Saturday, April 13, 2013

Max Eastman's Letter to Corliss Lamont

I wouldn't have expected to be posting a letter of Max Eastman, one of the early examples of a person who strode across the supposedly enormous gulf between Communism and the far-right in the small step that it is in reality.  I don't have much more respect for Eastman than I do Lamont and hope that no one mistakes my motive in posting his letter. I originally knew Eastman as a far-right crackpot during the 1960s, associated with the National Review, it was only later that I learned of his early history on what was mistaken to be the left but which I have come to see as an imitation of the real left.  When he wrote the letter in 1938 he was thoroughly disillusioned about Soviet communism and, especially Stalin.   As I said below, Corliss Lamont was one of the most prominent and persistent Stalinists in the United States.  As an example of that during the period when the mass murders, the purges, the show trials were underway.  About sixteen months after Eastman wrote his letter Stalin's pact with Hitler was signed.   But more about that demonstration of how truly small that imaginary gulf is later.


In 1934, when I met you, and asked about your political position, you said: “I am a Communist, but I am a Truth Communist.” And you explained that striking phrase to mean that you believed in the theories of Marx as interpreted by Lenin, but that you did not accept the policy of political lying to the masses practiced by the official communist parties under Stalin. That gave me a high feeling of respect for you, and upon that basis there arose a certain intellectual and moral friendship between us. You expressed it upon your side by presenting me with a copy of your book, The Illusion of Immortality, and inscribing upon the fly-leaf:

To Max Eastman

Who believes with me that Truth is
“More sweet than freedom;
more desired than joy,
More sacred than the serving of a friend.”

Corliss Lamont
April 1935

Although so clearly seeing that lying to the masses was an essential ingredient of Stalinist policy, and so solemnly abjuring it for yourself, you continued to run with the Stalinist chiefs. You never exposed their political lies, or said publicly what you said to me in private. For a very long time you played friends with both Lie Communists and Truth Communists, and gave your money with one hand to the Stalinists and with die other to independent revolutionary papers which still believed that scientific integrity and honest education of the masses is essential to the proletarian movement. Anybody who plays both sides in quiet times will be found in a crisis on the side with power. And in the issue between truth and political lying, between science and Jesuitism, between intelligence and blind bigotry, between education and indoctrination, between the enlightment and manipulation of public opinion, between the life of reason and the totalitarian state of mind – and that is the paramount issue upon which in this day the fate of civilization rests – the Moscow trials are a crisis. They carry the whole cult, art, ideology and technique of political and party lying to so hideous an extreme that every man in the labor and radical movement must take his stand for or against. And you have taken yours with those whom you yourself so clearly defined as the “Lie Communists”, because they are in the ascendant, and because you lack the moral force to stand against them for the truth.

You have enough sensitivity to feel, if your feelings were free, the crime against knowledge and social understanding involved in the mystification of these trials, even if the men were guilty. You have enough brains to know that if they were guilty of the complicated conspiratorial acts charged against them, it would be easy to prove them guilty beyond a peradventure. You know that that would be the honest way, the way of Truth-Communists and of truthful people anywhere. You are not so blind to the rays of justice, if your eyes were not held shut, as to accept these show trials of a few dozen who were ready to “confess”, as proof of the guilt, and justification for the murder behind closed doors, of hundreds, and indeed thousands, who were not. You are not so superior to the idea of mercy that you would naturally ignore the still unanswered question: What has become of the wives and children of these thousands of murdered communists? You would, under normal conditions, sense the ugliness of your own position – the son of a leading finance capitalist engaging in a campaign of slander by private correspondence on engraved stationery against the executed leaders of the Russian revolution, a scion of the house of Morgan assisting in the process of their dishonor by circulating arguments from the Saturday Evening Post based upon the premises of black reaction. Surely you could find a more appropriate way to serve the cause of labor! And you would find it, if you were free from pressure, free to be your simple, chivalrous self. That is why I assert that you have joined the Lie-Communists, and are serving as their “non-member” stooge and mouthpiece, merely because you lack the force of character to stand against them for the truth.

The one priceless thing you could have brought to the proletarian movement, coming from the source you do and with your education, was true knowledge and absolute principled integrity. Instead you are bringing a little money, a small gift even when it is large, and an increase of mental confusion and moral decay.

You played a very small unhonest trick in the matter of the Trotsky Committee and the New York Times. The committee had issued a press release on its usual stationery, and in printing it the New York Times had remarked that “Among those supporting the Committee’s statement as members were ...” and then reproduced sixteen names from the Committee’s letter-head. You, following the lead of the Daily Worker, issued one of your privately-mailed letters, in which you said that in the New York Times these sixteen persons were “alleged to have signed” the statement, and that therefore the Trotsky Committee was guilty of “a shocking use of names under false pretenses”. If you could push away those who are pressing upon you and take space for reflection, you would know that the action both of the Trotsky Committee and the New York Times was perfectly natural, and that it is you who are guilty of false pretenses and a rather shocking misuse of facts. Not extremely shocking, perhaps – and in your own person this may be only a beginning. It is a significant beginning of the career that is before you as a defender of Lie-Communists.

A more significant beginning, although more subtle, is contained in your circular letter of March, protesting against what you call “vituperation” in the Secretary’s reply to you. It reads:

“I wish to say in conclusion that in these turbulent times it is possible, in my opinion, for intelligent men to differ sincerely on the grave issues which are confronting all of us. And I am deeply conscious of the tragedy involved in the present divisions in the labor and radical movement.”

There is pathos in that appeal for intelligence and “sincere” disagreement, but there is also a certain Pharasaism. As National Chairman of the Friends of Soviet Russia you are, and must be if you remain in office, on all basic issues an obedient adherent of the Stalin party line. You well know the “for us or against us” policy. You know that the unscrupulous vilification and destruction of critics is as essential a technic of the Monolithic Party as of the Totalitarian State. You know that your pose of detached intelligence is being used, and what it is being used for. Perhaps you will realize why I call the resulting state of consciousness Pharasaical, when I remind you that you have addressed these noble-sounding sentences to me, among others, and that they arrived in my hand just after I had been criminally advertised to the world by your colleagues and co-workers, on the basis of these same “confessions” whose credibility you are so eagerly advocating, as an “Agent of the British Secret Service”. You are hand in glove with the authors of that criminal libel. You are doing their work, the work of which it is an integral part. You know them to be, and have yourself named them “Lie Communists”. And yet you strike this pose, and make this plea against “vituperation”, and for a “sincere” disagreement about “the grave issues” etc. And you send the letter to me!

Corliss, the grave issue at the present moment is between truth and lies. It may seem to you that I am drawing moral issues rather fine against you here and now. But you will find that in your role of public defender of a deliberate policy of falsification, you will be impelled, and compelled, to more and more crude, more and more conscious, more and more debased and foul, and even as we see in Russia, murderous, tricks of public deceit and private knifing, until there is not a clear fibre left of the man who coined those words “Truth Communist” and “Lie Communist”, and who wrote that moving inscription in my copy of his book.

Yours sincerely,

Considering the enormous numbers of murders of non-Communists from Mongolia to Poland that were happening in the years before that letter was written, some of which must have been known to Eastman and Lamont, it's telling what led to the break.

I remember the day it occurred to me that the people murdered by Stalin were as dead as those killed by the Nazis and the fascists in Central America.  Far too late for me to be anything but ashamed to not have faced that truth long before, far too late for anything but shame.  The blindness caused by revulsion at American anti-Communism's over the top presentation and its own dirty motives is no excuse.  There is nothing but dirty motives in any of it.  There was no reason in morality or logic to excuse me pretending there was a difference as an adult.  The filthy game of excusing a set of mass murders on the basis of loyalty to ideological sides are a continuing moral atrocity that is as common as filth is.  Nothing will wash the stain out, the best that can be achieved is avoiding continuing in that sin, to confess it and warn against it.

"Why Did You Risk Your Reputation To Attack The Skeptics"?

First, I'm not aware of having that kind of reputation to worry about.   There's a reason I called the blog what I have.

The theme of my blogging is how the left went from the height of its influence and ability to change things in the 1960s to the utter impotence it suffers from today as the "liberal" Obama puts the legacies of FDR and LBJ on the negotiating table with people who have every intention of destroying those, slowly or immediately, as possible.   In some way just about everything I write about is related to that.

In studying the history of the left from the late 18th century till today there has been a complete and total divergence between the struggle for egalitarian democracy based in rights and materialism.  It is, plainly, the difference between regarding people as equal possessors of rights obliged to respect the rights of all other people and the materialist view of people as complicated chemical reactions with no status other than any other material object.  Materialism, in the end, sees people as having no real status different from any other temporary arrangement of molecules.

In that irreconcilable difference is found today's impotence of what gets called "the left" or "liberalism".  I hold that any liberalism which is worthy of the name, any left that will result in a less depraved and sustainable life, grows out of a necessarily non-materialist view of life.  That is my contention.

Since the founding of CSICOP, by a group of atheists who, while occasionally giving lip service to an expansive view of human rights, promoted the idea that people are merely material objects, it was impossible for me to not address "Skepticism".  The history of the modern "Skeptical" movement has been one of intentional and increasing coercion to promote that view of life, a view of life that is inevitably an undermining of the actual basis of liberalism.  The replacement of morally indifferent license on the basis of asserted "liberty"  merely imitates a truly liberated view of life based in holding that people are equally endowed with rights by,  as Jefferson put it, "BY THEIR CREATOR".  

The explicit reason for the creation of the "Skepticism" industry was to bully, coerce, harass, and suppress any expression of any idea that endangered their view of materialism.  Corliss Lamont, the major funding source of the "Humanists" at the time they were giving birth to "Skepticism" was an open and public Stalinist, lying about the mass murders, the show trials and the actual nature of his regime*.  He didn't much change that in the period after Stalin was discredited by his successors and the crimes Lamont had denied were publicly admitted to by the Soviet government or exposed by their liberal opponents.  As the theme I developed last year noted, the actual history of explicitly materialist, anti-religious governments can be seen as an experiment in what happens when people are regarded as being merely material objects and the results are anything but free.

The present day "new atheism" is largely manned by the same people as the "Skepticism" industry was and is.  Many of its online and other incorporated entities were either directly started by Paul Kurtz, other members of CSICOP or other groups in his empire of groups.  Most of the named figures in online atheism who I've checked out have a link to "Skepticism", a lot of them embody that link, themselves.  You can check out the origins or the associations of most of them and you'll find some relationship.   As the materialists make the connection between ideological atheism and "Skepticism",  eventually anyone who criticizes one will have to deal with the other.

As I mentioned, I was as unaware of the real nature of the controlled scientific research in parapsychology, ESP or psi until I began to read it.  

- I was unaware of the rather astonishing level of rigor in protecting experiments from error, a level that is virtually absent in any other science dealing with behavior, that there has been a constant practice of listening to the external and internal critics of previous research AND THE RESEARCHERS INCORPORATING THE ADVICE OF THEIR CRITICS INTO THEIR FURTHER EXPERIMENTS.  

- I was unaware of the rigor in the statistical analysis of that research, AGAIN INCORPORATING THE CRITICISMS MADE OF IT IN REANALYZING THE RESEARCH.

- I was unaware of the rather astonishing research into unintentional and involuntary physiological responses demonstrating psychic phenomena.   Which I find to be the most impressive confirmation of all.

- I was also unaware of the massive dishonesty of Martin Gardner, James Randi, Ray Hyman and others presented by the "Skepticism"/ atheism industry as credible critics.

As I read both the research and the critics and the analysis of both the research AND THE CRITICS the CSICOP party line fell apart.  The motives of CSICOP, its successor, CSI, CFI etc. in protecting a rigid materialism was obvious.  As that was happening in the past decade, my own analyses of the damage that materialism has done to liberalism and the left were also progressing.  It wasn't difficult to notice that "Skepticism" was the Trojan horse of that kind of materialism.   In addressing those movements, the most obvious aspect of them is their dishonesty, both in intentions and in polemical tactics.  They're not much different from some of the seedier manifestations of right-wing fundamentalism and corporate oligarchs.  Indeed, I've come to see that, ultimately, they've got pretty much the same goal, to impose a rigid ideology and regime on human culture, one that reduces people to objects which are there for use and disposal, objects who have no consciousness, no inherent rights.  Objects which can be evaluated on the basis of their utility, unequal in that, objects for use to which the potential users have no absolute moral obligations.

*  I have yet to discover what Lamont, as an active Stalinist, had to say about Lysenkoism, one of two major pseudo-scientific movements of the 20th century.   Unlike American creationist-fundamentalism,  Lysenkoism resulted in the murder of a number of prominent scientists by Stalin, that great champion of "scientific" materialism.   I've noted what another prominent Stalinist-atheist, Haldane had to say about it at the time,  which didn't exactly add luster to Haldane's record.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Danilo Perez Trio - Galactic Panama

35 Festival de Jazz Vitoria-Gasteiz (2011) Danilo Perez (p); Ben Street (b) y Adam Cruz (d).

I Like John Corvino

But don't expect he's going to become a super-star because he's not angry and edgy.  For the hate-mailers who accuse me of hatin' on all atheists and "Skeptics", no.  I have to admit I found his debate with Maggie Gallagher on gay marriage was boring but it was worth listening to while doing chores.   With any luck it will be moot within the next year or more.   His advocacy of atheism is about as reasonable as you're going to find, another reason he's not destined for super-stardom.  And he's a "Skeptic".   I don't agree with all of his positions but he presents it reasonably.   How he finds a home in the "Skeptics" movement is for him to figure out.  I'd love to ask him lots of questions about how he sees that movement, its history and its major figures.

His series of short videos about gay issues go over well worn ground but his calm, rational, reasonable take on issues sometimes has a slightly different take on them.   

I like John Corvino, I like how he talks, even on those issues I think he's wrong about.  Those teal and lavender shirts?  That's a different matter. 

A Request By A Reader

Artur Schnabel plays Mozart Rondo in A minor, K.511

I agree that Schnabel's playing of the Mozart Rondo is one of the truly great recordings made of it, though, for me, nothing will touch Rudolph Serkin's playing of it during his last season of public performances.  That was one of the most wonderful musical experiences I've ever had.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mozart Rondo in A Minor K. 511 Anthony Romaniuk Fortepiano

Bollocks From The Freedom From Religion Website

Note:  I did it again.  The version of this published here earlier was a draft posted by mistake.

On this date in 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Son of a Catholic musician, the child prodigy conducted his first original Mass at age 12 in Vienna, was later made a Knight of the Golden Spur by the pope, and was concert master to the Archbishop of Salzburg for many years. Accused of neglecting his religion, he resigned the appointment in 1781. Mozart joined the Freemasons, who were condemned by the Catholic Church, in 1781. Mozart refused to ask for a priest when dying. His wife sent for one anyway, who refused to attend. Mozart was buried in a pauper's grave without a religious service. Referring to the orthodoxy of his youth, he said: "That is all over, and will never come back. (Mozart's Leben, by A. Ulibichev, 1847, i, 243). D. 1791.

I think that inch for inch, this might be the most deceptive thing I've ever read about Mozart, apart from the fictitious play, "Amadeus".

The first thing to note about this little bit of tripe claiming Mozart for the atheists is that he was known to be a Mason.   While there are conflicting sources as to whether or not a Catholic in Vienna could manage to be both a Mason and a Catholic, one thing, it seems,  wasn't possible, to be an atheist and a Mason.  Atheists were explicitly barred from being a Mason.  You would have had to believe in the creator of the universe, a designer of the universe, to have been a Mason.  Some of the sources say that the ban on Catholics joining the Masons wasn't promulgated in Austria until the year after Mozart's death.  I have been unable to find verification of that.

While Mozart might have had his differences with the Catholic Bishop of  Salzburg, for the record, he quit the gig with the Bishop to run away to Vienna.  He was repeatedly away from his post, touring, which is what he was accused of neglecting.  Far from getting canned, the Bishop was not very happy to have his resident prodigy take it on the lam and rather belatedly fired him and, to express his unhappiness, his father, Leopold.  Though apparently Leopold kept his job, in the end.

Why would young Mozart want to leave?

Salzburg is no place for my talents. In the first place, professional musicians there are not held in much consideration; and secondly, one hears nothing, there is no theatre, no opera; and even if they wanted one, who is there to sing?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his good friend, Fr Joseph Bullinger SJ  (Summer 1778).

As for the death and funeral of Mozart, so many myths has been told about it that it's very difficult to get any kind of accurate picture of what happened.   Two things are known, he had a funeral at St. Stephen's Cathedral and a Requiem at St. Michael's Church.

In 1791, the year he died,  Mozart had been appointed assistant organist at St. Stephen's so his relationship with the church couldn't have been all that bad.   The story about a priest refusing to give him the last rights would seem to originate with his sister-in-law Sophie, (I believe she was there at his death) and Constanze, his widow's second husband G. Nicholas von Nissen, who said he had received extreme unction. [see update below]  Which I was taught comprised the last rites.  His burial in a "common grave" (that would be a grave of a commoner, as opposed to one where the myriad of aristocrats in the city would have been buried, not a mass grave) was in accordance with local customs.  The idea that Mozart "refused to ask for a priest" would seem to be an exaggeration.  From what I've read, all that is known is that Mozart doesn't seem to have asked for a priest.  Given the descriptions of his physical and mental condition, his desperation to complete the Requiem Mass he was working on, he might well have not been in any condition to have accepted it was time.   Apparently the evidence from his sister-in-law is that one came and gave him the last rites.  Though, like so much to do with that day, it is ambiguous.

Given the amount of religious music, both Catholic and Masonic, that Mozart wrote right up to the day of his death, for atheists to claim him as one of their own is pretty silly.   While his letters don't seem to contain a lot about his developed thoughts about religion on the cusp of middle age, some of what he is known to have said probably wouldn't be very welcomed news for atheists.

I must give you a piece of intelligence that you perhaps already know, namely that the ungodly arch-villain Voltaire has died miserably like a dog, just like a brute. That is his reward! 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Letter to Leopold Mozart (3 July 1778)

I have been unable to make any sense of the last sentence from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.   Looking at page 243 of Ulibichev's book, I find a rather nonsensical letter to a friend.   Another book translates it:

To Herr von Hefner 

I hope that we shall still find you in Salzburg, my friendly slug. 

I hope that you are well and are not an enemy spider, for if so I'll be an enemy fly Or even a friendly bug. 

So I strongly advise you to write better rhymes, for If not, our Salzburg Cathedral will see me no more.  For I'm quite capax to go off to Constantinople, that city whose praises all chant. 
And then you won't see me again nor I you; yet When horses are hungry, some oats they get. 
Farewell, my lad, I'm ever to infinity 

Or else I'll go mad. From now to all eternity. 

As the previous letter on the same page in the book the FFRF cites contains the phrase "All good souls praise the Lord God", the idea that Mozart had become an atheist at that time is entirely absurd.

In googling to find Mozarts Leben by Ulibichev, I found that this little passage has been adopted as fact all over the atheist internet, repeating the blatant distortions and errors contained in it.  Such has been my experience just about whenever I go online to research things said by organized atheism.

UPDATE  What Mozart's sister-in-law Sophie and his widow, Constanze's second husband said in their statements is extremely confused and its interpretation by different scholars seems to differ.  Some read Sophie's statement as I first did, that the priest was slow in coming but eventually came, some read it to mean that they didn't come.   G. Nicholas von Nissen, Constanze's second husband, is translated to say both that that Mozart didn't receive last rites and that he received extreme unction.  Some assert that the priests might have been confused because Constanze seems to have wanted the priest to come but for Mozart to not understand he was there to give him the last rights.  From looking at various assertions about their accounts, it would seem that the nature of what is asserted depends largely on what other motives are held by those asserting it.

What is clear is that by the 1820s when Sophie and Nissen were writing about the confusing night of Mozart's death, the lurid romanticization of the event was well underway. If you want a good idea at what a total mess the narratives  surrounding the death of Mozart are, this is an interesting paper dealing with just the medical theories and conspiracies invented to "explain" things.  About the only thing I'm pretty sure of, other than the documented facts,  is that, thanks to a second rate playwright what most people think they know, that Antonio Salieri did him in, is an absurd fiction.

UPDATE 2.   This account of the funeral mass and requiem said for Mozart are far more detailed than what was known when I took a course in Mozart in the late 1960s.   It goes a long way to dispelling some of the more lurid myths about the days after his death, though it does little to clear up the actual night of his death.  The account by his friend, Benedikt Schack, of Mozart wanting to get together with other musicians to go over parts of the requiem eleven hours before his death is quite compelling.  I don't see any reason to not believe it.  It reminds me of the stories of how Alban Berg was caught up in his opera, Lulu, as he was lapsing into his final delirium and Bach dictating an appropriate chorale to his son-in-law.  Note the very end of the paper, where poor Sophie seems to be confused as to whether she went to St. Peters and St. Michael's church to find a priest that night, perhaps remembering the requiem sung for Mozart in her memory lapse.

The picture of Mozart being surrounded by his friends and fellow musicians in the hours before his death is certainly more humane, though less romantically tragic -as if tragedy had to be heightened in this case - than the traditional stories.

UPDATE 3.  One of the results of doing this day of research into the question has made me a lot more skeptical of the Mozart biography that is attributed to von Nissen.  It was, apparently, largely unfinished at his death, completed by two of his friends.  While von Nissen seems to have been making a real effort at documentation, it's difficult to know how much of the ambiguity of the account of Mozarts death could have been the product of so many different hands being involved in producing it.  I sort of get the idea that the account might have been written by someone who wasn't familiar with the Catholic sacraments.

Also, the picture I have now of Constanze, Mozart's widow, is a lot more positive than the ditzy flighty songbird presented by a male professor during my college years.   She seems to have done a good job of managing the family finances, especially considering the debts that Mozart left.  She effectively promoted and preserved his music, and did a fairly good job of raising her sons.   How she might have seen or used the ridiculous romantic legends that began growing up around Mozart as soon as he died, I don't know.  I'm left imagining a lot of it must have made her discretely roll her eyes but figuring if she couldn't stop it she might be able to use it to the advantage of her family.  She became quite well off and took care of her sisters and reconciled with Mozart's sister, Nannerl  late in their lives.   I've got a lot more respect for her than I used to have.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CDs I'm Going to Be Buying

A couple of weeks ago, turning on Eric in the Evening on WGBH radio, he was playing a wonderful, compellingly original piece from a yet-to-be released album by Gerald Clayton,  the piece was called "Shadamantha"  I couldn't link to a recording of that piece but there is a video announcing the CD, including a short clip of it.

Life Forum 

Never having heard Gerald Clayton before, he is a great and original talent.   Here is him playing one of the most standard of standards

All The Things You Are

Another young musician I had never heard until recently is John Raymond.   Here he is playing with a group including Gerald Clayton from his CD Strength and Song


I Could Listen To This A Thousand Times And Not Get Tired of It. Glenda Jackson on Margaret Thatcher

It could be said of the United States as easily as it can be of Britain

What Kind of Civil Rights Movement Is Based On Ridiculing and Mocking The Majority of the Population?

You Should Read Freedom of Thought 2012, so I was told by someone last week.

So I read it,  unlike some who have brought it up online and in the media, I suspect.  Freedom of Thought 2012 is a report issued by The International Humanist and Ethical Union, purporting to show extensive, world-wide persecution of atheists and it does document legal persecution and statutory persecution of atheists in a number of countries.  To the extent that it does that accurately and honestly, it's worth while.  Though it's hardly news that many contries have laws persecuting religious minorities,  atheists included.

Just as with other religious minorities, racial minorities, women and GLBT people, the problem is that there is a limited ability to convince other countries to drop the legal discrimination against any group.  Imagine how effective insisting on Iran allowing gay men to have sex without risking a public, governmental lynching would go over.  I can't imagine it would do much except putting gay men in greater danger of becoming a public display of defiance.   The limits of that are closely related to the ideas and beliefs of the people who live in those countries.   Insisting, angrily or even calmly, on them changing their society immediately is most often an exercise in feel good impotence for people not in danger of consequences.

The report does nothing for its credibility through mixing the most serious of instances with the inconsequential and the entirely dubious.  The report strains, at times rather absurdly,  to find persecution of atheists in a number of countries where discrimination against atheists is, in fact, illegal.  If they had concentrated on real incidents and real laws that persecute atheists their report would have been considerably shorter but far more honest.

In some cases the "persecution" is quite bizarrely asserted.  For example, in Austria the report says

"Helmut G. was convicted for offending his  Muslim neighbor by yodeling while mowing his lawn."

Rather hilariously for this atheist report,  the citation given for this terrible offense against atheist rights is a story in Israel National News, an rather extreme Zionist, religious Israeli outfit that runs an illegal broadcast operation.   Call me overly skeptical but I would suspect they might not be the strongest possible citation to make in this story.

In looking at other sources of the story it would seem that Helmut Griese was "yodeling" during the Muslim call to prayer in a way that was interpreted as mocking it.  I didn't see any mention of it but I suspect it may not have been the first such incident with Helmut Griese and his neighbors.  He pled guilty in a court case to a law that is usually used against neo-Nazis who desecrate Jewish graves and disrupt Jewish services and events.  I strongly suspect that if Griese's neighbors had been Jewish and it was their religion which was likely being mocked, an Israel National News report might have proved to be less useful to the authors of the report.

Also, rather oddly for its use to pad this report, in nothing I read was Griese identified as an atheist or was there any mention that his "yodeling" was an expression of atheism.   Apparently the right being asserted is the right to be a bad neighbor as Griese plead guility.

A number of the other cited "wrongs against atheism" are laws against offending or mocking people on the basis of their religion, especially in European countries with direct experiences of Nazism.   Germany comes down for multiple condemnations of its laws impeding that kind of "expression".  It would seem that the "Humanists" and "Ethicists" find it horrible a violation of their freedom to mock and denigrate religion.  As is often the case in ideology, the meanings of words like "humanism" and "ethics" have undergone a Newspeak style transformation.

I'm trying very hard to remember a legitimate assertion of civil rights that leaned so heavily on an asserted right to mock ridicule and purposely offend other people.   I can think of groups that make that assertion in cases such as National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie.  And while I really don't think the "Humanists" and "Ethicists" would welcome that kind of company,  if they're going to assert that German and Austrian laws adopted to limit neo-Nazi activity are an enormous deprivation of their rights anyone is within their rights to notice that fact.  The frequently made counter argument that mockery and satire prevent such stuff, that "more speech" will prevent it is made absurd by the history of the brilliant satire that so notably failed to prevent the Nazis from taking power in those countries.


Being an American I would normally concentrate on what they say about my country, in which atheists are a fully covered class under both the federal constitution and civil rights laws.  It is illegal to discriminate against atheists in the United States to the same extent it is women, racial, ethnic and other religious groups.

First and surprisingly, we see the favorite cry of blog atheists that polls show that Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist for president is missing.  Which is progress.  The idea that anyone, including an atheist, has a right to someone's vote is absurd.  The easiest way to show the problem with this most frequent of atheist complaints is to ask if a Darwin denying, biblical fundamentalist has a right to the votes of atheists.   Is it discrimination for atheists to refuse to vote for biblical fundamentalists?   I don't think a fundamentalist has a right to my vote and there are lots of reasons I'd be very reluctant to vote for materialists of any kind.

No one has a right to someone's vote.  People are entirely free to vote for or against anyone they choose to.  One of the things that can lose someone votes is to insult or mock large numbers of people or to be associated with a group that insults and mocks people.   As can be seen in the context of this post,  atheists would seem to want it all, to mock people and to demand the votes of people they mock.

And here we see the problem for assertions of rights that so strongly stress the supposed right to mock and ridicule large numbers of people.  There is a difference between legal rights, protections from illegal discrimination, and forms of discrimination that aren't illegal and which can't be controlled by law and through the courts.

The legal discrimination against atheists is already prohibited in the United States.   Without much to argue with on that count, the section of the report on the U.S. begins:

Yet while the rights of all Americans to freedom of religion and speech are protected, the U.S. has long been home to a social and political atmosphere in which atheists and the non-religious are made to feel like lesser Americans or non-Americans. A range of laws limit the role of atheists in regards to public duties, or else entangle the government with religion to the degree that being religious is equated with being an American, and vice versa.

Since the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws ensure the legal protection from discrimination for atheists, a number of offensive, though moot laws against atheists on the state level are cited as are a few instances of violations of those laws.  Well, laws get broken.  The only thing the law can do is to provide for relief and punishment and the law in the United States does that.

But the atheist complaint that lots of people don't like atheists is nothing that the government can address in the United States, the European Union or anywhere.  The government can't make people like atheists, it can't make people vote for atheists.  It can't change that atheists and atheism turn off a lot of people.   Demanding that it do that is irrational and impossible.

The people best situated to change the situation that lots of people don't like atheists are atheists.  Atheists have no alternative but to try to gain peoples' trust and acceptance and in that effort atheists are taking about as perfectly counterproductive a track as could be imagined.  The insistence of this report on the "right" to offend people on the basis of their religion is a demand to make atheists even less trusted and accepted.  Given the extremely offensive and constantly made assertion that atheists are smarter than religious people, their not being able to see this problem makes them seem dense as well as rude.

NOTE:  I have written on the problem of the frequently made assertions of atheists such as Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and others, going back well into the 19th and 18th centuries that things such as equality, inherent rights and moral obligations to respect those rights are delusions.  I have voted for at least two atheists I'm aware of, I worked on the campaign of one atheist, though he has since said he is more convinced by an agnostic position.  That was before I read a lot of atheists asserting things like that.  That widely held position of atheists that inherent rights and moral obligations aren't real,  would make it a hurdle to gaining my support in future elections.  That isn't a matter of discrimination, it is a rational response to an ideological holding.  I wouldn't vote for biblical fundamentalists for similar reasons.  I wouldn't vote for a Democrat who thinks people do not have a right to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.   Having a legitimate reason not to vote for someone is not discrimination, it's how people decide who to vote for.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To Celebrate A Milestone on This Blog Joy Spring

On Margaret Thatcher Dying

We all die.  Death isn't some wrong done to the good and noble, a tragic end of the admirable and heroic.  Even the most evil and malignant international criminals have been known to die.  Those never get a death they deserve.  There is no way to balance that equation.   Sometimes they are spared the agony of a death they've imposed on their victims, their survivors maintained in a comfort and security that they actively deny to the survivors of those they murder, enslave and starve.  So we can begin by saying to hell with the stupid idea that of the dead we are to speak no ill.  There are few more obvious and hypocritical benefits grated to some of the worst people that the notably depraved human species has produced. 

Margaret Thatcher was a pretty thoroughly malignant human being, if she had managed to rule another country than Britain she probably would have racked up an even more impressive record of imposing pain and death on people unable to defend themselves.  As bad as it is, British law and culture at least impeded her from attaining that kind of record.   She did her best to destroy the already woefully inadequate British Welfare State, clearly longing for the period in which the Poor Law was in effect.   

Her greatest success was in propagating her diseased thinking that greed was good, that selfishness was a virtue, that there was no society who she needed to trouble herself with.  It now dominates the English speaking media and the public life of most English speaking countries.   Margaret Thatcher has made the world a more depraved place to live in. She, Reagan and other conservatives have done more to promote the amoral, sociopathic dream of Ayn Rand than Rand's little army of maladjusted two-year-olds has.   In my country, before Reagan, homelessness and hunger were seen as a national shame, now due to Reagan's and Thatcher's shared philosophy the homeless and hungry are seen as annoyances that the media and society should ignore or to starve, harass, jail (for the profit of private prison systems) and, yes, kill. *  I will point out that their philosophy is the complete repudiation of the teachings of Jesus and the Jewish prophets who their supporters pretend to follow.   That level of hypocrisy is endemic to it. 

She and her close ally, Reagan, fed the military industrial complex and shifted wealth into the hands of the already filthy rich, actively encouraged hatred of the poor and oppressed. They say that you shouldn't speak ill of the dead but telling the truth about someone is more of an imperative than that. 

When Reagan died I said that the forgiveness he needed wasn't mine to give, that he could have what I had to give him when the many tens of thousands of victims of his proxies in Central American terror states gave me permission to do that. The bones of the victims of those terror campaigns would have to be found and the disarticulated jaws would have to attach and speak before I have that permission.

* See my series on Marilynne Robinson's brilliant analysis of the British Poor Laws and nuclear pollution last month.

Monday, April 8, 2013

J. S. Bach - Partita for Flute in A Minor Wilbert Hazelzet flute

The Speed of Light May Not Be Constant

The series of posts indexed below was, in part, motivated by Jerry Coyne's  TED-scare over Rupert Sheldrake's heresy against the materialist orthodox view of science.   Proving that he didn't listen to Sheldrake's TEDtalk or that he didn't listen to it carefully enough to know what Sheldrake said, what Coyne told his mob of fans:

Rupert Sheldrake speaks, argues that speed of  light is dropping!

Actually, he didn't say that, he said there were fluctuations in the reported speed of light in the period before metrologists decided to make the "speed of light" a mere conventional definition instead of an actual phenomenon.   Sheldrake noted that the reported speed of light, in the period when it was a report on an observed, natural phenomenon had dipped significantly during a couple of decades.  So, it's pretty apparent that, in the way of enforcers of orthodoxy, Coyne misrepresented what Sheldrake said.   He continued:

Well, TED has come down a long ways since it once presented a forum for quirky, advanced, and entertaining thinkers. In an effort to keep ahead of the intellectual tide, they’ve started incorporating substandard speakers, including woomeisters, and have spawned “TEDx,” local versions of TED talks.

For this post I will resist the temptation to go into Rupert Sheldrake's long and distinguished career in entirely conventional science, resisting making a comparison between his published record and that of Coyne or his good buddy and fellow Inquisitor,  PZ Myers.

Coyne's condemnation of Sheldrake was posted on his blog on March 6.  He posted a comment from another figure in "Skepticism"/atheism and protector of materialist orthodoxy, Sean Carroll

What the crackpots don’t understand is that (1) scientists would love to find that the speed of light has been changing, they’d be giving out Nobel prizes like Halloween candy; and (2) in some sense, the speed of light can‘t change. It’s a dimensionful quantity — it can only change relative to something else, and there aren’t any other absolute velocities in physics. (Indeed, today the speed of light is fixed by definition, not by measurement.) What people really mean when they talk about measuring changes in the speed of light is measuring changes in other related quantities, like the fine-structure constant or the mass of the electron. And there are better ways of constraining those than by measuring light propagation

Oh dear, it would seem that the defenders of the Coyne-Myers-Carroll model of the orthodox universe would have a few more problems than Sheldrake's research into the matter.  I haven't looked hard to see if Coyne has addressed this story from Science Daily on the 25th of March. He didn't that I could see on his blog, but, well:

Speed of Light May Not Be Fixed, Scientists Suggest; Ephemeral Vacuum Particles Induce Speed-Of-Light Fluctuations

Mar. 25, 2013 — Two forthcoming European Physical Journal D papers challenge established wisdom about the nature of vacuum. In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France and his colleagues identified a quantum level mechanism for interpreting vacuum as being filled with pairs of virtual particles with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the inherent characteristics of vacuum, like the speed of light, may not be a constant after all, but fluctuate.

... As a result, there is a theoretical possibility that the speed of light is not fixed, as conventional physics has assumed. But it could fluctuate at a level independent of the energy of each light quantum, or photon, and greater than fluctuations induced by quantum level gravity. The speed of light would be dependent on variations in the vacuum properties of space or time. The fluctuations of the photon propagation time are estimated to be on the order of 50 attoseconds per square meter of crossed vacuum, which might be testable with the help of new ultra-fast lasers.Leuchs and Sanchez-Soto, on the other hand, modelled virtual charged particle pairs as electric dipoles responsible for the polarisation of the vacuum.

They found that a specific property of vacuum called the impedance, which is crucial to determining the speed of light, depends only on the sum of the square of the electric charges of particles but not on their masses. If their idea is correct, the value of the speed of light combined with the value of vacuum impedance gives an indication of the total number of charged elementary particles existing in nature. Experimental results support this hypothesis.

I can't claim to understand the issue from the story in Science Daily, but it would seem that Coyne should be on the back of these researchers and the author of the report, pressuring Science Daily to have it removed.

I will point out the last sentence, "Experimental results support this hypothesis".   That would be some of that empirical evidence that the "Skeptic"/atheist ortodoxy is always demanding, ignoring it with all their might when it doesn't support their preferred model of reality.  That would be as opposed to the mere definition setting that Carroll's uninformed snark against Rupert Sheldrake would be based in.  If Coyne, Myers and Carroll had read what Sheldrake said in his book, Science Set Free,  and his TEDtalk they'd have seen that what he called for was RESEARCH into the question to clear it up.

Why doesn't something like what Coyne and Carroll did ever come back onto them?  That would be as opposed to the real damage that someone can have done to them when the "Skeptics" misrepresent what they've said.   I'm not expecting a retraction from them.

Declaring yourself a "Skeptic" means never having to correct yourself, even when you've made an ass of yourself.

UPDATE:  Here is an example of the great champions of empirical evidence and scientific methods that the "Skeptics" claim to be, but so seldom are, in action:

Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, I think the flurry of activity in the popular media will just sort of die down. When I look at Google News on it there are still four or five articles that pop up in which it just shows how successful Wiseman is at getting his point of view out. I have been replying to people who’ve asked me to reply to blogs and things of that sort.

Without accusing him of actually being dishonest, he has now published the three studies that he and French and Ritchie tried to get published in several journals that rejected it. I replied with a comment on that. If there’s anything dishonest there, it’s when you publish an article, even if it’s of your own three experiments—they did three experiments that failed trying to replicate one of my experiments—you always have a literature review section where you talk about all the previous research and known research on the topic before you present your own data.

What Wiseman never tells people is in Ritchie, Wiseman and French, the thing they published, their three failures, is that his online registry where he asked everyone to register, first of all he provided a deadline date. To be included in that you had to have completed it by December 1st. Well, that’s six months after my article appeared. I don’t know of any serious researcher working on their own stuff who is going to drop everything and immediately do a replication.

Alex Tsakiris: And why would there need to be that kind of deadline to begin with? I mean, it’s completely contrived to work only in support of his effort.

Dr. Daryl Bem: Unless he just underestimated or overestimated how many people were going to drop everything and try to replicate it. Anyway, he and Ritchie and French published these three studies. Well, they knew that there were three other studies that had been submitted and completed and two of the three showed statistically significant results replicating my results. But you don’t know that from reading his article. That borders on dishonesty.

If there is one habit of the scientists who do actual research into these questions that really annoys me, it is how generous they are to people who don't merely border on dishonesty but who are actively dishonest.  Daryl Bem gets closer to the point when he says:

Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, that’s a funny way to put it. I think they have established their reputations and he’s made a total career out of being a debunker and an extraordinarily successful person at getting public attention to his pronouncements. I take a much more sort of benign psychological view of it. He has a great career going by being a debunker. It wouldn’t match what he had done if he had been one of the regular parapsychologists.

So rather than look for deep hidden motives, I tend to look at the more simple one. He’s [Weisman]extraordinarily successful at being a debunker and he’s more knowledgeable and in some ways more honest than someone like Randi, the magician who offers $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate ESP.

Also interesting is Bem's account of how, after years of success as a researcher in conventional social psychology, he read the research and was surprised at how strong it was.

Dr. Daryl Bem: I myself am a magician who—in my past. That’s how I got into this field. I had done stage magic, namely mentalism—that is fake ESP—ever since I was in high school. The way I got into this field was the Parapsychological Association asked me to come give my stage performance to their convention because they wanted to be able to protect themselves against people who might enter their labs claiming and knowing how to fake ESP and subvert their research.

So I went and did my performance and I was a skeptic at the time. I didn’t know the literature. Someone there, namely Chuck Honorton, who is now deceased, was setting up a new laboratory at the time. He asked me to come to his laboratory and to examine his experimental methods, both from the point of view of a magician and the point of view of a social psychologist who does live experiments and see if they were air-tight.

I looked at it and in preparation for the visit to his laboratory I started reading the literature. I was struck by how strong it was. I had never seen that. So I have some sympathy for people who aren’t familiar with all the research that’s already gone on.

You can compare that to how the "Skeptics" operate.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Temporary Linked Index to the Posts on the "Skepticism"/Atheism Industry

Or:  Remember, There Are Times When "Discovery" Is The Most Beautiful Word In The English Language

The Internal and External of Criticism or How things are rigged by and for atheists

Religion practices a level of internal criticism that is almost never practiced by "Skepticism" or atheism.

Breaking The Ultimate Taboo Part 1

Reading the actual scientific research and the rigorous statistical analysis of it reveals that, contrary to the "Skeptical" line, extraordinary evidence for several psi phenomena has been produced, replicated and published in peer-reviewed scientific and mathematical journals.   Reading that research is taboo among what passes as the "intellectual class", today.  That is opposed to believing the James Randis and Penn Jillettes of the entertainment industry.

Lying For Science Censoring Questions The Taboo 2

The long and distinguished record in conventional science of Rupert Sheldrake, how he is smeared by ideologues who demonstrate they have never read his peer-reviewed research and his other publications.  How PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne and Sean Carroll misrepresented what he said and intimidated TED into suppressing his TED Talk.

Lying For Science: The Taboo 3

More about the misrepresentation of Sheldrake's record by Myers,  the statistical ignorance by big name "Skeptics" the sTARBABY scandal and and the  "Skeptics" lying for science.

A Devil's Advocate In the Case of the Canonization of Martin Gardner 

Martin Gardner's peculiar record of serious statistical and methodological error, lying, defaming scientists, promoting the use of sleazy propaganda tactics to attack scientific research (something that the tobacco, oil, coal, gas industries, the climate change denial and creationist industries might well have learned from him and the "Skeptics").

Footnotes to Yesterday's Posts

How Dennis Rawlins presents Martin Gardner's role in the sTARBABY scandal, along with other upper eschalon members of CSICOP and commentary about what it means and why it matters.

Conclusive Evidence That Wikipedia Is The Focus of Organized Ideological Editing By "Skeptic"/Atheists

You don't need a conspiracy theory when the conspirators brag about turning Wikipedia and other online entities into "tools for "Skepticism".    Wikipedia and the ironically named "Web of Trust" should be forced to address the fact that they are the focus of ideological "editing" and influence or they should be considered discredited. 

A Really Skeptical Introduction To The Real Record of James "The Amazing" Randi and His Personality Cult

How Many Lies Does It Take For A "Skeptic" To Be Discredited?

Preliminary comments on James Randi's long record of documented lies and hypocrisies.

How Do The "Skeptics" Get Away With Lying and Fraud?

With a challenge to the scientists in James Randi's retinue.

With the "Skeptics" Irony is Never More Than A Sentence Away

An example of how Steve Novella's clique of "Skeptics" covers up for Randi's fraud, smearing a journalist who reported on him, with a note about Rebecca "Skepchick" Watson* and her encounter with the virulent sexism in the  well documented fratboy atmosphere that "Skepticism" industry is.

On Randi's Totally Phony Completely Bogus "Million Dollar Challenge" 1.0

Randi's totally fraudulent "Million Dollar Challenge" which would destroy Randi and the "Skepticism" industry if anyone won it, some of the ways he "always has an out", as Dennis Rawlins quoted him  saying 32 years ago.  [Note: the scope of Randi's "Challenge" fraud and its position in the propaganda of "Skepticism" means that this long post is no more than a preliminary look into it.  I hope that Steve Volk Greg Taylor and others who have written fact-based critiques of it will produce a definitive look at it in the near future.]

James Randi Social Darwinist Deceiver And Liar & The "Skeptics" Who Eternally Cover Up For Him

Randi advocating eugenics and Social Darwinism, genuine pseudo-sciences, an author quoting him and Randi's lying-coverup, also how his cult suppresses the real record of James Randi.

Randi's Involvement With Identity Theft And His Lies About His "Carlos" Scam Part 1

The Real Carlos Hoax Part 2

One of Randi's bigger lies, involving identity theft, passport fraud, how his PR operation can turn what even a "Skeptical" reporter notes was a failed stunt into a PR "win" and perpetuate the lie in the media and online.

The Randi Scorecard Up Till Now

Recapping the short and far from complete list of the Randi scandals written about with yet another example of him being caught in a published lie about Rupert Sheldrake's published research.  Also why I will not deal with the phone sex scandal tapes that Randi has finally admitted are authentic (he reportedly said they were forgeries when they were originally introduced in a law suit) and why I will not go into it.

One Last Thing

In view of the documented bragging by "Skeptics" that they organize to make Wikipedia, WOT, etc. into "tools of skepticism", does the James Randi "Educational" Foundation actively try to suppress Randi's critics, his documented history and online comments that could damage the Randi brand?

OK, let the threats and sabotage begin, remembering I make backups.

* I will be writing more on this topic in the near future.

One Last Thing

In commenting on James Randi on various blogs and comment boards, I have come to believe that the response, the effort to suppress comments, etc. is likely done by people who work at his "Educational" Foundation.   The effort to carry on his lies and the fraud his public image is would certainly benefit from a paid staff and a small army of volunteers to keep the truth down by "disliking" it and getting comments automatically removed from the board.

Anyone who is skeptical of what I just said should be.  It was a speculation but one based in previously confirmed evidence.  If they think that kind of stuff isn't done by "Skeptics" now should read the piece I posted Friday about "Skeptics" crowing about doing exactly that kind of thing and instructing other "Skeptics" in how to ideologically rat-fuck the internet.  Sorry about that word but it's really what they're doing, following in the Nixonian footsteps of G. Gordon Liddy to suppress information and, ironically, evidence.   And as seen in the "Carlos Hoax", Randi is an old hand at manipulating the media.  The old fraudster would never have missed the opportunity that this kind of organized effort is.

The Real Carlos Hoax Part 2

To recap the first part of this story*:

-  As a young man of 22, David "Deyvi" Pena came to the United States from his native Venezuela on a student visa to study art.  He overstayed his student visa and continued living here illegally.  

-  In 1986 he is documented as traveling with James Randi, appearing in a story about Randi in the Toronto Star “A few feet behind him, David Pena, a young man of about 20, struggles with three large suitcases.”   1986 is also the year that James Randi was awarded a large amount of money through the MacArthur "genius prizes".  It has been reported one of the first things he did was hire the man known to him as David Pena.

-   In 1987, possibly using some of his "genius prize" money, James Randi mounted one of his PR campaigns calling it the "Carlos Hoax", in which David Pena impersonates a "channeling" medium, "Carlos" who is booked to appear on a number of Australian media and staged events.  While "Carlos" was supposedly giving messages from the his spirit contacts, Randi would be feeding him lines through a hidden radio receiver, as the phony faith healer, Peter Popoff's wife did in one of the few real and documented successes endlessly repeated in Randi's PR.  The stated intention of the "hoax" was to show how the media didn't treat claims of the paranormal skeptically and a large number of people were gulled into believing in a total and complete fraud.    

-  Traveling to Australia to play his part in Randi's PR stunt presented a huge problem for David Pena, who is believed to have been living with Randi at the time.  He would need a passport and, as he was in the United States illegally, he couldn't use his real identity.   As he pled guilty to have doing in 2012, David Pena stole the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, a United States citizen who was living and working in The Bronx, in New York City.   He obtained a passport and was an employee of James Randi under the name of Jose Luis Alvarez, the name that Randi presented him under during his hoax and after that until Pena was arrested in the fall of 2011 for identity theft and, possibly, immigration violations.   The victim of the identity theft, the real Jose Luis Alvarez, had continuing problems with the IRS, his credit and banking and, ironically, with his genuine passport due to David Pena stealing and using his identity, with Randi's obvious knowledge and very possible involvement.  Remember, Randi wasn't only Pena's house companion and lover, he was also his employer who knew full well that he had used his real name before needing the passport.

-  Pena was sentenced after pleading guilty to a term of house arrest followed by three years of probation.   I'm not aware of how his immigration violations will be treated by authorities but that is certainly a crime which could get him deported.  Which would be too bad as he seems to have made a life for himself here but he did commit a crime which caused considerable harm to the victim of his identity theft. 

The "Carlos Hoax", though, has a life and legend of its own, apart from the crime of David Pena and the victimization of the real Jose Luis Alvarez by both Pena and those who participated in his identity theft.  Accounts of the "hoax" hardly ever mention that it was based in a crime and a fraud committed by James Randi and his lover. 

While Randi was deceiving the government and the media about the identity of "Carlos"-Alvarez**,  his account of the "Hoax" presents it as a triumph of Randian debunkery, a master stroke to show how gullible the media are when presented by claims of the supernatural.  That is how you'll see it written up in Wikipedia and in Robert Carroll's frequently cited (and often badly evidenced and researched) "Skeptics Dictionary".

José Alvarez had hoaxed an entire continent with his art. But he had created something that the media and his audiences would take from him and recreate to suit their own needs. One lesson here has to be the magician's refrain: deception requires cooperation. Another lesson might be that the need to believe in something like a "Carlos" is so great in some people that we must despair of them ever being liberated.

But, typical of the Randi Legend, as seen so often in American media and as touted by American "Skeptics" the real hoax is Randi's presentation of it as a triumph for him.  

Tim Mendham researched the "hoax" and wrote up his findings in an article for the Australian Skeptics Magazine, "The Skeptic" in 1988 (p. 26)

During February, Sydney was visited by a fraudulent channeler. But far from being like all the other fraudulent channelers who have visited Australia, this one was different - he was a fraudlent fraudulent channeler, an elaborate hoax organised by Richard Carleton of the Channel 9 60 Minutes program and US arch-skeptic James Randi

Preceded by a sophisticated promotional campaign including a press-kit with totally spurious newspaper clippings, reviews and tapes of radio interviews and theatre performances, and a stunningly inane little volume called The Thoughts of Carlos, 'channeler' Jose Alvarez was interviewed on three Sydney TV programs Terry Willesee Tonight (ch 7), the Today Show (ch 9) and A Current Affair (ch 9). There were also minor references to him on the John Tingle radio program (2GB) and the Stay in Touch column of the Sydney Morning Herald. The Today Show appearance achieved notoriety (and a front page storyin the afternoon Daily Mirror) because Alvarez'manager, upset at continued sceptical questioning by host George Negus, threw a glass of water at him before storming off the set with his charge in tow.

Already we have a problem with the story as told by Randi and his American fans, George Negus apparently didn't play his part by cooperatively being deceived.   I can only imagine the frustration of "Carlos'" "manager" when the person intended to be hoaxed, wouldn't be hoaxed during the broadcast.   And, over all of this, it was a media operation, the Australian version of 60 Minutes, which was in on the caper from the start. 

Mendham continues:

It should also be stated that to a certain extent the whole hoax backfired. As an exercise to prove that the local media were somewhat lax in doing research and effective checking of claims, proved its point, but on the other hand the media were extremely cynical (if not sceptical) of Alvarez' claims, and he received no sympathetic coverage at all. The Today program's hosts, Negus and Elizabeth Hayes, were particularly scathing. Terry Willesee, after screening Alvarez' first appearance on Sydney TV with a satellite interview, followed this up with an interview with Skeptics national committee member, Harry Edwards, who explained how Alvarez' number one trick, stopping his pulse while being 'possessed' was achieved. And the Current Affair program consisted of a confrontation between Alvarez and Negus, at which Negus said it was the first time that audience phone reaction had favoured him. John Tingle's radio coverage consisted solely of an interview with Skeptics president, Barry Williams - he even refused to say where Alvarez would be performing and the Daily Mirror story simply factually reported the waterthrowing incident. Still, the point remains that none of the programs checked out Alvarez' background, which would have proved conclusively that he was a fake. Ironically, the TWT program did check with one authority in the US for a view on the channeler - that authority was James Randi.

Read that last sentence again,  contrary to the story as told by James Randi, he had actually been contacted by the media AS AN EXPERT CONSULTANT IN HOW THE STUNT COULD HAVE BEEN FAKED!   AND IT WAS RANDI WHO LIED TO THE MEDIA TO KEEP UP HIS HOAX.  Which would, one would think, rather definitively show that the media are suckers, for James Randi and his self-constructed and peddled legend.   If you read the article you will find that virtually everything "Skeptical" sources online say about the "Carlos Hoax" is refuted by the facts.  

The rest of Mendham's account is revealing, including the fact that 60 Minutes falsified details in order to make their intended theme come off, the gullibility of their media competition and the public when it comes to claims of the paranormal. 

On the 60 Minutes program, it was claimed that Alvarez would not have had the audience he did at the Opera House (and the potential sales there from) had the media coverage been more aggressive (and factual). "The hall was packed" the program said, screening interviews with the credulous and deluded who had come because "they saw it on TV". Australian Skeptics came, as we had seen it on TV too. The hall was by no means full. Our estimate put the audience at about 250-300, as opposed to the 60 Minutes' 400-500; the Drama Theatre holds a maximum of 550. A large percentage of the audience were sceptical (if not Skeptical), with an even larger proportion thus unconvonvinced after the session was over. We subsequently learned of many who, having intended to attend, had been turned off by the poor performance Alvarez had given on TV

As a "Skeptic", himself, Mendham is to be commended for exposing more of the reality of Randi's failed hoax than American "Skeptics" have, though he obviously doesn't engage in what it really means and placing it in the context of Randi's long history of fraud and misrepresentation of his own record.  The media and the "Skeptics" fan base suck that up without any critical review at all.   The criticism, that the media frequently doesn't sufficiently research what they present is far more general they seldom do sufficient research to catch popular politicians when they lie and deceive, the administration of just about any corporate conservative proved that long before Randi was born.  The media and even large parts of the quasi-academic culture will ususally take the easy and safe route as opposed to the bravely rigorous.  No one needed organized "Skepticism" to tell us that.  Relevant to the theme of these posts, the media covers up and/or fails to discover the fact that "Skepticism" and James Randi are two of the greatest beneficiaries of their negligence to rigorously research the available evidence.  

Organized "Skepticism" has had more than three decades since sTARBABY was first exposed by Dennis Rawlins, it has not cleaned up its act, it is as bad and frequently worse today.   As Steve Volk and others who have gone over Randi's record have pointed out, the great "Skeptic" and his publicity machine are beneficiaries of the suspension of skepticism, able to cover up a long and documented history of lies and frauds.   In every case I'm aware of, when given the choice between the documented record and the easily accepted Randi myth, the media and the "Skeptics" go for the myth.  The near total fraud that the "Skepticism"/ atheism industry is couldn't be clearer than that record.  Which, as I pointed out before, is far easier to read and buy than it is to understand the published, peer-reviewed literature of parapsychological experiment.  I think the reason the media goes with the "Skeptics" PR operation begins in the same failure to do research that the real and larger lesson of the "Carlos Hoax".   There are no greater victims of fraud than the media and the fans who have made James Randi the legend he is today.

Post Script

As I noted at the beginning of this look into the "Skeptics",  Martin Gardner, James Randi, CSICOP, etc. it's hard to know where to begin in writing about their real history.  It's also hard to know when to stop.  The lies and deceptions of James Randi are far more extensive than those I noted, people have been researching and presenting the evidence of the real, as opposed to the public persona of James Randi for decades.  But his PR machine and the media it both dupes and intimidates goes on.

I'm sure this is a subject I will write more about in the future.  For now I will say that anyone who doesn't address the published research and experimental record into telepathy and other topics on the "Skeptics" index of forbidden topics, those who parrot the lines they get from Randi and other professional and amateur "Skeptics" haven't addressed the published, reviewed, scientific record.

Science can't be done through the PR practices of "Skepticism", there is not a single scientist in that ideological movement who would subject their science to those.  They will parrot the line Carl Sagan stole from Marcello Truzzi about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.  Well, leaving aside that standards of evidence that are deemed to be inadequate to confirm or falsify telepathy are just as inadequate to confirm any other aspect of any other science.  To use that line against "extraordinary" phenomena would logically impeach any orthodox science to exactly the same extent.  Not that the many psychologists, such as Ray Hyman would tolerate their use in their "science", which has an almost uniformly less rigorous record than scientific research into psychic phenomena.   The frequently extraordinary claims of physics, multi-universes, parallell universes, etc. couldn't withstand that standard even to the extent that the controlled research into psi has, over and over again.

"Skepticism" is a self-interested industry and an ideological movement, not a scientific one.  It is, in almost every case, an aspect of the ideological promotion of atheism and materialism.  I think it's more likely to be a symptom of an ideological dark age than some kind of neo-enlightenment. "Skepticisms" documented history proves it depends on deception and lies, incompetence and cover ups, the insertion of ideological orthodoxy into science.  And that introduction has been, for the most part, a success.  

Scientists who have read the literature into psi are reported to often find it convincing, in some rare cases they have admitted that.  But, for the most part, they self-censor and cover up what they know because they can depend on a career damaging ideological campaign against them that rivals and, I'd say, surpasses that of the red-scare of the 1950s.  It's lasted far longer and it has been more effective.  Sometimes, when coming across those rare defections from the enforced common consensus, it feels like the early 1960s, as the red-scare was melting, far too slowly.   Maybe it is.  We will see.