the Bleep do we Know? and he was quite impressive. I especially liked his sharing of the Maharshis experiment in the summer one year in Washington, DC. and they meditated and they reduced the crime there significantly. The police chief was shocked and had to believe it was because of them. This stuff works.

 
At 12/15/2007 7:48 PM, Blogger jody said...

This stuff works.

It's apparently worked on you.

 
At 12/15/2007 11:00 PM, Anonymous hard at work in the lab said...

As a guy who actually believes that "the powers" are attainable, and having had some experience with the Western tradition, which on the surface is heavy into weather control, etc... I'm glad to see someone has launched some torpedoes at the "quantum" explanations. It's bad science and bad spirituality... I could say that justifying the "spiritual" via the "scientific" or with scientific trappings is a degenerate sign of the times, too...

A couple years ago I read something to the extent of "we have ridiculous beliefs about what our minds are capable of because our minds are ridiculously weak", and, as far as I can gather, it's true. without a sound, nuanced theoretical and experiential base regarding what you can and can't do, any guru with dollars in his eyes can step in to fill that void. The fact that some egomaniacs have taken advantage of this with some "i have magic powers that will make you enlightened" schtick is not all that surprising...

Most people have had some experience that qualifies as, techically speaking, what in a tradition i practice calls "the psychic powers" (or an even higher level of mental activity) probably as a kid. Most have even had this experience arise spontaneously and naturally--which means 1. it wasn't enlightenment 2. except to the extent that the entire universe is made of "quanta", it took place as a subjective experience and not a quantum equation 3. they can do all that and more without sending all their money to a guru.

but hey, can't really blame the guy. mia farrow was hot.

 
At 12/17/2007 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is Mia Farrow?

 
At 12/17/2007 8:57 AM, Blogger gregory said...

jody, a link for you, your twin brother, but about the christian thing, fabulous.... http://www.ovo127.com/blog/ though you probably already know about it...

enjoy''

oh, two cents worth... lot of things the mind can do that we are sort of programmed out of... one, just as example, we can look inside our own body, just like an xray machine, ... it will be common knowledge in about 30 years...

lot of different abilities people have, math, memory, etc... to me, everyone has all the doors, just doesnt know how to open them... normal


enjoy

 
At 12/17/2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

I especially liked his sharing of the Maharshis experiment in the summer one year in Washington, DC. and they meditated and they reduced the crime there significantly.

This is PRECISELY the type of a mistake that someone who understands science doesn't make. If some people meditated in Washington DC one summer, and during that summer crime decreased according to some measure... it most definitely does NOT mean that the meditators reduced the crime there.

This sort of thinking is akin to "creation science." That's where people who believe the Biblical story of creation try to find justification for it. It's not real science, because real science means you start from zero, putting aside what you want to be true, what you expect to be true, what appears to be true... and only then you examine what remains.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 12/17/2007 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Washington DC experiment really happened, and crime actually was reduced significantly and the Police Chief who was very sceptical at first and a non-believer became a believer after the results. Don't dismiss it so easily, it is the truth. Please be more open-minded and not so closed.

 
At 12/17/2007 10:09 PM, Blogger jody said...

Please be more open-minded and not so closed.

Please be more aware of the obvious fact it's just the skewed hot air of an old man still seeking to dominate the world.

 
At 12/17/2007 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a link that proves the Washington DC study and that meditators can reduce crime.

http://www.21stcenturyministries.com/info/Victory%20Before%20War.pdf

 
At 12/18/2007 6:20 AM, Anonymous hard at work in the lab said...

hey, it's not necessarily pseudoscience. maybe there was a real causal link between a bunch of mantra chanting morons and the drop in crime in DC. but something tells me that these guys didn't employ any form of social science to, you know, like find correlations between possible variables. hey, you know what else? ice cream consumption in DC also went up that summer and crime dropped, so maybe they should open up ice cream stores on every corner next to the true-self-important TM losers. and frankly, if you've ever lived there you'll know that a "drop" in crime means that the neighborhood crackheads were only standing in front of your house for three nights out of the week.

 
At 12/18/2007 10:42 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

The Washington DC experiment really happened

OK, the experiment really happened. It's the conclusions that you're drawing from the experiement that are flawed.

crime actually was reduced significantly

Here's where the fuzziness is introduced. According to some measure, we may have some evidence that crime went down. This doesn't mean that the CAUSE of the reduction had anything to do with the meditators.

the Police Chief who was very sceptical at first and a non-believer became a believer after the results.

Interestingly enough, one can become a Police Chief without having a competent understanding of scientific method. The statement above is what's called "argument from authority." The implication is that a Police Chief has a nice title and wears a fancy uniform, so if he believes something, we should believe it. It's not a very strong argument.

Please be more open-minded and not so closed.

It's called having a "bullshit detector." It's serving me just fine, thank you. Even if you call it being closed-minded, I'll continue to be honest, and I won't pretend that my bullshit detector doesn't exist.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 12/18/2007 12:31 PM, Blogger gregory said...

yeah, yeah, it ain't scientific...

but, tell me, do you think meditation has any effect at all? do you think it has any effect on your environment and your relation with that? do you think there is anything we might call group consciousness? do you think there is any connection at all between what we call reality, and the consciousness of the people who dwell in it? hell, even more basic, do you think mediation reduces stress in the mind and body of a person?

do you think it may someday be possible to measure what we might have called vibes? how would you do that, and make it be "scientific"?

are we anything more than meat in action? what would be the acceptable science that would prove that?

and, are shit detectors scientifically reliable?

 
At 12/18/2007 1:33 PM, Anonymous jean from scotland said...

The gathering of statistics to prove whether or not the arrival of the mediators was responsible for the drop in crime in Washington perhaps did not include :

1. The ice cream consumption mentioned:

2. How many villains being out of town and off to Spain for their holidays due to successful robberies the year before:

3. The number of white sock wearers that year.

Etc., etc.

If you don't do the comparative studies, you will only arrive at your favourite 'theory'.

Jean from Scotland.

 
At 12/18/2007 3:32 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

the TM people could quote the correlation as notable , but they can't claim scientific proof unless they gather statistics for a long time and all that. I don't really understand why people want scientific proof , most of the time they disparage the western scientific tradition anyway , they say what the Bleep and all , but they aren't really willing to go with not knowing. you know?

 
At 12/18/2007 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart I read your latest response and think it is quite well written and logical and intelligent. But the mistake you are making in my opinion is your inability to see that just maybe their is a cause and effect link between the meditators meditating and the reduction in crime.

I see your point that possibly there is no direct correlation between the two, and I am open to that possibility. There is no scientific way at the moment to prove a caused b, but again there is no scientific way to prove that a did not cause b as far as I know.

So you are making assumptions and really do not know either what really happened in Washington DC that summer. I am at least open to the idea that the meditators influenced the crime level.

Please re-think some of your conclusions and see if you see what I am sharing.

 
At 12/18/2007 8:53 PM, Blogger jody said...

I am at least open to the idea that the meditators influenced the crime level.

No, you have an agenda, which is to get people to believe what you believe. It's pie-in-the-sky skipping along the primrose path. In other words, complete bullshit.

 
At 12/18/2007 9:18 PM, Blogger gregory said...

hey, agendas are everywhere.... seems a human thing to do... life has an agenda, to keep living... you probably don't think there is anything like "the self", atman, brahman, god, etc.... no unified field, consciousness is just meat plus electricity... hell, call it anything, but it is just a concept, invisible, so cannot be real... and if it costs money, forget it, merely exploitation by some shyster...

so there really is no hope of becoming more aware, conscious of something larger, is there .... all only agendas fighting it out for primacy.... yep, looks that way to me, just use your eyes and look around... oh, don't use that third eye, that is cheating...

maybe a good definition for higher consciousness is "agenda-free"...

ok, cassette tapes available for $49.95, enjoy, have a good day, etc.

 
At 12/18/2007 9:27 PM, Blogger jody said...

you probably don't think there is anything like "the self", atman, brahman

Exactly right! The self, the atman and brahman are never 'things'. And there is nothing in all of creation that is like them.

so there really is no hope of becoming more aware, conscious of something larger

No. There is no hope. "It" is not larger.

maybe a good definition for higher consciousness is "agenda-free"...

All definitions of "higher consciousness" effectively occlude what "higher consciousness" actually is.

 
At 12/18/2007 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be my last post about quantum dumdums. I just don't get what you want me to see, to accept. Do you want me to see it your way Jody, which is the correct way? I do not have any agenda, I am only interested in the truth. I am open to all possibilities. I see that you are not. That is a pity. Feel free to continue your biased views on everything from gurus to quantum physics. I just don't agree with your views and probably never will.

 
At 12/18/2007 10:17 PM, Blogger jody said...

Do you want me to see it your way Jody

I don't care how you see it. I just like to express how I see it.

 
At 12/18/2007 11:08 PM, Blogger gregory said...

"All definitions of "higher consciousness" effectively occlude what "higher consciousness" actually is."

that is what they say about "god", or the "tao"

 
At 12/18/2007 11:18 PM, Blogger jody said...

that is what they say about "god", or the "tao"

Yep.

 
At 12/19/2007 2:06 AM, Blogger gregory said...

having heard the rumor, the information, that me and that god are the same thing, anyway to turn that into a direct experience?

 
At 12/19/2007 7:06 AM, Blogger jody said...

anyway to turn that into a direct experience?

It's never not been anything other than who you always are.

 
At 12/19/2007 8:45 AM, Blogger gregory said...

cool... so back to my golf game

 
At 12/19/2007 12:57 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

gregory said...
having heard the rumor, the information, that me and that god are the same thing, anyway to turn that into a direct experience?

Yes indeed! It's a 3-step process:

1) Forget about "me."

2) Forget about "god."

3) Whatever you're doing right now, just do it. That's your direct experience; you can call it "god" or "true self" or whatever name you please.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 

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