Thursday, October 01, 2009

When Wish Replaces Thought

When Wish Replaces Thought is the title of an interesting but flawed book by Steven Goldberg.

It seems particularly appropriate, though, when looking at this bizarre press release from a guy who calls himself "Adam Dreamhealer" and claims to "[conduct] unique group energy treatments around the globe as he coordinates the energy of all participants into a coherent frequency."

I'd be willing to bet that this guy really believes he has magic powers. But wishing doesn't make it so. I'd be more convinced he's got some powers if he could heal a few amputees on camera.

[Hat tip: Terry Polevoy]


Joshua said...

I like the repeated references in the press release to Dan Brown. "Dan Brown references IONS (Institute of Noetic Science) several times and Adam shares an interesting history with the founder of IONS, Dr. Edgar Mitchell."

So apparently being connected to a fringe organization that is used in poorly written fiction somehow makes your beliefs more plausible? Right.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

IONS (Institute of Noetic Science)

As I recall, when NPR let religion reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty "go rogue" and do some "science" reporting, she wound up there, interviewing Dean Radin.

Aaron Baker said...

I thought Goldberg's book was interesting but flawed, too. I wonder if we think so for the same reasons. Included in the book was an article on capital punishment, which if I'm remembering correctly, presented Isaac Ehrlich's findings (from the 70s) as if they were uncontroverted. I learned in law school that several social science statisticians had jumped all over Ehrlich not long after he published--and that, partly as a result, the National Research Council had decided the debate on whether the death penalty had a deterrent advantage over life in prison was unresolved.

Again, if my memory's not failing me, Goldberg also summarized in this book his notorious opinions on the "inevitability of patriarchy." I'm puzzled as to why, if Goldberg's biological reductionism here is correct, women's emancipation has nonetheless continued apace.

Anyway, I'd be interested in what you think about Goldberg.

Anonymous said...

Hat Tip to Terry Polevoy?

Typically when CazyTerry says something doesn't work it usually does....

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Terry Polevoy can be a little over-the-top sometimes, but his opinions of alternative medical claims are right on the mark. We need more doctors like him.

Anonymous said...

Epilogue to Polevoy Hat Tip...

Wondering if Polevoy wished he'd thought about his copyright and trademark infringement after his hatesites got DMCA'ed.

The DreamHealer predicted that Polevoy's organs would be expunged in October 2009 and his head would explode!

The hatesites are gone....any news on his head?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Mr. O'Neill:

You know, you're not fooling anyone by posting anonymously.

Anonymous said...

"I'm puzzled as to why, if Goldberg's biological reductionism here is correct, women's emancipation has nonetheless continued apace."

Let me explain since your puzzled.

Firstly Goldberg was not a biological reductionist. He just believed that some social facts could be explained by biology. He never said or believed that all social fact could be explained this way.

Second Goldberg's argument is fairly straightforward and still very solid. He basically claimed that all societies that have ever existed are patriarchal in the sense that men dominate in 1) social hierarchies 2) high status positions 3) society expects men to dominate. Even in our current society with an enormous amount of feminist brainwashing and propaganda Goldberg's thesis remains true. It's incredible. Today's society is the greatest proof of the inevitability of patriarchy. As are communist societies. Men dominate both.

Goldberg's argument is kind of obvious really if you are not completely ideologically brainwashed. Feminists say that men dominate because of socialization. And to Leftists and Feminist socialization can proceed in any direction and it is completely arbitrary and random. It is an arbitrary fact of a society. Thus no particular society is naturally ordained. If we grant all of this it creates one enormous problem for feminists: Why are most societies patriarchal? If socialization is arbitrary we should expect as many matriarchal as patriarchal societies but we don't get that. A simpler theory is that its not arbitrary rather patriarchy is pre-ordained. Why? Biology, economics, ideological reasons, religion. Firstly any possible explanation has to account for the fact that patriarchy is found in many different societies. Ideology/religion is bad because they can vary enormously (our own society is a case in point). Economic systems can also vary although it could be argued that it has something to do with the main mode of production (industrial, agricultural, hunter/gatherer). This argument is still bad because most agricultural, industrial and hunter/gatherer societies are patriarchal. Biology is an obvious and very simple explanation since the only differences between men and women are biological. It is the only constant factor that is invariant across all societies regardless of economy, religion etc. Men never give childbirth. Women do. Women are on average weaker then men. Men are more aggressive and violent. Men have twenty times the testosterone of women. These facts are cross-cultural. You can only explain a cross-cultural phenomenon using something that does NOT vary across cultures. It doesn't make sense to use culture to explain this fact or socialization because these things vary. Biology doesn't.

Aaron Baker said...

Yes, Anonymous,

I understand the argument. The problem for me is that the number of women entering professions that were previously the preserve of men (INCLUDING high status professions in which a premium is placed on aggressiveness, like law) has been steadily increasing. Women now make up about 50% of graduating classes in law. (The number of female heads of state is also steadily increasing, btw.) Also, as I understand it, the gap in mathematical performance between boys and girls has steadily been decreasing (Goldberg, relying on the Benbow Stanley tests from the 60s, talked about this gap as if it was pretty much immutable). Since the ratio of male to female testosterone stays constant, these changes suggest (to me) a much more complex relationship between environment and biology than Goldberg wants to allow. This is what I meant, incidentally, by women's emancipation continuing apace.