Saturday, February 28, 2009

TM™ Wants To Own Your Kids' Minds

File under: The Siddhi of PR

With David Lynch and Paul McCartney out raising millions to put TM™ indoctrination programs into your kids' schools, anti-cult counseler John Knapp is organizing the resistance:
Join us for a free Web Event, April 2, 8 pm EST, to learn a side of the Transcendental Meditation story they won't tell you.

TM. Concerned scientists question research claiming benefits. Former members allege secret agendas. Clergy are unsure if TM contradicts their religion.

In this atmosphere, the David Lynch Foundation sponsors Paul McCartney & Friends in concert April 4, 2009. Reminding many of Tom Cruise's marketing for Scientology.

DLF states this "World Harmony Concert" will raise millions to introduce "TM/Quiet Time" into public schools.

We believe this violates the separation of Church & State.

Many consider meditation valuable. Our concern is religious meditation forms do not belong in public schools.
TM™ is not secular meditation. TM™ is a religion, and a destructive cult in every sense of the word. While we agree that meditation is good for all regardless of faith, TM™ meditation comes with so many strings attached to a wildly fantastic mythology (including all their so-called "science") that you may as well be dunking kids in full-on Christian baptisms.

22 Comments:

At 2/28/2009 3:07 PM, Blogger John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hey, JodyR,

Thanks for the link! Isn't the instant communications of Twitter wonderful? I read your blog avidly, even if I remain a lurker. You do important work!

J.

 
At 2/28/2009 7:31 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

If someone says "TM is harmful" or "TM is a destructive cult," don't we need to examine the definition? Is he talking about the TM organization, saying that every nook and cranny of it is dangerous? Or does he mean that the particular style of meditation they teach in that org must be avoided? Or is he talking about certain rituals done outside of the meditation itself? Or about ideas that some people in the group embrace, but which aren't necessary to doing the practice?

What if someone learns the meditation technique, but afterwards avoids contact with the org? What if they do the rituals, but don't hold any ideas about them? What if they meditate together with others in the org, but don't buy into any shared belief-system? Do these things make a difference?

Wouldn't it be clearer to say something like, "The way I understood the TM practice, the way I used it, the way I connected with the organization... had effects in my life that I didn't like"? That way, it'd make clear that our own decisions, understandings, and intentions have a powerful role in the process. Simply saying "TM is harmful" or "TM is a destructive cult"... projects all the power onto an external boogieman.

Imagine a True Believer saying, "TM is Perfect and Godly. I'll never consider any other view." Or an Ammachi devotee, or Hare Krishna, saying the same thing about their org. And if anyone questioned it, they'd respond, "You're ignorant and unspiritual." We could easily see it as a cultish mindset. If we switch it around and insist that TM is Bad, and hold the belief with the same dogmatism, closed-mindedness, and lack of critical analysis... isn't it still cultish?

I've brought this up previously with John Knapp, once by email, and once in the TMfree Blog. Each time, he's responded in a personally insulting way, and with a refusal to discuss the substance of these points. Any type of opinion is no problem, but it does seem weird to refuse to discuss the issue in a reasoned, mature way. It does seem odd to be unwilling or unable to examine the question dispassionately, focusing on the ideas/issues in their own right, rather than immediately hiding behind irrelevant, ad hominem judgements.

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

 
At 2/28/2009 7:55 PM, Blogger John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Stuart,

I have never objected to talking with you about these issues. I challenge you to quote from my emails or posts where I have turned you down for this discussion.

I have said that I'm willing to talk with you if we can maintain mutual respect and reasoned discourse. I have objected to your frequently snide, sarcastic, and combative tone. I don't think any kind of true communication can take place in such an atmosphere.

If you'd like to chat here or on TM-Free Blog -- or by email, for that matter -- I'm happy to oblige.

As a procedural point, I wonder if we could pick one topic at a time to discuss as replying to lengthy posts with a number of topics contained doesn't lead to easily understood discussion in a blog/comment forum.

If you can point out personal insults or whatever, I'd be happy to make amends.
J.

 
At 3/01/2009 6:24 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

Stuart,
I think all your points are valid if this issue were about adults (whether or not they are reasonable and mature) entering the TM org. sphere of influence.

But it is not.
It is about children who, by definition, are not expected to be either reasonable or mature, being placed, in their extreme and fundamental vulnerability into that unknown and untested sphere of influence.

We simply don't know enough about any minds, let alone young growing minds to blithely abandon them to such a potentially irresponsible experiment.

You can decide to take the risk for yourself, as I can for myself but I think it is reasonable and mature to limit the experimentation that we allow on young developing minds.

Don't the likes of Paul McCartney and David Lynch already have sufficient celebrity world-coverage for dissemination of their world-view?

 
At 3/01/2009 10:28 AM, Blogger Werner K said...

What are the negative side effects to meditation and what on this beautiful planet does it have to do with Scientology?

Really, I would just love to know.

 
At 3/01/2009 1:55 PM, Blogger John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Hi, Werner K,

For most people, meditation is a wonderful, enriching experience.

That being said, some people appear to experience negative side effects such as depression, anxiety, involuntary dissociation, cognitive difficulties, involuntary physical movements, and others.

Please note that my "data" is largely from the anecdotal reports of my clients, as well as a number of helping professionals working in my field. There has been research on negative side-effects, dating back to the 70s. If you'd like I'll look up the references for you or you might try some articles on negative side-effects or personal accounts.

Anecdotes are not without value. One can't extrapolate from them, naturally. But frequently anecdotes form the basis for later research. Nearly all medical and pharmaceutical research, for example, is undertaken based on anecdotal reports of maladies or side-effects.

This is especially true in the field of mental health.

To my knowledge, there has not been longitudinal, randomized, double-blind research in this area. Because TM, and similar organizations, do not release lists of their members, randomized research is nearly impossible in this field.

So most research on meditation, including TM, suffers from this drawback. At our Web Event, Professor Barry Markovsky will devote his presentation to the problems with meditation research, particularly TM's.

As to Scientology, I brought it up because so many people understand that Tom Cruise and other celebrities are actively courted by Scientology because of the power a celebrity endorsement has on the public. I meant to suggest that this seems to similar to TM's marketing efforts.

So bottom line, meditation is good for most. But some renowned meditation teachers, including the Dalai Lama, Gopi Krishna, and Kalu Rinpoche, warn about the potential danger of not working with experienced "meditation guides" who know how to deal with abreactions or side-effects.

Having been trained as a TM teacher, I can state from personal experience that we received very little training on the existence of or remedies for negative side-effects. This even though TM insiders have for years been aware of serious side-effects experienced by a significant minority TMers.

Rather we were taught to tell people that TM is good for everyone, enriches all aspects of life, and has only "life-supporting" effects.

It's my belief that these three assertions are deliberate misrepresentations -- and that TM teachers are well aware of this.

Why risk that with children? Adults can make their own choices and risk side-effects if they so choose.

Kids obviously can't.

One last point. I'm much less concerned about the effects of TM, which appears to be a meditation technique as good or better than most. Rather I am concerned in this presentation with the civil liberties issue of teaching a religious program in public schools.

j.

 
At 3/01/2009 7:10 PM, Anonymous Bruce Morgen said...

Werner, I don't think anyone is claiming that there are "negative effects" to meditation per se, but rather to the quasi-religious rigmarole and the cult-like organization that accompany the practice of TM specifically, both of which have parallels in Scientology and neither of which belongs in public schools imo.

 
At 3/02/2009 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I have heard, many of the schools which have expressed interest in having 2 10 minute TM sessions done in the classroom, are in areas where there exist many deprivations and extreme problems for the children. These children are suffering and TM seems to help. I think it's a shame that some way can't be found to introduce meditation in schools without opening the door to religious indoctrination from the TM org or from Christians or Scientologists, etc. I know from first hand experience that the TM organization is religious in nature and that that they lie about the "negative effects". For the most part they are minor and come from doing prolonged meditation over a longer period of time in "advanced courses", which none of these children would be doing. Still TM is a religion and we cannot afford to open the door to religion in public schools. If they had had just a little more power many of the public schools would have been taken over by evangelical Christians in the 1990's. They certainly tried hard enough to accomplish this.

 
At 3/02/2009 8:38 AM, Anonymous Paul Maurice Martin said...

I'm not very familiar with TM, but I know what you mean by "strings attached" to meditation.

I read an interesting book many years ago... maybe by a Walter Stace or possibly Evelyn Underhill? - about "mystical" experience. (Imo "mystical" is a misnomer, but that's what it's usually called - the kind of experience people seek in meditation and sometimes have spontaneously.)

Anyway, the book included lots of first hand accounts of such experiences. One of the author's major points was that humans all have basically the same sort of experience but attach, in your words, different "strings" to it.

So when you read the different accounts, you could see the unity or "one with the universe" theme that was present in them all. But Hindus spoke of the experience in Hindu terms, Christians in terms of their theology etc. And non believers tended to give accounts that struck me as more simply descriptive - less heavily interpreted.

 
At 3/02/2009 8:06 PM, Blogger Bob said...

I feel that there is nothing better we can do for our kids educationally than give them tools to deal with stress, and that meditation is the finest tool of all. But, although I have no problem with TM as a basic mantra technique, it is based on a religious foundation and there is no way that we should open that door in public education. There are non-religious alternatives available such as the Relaxation Response (researched by Dr Benson at Harvard) that will "work" and that contain no inherent ties to any religion or cult. And as far as research studies go, I have yet to see any of the TM financed studies that show TM (and its $3000 cost) is better than the many free meditation methods that could be made available to our children.

 
At 3/02/2009 10:01 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

[Referencing John Knapp's comment of Feb 28, #3 in this comments section.]

Hi, John. As you well know, you've made public posts that I consider muddled and cultish, and these posts have included unprovoked criticisms of me personally. I wrote to you asking for a rational explanation and discussion of these posts, and you well know that you've never done so, not in the slightest.

There are good reasons for you to engage in a reasoned dialog. You could have welcomed debate as an open-minded person seeking to understand opposing views. Or you could have decided that when you publicly criticize me (without offering any rational backing), simple decency calls for you to explain why. But as you know very well, you've avoided doing so. It's indeed true that each time you refuse discussion, you do provide excuses and rationalizations. Perhaps you think that if you make excuses, it changes the fact of your refusal?

Avoidance of debate and critical discussion is always key to maintaining a cultish mind-set. If one tries to initiate intelligent discussion with a cultist, he might reply, "I won't talk with you because you're not spiritual enough." If one addresses a fundamentalist Christian, he might reply, "I won't talk with you because you're not Saved by Jesus." Does making these excuses and rationalization change the fact that they're avoiding discussion? Of course not. Their dogma remains bullet-proof, because in any situation, without exception, they can always use the excuse of "you're not spiritual enough" etc.

How is your refusal to discuss with me any different? The words you use in your excuse are a little different; you simply claim that you'll only reply if I use a "tone" that meets your demands. You can use this rationalization regardless of the situation.

As for your "challenge" to provide quotes... here's just one of many you wrote: "Basically, I'd love to talk to you about your substantive points. But I'm not inclined to continue submitting myself to the combative tone you employ. You probably are better served in taking up your conversation with someone who enjoys the way you express yourself." Perhaps you're suggesting that when you say you'd love to talk about substantive points, that's a substitute for actually doing so? Wouldn't it make more sense to talk substantially, rather than to dishonestly claim that you'd love to communicate, but not actually do it?

Given the facts, is it honest and straight-forward for you to now claim "I have never objected to talking with you about these issues"?

You can't honestly disagree about what happened. You criticized me on a public forum. You did so without providing a single quote that you objected to, or a single thoughtful reason for your objection. In our email, you explicitly said that your criticism was based on your "feelings," which you consider more important than mere rational thinking. When I sought substantive dialog, you refused because it was "combative" of me to strongly object to your irrational criticisms!

As a logical point, I'll add that when you demand that I conform to your "tone," you didn't even specify what that tone is. Perhaps if I called you "Sir" you'd lower yourself to have a conversation, but who knows. Maybe nothing short of "Your Lordship" would do. Admittedly, it's a small point, since having started the whole issue with your own unsupported attack, it's simply amazing that you'd then want me to jump through hoops before you'd discuss it rationally.

Finally, I will admit that the tone of your comment in Guruphiliac is indeed less hostile than your rejections in private emails, like the one I've quoted above. I wonder if it's the fact that you know other people are watching that's caused this transformation in your attitude.

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

 
At 3/02/2009 11:12 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

Regarding my what I say re John Knapp in this comments section on 3/02/2009 10:01 PM, the genesis is as follows.

There's a public net discussion called "Cult Education Forum" at http://forum.rickross.com/. The forum is tightly moderated against views that deviate from their dogma. In the areas that I've explored, expression of opposing views is met with personal attacks from the most active group members (starting with comments from the moderator like "You're ignorant," and getting more vicious and less constructive from there), as well as possible deletion or banning of heretical statements.

It's a wonderful example of how people can call themselves "anti-cult," while still mired in a cultish mind-set. Cultishness isn't a matter of holding particular views, but rather of an avoidance of open dialog with dissenters. Anyone can see what I'm talking about by going to the forum and searching for threads on "Byron Katie" or "Eckhart Tolle," or viewing pages like http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?4,9147,58285 and http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,12906,58343.

A few months ago, John Knapp initiated a thread on those forums, advertising his own, for-pay, "cult recovery support group." This thread can be found at http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,61251. Immediately, he was challenged by one of the forum's denizens, making it clear that in order to be accepted, John would have to join in their criticism of one of the group's boogiemen. Curiously, this enemy was a profoundly obscure blogger named Stuart Resnick.

Prior to this, my only contacts with John were: he had invited me to be his facebook friend; he'd requested an exchange of links between our sites; and he'd made an appreciative reference to me as a source for an idea he wrote of on his site. But when he was told on this rickross Forum that I was the bad guy, he sheepishly went along with their opinions. He did so without quoting anything I'd written, and without rational explanation. In private email, he told me that he'd made his criticism of me on the Forum without reading much of what I'd written there. He said he was justified because he was following his "feelings," which he said he values more than reasoned thought.

(I've got to emphasize here that John's stance strikes me as highly questionable for a "cult recovery" counselor. Our feelings often drive us to follow the crowd; this is deeply imbedded in our evolution. De-valuing rational thought robs us of our greatest tool for resisting cult dynamics.)

There's no way for me to know for sure the motivation behind John's behavior. If he had rational backing for his criticism, I'd like to know what it is, but he never provided any on the Forum, nor when I emailed him privately. Or perhaps, since the Forum represented potential customers for his group, he felt that agreeing with them was a good business decision. Or maybe he really does just do what he "feels" like doing, moreso than thinking things through, and this caused him to unconsciously follow the crowd first, and rationalize later.

As he's never given any substantive response to my attempts to discuss the matter, we can't say for sure. If he had responded to my emails with anything approaching a dialog, that could have been the end of it. In fact, he avoided doing so, though I meticulously explained to him my objection, and asked for dialog several times.

There's some chance that the information I'm sharing here is useful. Firstly, what I'm describing is representative of what goes on in cult dynamics in general. Further: since John widely advertises his "cult recovery support ," it's a good idea to make maximum information available to people who might want to get involved. Once the facts are publicly known, then there's no problem, as everyone can then make informed decisions for themselves.

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

 
At 3/03/2009 12:14 AM, Blogger yomamma said...

disorientation is something we all have to deal with, but you might as well protect kids, it will happen soon enough. Maharishi was too gung ho about selling his brand of meditation, this topic proves that.

 
At 3/03/2009 2:16 AM, Blogger cosmicwaters said...

Geeze Stuart, it's not all John dude. You *are* being a bit of a git about it. Do you converse with people like this in real life?
But I do agree with your central point in your opening post that blanket anti-cult statements are usually just subjective confessions and rarely represent a balanced assessment of a given group. It's a fair point and it deserves to be raised.

 
At 3/03/2009 7:28 AM, Blogger s e m b l a n c e said...

Chuckji ! Where Art Thou? I really wanna see ya bringing peace in this here said situation between these two fellers, with your wisdom borrowed from DFJ. Cmon chucjki shut your lower chukras now and open the higher ones and let justice prevail in this noble and benign space.

Personally i am with stuart 'the wise'. I have never seen him anytime combative in his words but only a lot compassionate...

 
At 3/03/2009 11:20 AM, Blogger John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Stuart, I'll do my best to respond, although time is limited. And while some people enjoy personal flame wars, which it seems is where we're at although some of your points are substantive, I usually avoid them.

Once again, far from trying to avoid a conversation with you on substance, I have repeatedly said I'd be happy to have a mutually respectful discussion with you on any topic I feel I can offer something on. I don't know how to be more plain than that.

What follows in your post, naturally, is your own viewpoint of our email exchange. My perspective differs quite a bit.

There's a public net discussion called "Cult Education Forum" at http://forum.rickross.com/. The forum is tightly moderated against views that deviate from their dogma. In the areas that I've explored, expression of opposing views is met with personal attacks from the most active group members (starting with comments from the moderator like "You're ignorant," and getting more vicious and less constructive from there), as well as possible deletion or banning of heretical statements.

I haven't been that involved with Rick Ross's forum. I think I've made something like 6 posts over the last couple of years (maybe more, but I don't think so).

So I probably haven't been privy to deletions or bannings based on disagreeing with "dogma." I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I've just never seen it.

That being said, I agree in some ways with your observation. People in these self-help communities can develop little tolerance for outside views. (In fact, I have my doubts about some aspects of some self-help forums.)

If it adds anything to your information, I've been banned from two forums in the last 15 years. Once because I posted an announcement about one of my groups. Once because I disagreed with a poster and admin.

I'm not particularly surprised any of this takes place. Emotions on these forums, where people seem to join for a sense of community in the abuse they feel they experienced, runs very high.

People who have been victimized, in any way, can have deep trust issues and easily triggered highly emotional responses.

Does this surprise anyone?

A few months ago, John Knapp initiated a thread on those forums, advertising his own, for-pay, "cult recovery support group." This thread can be found at http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,61251. Immediately, he was challenged by one of the forum's denizens, making it clear that in order to be accepted, John would have to join in their criticism of one of the group's boogiemen. Curiously, this enemy was a profoundly obscure blogger named Stuart Resnick.

Our perception differs a great deal. I had no sense that in order for me to be "accepted" that I'd have to join in criticism of you.

A poster, who felt strongly about your combative tone on the forum, basically asked me if I was connected to you. My first response in toto:

Hi, H,

I don't know who "RandomStu" is. If he is the author of "My So-Called Spiritual Life," I've corresponded with him, but don't know much about him. Can you share your concerns? If they are serious, that would be good for me to know because I currently link to his site from one of my blogs.

Naturally, I can't condone name-calling, such as calling people "victims." That's hurtful. And we've been hurt more than enough for many lifetimes!

Did my site raise any concerns for you? It would really be good for me to know. I continuously learn from feedback on my site. That's why I welcome criticism. It just helps me to improve professionally -- and personally!

Yes, I am charging for the support group. But I'm trying to make it affordable for everyone. (A limited number of "seats" are reserved for "pro bono" clients who can't afford to pay anything.)

I am charging on a sliding-scale based on ability to pay, from $10 to $35 a session. If you're interested, or feel you may qualify for a no-charge membership, just PM me to ask any questions you like.

Thanks, H, for raising questions I'm sure others are wondering about!


My response about "RandomStu" in toto:
Thanks, helpme2times,

for the link. I can see why you found "RandomStu's" posts disturbing. Their tone is combative, never pleasant -- especially so on a self-help forum like this. And the use of "victim" language is hurtful.

Mental health jargon, like calling someone a "victim," has become a new class of swear words, unfortunately. Saying someone has "issues," is "bipolar," could use some "help," etc. are extremely loaded in today's culture. We may not feel free to call someone an "asshole" in polite company, but people feel free to say "you need to see a shrink."

It's sad. Because of the lingering taboo in our culture over mental health issues and therapy, language that is meant to help and heal has become a new category of hate speech.


I wrote my opinion. You don't have to agree with it. But to my ear, your posts there were meant to be confrontational and combative. I could readily believe that that was not your intention. However, I'm giving you feedback on how you come across to me.

I re-read my posts and find them pretty mild. I don't call you names or attack you. I do note I understand why the poster was disturbed by your posts. I never indicate you shouldn't post or try to have you heel to some dogma.

I work with people experiencing emotional problems from all kinds of trauma, not just cult work. People who experience trauma, whether by rape or cultic relationships or whatever, can be very sensitive to feeling dismissed or disbelieved.

Does this surprise anyone?

So a tone that might earn you points on a rough-and-tumble debate-style forum is likely to be rejected on self-help forums.

Note that I don't ask for you to change anything in that post -- or now. You emailed me objecting to the complaints of Rick Ross forum members. I tried to point out that on a self-help forum you were likely to run into this. That's about it.

Prior to this, my only contacts with John were: he had invited me to be his facebook friend; he'd requested an exchange of links between our sites; and he'd made an appreciative reference to me as a source for an idea he wrote of on his site. But when he was told on this rickross Forum that I was the bad guy, he sheepishly went along with their opinions. He did so without quoting anything I'd written, and without rational explanation.

This is all true.

I'm getting the impression that this is a black/white issue for you. I like your blog. I like much of what you have to say. This doesn't mean that I agree with everything you say.

And in this case, it means, while I agree with many of the points you raise, I thought your tone on Ross's forum was combative and is not likely to be well received on that or other self-help sites.

I can't for the life of me see where you thought I was "sheepish"!

As to quoting what you'd written, I can't see why I'd be required to do this. I wasn't writing for the ages! I was simply responding to someone's inquiry on the thread. I assumed anyone reading the thread would know what he was talking about.

If you'd like me to go back and pick out combative language for you, I'd be happy to.

In private email, he told me that he'd made his criticism of me on the Forum without reading much of what I'd written there. He said he was justified because he was following his "feelings," which he said he values more than reasoned thought.

Again our perceptions differ. Here is what I actually wrote. Please point out the language you found problematical. (Others can feel free to join in here, if you like.)
I don't feel I called you a name. I find your posts that I read -- and these two emails -- combative.

I, like many people, enjoy a good discussion, but don't enjoy the feeling of being attacked. Such comments as "if true," "criticism not based on informed opinions," etc. feel like attacks.

I'm not aware of ever having attacked you. To discuss the tone of your posts that I find unpleasant is not attacking, in my book. It's reporting how I feel.

In the business I'm in, I value feelings at least as important as logic or reason. Actually, a bit more.

It's often the case that someone can have a valid point to make that is dismissed because of the manner in which it is presented.

You get to be the expert in what your feelings and intentions are. I could be way off base. But I think it's important for me to let you know that I'm experiencing hostility and aggression.

Another bit of evidence along those lines is the reception you received on the forum. Is it the case that you think you were right and they were wrong? It would appear that a number of individuals took offense at what you wrote. For myself, when I find that happening I take the time to try to understand what I may be contributing to their offense. It could be that they have a valid point.

I read your posts rather quickly -- in fact, I'm sure I didn't read them all. I did have the sense that you had some good points to make. But my takeaway was that this wasn't a person that I'd really care to have a conversation with because of their tone.

This is of some great importance on a self-help forum. People are looking for support, validation, and input -- probably not for debate. Can you see why they might be offended therefore when they didn't experience what they expect from your posts?

I actually disagree with a number of things in the cult recovery movement and among recovering cult members. I'd be glad to talk about those with you here or on the forum. But if the conversation were to be disagreeable rather than mutually respectful, I probably wouldn't follow through.


You write:
(I've got to emphasize here that John's stance strikes me as highly questionable for a "cult recovery" counselor. Our feelings often drive us to follow the crowd; this is deeply imbedded in our evolution. De-valuing rational thought robs us of our greatest tool for resisting cult dynamics.)

I'm not aware of denigrating rational thought. Can you point out where I've done this? My point is that I think considering a balance of feelings and rational thought is not only valid, but important. In my practice, I've worked with any number of intelligent, rational people whose emotional challenges keep them from happy, productive, comfortable, productive lives. So my perspective is that rational thought isn't enough to get by in this world.

Do you disagree?

I've written as much as I have time for now.

Once again, I'd be happy, happy, happy to discuss substance with you.

Why not, instead of getting mired in the personal between you and me, just raise a point, preferably one at a time, and I'll try to answer it.

My impression is that you jump to a number of unwarranted conclusions about my beliefs. You may be rather surprised to find the number of areas in which we agree.

Also, I ask you again to point out any personal insults or whatever I've hurled at you. Feel free to quote from my emails or public postings. But your repeated assertions and veiled references to some painful email(s) I wrote don't really seem fair without some kind of response to my direct request for examples.

If I owe you an apology, I'll be glad to publicly post it on any forum you choose.

Nonsheepishly yours,

J.

 
At 3/03/2009 5:46 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Semblance, my friend, the forces airraid agin me in this here sitiation (Stuart vs John in the clash of the said Titans)is beyond my reach! These fellers is growned up and can take care of their own relationship! They don't need no under the hill broke down cowpoke bullin in! Anywho, I been watchin this conflab for a while and caint make heads nor tails about the problem at hand! They might jist as well be talkin Swaheelee as typin in English! Adios!

 
At 3/03/2009 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what I see:
Stuart hostile and combative towards John, accusing him of insulting him, among other things.
John well-behaved and guilty of no more than pointing out that he is finding Stuart combative.
Time to look at this, Stuart....

 
At 3/05/2009 7:32 AM, Blogger yomamma said...

Go John! Stuart certainly travels far and wide on the internet to weigh in on these topics, so there is definitely involvement, concern, on his part. Maybe he needs to look at his own need to be so involved , his need to value rationality to the point of redundancy and to look more compassionately at how cults have effected his emotional side, and thus cultivate more understanding and empathy for those he offends.

That being said it's great that Stuart goes to so much trouble to analyze all this content, that's his way (in my opinion) of disarming and bringing space to this sometimes scary subject, but
I applaud anyone who goes toe to toe with him.

 
At 3/05/2009 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once witnessed a demonstration of "yogic flying", one of the most insane and bizarre aspects of TM. I wrote about it here: http://www.ionet.net/~tslade/flying.htm

 
At 3/08/2009 8:01 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

I saw something that John Knapp commented on the TMfree blog. Though it's a few weeks old, I just noticed it today. It's more reasonable than anything he'd addressed to me publicly before, and much much moreso than the private emails he'd sent.

Based on that, I wrote a reply that may be marginally less snarky than what I'd written here in the Guruphiliac comments section. This thread is located at:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/jmknapp53/4413018923722332101/?a=18856

Stuart

 
At 3/08/2009 11:10 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

John Knapp worte...
> That being said, I agree in some
> ways with your observation.
> People in these self-help
> communities can develop little
> tolerance for outside views.

Hi, John. I asked you once before where you got the idea that the RickRoss forums were a "self-help community." I went there thinking it'd be an informational forum, a place for intelligent discussion of cult dynamics. I never saw where it said reasoned debate and sharing of diverse viewpoints should take a back seat to any "self-help" philosophy.

Perhaps this is explained somewhere on the forum site. I never saw it, and when I asked you how you got this idea, you never answered.

> If it adds anything to your
> information, I've been banned
> from two forums in the last 15
> years.

OK, OK, you get points for that. Really.

> Did my site raise any concerns
> for you?

I have no opinion about your site. I have an opinion about your behavior on the rickross forums, and about your responses to my emails.

> Yes, I am charging for the
> support group.

I'm a free market libertarian, and have no problem with anyone making a buck.

But when you make money at something, you must make special efforts that that fact doesn't cloud your perspective. If you're a barber, and someone asks you, "Do I need a haircut," then IF you want to be an honest person, you need to be very very careful that your financial interest doesn't skew an objective answer.

One interesting thing about those forums: the slightest mention of one's own role in joining a cult and remaining in it... was met by angry charges of "You're blaming the victim!" I most certainly didn't bring up "victim" language first, it was used against me.

And then you, without reading these posts with much care, criticize me with "I can see why you found RandomStu's posts disturbing... the use of 'victim' language is hurtful." That's way off base, and it led me to wonder whether you were just going along with the opinion you'd been told to support, without thinking independently.

Anyway, I've already pointed out that the rickross thread is here, so anyone can look and draw their own conclusions.

> But to my ear, your posts there
> were meant to be confrontational
> and combative. I could readily
> believe that that was not your
> intention.

First, the rickross poster tells you that I'm the bad guy. You'd come to the group to advertise your counseling, and had motivation to agree with their opinions. So of course you can read what I wrote and project onto it whatever you're looking for. You can always do that.

> However, I'm giving you feedback
> on how you come across to me.

Off-hand, I'd say such feedback, when given by a stranger, and unsupported by any sort of reasoning, is more distracting than useful. With real-life friends, with family, with a therapist, of course you share your feelings as you please. I think a public forum, which I believed to be for reasoned discussion and intelligent sharing of ideas, isn't the place to so freely share your feelings.

> So a tone that might earn you
> points on a rough-and-tumble
> debate-style forum is likely to
> be rejected on self-help forums.

This also hinges on whether you actually read anywhere that the forum is focused on self-help, rather than increasing knowledge and understanding. I still don't know if you have anything to back this up, or if it was an assumption that you brought to the discussion, and projected onto it, due to your beliefs and the fact that you're trying to bring people to your counseling.

> I'm getting the impression that
> this is a black/white issue for
> you.

Yes, you've said this repeatedly, always as mere assertion, without any reasoned explanation, or reference to anything I've said.

> I like your blog.

Big thanks. Truly, reading my blog makes up for anything.

> I can't for the life of me see
> where you thought I
> was "sheepish"!

I of course was playing with the word "sheepish" as in "like a sheep," meaning that you went along with what the rickross denizen suggested about me, in a way that didn't reveal clear-minded, independent questioning.

> To discuss the tone of your
> posts that I find unpleasant is
> not attacking, in my book. It's
> reporting how I feel.
> In the business I'm in, I value
> feelings at least as important
> as logic or reason. Actually, a
> bit more.

The very fact that you'd want to compare "feelings" with "reason," assigning more value to one than the other... is something I call into question. Where's the need for that, any more than comparing the value of cashews to Mormonism?

It's not that I'd said, "Feelings aren't important" and you made your statement as a response. You brought up this comparison on your own.

The context (your prior sentences)was to characterize your criticisms as "reporting what you feel." Generally, from a very young age, we understand that just because we feel like saying something, that in itself doesn't mean we should open our mouth.

> Another bit of evidence along
> those lines is the reception you
> received on the forum.

Sure, the reaction you get from others shouldn't be ignored. But as someone in the cult-recovery business, you ought to realize that it's very dangerous to base our values and choices on how they're received by others.

This is particularly true in a group like rickross, where the moderator and the group share a lock-step belief-system. In such a situation, having 100 people agree or disagree with you carries no more weight than a one person.

The dynamic of focusing on the reception from the group is a big part of what keeps people involved in cults, no?

> I'm not aware of denigrating
> rational thought. Can you point
> out where I've done this?

I'm referring to what I quoted above, about you saying that in your business you value feelings more than reason. I'll also note in passing that how you conduct your business is one thing, and it doesn't necessary apply when talking to me in a context outside of your business.

> My point is that I think
> considering a balance of
> feelings and rational thought
> is not only valid, but
> important.

If what you'd actually written had been about balancing feelings and reason, I'd have reacted differently. In fact, you said that you valued feelings more.

> My impression is that you jump
> to a number of unwarranted
> conclusions about my beliefs.

No, you've got that wrong. I have no opinion one way or the other about your beliefs in general. I've been commenting on specific things you've said.

> You may be rather surprised to
> find the number of areas in
> which we agree.

Quite possibly true. Quite possibly, talking about areas of agreement would be less interesting than points of disagreement, but who knows. In any case, I was addressing specific statements, not your overall beliefs, whatever they may be.

Thanks,

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

 

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