Jason Louv, A Strange Mix of Scientism and Magick |385|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Jason Louv, A Strange Mix of Scientism and Magick |385|
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    Jason Louv has a reputation as a chaos magician, but he’s down with materialistic science-as-we-know-it?
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    photo by: Skeptiko
    I have an interview coming up in a minute with this guy, Jason Louv about his new book on John Deeand I wanted to give you heads-up because this is, as far as I can remember, the most confrontational interview I’ve ever published on Skeptiko and I wanted to say two things about that.

    First, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with some heated exchanges and some disagreements, particularly in this case because this guy has done a ton of interviews on this book and the topics we clash over most people will find surprising… particularly that he has such a strong favorable opinion about scientism, and materialistic science-as-we-know-it.

    The other thing is, he’s really closed down re conspiracies. He doesn’t “believe in conspiracies,” whatever that means. I wanted to bring this up because it’s such a litmus test. If you don’t “believe in conspiracies” you are on the outside of our culture looking in because conspiracies are at the heart of culture shaping. They’re at the heart of politics, they’re at the heart of money, they’re, unfortunately, at the heart of corporate science — they’re at the heart of everything important to our culture. So, to say, “I don’t believe in conspiracies,” and at the same time to say, “I believe in magick,” is… well, I wish I could have gotten there earlier in the interview.

    But, I think it’s important, I think it’s important to understand that and bring that forward, especially from a guy who’s made such a splash with this book.

    So, here then is my interview with Jason Louv.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  2. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Wow - I wonder if the best way to do an interview like that, is to have one stab at it, take a few notes, look up any references that are needed, swap notes and references, and repeat the interview!

    I started to slide a bit towards Jason's viewpoint regarding science until I realised how extreme he is. I imagine he probably doesn't know much actual science, and he just consumes it at the colour supplement level. I suspect that is why he got so angry - because when you questioned his point of view, he had absolutely nothing to fall back on. Alex, I wish you had given him this link:

    https://www.mediatheque.lindau-nobe...ver-global-warming-revisited/laureate-giaever

    I mean, if it tells him nothing else, it will tell him that certain topics - such as climate science - have huge uncertainties, and that the science community misleads by not presenting that uncertainty in a fair way.

    Maybe you still can, if you are still in email conversation!

    The climatologist whose name you were searching for, is called Judith Curry.

    I think your conversation with Patricia Churchland was maybe even more confrontational than this one!

    Alex, I'd be really interested your views about AI - you were just about to discuss that topic, and then the conversation swerved off somewhere else.

    David
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  3. K9!

    K9! New

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    He seems very sure of himself, which is always a red flag. I agree with David in that anyone with actual working experience as a scientist knows that there are a lot of uncertainties in scientific interpretations that just don't make it to the general public. Louv hasn't got the experience or nuanced understanding of the difference between science in the lab and science as it gets promoted in the media to really talk about some of the issues that you tried to address.

    Alex, I think you've done more argumentative podcasts, although Louv's childish name-calling might have made this one stand out. Louv came across as arrogant and unwilling to step outside his safe room. He didn't seem like a person genuinely interested in enlightenment ('cause who needs enlightenment when you have all the answers).
     
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  4. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the podcast:

    What do you make of Jason's chaos magic - scientism (science as we know it) connection?

    Am I exaggerating that, or does he have a point (in terms of we're all wrestling with how to understand science in a magic world) -- so how do we resolve those two?


    (Rendered more or less verbatim: not 100% sure what Alex means, but it could be that he's asking how to reconcile Jason's views on magic/spirituality with his views on science).
     
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Amazing how Jason manages in his own mind to reconcile magic/spirituality with ultra-orthodox views on science. Like David said, I can't see that he's terribly au fait with science, and suspect he just absorbs and regurgitates consensuses on vaccination, global warming, and so on. He seems almost completely lacking in critical thinking ability when it comes to science.

    To be fair, Alex (or has your name changed to "guy"?;)), you were a bit confrontational yourself and that may have exacerbated the situation, but even so, I was surprised that he somehow manages to juggle the two views simultaneously. I wonder if he's read any Bernardo Kastrup - especially Why Materialism Is Baloney. Could be his views on science are too conventional and ossified to enable him to read a book like that and learn from it.

    At any rate, his lapse into name-calling told its own story. People who are comfortable in their understanding don't do that: which is the reason why one knows that the consensuses in a number of scientific areas are most probably bullshit. Instead of arguing the issues, supporters shut off debate by shouting and name-calling.

    The irony is, as you indicated, many of the scientists espousing theories he unquestioningly accepts would be completely contemptuous of his views on magic and spirituality. He could also usefully ponder the difference between technology and science. Sure, modern technology works, but that doesn't mean that the underlying models it is based on are absolutely correct: it just means that they are good enough for the technology to work. Much of modern science, however, doesn't inform technology and is mainly theoretical. It wanders far from the empirical and supports many highly dubious propositions (Multiple Universes, Neo-Darwinsm, CAGW, Big Bang/inflation theory, Materialism, etc.).
     
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  6. A big part of the problem with the public understanding of science and politicization of science is science journalism. Science journalism is very bad. They misrepresent research results to attract attention (to make money) and to further ideological objectives. So most people are misinformed.

    Another big problem with science is that most published research findings are false.

    People are misinformed about bogus research studies.

    It's that bad.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  7. Ezeee

    Ezeee Member

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    When Alex gave his disclaimer at the front of the episode I was concerned, he can come in a little hot for my taste with some guests... But I really thought he kept his cool with this weirdo...plus the guy quotes Steven Novella?? So odd! I listen to Skeptics Guide to the Universe, it's entertaining, but the people on that show are as confident in their batshit crazy thinking as any fundamentalist preacher... There is zero self-examination going on on that show!

    I think everyone can agree that the scientific method gets a big thumbs up.... but 'science' as we have it today is horribly corrupt for countless reasons; elder worshiping academic institutions that won't pursue new lines of research, a system of publishing studies where important research never comes to light, pharmaceutical research which dominates Healthcare research and is focused entirely on profit making drugs and not improvements in health, climate science which is designed to support a political agenda and not to positively impact the environment, diet 'science' widely accepted by the medical community with absolutely no basis in research. (Not overlooking dysfunctional, or entirely absent, Consciousness research).... It's the towering corruption inside the science community that threatens the scientific method, not us few fringe thinkers ....
     
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  8. Alex

    Alex New

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    "elder worshiping" nice :)
     
  9. First Last

    First Last Member

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    These are interesting times we live in and the podcast isn't recorded in a vacuum.

    I think we just witnessed an ignorant/misguided but genuine frustration in the difficulty of identifying (in)accurate information in 2018.

    Some of us seem to be regressing into a comfortable meme wherein our collective laziness and gullibility can be scapegoated for this lack of clarity (rather than a well-earned credibility gap among established information outlets).
     
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  10. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    First I think it is a pity that the discussion didn’t get onto more substantive matters. But I am with Alex here in that when he pushed back Jason got into a pretty juvenile argument style instead of being in charge of his responses. Guests have got to do their homework and come onto the show prepared. Jason wasn’t.

    So Alex asked if Jason’s take on science is okay. I don’t think it is because he failed to distinguish between material science (materialistic science) and scientific materialism. For a guy who claims to be a futurist this is pretty poor. And for a guest on Skeptiko be that unprepared is also pretty poor.

    I have a bunch of issues about Jason. He can’t handle robust argument and resorts to silly insults. For a guy who claims to have spent 20 years into magic as a form of personal development that is not a great thing. He has an inordinately high opinion of himself that seems to be encouraged by mainline ‘sceptics’ (materialists). Saying he has been out of flow for 3 years to prepare a book he says is “a small thermo-nuclear device” is, to me, taking immodesty to a new height.

    He has misrepresented the status of consciousness inquiry in science. Citing Radin and Sheldrake as evidence of the flexibility of science flies in the face of how both of them report being considered among their peers – or the culture in which the operate. The important thing about scientific materialism as a dogma is that is a tyranny exerted by a minority over a majority. Scientists are not, apparently, a community in which there is a majority of materialists. Rather those who have the power and control the money are. So Jason is right. There is not a single uniform culture of ‘Science’. But beyond being broadly right he has no nuanced appreciation of it.

    His repeated use of the assertion that without science we would revert to the Middle Ages sounds dangerously like one of those PR spin terms. Radin’s appreciation of the value and importance of material science as adding to our shared welfare and understanding of the world is far more subtle. I agree with neither, by the way, but I prefer Radin’s POV. Why Jason didn’t learn from it is a question I have. His POV pushes the scientific materialism line, not the science line. How much better might our material science be if it was not distorted by materialism? We could have had QM thinking a century ago, and not the desperate clinging on of materialism unto the grim intellectual death. How many of the hideous environmental cock ups would have been avoided by a deeper systemic and sympathetic outlook?

    I was almost persuaded by his definition of magic. But the idea that magic is just self-improvement is silly. Jason ducks the question of whether there is an immaterial dimension but suggests that there is not. What is the nature of the ‘where’ where you go in your astral body or where spirits reside? He mentioned both as experiences, but did not elaborate. Magic is real only because there is a primary non-physical dimension.

    Twice Jason said he studied with yogis and shamans “in the Himalayas” – and with Tibetan lamas. How can a guy can claim to have studied with ‘experts’ in magic and come up with what he thinks? He didn’t say “in India”, but, rather, “the Himalayas” – as if that sounded more impressive.

    Here’s my theory. Jason sounds and acts like an emotionally immature intellectual who has come up with a theory that suggests that magic can be fitted into the mindset created by scientific materialism and this has been encouraged by so-called sceptics that we know as materialistic dogmatists. He used the term “spirit drenched” as a pejorative expression of how the world is understood, meaning mistaken. It is not a pejorative, but a descriptive term.

    I do not believe he has ‘studied with’ (experiential) the experts claimed, rather he has ‘studied’ them (from books and with limited actual contact).

    I think Jason, at best is a “useful idiot” to manipulative materialist dogmatists. He has been encouraged to think his theory of what amounts to materialistic magic is a good one. He plainly thinks his book is going to blow everyone away with its thermo-nuke intellectual radiation. In this he is a kind of disinformation agent. Besides his claim that he can wear multiple hats is just a naïve conceit. He lacks the depth of knowledge and the subtlety of experience to do what he fancies he can.

    I can be disappointed that the show became an argumentative shambles, but I also think that Alex did a great service in unmasking this guy. It was a sacrifice well made.
     
  11. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Nice? I have to run the flag up for elders here. If you mean entrenched grumpy minded old farts who are too conceited and lazy to shift their ideas then say so - but please do not lump them under the general banner of 'elders'. A refusal to play with new ideas is not function of age - just mentality. The virtue of elders is access to wisdom verified by experience. But not all elders are equal. Some are demented, some cranky, some self-obsessed and boring, some tyrannical, and some grimly hang onto power. But others not.
     
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  12. Maggie Cox

    Maggie Cox Member

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    I got very confused in this episode of Skeptiko. I also listen to a podcast called Buddha at the Gas Pump where there is more time to listen to the different points of view. Perhaps time was the problem but if I am honest it sounded more like an argument than a debate.
     
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  13. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    It was an argument rather than a discussion or debate. But it was an important argument. It has always been the right of the interviewer to challenge the interviewee and in response the interviewee ‘discusses’ the issues raised.

    In this instance I don’t think Alex had the luxury of sitting back and letting Jason say what he liked. That would be like letting a carnivore have free reign on a vegetarian show. Why go onto a vegetarian show to flog a book about steaks?

    I don’t think Alex gets it right all the time, and sometimes he gives a guest a harder run than they merit. But on balance I can’t recall that any of those guests were as well prepared as they could have, should have, been.

    I think Jason Louv is not what he says he is. He is either sublimely naive or a willing player in a disinformation campaign.

    Just look at quotes that come direct from his website and ask yourself whether this is what a genuine ‘magician’ - in this case somebody involved in developing self-awareness as a ‘spiritual’ intent.

    Counterculture publishing legend R. U. Sirus (Mondo 2000) calls him “one of humanity’s best mutant scouts on the frontiers of human experience.” Howard Bloom (The Lucifer Principle) calls him a “bloody f***ing genius.” Duncan Trussell calls Jason’s latest book a “mind-spinning, glorious work of occult genius.”

    R. U. Sirius launched Acceler8or – a counterculture, Singularitarian/Transhumanist website in 2011. Howard Bloom considers himself a “stone-cold atheist”. Duncan Trussell is an actor and comic who has a podcast (DTFH) that has a balance of trivial and non-trivial guests.

    But none would be seriously considered heavy duty opinions on Louv’s work beyond their personal affections. Two appear to be materialists. These hyperbolic expressions of praise are as patently excessive as they are unwarranted – on evidence of Louv’s performance on Skeptiko.

    This guy doesn’t sit right with me. It is, I think, important that he is exposed. That may have not led to a great show in terms of it being enjoyable. But it was an act of service.

    The kind of ideas Skeptiko deals with do not usually lead to the gentle discussions characteristic of BATGP. Alex has a vigorous character that sets the tone for the show. I like it that he will call BS when others will not. All too often people like Jason get easy runs with compliant hosts who have a commercial concern to not get a reputation for being hard. One of the things I am grateful for is that Alex does not use Skeptiko as a source of income. That means sometimes the shows are patchy, but always honest and never compromised. Be grateful for that.

    Jason was scathing about “fake news”. Well, you won’t get that on Skeptiko. And he had it by the truckload. To dismiss ‘conspiracy theories’ as ‘fake news’ is either silliness or intentional misdirection. Alex expressed an affection for THC, a show I now refuse to bother with because it is indiscriminating in the people who are invited to express their conspiracy theories. But in the cloud and fog of idiotic nutjob conspiracy theories there are very real and intentional acts to mislead and misdirect. If Louv does not have the subtlety of mind to inhabit that very uncertain realm he has no grasp of magic in any form. Rather he comes across as a solid denizen of the materialistic shores.
     
  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    It certainly did sound more like an argument than a debate, but I certainly think is is worth exposing some of the flaky 'intellectuals' that inhabit this realm - because so often they sound eminently plausible unless you know a bit.

    I haven't done a survey, but I'd guess the majority of people here have some background in science, and we realise that once one is satisfied that some psi phenomena are real, an interesting question is how that fact interfaces with existing science! Indeed every assertion about psi is also a (very controversial) assertion about science. When you have a guy who simply wants magic (obviously a form of psi, if genuine) and science to co-exist, he can't possibly present as an intellectual.

    I mean, I think there are people who perform (say) psychic healing, but know nothing about science. I have absolutely no problem with that - they do their thing and help people to get back to health. However if someone explicitly backs some science that (probably unknown to them) is very controversial, and probably wrong, I think it illustrates just how people can pose as intellectuals, and yet hold views with no depth at all.

    It helps to be reminded from time to time that some people are like that!

    David
     
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  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    I love Rick's show and reference him often :)
     
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  16. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Although I disagree with Jason on topics like conspiracies, I can see why he got frustrated... is talking over people a Greek thing? Seems like the last few Skeptiko episodes that I listened to, Alex did a lot of talking and interrupting that made me cringe.

    Nevertheless, the way Jason dealt with his frustrations was also extremely childish.

    I don't even remember what the substance of the interview was about now...
     
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  17. Mishelle

    Mishelle Member

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    "You're an idiot! Guy! Guy! Guy! For Christ sake . . ." His arrogance and poor character are what shines most brightly from this convo--defensiveness is the hallmark of an indoctrinated mind.

    This guy is such a complete TOOL! He trusts the NASA website as GOD, I'd bet he hasn't done an ounce of research outside what the mainstream is dictating to him. He has to waste time calling names and getting his panties in a bunch without providing any data, yet dismisses Alex when he can't riffle off a couple names right off the cuff? I actually so appreciate this interview, am pretty enthused about it even, b/c it demonstrates to me how right I am, as much as that usually sucks more than feels good, in my experience.

    Climate change (geoengineering), Moon landing/space (NASA), vaccinations--if any of y'all believe what you are hearing in the mainstream media, please, I really really hope you will look more deeply into these topics. Just read the opposition, that alone will fire up any natural skeptic, and even some hardcore believers I'd be willing to bet. If you want to know where to look, where I've looked, I'd be pleased to pass that along. I'm no expert on any of it, I can't answer your (legitimate, surely!) questions, but I can tell you where to look and research. If you come to different conclusions, that's fine too, I have no defensiveness on these issues anymore b/c I know if someone has no doubt the official stories are correct, they haven't looked, or they are not able/willing to see. I don't have the answers, not on any of it, but that means ALL questions are valid, the questions alone are what will inspire, and eventually, save us. If 'they' can get us to stop being curious, to stop questioning authority, to stop demanding tangible proof, they have won. And the reason Trump is dismissing science is 2-fold, at least. It works great for his Bible-thumping Christian southern base, who don't give a hoot about science anyway and love to argue and quote 'the great books' as much as the NDGT-pushers. Secondly, it riles up the atheists real nice too and then you can get a real social media war going on for all the technocrats to take another lesson in human programming.

    What's most infuriating is he pretends to care about people and the future of civilization and that this is his motivation. I'm sure many reading are familiar with the fascinating book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. If you can't tell in 10 seconds of the start that Louv has 'shyster' written ALL over him, this is proof positive our sense of recognizing the warning signs in other's mannerisms, demeanor, etc., has declined over time, perhaps due to all the actors we surround ourselves with in media and politics. I used to have some blocks in this area of recognizing poor character and trusting my instincts and a bit of therapy and studying of psychology and sociology really helped me sharped this instinct again and I hope that will be the case for everyone. Discernment is of utmost importance in these times and will get more necessary in coming decades.

    Thanks for reading, sorry I have been so intermittent lately on the site, it's just a stage I suspect, b/c I still really appreciate the show and comments here. :)
     
  18. jerbear_13

    jerbear_13 We behold what we are, and we are what we behold Member

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    Can anyone concretely tell me what Jason’s views on God, the afterlife, etc are? I have literally never been so confused in my life. Idk how he can write about the empire of angels but be a materialist? Does he believe in those things while also being a materialist? I read a Reddit thread where he was answering fan questions and nothing in his responses seemed atheistic.... especially when talking about angels. I am so damn confused.
     
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  19. Mishelle

    Mishelle Member

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    I agree, but also disagree. hehe, double-talk confusion intended. I think this is part of the 'magick' he plays with, like the archetype of the Magi, being able to juggle many hats, especially those opposite each other, the black and the white. I don't expect he gets how inauthentic he looks/sounds and how the audience has become exceptionally more sophisticated than he realizes, his intended audience I would think, sees through these angles today in ways that more naïve audiences did not. Or perhaps the naïve audience is what he's shooting for, which is my assessment. Like a tool or disinfo agent, whether he's paid for that role or not.
     
  20. Laird

    Laird Member

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    What do you make of Jason's chaos magic - scientism (science as we know it) connection?

    Am I exaggerating that, or does he have a point (in terms of we're all wrestling with how to understand science in a magic world) -- so how do we resolve those two?


    (This might all be stating the obvious; if so, I hope it is at least useful to those who haven't (yet) heard/watched the interview).

    I like David's suggestion to have used the interview as a first, unpublished exchange of views on which to follow up and then stage a second, published interview. Interviewer and interviewee could have come to some basic agreements and then explored the "more substantive matters"[1] referenced by Michael P. It seems that interviewer and interviewee (could have) agree(d) that:

    • Legitimate science is simultaneously:
      • A set of tools, methods and processes.
      • A body of (ever-provisional) knowledge gained from those tools, methods and processes.
      • An ongoing and ideally self-correcting process.
    • Not all scientists concur as to exactly what the current body of scientific knowledge consists in at any given time.
    • In the real world, both the practice and promotion of science are coloured by (philosophical) assumptions. The current assumptions of many prominent mainstream scientists and promoters of science are those of philosophical materialism. This is to the detriment of science and the general public, since philosophical materialism presents an impoverished view of consciousness and inhibits research into it and related areas like psi. (Where interviewer and interviewee might (continue to) disagree is the extent to which this situation has been deliberately fostered by (especially conspiratorial) culture-shapers, and the extent to which it is improving).
    • That said, not all scientists share this view, and science is not a monolith: there are many areas of science as well as many approaches to it.
    • Too, despite the philosophical materialism colouring much of science, the current body of scientific knowledge is correct/useful enough to have been the basis of much of the technology that we take for granted in the modern world.
    • Science is not the only means of acquiring knowledge. One other means is mysticism.
    • Science and magic (and psi) are compatible. The assumption of philosophical materialism which currently colours real-world science will probably have to be dropped for this to be fully realised.
    • Many prominent historical scientists were also students/practitioners of or researchers into magic / alchemy / psi / the paranormal.

    The conflict between might have been overblown, but not invented. It seems to boil down to Jason granting less credence to the role of conspiracies in shaping the world, more credence to the positive impact of mainstream science on our world, and more credibility ("cosying up") to mainstream skeptics given these two tendencies.

    Also, I'm not sure whether Alex and I are on the same page here, but I disagree with Jason's stark dichotomy of "science = objective; magic = subjective". After all, the basis of parapsychology is that "magic" can be studied scientifically and objectively.

    I also think that Michael P called it right with this:

    Jason ducks the question of whether there is an immaterial dimension but suggests that there is not. What is the nature of the ‘where’ where you go in your astral body or where spirits reside? He mentioned both as experiences, but did not elaborate. Magic is real only because there is a primary non-physical dimension.

    With his use of "hallucinatory" to describe that "intermediary stage" which is "the astral plane", consisting in such things (he asserted) as yoga, meditation, sorcery, spirits, powers and psychic phenomena, Jason strongly implied that the realm of spirit is an invention of the mind, or at least of "the collective unconscious".

    It's strange that he included yoga and meditation in there because those two disciplines are generally seen as paths leading directly to enlightenment rather than being (as Jason puts it) distractions on the path, similar to TV - and, given Michael P's background in magical practice, I assume he's right that Jason's definition of the goal of magic as enlightenment is in the first place silly.

    I did though like Jason's contention that calling on spirits to do magic for you is depriving yourself of the opportunity to learn how to do it yourself - something with which I expect our own Mediochre would agree.

    Michael P, when you wrote of Jason using the term "spirit drenched", did you perhaps mean "demon-haunted": a term popularised by Carl Sagan whom Jason cited?

    Jason's assertion that to reject science and to go backwards would be a tremendous civilisational-wide disaster is also debatable: prior to the advent of science as it is practised in the modern world, indigenous societies had been happily surviving for millennia in harmony with the earth. Modern technology offers some benefits, but they come with a high price tag, and a proposition that the modern citizen is as fulfilled as the indigenous tribesman is questionable.

    This response would be incomplete without acknowledging that even though, as Michael Larkin points out, Alex was a bit confrontational himself, and even though, as Hurm points out, Alex did too much interrupting, he did not respond in kind to Jason's name-calling, nor did he complain about being rudely referred to as "guy". Those years of yoga have paid off!

    [1] For example (though not mentioned by Michael P), the blurb for Jason's latest book, briefly discussed in the podcast, includes the tantalising morsel that "spirit communications [with the angels and archangels of God] gave [John Dee] the keys to Enochian, the language that mankind spoke before the fall from Eden. Piecing together Dee’s fragmentary Spirit Diaries and scrying sessions, the author examines Enochian in precise detail and explains how the angels used Dee and Kelley as agents to establish a New World Order that they hoped would unify all monotheistic religions and eventually dominate the entire globe". Fascinating and ripe for exploration!
     
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