why Daniel Pinchbeck needs a smack upside his head

This is probably going to piss off some of my friends. But best to get it out of the way now, rather then whatever future time my book is published.

I'm including a chapter in my book-in-progress about the dark underbelly of the spiritual quest. The idea, basically, is

There is an old aphorism, often attributed to Otto von Bismarck, that those who love sausages or the law should never watch either being made. I've always disagreed with this -- if people saw the truth behind the production of these things, we'd have many more vegetarian anarchists, which would seem to me a positive development.

And so it is too with religion and spirituality. The hazards of cults, superstitions, delusions, hypocrisy, and manipulation are very real. A peek behind the scenes of both ancient traditions and the modern cults of personality around self-help gurus and peddlers of enlightenment-lite, is an unpleasant but necessary requirement for spiritual health.

In this chapter I talk about scandals in Zen (Japanese and American), about Chögyam Trungpa's misbehavior, about sex scandals in the Pagan community, and about some new age-y sort of "Plastic Shamans and Goofy Gurus". And one of the folks I deal with under that heading is Daniel Pinchbeck.

I first mentioned Pinchbeck over three years ago, when Rolling Stone profiled him. I was not impressed, but I didn't give it much more thought than that.

A year or so after that, my good friend Robin Gunkel, whose opinion I regard highly, met him at Burning Man and she was impressed. So I suspended judgment -- maybe the Rolling Stone profile was an unfair hatchet job. That happens.

Robin has since become involved with Evolver, a social network arising out of Pinchbeck's blog, "Reality Sandwich". I've gone to several events put on by the Baltimore "spore" of Evolver, and heard some good discussions.

But with that said, when I sat down to look more deeply into Daniel Pinchbeck, what I found was not favorable. Here's a first draft of the section about him that will go into my book.

Daniel Pinchbeck is the guy probably most responsible for kicking off the idea that some great transformation is going to occur in 2012. In his book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, he claims to have received "transmissions" from the Mayan deity Quetzalcoatl telling him about this momentous event. An excerpt from these transmissions:

The writer of this work [i.e., Pinchbeck] is the vehicle of my arrival -- my return -- to this realm. He certainly did not expect this to be the case. What began as a quest to understand prophecy has become the fulfillment of prophecy. The vehicle of my arrival has been brought to an awareness of his situation in sometimes painful increments and stages of resistance -- and this books follows the evolution of his learning process, as an aid to the reader's understanding.

The vehicle of my arrival had to learn to follow synchonicities, embrace paradoxes, and solve puzzles. He had to enter into a new way of thinking about time and space and consciousness.

Almost apologetically, the vehicle notes that his birthday fell in June 1966 -- 6/66 -- "count the number of the Beast: for it is the number of the man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."

The Beast prophesied is the "feathered serpent," Quetzalcoatl. [Pinchbeck, 2012 p. 370]

Because these "revelations" came after many years of heavy experimentation with substances like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, iboga, and DPT, [Grigoriadis] Pinchbeck is sometimes described as a modern-day Timothy Leary or Terence McKenna. But from the evidence above, a modern-day Aleister Crowley seems a better comparison -- complete with voices "channeled" from "higher powers" which name him as their special agent on Earth, identification with "the Beast", and a wonderful degree of apophenia.[*]

[* See It's All in Your Mind. (And, for Crowley, see here.) And notice how 2012 manifests the Law of Fives -- 2 + 0 + 1 + 2 = 5]

The "transmissions and coincidences" phenomenon was also experienced by Robert Anton Wilson, who in 1973 entered what he calls a "belief system" in which he was "receiving telepathic messages from entities residing on a planet around the double star Sirius," while at the same time encountering "implausible coincidences" which led him to discover links between Sirius and the Illuminati. (The Illuminati were an Eighteenth century Masonic group, much beloved by conspiracy theorists). [Wilson, Cosmic p. 8] Wilson, though, later came to understand that the "telepathic messages" theory was only one possible explanation of his experience.

But Crowley and Wilson didn't have blogs to expose their follies quite so instantly. Pinchbeck has "Reality Sandwich", into which you can peer to get a look into his thought processes, such as they are.

For example, on December 9, 2009, a strange light was seen in the skies over Norway. Something quickly traced out a brilliant spiral in the sky, mystifying observers and sparking furious speculation on web forums as to its nature. The explanation turned out to be a Russian missile that misfired during testing. [Murphy]

According to Pinchbeck's blog, though, "this seems extremely unlikely -- in the category of explanations that includes the theory that the most complex and virtuosic crop circles were the products of board and rope, or that Building 7 of the World Trade Center fell as a result of the Twin Towers collapse." [Pinchbeck, Thoughts] Now, we know that crop circles are in fact created with boards and rope, in combination with good planning and simple surveying techniques (and you can learn how to do it yourself by searching the web), and well-informed people with intact critical thinking skills recognize that Building 7 did in fact fall as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. But why let mundane facts get the way? Pinchbeck continues,

The magnificent spiral spectacle...seems to be a kind of focusing event for human consciousness....It is possible that such an apparition is somehow co-created or imprinted by the collective field of the human psyche.

....

The Norway spiral has resonance with the Hopi prophecies of the Blue Star Kachina, which appears at the end of the Fourth World -- if not that signifying event itself, perhaps a foreshadowing or retro-causal echo of it. The spiral seems like a message, invitation, or indication that the earth and its inhabitants are on the threshold of a deep transformation.

I especially like the "retro-causal echo" of the Blue Star Kachina theory. It takes a very special mind to think that an echo of the end of the world traveling back in time is a more plausible explanation for a light in the sky than a misfired rocket.

In Pinchbeck's opinion, the "the rational, empirical worldview...has reached its expiration date". [Anastas] But the fact that he can make statements like the Blue Star Kachina retro-causal echo thing and still be taken seriously by so many, demonstrates that many (perhaps most) people haven't even opened the wrapper on rationality.

And perhaps this is the big difference between the "industrial strength shamanism" we've been discussing, and the ideas being peddled by Pinchbeck and his ilk: where plastic shamans see rationality as a threat, an industrial strength shaman sees it as a valuable reality tunnel for getting practical things done in the physical world.

Pinchbeck seems so ridiculous that I can almost imagine that he is playing a giant practical joke: that when nothing especially momentous happens in December 2012, he will pull off the mask and say, "Gotcha! Boy, I can't believe people took that stuff seriously!"

That might be pretty funny, if it wasn't for what happened to Dan Carpenter.

Carpenter was a member of Pinchbeck's psychedelic circle, from the early days before Pinchbeck went coocoo for Quetzalcoatl. He was a frequent poster on Pinchbeck's online discussion board, and went to New York to meet him in person. [Grigoriadis] Carpenter was close enough to Pinchbeck that Pinchbeck wrote an encouraging forward to Carpenter's book, A Psychonaut's Guide to the Invisible Landscape; [Pinchbeck, Foreward] the book describes thirteen trips Carpenter took on DXM powder, the anesthetic in cough syrup.

These trips took him into a powerful experience of apophenia, a headspace where every little coincidence and event was fraught with meaning and portent, and left him with the impression everything was "somehow a program....[t]here is no free will -- only the sense there is." [quoted in Grigoriadis]

And so, following the program, Daniel Carpenter hanged himself.

At least one other of Pinchbeck's followers has also committed suicide. [Grigoriadis] Sadly, this is the danger when psychedelic visions are prized to the exclusion of "the rational, empirical worldview".

To be clear: I am by no means opposed to the responsible use of psychedelic or entheogenic substances. Far from it. They are powerful tools of transformation, and used properly might -- just might -- help us develop new ways of thinking that can help us get the planet out of the mess it's in.

But when someone starts taking their own feedback-saturated perceptions as seriously as Pinchbeck does, it's time to point out that drug-induced hallucinations are a piss-poor guide to consensus reality.

There are a lot of very fine people who like Pinchbeck's work. I've even attended several great discussions put on by the Baltimore "spore" of "Evolver", a social network that developed out Pinchbeck's blog. But Pinchbeck himself is in need of a good solid grounding, and a class in remedial critical thinking.

References:

Pinchbeck, Daniel. 2012: the Return of Quetzalcoatl. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 2007. http://books.google.com/books?id=T-KaqGHhFmEC

Wilson, Robert. Cosmic Trigger Volume I. Tempe: New Falcon Publications, 1991.

Murphy, Dan. "Norway spiral: A rocket scientist explains the mystery". Christian Science Monitor Global News Blog. December 10, 2009. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2009/1210/Norway-spiral-video-Mystery-solved.

Pinchbeck, Daniel. "Thoughts on the Norway Spiral". Reality Sandwich. 10 Dec 2009 http://www.realitysandwich.com/thoughts_norway_spiral

Anastas, Benjamin. "The Final Days". New York Times Magazine. July 1, 2007 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/magazine/01world-t.html

Grigoriadis, Vanessa. "Daniel Pinchbeck and the New Psychedelic Elite". Rolling Stone no. 1008 "The 2006 Fall music review." p. 88-90,114,116. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/11217201/daniel_pinchbeck_and_the_new_psychedelic_elite

Pinchbeck, Daniel. Foreward. A Psychonaut's Guide to the Invisible Landscape: The Topography of the Psychedelic Experience. Carpenter, Dan. Rochester: Park Street Press, 2006. vii-xi. http://books.google.com/books?id=CcpjE-LIwvwC

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Comments

Tom, I don't think that you

Tom, I don't think that you can blame Dan Carpenter's death on Daniel. I don't know the details of Carpenter's death, but implying that Daniel is somehow leading people to fatal demise is a real leap in logic. I don't think friends are responsible for other friend's suicides.

With Daniel's writing, I take what's useful and leave what isn't useful ... See Moreto me. What's important in what Daniel does is that he bridges the analytic and the intuitive in his writing. He writes of the spiritual sterility of Western culture from his direct experiences of growing up in it.

As far as Quetzalcoatl goes, he claims to channel this spirit at the end of 2012. I don't believe this in the literal sense it was written. I believe unconsciously Daniel was tapping into something deeper in himself- and genuine. But I guess what you're getting at here is what his responsibility as a writer towards his audience? It's a good question. As a writer, I believe that Daniel's focus in his work is very much about an internal quest that he realizes is deeply intertwined and connected to the larger cultural forces that shape all of us. I think his contribution to the education of his reader goes well beyond channeling a spirit to channeling a cultural zeitgeist. And his activities beyond his writing, are visionary. Evolver is a social movement that connects spiritual discovery/journey with fostering community and building grassroots connections. You know this. The traveling in the space of consciousness is the catalyst for coming back to do direct action in the world. I guess maybe I'd like to hear him write more about direct action. Perhaps that's the next book now that Evolver is evolving... who knows...

Thanks for your thoughts Robin.

Thanks for your thoughts Robin.

Please note that I was careful not to use the words "blame" or "responsibility" in discussing the relationship between Pinchbeck, and Carpenter's death. Pinchbeck encouraged certain behaviors and attitudes on Carpenter's part. (I cannot interpret the forward he contributed to Carpenter's book as anything except encouraging -- you can read it in full at the link and judge for yourself.) Those behaviors and attitudes contributed to Carpenter's death, leading him into a mental space which resulted in suicide. (This conclusion based on the Grigoriadis article I cited, and also on the comments of Carpenter's mother found here: http://www.erowid.org/library/review/review.php?p=235 )

If I say I like to drive fast and recklessly, and you say, "yeah, driving fast and recklessly is cool!", and I then I die in a fiery car crash, is that your responsibility? I don't think so. But it would be a case of irresponsible behavior on both our parts. It would have been much more responsible, in such a case, for you to say, "Hey, driving fast can be fun, but you should do it at a racetrack and take some lessons and wear a helmet and five-point harness."

I don't see much that's analytic in Pinchbeck's writing. Looking at the example from his blog I cited, a person with a reasonably strong grasp of analytic thinking is not going to attribute the accidental fireworks from a misfired rocket to an echo of the end of the world traveling back in time, or believe in some supernatural explanation for crop circles rather than the confessions of the pranksters , or be sucked into extreme 9/11 conspiracy theories.

There is, I think, a *lot* of potential good in things like Evolver, which is why I come out. But social action that's disconnected from a solid grounding in rational thinking is likely to not only fail to help, but can actively do damage. And that's my concern.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

Intellectually Lazy argument

This attack on Pinchbeck is mean-spirited and intellectually lazy.

"Now, we know that crop circles are in fact created with boards and rope, in combination with good planning and simple surveying techniques (and you can learn how to do it yourself by searching the web), and well-informed people with intact critical thinking skills recognize that Building 7 did in fact fall as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers."

Both are patently, and demonstrably, false statements. Just because you think you know something doesn't make it so.

Re: Intellectually Lazy argument

Both are patently, and demonstrably, false statements.

Then by all means, please demonstrate their falseness.

However, if you'd really like to learn about the hoaxers behind crop circles, I suggest starting at www.circlemakers.org. See also here and here.

If you'd like to see the facts about how WTC was destroyed, you might look here and here and here and here.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

Though, I must say, if you'd

Though, I must say, if you'd done your crop circle homework you would know that groups like circlemakers who have claimed responsibility for a large number of circles over the years, have by no means claimed them all and there are very subtle differences in crop and technique variation that distinguish manmade ones from the "genuine article." There is just as much proof out there for both explanations.

exactly

EXACTLY!

quick responses

i found a number of mistakes in your piece.

i didn't kick off the idea that 2012 could be transformative. Terence McKenna and Jose Arguelles were responsible for this, as I discuss in my book. I also never say that I believe definitively something transformative will happen in 2012 - or on Dec 21, 2012, to be more exact. I do believe that we are experiencing a paradigm-shift, and that there is compelling evidence for psychic phenomena and psychic capacities, and also compelling evidence for phenomena such as reincarnation, which as it is integrated and accepted will fundamentally change our relationship to the earth and the cosmos. We are also facing species extinction, accelerating climate change, and our own actions are threatening to bring an end to our species, unless we change to another way of life. I do think it is quite fascinating that this paradigm shift corresponds with a time-frame that the Classic Maya indicated from more than a thousand years ago.

in everything i write, i try to take care to state where i am speaking from direct experience, and where i am making a speculation, offer a theory, or creating a hypothesis. it seems to me that speculative thought has value, as it expands our capacities to imagine and envision what may be possible. our scientific worldview is the product of a few century's of human thought. therefore, it might eventually be proved to be too narrow, just as previous ideas and belief systems eventually proved faulty and had to be amended to match the evidence. Anastas kind of compressed my ideas and, in doing so, distorted them, typically, in the New York Times Magazine. As I write repeatedly, I believe we will see an integration and reconciliation between intuition and rationality, not just dropping rational thought entirely!

although i have been called a "psychedelic advocate," i actually don't advocate the psychedelic experience for everyone. I do think that these substances should be available to adults as other consciousness-changing substances like anti-depressants are. In the case of the two people on my breakingopenthehead discussion board who ended up committing suicide, I think that I advised both of them to slow down on their use of substances, as they seemed to be mentally unstable. Obviously, psychedelics are dangerous to people who are unstable, as they amplify your current psychological state. I also urged both of them to consider working with traditional shamans who might help them to heal, rather than continuing to use the substances in an unstructured way, if they were going to continue using them. Neither Carpenter or Michael were part of my "psychedelic circle." I had an open discussion board and they were frequent posters on it.

As for Quetzalcoatl, I was careful when I wrote about it in my book to note that I might also be delusional, and also examined the history of characters like Crowley or even McKenna who felt they got these amazing visionary downloads, but then nothing much happened to back it up. However as a writer I feel it is necessary for me to express authentically what happens to me, and this experience of receiving this transmission was an authentic and powerful experience, so I felt that not writing about it would be wrong.

thanks for finding my work worthy of your attention.

yours,
dp

2012, psychic phenomena, and whatamores

Well, I have to say I'm a bit flattered that you care enough my little efforts to respond here.

While you certainly didn't initiate the 2012 meme -- I can remember it being mentioned in the on-line psychedelics community back in the 1990s, in the Usenet days -- I think we can safely assign you credit for helping it snowball. Before 2012:TROQ came out, all in all I probably heard about 2012 less often than I heard about 2038.

We are indeed experiencing a paradigm-shift, a very fundamental one. But it began hundreds of years ago as we started the transformation from an agrarian society to an industrial one, and it will take at least another century to play out. (If we survive it. I do agree that it is possible we won't -- but that's not a thought original to either of us.) We're dealing with a change whose magnitude can only be compared to the dawn of civilization itself. It's a long, drawn-out affair, and doesn't match the year 2012 any better than it matches 2000, 2038, 1970, or 1945.

2012 will have special meaning if and only if a bunch of people assign it one. It is a lovely example of what Camden Benares called a "whatamore":

Today I heard about a new thing called whatamores. I now believe in whatamores. If you can believe in whatamores and if we can form a mutually acceptable definition, we will discover large amounts of circumstantial evidence proving the existence of whatamores. When we believe enough, there will be whatamores. Do we really want any?

As for psychic phenomena -- if you have real solid evidence, well let's set up some well-controlled, double-blind, objectively scored tests (I'm not an expert but I'd be happy to volunteer some time to help you out, it'd be a hoot and I could probably get a good article out of it) and then call up the JREF and collect that million-dollar prize. (You certainly have the "media presence" they require of claimants.) If the money's not an incentive, you could donate it to charity, but the benefit to the world of providing clear and convincing evidence would be immense.

Let me assure you that I do not dismiss these things without due consideration or out of some close-mindedness. My mother believes she lived a past life in Atlantis; my father, during the "pyramid power" craze of the 1970s, hung a small cardboard pyramid over his bed. As a kid I was fascinated with UFOs and parapsychology. My brother and I used to play with Zener cards to develop our telepathy; I used to know how to "tell fortunes" with playing cards, though I've long forgotten how.

And then I grew up, and learned about science, logic, and critical thinking. I learned about paranormal frauds, and about selection biases, information leakage, and subjective assessment that have honest parapsychology researchers fooling themselves.

I'd love to see some "integration and reconciliation between intuition and rationality". The tension between them has been going on since the Romantics at least, giving us on the one hand scientifically illiterate artists and writers -- such as yourself -- ready to believe anything, and on the other aesthetically and ethically disconnected scientists and engineers who are capable of doing anything, but incapable of asking what should be done. Obviously this is non-optimal.

But pseudoscience gibberish is not helping. If anything it drives a wedge between the two groups, feeding the irrationality of the first while driving the hyper-rational further away. You are not going to attract rational people to your cause when you seriously propose ideas like your Blue Star Kachina retro-causal echo theory.

You say you "don't advocate the psychedelic experience for everyone" -- is there anywhere in your writings where you make this explicit? There's certainly no "don't try this at home, kids" warning in the enthusiastic preface you wrote for Dan Carpenter's book. Indeed, if you were concerned with his use of psychedelics, why did you endorse it by writing that preface? Or do you always go around promoting the works of random people who just happen to post on your blog?

As for ol' feather-head, yes, you did pay lip service to the "maybe Quetzalcoatl is all in my head" possibility. But it's clear from the tone of your writing that you don't accept that as the most likely -- indeed, the only sane -- explanation. And you are quoted in Grigoriadis's article as saying (of your mother) "that Quetzalcoatl is not just my dream — though she may not know it, it's her dream also". That's not the tone of someone who's thinking "Maybe Quetzalcoatl spoke to me, but that's in the same category with 'Maybe I'm a butterfly dreaming I'm a man.'"

So let me ask you flat out: do you understand that by far the most likely explanation for your Quetzalcoatl experience, Crowley's Aiwass experience, Wilson's Sirius experience, and the many similar experiences had by others, is that they are neurological/psychological phenomena without external referent, indicative perhaps of deep brain/mental structures but not of "objective" or "consensus" reality?

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

Dan Carpenter

I read with much interest your thoughts regarding my son's suicide and that of Michael. I certainly don't blame Daniel Pinchbeck in any way for my son's decision to hang himself, but I do have a couple of comments to add regarding Daniel Pinchbeck's statement in his reply to you. He said that he advised both Dan and Michael to slow down on their use of substances as they seemed to be mentally unstable. I found his old message board and on August 4, 2005, he stated at the end of his message that he never had any sense from Dan that he was in personal danger. If that's the truth, then why does he now say that Dan was mentally unstable? If you are mentally unstable then you might be in danger of harming yourself or even hanging yourself. The two comments don't match.

My observations mean nothing really. My son is gone and I'll live with that horrible loss every day for the rest of my life. Isn't it ironic though that it angered me to read Daniel's words that my son seemed to be mentally unstable? I suppose it's because I never saw any sign of him being unstable until the very end - shortly before he committed suicide. I loved him so much that it's very painful to read those words.

I haven't checked this out

I haven't checked this out in quite some time. I'll have to try to make my brain work overtime to understand much of what is written above. I have become weary of the words " synchonicites (sp?) taken from above, paradoxes and paradigm" (what the hell are those words supposed to do - impress people like me? - not hardly, I guess they impress the impressionable) along with other words that are repeatedly used in books of this nature. I also tire of hearing about parents who were not cool enough to understand their children's desire to expand their wrold and minds. We know who we are - those of us that probably smoked a little pot behind their backs a few times but never got caught up in a trap of drugs. We were the working class people who only wanted good things for our children and were not as stupid and closed minded as some of these know it all people would like to think we were. I am actually referring back to something that Daniel wrote on his Breaking Open the Head thingy years ago. It had something to do with my son coming from family who were not with it in some way. I guess I should have looked it up first so that I could quote the exact words but I didn't because I am here right now and venting my feelings. It doesn't matter - it's basically the same thing. Drugs destroy people's lives. There is nothing to be gained by them. You can take all of your philosphy, crop circles, happy plants, shamans, paradoxes, paradigms and whatever else you choose to promote and keep them to yourselves. No one needs them. No one should have them. Enjoy them and let my son who fell into this crap trap rest in peace.

Carol

It's upsetting that your notes here were not responded to. It's certainly more disturbing than any of the intellectual debate going on here. I hope Daniel has communicated with you outside of this post. I generally have a good sense of him and this criticism on this page as well. Maybe it's just the way people can clam up when things get real or perhaps even legal. But it is hard to read as you struggle to maintain composure and to stay humble while finally letting yourself express your disdain. And I know this was a couple of years ago, but to me these years have all blurred together. I just want to say that you seem like a really cool parent to me. We have all come from families we wish were ideal but they never are. And it's not your fault about what happened. I just have to say that. And I pray you find peace. I like to think that my own NDE is real and that the bliss I felt is what we all feel. If this helps you I offer it. My heart goes out to you.

Your Point of View

"Now, we know that crop circles are in fact created with boards and rope, in combination with good planning and simple surveying techniques"

The nice thing about hearing a remark like that, is that one notes the source's mindset and can therefore reasonably conclude that said source is an intellectual incompetent or fraud, who is therefore not worth reading any more...

Anyone who thinks or dares to assert that crop circles are done with boards and ropes is the 21st century equivalent of an Flat Earther - Ostrich hybrid, or an outright liar.

Take your pseudo-intellectual ass to BLT research, and get an edjumacation, fool. There you will find a ton of information that totally repudiates your ignorant generalization here, and a nice piece on how National Geographic actually fabricated a 'false' crop circle by putting actors over a real cc at night, in order to create the impression that the fakers were able to replicate the 'real thing'.

the joy of conspiracy theories

A wonderful demonstration of the joy of conspiracy theories -- when they're disproven, you can just assert that the evidence is part of a deeper conspiracy. "They got to National Geographic, too!"

Ah, my friend, if only you knew the real truth, that the whole crop circle phenomenon is a distraction meant to keep truth-seekers like you occupied so that you won't notice the Bavarian Illuminati's schemes to raise Atlantis (what did you think was causing all the recent earthquakes and volcanic activity?) and restore the rule of the Ancient Ones. Crop circles are indeed made with boards and rope -- by people under the direction of our mind control devices, which are powered by fragments of the legendary Beta Crystal, that wonderful jewel that, through its etheric vibrations, both powered the Atlanteans' city and granted them (and now, us) the power of telepathy.

It took us a while to get the hang of it, of course, which is why circles started with simple "saucer nests" and got more complex as time went on. It would have been better for the illusion of some supernatural cause -- telepathy, of course, is not supernatural, merely the application of our Higher Science -- if we'd started off with complex figures rather than obviously learning as we went, but it's only taken a little prodding from the Beta Crystal to fog your mind to that rather obvious point.

Our plan is so audacious and brilliant that I can tell you about it outright, and you still won't understand or believe it -- until it's too late. But don't fear; though our methods are, by necessity, sometimes harsh, we have the best interests of humanity in our hearts. Fnord.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

I shouldn't have to try so

I shouldn't have to try so hard to follow your words. Half the time I didn't know whose belief was being expressed, yours or Pinchbecks. good luck writing a whole novel if you can't get a half page article to mesh coherently.

"novel?"

May I suggest that you learn the definition of "novel" before you undertake literary criticism?

While this is an early draft, and my opinion is biased, it seems to me that it ought to be clear that Pinchbeck's opinions are in the material attributed to him. That's either set off by indentation or marked by quotation marks -- the usual conventions. If anyone who knows the difference between a novel and a work of non-fiction, finds it hard to separate my voice form Pinchbeck's, I'd certainly appreciate constructive criticism.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

your title gave me a good laugh :)))

LOVE your title, it really made me laugh, and I could take you up on it. It is JUST what he needs! I have received a lifetime ban from both RS and Evolver. I am a questioner, and am very aware of New Ageism, so when I read some of the New Age guff at RS, I would of course challenge it, but in a firm but polite way. IE I would not call anyone names, Anyhow about couple of months back I went to log into RS to find I couldn't and got the notice that this was either because my password isn't activating or I am blocked. Of course I was curious to know which. I then found that the usual friendly 'we the management are always accessible to you our members' had changed (did this happen in 2012? w000000) and I could not find a way to contact anyone personally to find out.
The only 'contact' was an automated email about submissions.
Eventually I remembered Pinchbeck's personal email, and so told him. He said he'd look into it. Didn't hear anything. So then I contact again and get a moderator (cant find name, because my email service is down, but its a double barreled name). He talked down to me from a great height, as though I was some kid, and spouted this orwellian stuff about although I wasn't blocked I have been warned many times and flagged. A complete lie, and I asked him to provide evidence for his accusations. But he was not wanting any further communication with a 'retrobate' no doubt.
Apparently to be ALSO outright banned from Evolver says a lot to. They can't be having excommunicants from RS spreading impurities at their precious new aged Evolver--even though I had a blog there.

When posting at RS I had always been aware of the 'report this post' at the bottom of the message box, but in my innocence had presumed it was for spam (RS was known for spam) or out and out insults to another. Little did I know that new age cultists there wuill flag posts which challenge their worldview. That is just not me, and I cringe at that. I will openly discuss with anyone and not snidely try and censor them to the management.

Daniel and followers harp on about changing the world and yet cannot even accept someone who questions. I AM a questioner and the reason is that I know that authoritarianism HATES questioning.

The best book which exposes this new age 'channelers' and cults and also traces their ancient roots is this book, which lol I have linked readers at RS and Evolver to quite a few times. It is Return of the Dark/Light Mother or New Age Armageddon? Towards a Feminist Vision of the Future, by Monica Sjoo. But as is typical my Kafkaesque treatment from the runners of this new age cult just exposes what I was questioning.

Where I do not agree with you, when you say: "and well-informed people with intact critical thinking skills recognize that Building 7 did in fact fall as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. But why let mundane facts get the way?"

But I wont go into that. But just to say there is a great deal of evidence which uses intact critical thinking skills which greatly rejects the hypothesis you imply is the correct one, and when taken into consideration with a whole mountain of other evidence, even including events like the Oklahoma Bombing surely any intelligent person would understand why. But there is one thing, i WOULD discuss this with you and ENEVER slyly flag you right to question!

Great post

This really articulated a lot of thoughts I've had kicking around my head but couldn't get out in such a concise mannor. I want to read your book now.

I have been in a sort of "self-exile" from the psychedelic community for the last few years because of this exact phenomenon of "plastic shamen" as you say. I'm not a fan of Pinchbeck at all for many reasons, some you elaborated on, but it is not just him. I have found far too many similar personalities in almost every group of psychedelic/spiritual/new-age/etc people I've socialized in.

Ignoring facts in favor of apophenia is for weak willed magicians.

Well informed

" and well-informed people with intact critical thinking skills recognize that Building 7 did in fact fall as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers."

To say it fell as a result of the 9/11 attacks tells the reader nothing.
That said, only those looking for a "savior " embark down any elite's new age or religious path, many follow many blindly and many do not see controlled opposition...

Where is your proof?

Hey, you nonchalantly and arrogantly claim that "we now know that crop circles are made with top and boards, and that building 7 did fall due to the other two towers collapses.

Really? Is that so? And where is your proof of this?

Typical tyranny of so-called "rational" thinking that is blind to the obvious.

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