Sunday, December 16, 2007

ZEN FOR FUN AND PROFIT

This morning I was listening to the never-to-be-released Dimentia 13 album "Don't Give It To The Cat." We recorded it in 1992 and before it could be properly finished, Midnight Records pulled out of financing the sessions. I didn't have enough money to finish it myself and was pretty fed up with the entire enterprise by then. All I have left is a tape of the incomplete mixes.

I still can't listen to most of the songs without remembering how awful of a time that was. But I did come across the following song, which I still think is good and whose mix doesn't sound completely disgusting:

Anjalina

This song is actually not about a girl as it seems to imply, but about my friend Jim Bradler, who died in his mid-20's of some kind of weird lung ailment that I never did find out much about. He was from New Jersey and had such a strong Jersey accent it sounded almost like a parody of a Jersey accent. He loved to imitate the vendors at baseball stadiums back east, "Bee-ah Hee-yah!!" (trans. "Beer here") Whenever he saw or even heard mention of some hot chick he'd say, "Gimme 'er numbah!" (trans. "Give me her [telephone] number") Hence the lyrics to the bridge of the song.

He used to have pages of Penthouse magazine plastered all over his dorm room. I remember one girl-on-girl shoot that had the caption under one photo "the scents that mingled with their sighs." That line found its way into the song. He also had striking blue eyes. It was easier somehow to cast it as a song of lost love than to come right out and express what I really wanted to say.

This is for anyone who lost someone dear this year.

It's me on guitars, vocals and one-note organ; Joe Nofziger plays bass and sings harmonies, and Steve McKee is on drums.

OK. Enough of that.

Since a lot of people have written with questions, I think I ought to explain my attitude towards making money as a Zen teacher. Nishijima Sensei has always been adamant that Zen teaching should not be done for making money. I agree. If the motivation for teaching Zen is profit, that's no good. There's really not much money to be made in this line of work unless you cheat people anyway.

However, that's not to say that nobody should make their living as a Zen teacher. Both Kobun Chino and Shunryu Suzuki made their livings as Zen teachers, and I would never have come across this stuff had they not done so. It is possible to make an honest living in this business if you're both lucky and content with not being very rich.

I, personally, tend to skirt the issue by dividing what I do into two categories 1) my work as a writer, public speaker, film-maker and musician and 2) my work as a Zen teacher. I'm quite happy to take as much money as the market will bear for category #1 and to spend that money supporting what I do in category #2. I freely admit that since I tend to write and speak mainly about Buddhism, there is a lot of overlap between the categories. But that doesn't worry me a whole lot.

Some Zen teachers are supported by a congregation and that's nice. I have no quarrels with that and wouldn't mind terribly if I could make my way towards something like that without feeling like I'm ripping anyone off. But to quote Jiyu Kennet, Zen teaching is like "selling water by the river." You really do feel like you're standing right next to the mighty Mississippi charging thirsty people $10 a pop to have you point at the big giant raging river right in front of them and go, "You can drink that stuff, you know." But some folks need that. I know I needed it. Still do.

People gotta make their way in this world somehow, and the work of a Zen teacher is very definitely work. Hard work. And it's hard to do that hard work while simultaneously doing some other job. So more power to the people who manage to do it full time without another side gig.

And actually I am kinda bugged by people who think all spiritual teaching stuff should be free. Some dude complained at our last retreat in Shizuoka that he paid me $250 and could therefore expect some kind of service for his money. The truth of the matter, though, was that not a cent of his $250 went to me. In fact, I paid the same fee to attend the retreat as anyone else, plus I pitched in another $200 or so of my own cash to cover the shortfall that the standard fee per person didn't cover. Retreats cost money, friends. Tell me where else you can spend four days with three meals included and professional training for $250.

I have no quarrel with teachers who charge money for retreats or classes. I only expect them to be honest with students about what they're getting for their money.

Also it's important that profit is not the motivation. If you can make money in spite of not being driven to do so, great. That's all.

157 comments:

David said...

that's a really nice song... and really sad that it's about your friend who passed. thx for the story.

LaserJack said...

I couldn't say I ever agreed more with a post by you than this time.

Mysterion said...

Jiyu Kennet - Zen teaching is like "selling water by the river."

I'll keep this short because I have much to do yet today. 'Teaching' is a myth while learning is not. However, it is necessary for many - even most - students to have material filtered and spoon fed to them lest they choke on it and thereafter avoid it owing to the mere discomfort. Therefore what we call 'teaching' is, in fact, filtering the river so that the student might imbibe

To quote Manley Palmer Hall:
"WHEN confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity." c. 1928 HERE

Cheers,
Chas

aumeye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aumeye said...

Anjalina. Sweet. Sad. The song and the story of the song reminded me of my beautiful friend, Vicki (also from New Jersey), who, now many years ago, died at twenty years old from an illness. She was sweet and sad, too.

Anonymous said...

loves
when I was younger (I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now), I remember the breaktaking beauty--of my friends, of mere acquaintances, of strangers... I would be silent and the awareness of this beauty would choke me.
Only much much later, older now, and no one these days could possibly think I'd be coming on to them--harmlessly grey, wrinkled bespeckled and female as I am--have I learned that the 'choking' feeling was/is words needing to be said--and now I do.
Coming through the In N Out drive through--the young woman in the hard light of the slanting sun, setting her ablaze--her beauty--undiminished even in this light--I tell her.
Cute guys at the Apple Store I can tell them now just how incredible their eyes are, just how good that rainbow mohawk is on them....
I tell you being middle aged and having no agenda to carry this in any other direction other than just to state what my throat wants to say: Beauty, you are so beautiously beautiful!
so loves, there it is

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

Kobun Chino - master builder. Please notice how he incrementally constructs the student's knowledge with the 'spoon feeding' I mentioned above.

Zen, and the art of archery. HERE

(Clarified version of earlier hasty post)

monkey said...

it is not so hard to understand why suzuki roshi made Zentatsu Myoyu his successor. he brought in money by the bucket full. that is a very valuable talent. he maybe liked women too much but they liked him back. you might need someone like him at hill street.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Dear Brad,
If you didn't make the attempt at writing your first book, than I could still be floundering in stinking BULLSHIT!!
Maybe you wrote it for money, maybe you didn't, but hookin' up w/your website in '03 has definitely had a positive effect on my life.
That is all that matters to me.

Thank you Brad for all of your ideas whether I agree w/them or not.

Maybe Aerosmith makes Cd's for money or maybe they don't, but the fact that 20-year sober musicians can still work together keeps a recovered guitar picker like myself inspired.

Anonymous said...

Look at it this way: Yeah, money may be tight at times, but you still get to be enlightened.

Anonymous said...

I went to a Korean Zen center for a while. Each time you had a one-on-one with the Zen Master, you were requested to leave some money.

At first I was a little leery about that. Then I realized how grateful I was for his time and that he would spend time with me. He really spent a lot of time with us. In this money-based world it was still a bargain to be able to work with him.

Turned out he put all of the money into the Zen Center's general fund anyway!

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

"breaktaking beauty--of my friends,
of mere acquaintances, of strangers...
I would be silent and the awareness of
this beauty would choke me."


---

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

--Ezra Pound, 1913

Anonymous said...

unrequited lust
and aging
really suck

Anonymous said...

I can't get no satisfaction.
What a drag it is gettin' old.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is probably a stupid
question, but what the fuck...

Brad, if you could choose between

1) having the understanding of
Buddhism that you currently have

or

2) being an enormously successful
musician with all the perks...
"money for nothing and chicks for free"
(i.e., the girl behind the coffee counter
and more)

Which would you choose?

(sort of curious what the perceived
value of understanding Zen might be)

Anonymous said...

OMG! I am like so totally in love with my barista! He is sooooo cute!

Anonymous said...

I can't get enough of my barista's cleavage.
I wish we lived in some alternate universe,
where she and I could actually hook up.

Anonymous said...

Is someone spiking the coffee at Starbucks?
Is it the Seasonal Extra-Special Double-Shot
Eggnog Extravaganza?

Anonymous said...

Santa knows who's been naughty
and who's been nice.

Merry Xmas, y'all.

DB said...

Brad, good post, concise and to the point. I am also glad that you wrote your first book because it provided the kick in the pants I needed at that instant to set serious about daily sitting. I was also happy to pay full retail price for it at the Barnes and Noble up the road, as well as buying your second book. In both cases you gave me value for the money I paid out.

I'm also fine with supporting the local group I sit with. It's pretty transparent where the money goes: to defray expenses related to rent on the building, buying tea or whatever. Retreats have costs stated up front and it's obvious that those costs rent the facilities where the retreat is held, food, and so forth.

I'm comfortable with these "costs" associated with the more formal aspects of my practice, much more so than I would be with similar "costs" associated with some churches that I've seen. I think your attitude is dead on target.

DB

Jared said...

Us baristas appreciate it if you express your affection by either...

A.) Kisses

B.) Tips

C.) Chocolates

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hendrik said...

Brad,

you've done excellent work this year. Best wishes for the next.
hendrik

Mysterion said...

hendrik sed...
Brad,
"you've done excellent work this year. Best wishes for the next."

I'll drink (coffee) to that.

Like Kobun Chino, Brad (in SD&SU) links new knowledge (bow string) to old knowledge (father). Brad's chapter on 'cleaning up your room' is masterfully done.

Theory is introduced HERE

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake said...

Mysterion said: Like Kobun Chino, Brad (in SD&SU) links new knowledge (bow string) to old knowledge (father). Brad's chapter on 'cleaning up your room' is masterfully done.

Theory is introduced HERE.


Thanks for this posting. I am a teacher and am always honing the art.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
earDRUM said...

Brad,
I would like to say thanks. I've been reading your stuff for 5.5 years now. It has gradually changed my life from the inside out. Yours was the first version of zen buddhism that was straightforward and clear. Until I came upon your writing it seemed that every writer had different ideas about what zen was. Some believed in reuincarnation. Others believed in koans. But your Soto lineage rang true to the core of my being. It was what I had been looking for for 20 years. The things you say resonate with what I intuitively know to be true.
So, since I live too far away to sit with your group, I am glad to contribute to your book royalties. I am just starting the second book now. And I like it a lot.
Keep it up. It is worthwhile work that you do. It may feel like selling water by the river, but it changes lives for the better.
Best wishes.
Tim

Mr. Bad Example said...

The worker is worth their wage. As long as you don't misrepresent yourself or what a student can reasonably expect to receive from you (and anyone who has read your books should be pretty damn clear on that point), then don't sweat the money.

aumeye said...

Jared ~ Were you to serve me coffee, I would happily offer you a kiss, a tip, and some chocolate.

Jinzang said...

Some believed in reincarnation.
Others believed in koans


Some wore robes
Some did prostrations
Some sewed their own kesas
Some waited for the kinhin bell
Some wondered if they would ever be enlightened
Some got hit on the back
Some dozed on the sly
Some looked at their mind
And didn't find anything

Ryan said...

Nice song about a painful time. The song's subject matter is similar to two of the most moving Beastie Boys songs - "Live Wire" (lyrics - http://www.beastiemania.com/lyrics/index.php?l=sos#livewire) and "Instant Death" (lyrics - http://www.beastiemania.com/lyrics/index.php?l=hn#instantdeath).

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that zen teachers can't easily live off their work. It is unbelievable to me how great christian ministers have it. My parents go to a church that is not a mega church. It has a budget over a million dollars a year. We have five full time ministers. They work a couple of days a week. They have houses paid for by the church. Some even have second homes as cottages. They are able to raise families and have assistants. But that is what is attractive about zen. People meet in renovated houses, and live simply.

Anonymous said...

Was Charles Bukowski Buddhist?

the Lone Ranger said...

Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9th, 1994 in San Pedro, California, at the age of 73, shortly after completing the novel "Pulp", his last. His funeral rites were conducted by Buddhist monks. His gravestone reads: "DONT TRY".

Anonymous said...

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don't do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don't do it.

if you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your

typewriter

searching for words,

don't do it.

if you're doing it for money or

fame,

don't do it.

if you're doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don't do it.

if you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don't do it.

if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,

don't do it.

if you're trying to write like somebody

else,

forget about it.





if you have to wait for it to roar out of

you,

then wait patiently.

if it never does roar out of you,

do something else.



if you first have to read it to your wife

or your girlfriend or your boyfriend

or your parents or to anybody at all,

you're not ready.



don't be like so many writers,

don't be like so many thousands of

people who call themselves writers,

don't be dull and boring and

pretentious, don't be consumed with self-

love.

the libraries of the world have

yawned themselves to

sleep

over your kind.

don't add to that.

don't do it.

unless it comes out of

your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would

drive you to madness or

suicide or murder,

don't do it.

unless the sun inside you is

burning your gut,

don't do it.



when it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by

itself and it will keep on doing it

until you die or it dies in you.



there is no other way.



and there never was.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

excellent, as usual, mr. warner. i hope everything sorts itself out in good time.

few things irritate me more than commenting on comments, but i do have to say, in regards to a previous post,

lucky barista.

;o)

be well.

Anonymous said...

jinzang: reads like the lyrics of a western song gone zennish
anonymous/bukowski: thanks!
Jared: you can be my barristo anytime: tips of chocolate kisses await.

Anonymous said...

Leaving the protection of monasteries behind, lay priests encounter all the petty and the mundane we poor slobovians do.
It reminds me of the worker-priests (Catholic) in Spain--if memory serves me correctly--they live in the desert for 5 - 7 years in solitude and then take jobs in cities and live among the poor. (I'm relying on Mysterion to have all the background info and links)
I believe this is the true direction of the deeply religious: to be indistinguishable from anyone in everyday life.

Anonymous said...

hear that anonymous.. don't be dull and boring and pretentious, don't be consumed with self-love. get a clue.

Anonymous said...

great Bukowski quote.

i wonder, though, if it doesn't
also apply to zazen...

"so you want to sit zazen?
by Charles Bukowski ..."

=========================

i ask because my zazen is
just forced plodding along,
no inspiration whatsoever.
why do i bother?

Anonymous said...

What? You mean the purpose of zazen
isn't to meet suicide girls? Damn,
another case of bait-and-switch!

Brody said...

Hey Brad,
I've been trying to write you a message, but upon reading over every question I could pose, I've found that I could easily answer them myself. So, instead of asking you some questions, I thought it'd just be more useful for me to thank you.
I've been reading your books and though I'm certain I could have found the same ideas in a different book, yours applied to me. So...thank you.
In response to your blog, I'd say that you should never feel guilty for splashing water in someone's face so they can wake up, even if it does cost 1$ per cup. Of course, you can't blame people for getting suspicious when money's involved.

Oh, I've thought of a good question for you, though it is covered in new-age goo, it is somewhat important.
What are your thoughts on Reiki?

Anonymous said...

Question:
What is being before blogging? Boundless Blogging?

The Bukowski quote is the most overlooked and important post here. Read it . Again.

There's too much Buddha talk here. Pontificating does wonders for the ego.

Gerry Gomez said...

Bukowski, with a few words, could say more about Zen (not even knowing it, I think)than all the comments, ego and links provided on this blog. In a "poem for nobody" he wrote:

the only solace left to us is to hide
alone in the middle of night in some deserted
place.

with each morning less than zero,
humanity is a hammer to the brain,
our lives a bouquet of blood, you can watch
this fool still with his harmonica
playing elegiac tunes while
slouching toward Nirvana
without
expectation or
grace.

Anonymous said...

I agree Gerry.

No Help for that

There is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

a space

and even during the
best moments
and
the greatest
times

we will know it

we will know it
more that
ever

There is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

and

we will wait
and
wait

in that space.

Charles Bukowski

Dan said...

"What are your thoughts on Reiki?"

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

Arrgghhh! Must resist! Nggnnhhhh.

Dan said...

There is no santa clause,(sadly) there is no invisible flying spaghetti monster, you can't read minds or fly or predict the future, pixies don't exist, your mum hates you and reiki is bullshit.

Dam dam dam.

Dan said...

'your mum hates you' was a joke by the way. I'm sure she doesn't.

dan said...

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” - Buk

Master Bukowski said...

sometimes
you have to take
a step or
two
back,
re-
treat


take
a month
off

don't
do anything
don't
want to
do anything

peace is
paramount
pace is
paramount

whatever
you want
you aren't going to
get
it by
trying too
hard.

Take
ten years
off

you'll
be
stronger

take
twenty years
off

you'll
be much
stronger.

there's nothing to
win
anyhow

and
remember
the second best thing in
the world
is
a good nights
sleep

and
the best:
a gentle
death

esmerelda_verde said...

Damn, just when I get bored and think I will stop reading the comments, people on this blog start quoting Bukowski. The universe really does give you what you need. Thanks Brad, the price of a few books isn't much for pushing someone's life in the right direction. So what if the path was always there.

Bukowski would have probably read Alan Watts. 'Pulp' by the way is a really good novel and funny too. I think I will go re-read it now. Thanks guys for reminding me!

dan said...

" “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” - Buk "

Ok that wasn't me (dan) that was some chief pretending to be me. just to be clear.

Anonymous said...

Good quote anyway Dan's!!! Thank you both.

Jinzang said...

reiki is bullshit

I found this summary of the clinical trials with a little bit of Googling. The punch line:

"The studies above show mixed results and when taken together constitute weak evidence in favor of Reiki"

Anonymous said...

"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9 I'll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities."

Bukowski

Dan said...

"The studies above show mixed results and when taken together constitute weak evidence in favor of Reiki"

so jinzang, given your past history of believing in woo woo, just to be clear, are you saying that this means the evidence is weak that it's real or that there is some evidence in favour of it but it's just a little bit of evidence (as in it's weak). if you see what i mean.

Cos I read it the first way, as in 'it's bullshit'.

There's also the small matter that if reiki was real it would very easy for someone to have come along by now and won James Randi (booo! hisss!)'s million dollar challenge since reiki is elligible for the prize.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Master Bukowski said...

“If you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose”

Bukowski

Dan said...

"There is no evidence that clinical Reiki's effects are due to anything other than suggestion, or that they are superior to massage or any other healing ritual. Reiki's metaphysical beliefs may be in conflict with an individual patient's religious beliefs. Full disclosure of the belief system should precede its use in any setting. An investigation of proponent literature casts serious doubt as to whether Reiki practitioners can be trusted with such full disclosure. Reiki literature presents misinformation as fact, and instructs practitioners on how to skirt the law in order to protect themselves from regulation and accountability."

source





oh yeah, and reiki's also been debunked by a 9 year old

I Reiki Ruv You said...

i had to do two solid hours of reiki to purify myself after reading these comments. Feel the reekey-prannah.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, you talk such bollocks

Jinzang said...

There is no evidence ...

Your link is bad (404 error.) When I search the NCAHF site, the article I presume you are trying linking to is a review article by Dr. Jarvis (hardly an unbiased judge) and not a clinical trial.

You know, the NCAHF doesn't think much of meditation either.

debunked by a 9 year old

This is not a test of the therapeutic value of reiki.

dan2 said...

"Ok that wasn't me (dan) that was some chief pretending to be me. just to be clear."

hi dan, i wasn't pretending to be you. i am you. At least my name is.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pdk said...

"Mysterion, you talk such bollocks"

anon, you really hit the nail on the head.

the Lone Ranger said...

How Is Your Heart? by Charles Bukowski

during my worst times
on the park benches
in the jails
or living with
whores
I always had this certain
contentment-
I wouldn't call it
happiness-
it was more of an inner
balance
that settled for
whatever was occuring
and it helped in the
factories
and when relationships
went wrong
with the
girls.
it helped
through the
wars and the
hangovers
the backalley fights
the
hospitals.
to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade-
this was the craziest kind of
contentment

and to walk across the floor
to an old dresser with a
cracked mirror-
see myself, ugly,
grinning at it all.
what matters most is
how well you
walk through the
fire.

dog balls said...

Anonymous pdk said...

"Mysterion, you talk such bollocks"

but he has the balls to do it without hiding behind anonymous postings

PA said...

That's a cracking song. Very catchy and cool :-)

PA said...

That's a cracking song. Very catchy and cool :-)

Anonymous said...

anonymous said..

"but he has the balls to do it without hiding behind anonymous postings"

heh

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gniz said...

Bluebird
By Charles Bukowski

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
you.
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he's
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do
you?

gniz said...

I apologize for breaking up the Bukowski-fest with this, but i always loved this guy's poetry...


My Own Heart Let Me More Have Pity On

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.

I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst's all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size

At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile's
not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather - as skies
Betweenpie mountains - lights a lovely mile.

daiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Lone Ranger said...

More Poetry!!! Thanks all for the Bukowski, Gerard Manley Hopkins ,charles simic. Thank you. Thank you.
In poetry I find questions to my answers.

Gerry Gomez said...

Near the end Bukowski started meditating (I think that is mentioned at the end the the documentary "Born Into This")

Anonymous said...

I read an interview with Bukowski's wife Linda and she said he was meditating twice a day to his death. Even in the hospital. It's interesting how he embraced meditation right at the end.

I'll have to say the posts today of poetry have been very inspiring. Thank you.

Jinzang said...

Allegory

She's a beautiful woman with opulent shoulders
Who lets her long hair trail in her goblet of wine.
The claws of love, the poisons of brothels,
All slips and all is blunted on her granite skin.
She laughs at Death and snaps her fingers at Debauch.
The hands of those monsters, ever cutting and scraping,
Have respected nonetheless the pristine majesty
Of her firm, straight body at its destructive games.
She walks like a goddess, rests like a sultana;
She has a Mohammedan's faith in pleasure
And to her open arms which are filled by her breasts,
She lures all mortals with her eyes.
She believes, she knows, this virgin, sterile
And yet essential to the march of the world,
That a beautiful body is a sublime gift
That wrings a pardon for any foul crime.
She is unaware of Hell and Purgatory
And when the time comes for her to enter
The black Night, she will look into the face of Death
As a new-born child, — without hatred or remorse.

-- Baudelaire, translated by William Aggeler

from the wonderful Fleurs Du Mal site.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jinszang! Cheers and Gassho.

Anonymous said...

mysterion , Where's your poetry input? Come on.
Give us a Haiku or a dirty limerick .

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

I found a Limerick from Limerick:

I WILL STRIVE TO LIVE
WITH LOVE AND CARE
UPON THE LEVEL
& BY THE SQUARE

1507

SOURCE

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mysterion! What does it say?

Here's mine

Hell is not punishment,
it's training.
Shunryu Suzuki

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
Henry David Thoreau

Anonymous said...

I really like that last one Mysterion.
I really like all the poetry here.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymouse said...

having wet dreams about your next book brad. please hurry...cant wait too much longer....

anonymouse

Dan1 said...

"hi dan, i wasn't pretending to be you. i am you. At least my name is."

Ah, ok then well I guess i'll be dan1 then!


I notice that you jinzang have stayed curiously silent about the unclaimed 1 million dollars. The 9 year old's test wasn't supposed to test the therapeutic value (which can all be explained by placebo essentially) it was designed to test the claim that reiki fairies have magical powers that allow them to feel and transmit and manipulate 'energy'.

But I can't be bothered this time. A woo like you will believe in magic regardless of how many times someone like me points out the invisible wires so to speak so have fun in your fantasies jinzang. Maybe one day you will apply some critical thinking to your beliefs. Somehow I doubt it though.

Jinzang said...

I notice that you jinzang have stayed curiously silent about the unclaimed 1 million dollars.

The million dollar offer is a fraud.

A woo like you will believe in magic regardless of how many times someone like me points out the invisible wires.

I did a five minute search on the web, found a short summary of the research, and linked to it. You apparently made no search outside of the usual skeptic sites. So who is close minded?

If anyone is interested in Reiki, try it and see for yourself. Your personal experience is worth more than a dozen tired arguments.

Jinzang said...

having wet dreams about your next book brad. please hurry...cant wait too much longer....

Brad, before you shake someone's hand at a book signing, check it carefully.

gniz said...

" Jinzang said...
The million dollar offer is a fraud."

I read that page and dont find it to be conclusive that the million dollar challenge is a fraud.

Its one version of the story, and compelling though it might be, i wouldnt write off the challenge based on a one-sided account of things.

Perhaps you know more than I, however.

Aaron

Dan said...

i am doing the following for the benefit of fence sitters like gniz. Jinzang already has his head buried in the sands of woo so convincing him is useless.

it is libel to claim the million dolalr challenge is a fraud.
it is very simple to win it.
make a claim.
state how you will prove said claim.
prove said claim.

woo's have to tell themselves that it's a fraud because otherwise they cant explain why all the psychics, homeopaths, reiki healers, dowsers etc who are brave enough to take the challenge, all fail miserably.

publicly claiming that the money doesn't exist/ the tests are rigged (how could they be when the claimant is the one who must devise the test?) etc is comitting libel.

also, the article that jinzang linked to (from a website that advocates telekinesis!)is discussed on randi's site. It got ripped. Obviously.

psipog are a bunch of juvenile morons who think they have magical powers


the other thing is that jinzang did 5 mins of googling as he put it and the best he could find was a report that actually dismissed reiki as well. the report he orginally cited does not say that reiki works.

this is from the summary he linked to originally:

"The studies reviewed above do not constitute anything near this standard benchmark criterion for proof. At best, they formulate a theory that Reiki might be useful in stress reduction, temporary relief of pain, and mood improvement but that the level of that improvement may be no better than the caring touch of an average person."

so who's closed minded?


jinzang closed his mind to that bit i just quoted and instead chose to quote an ambigous phrase, that could possibly if you squint hard look like it argued his side.

My mind remains closed to claims that have no evidence. the second that someone provides compelling evidence that reiki/homeopathy/levitation/fairy magic is real I will believe in it.


If anyone does think that they have magic powers or that they can prove woo woo medicine like homeopathy then formulate a test that you think proves your belief and then apply for the challenge. The twisted logic of 'it's a fraud' doesn't even make sense because even if there was no million. A million would pale in comparision to the money you would make from definitively proving the efficacy of homeopathy/reiki/ fairy magic. and you'd get to make us closed minded sceptics look really stupid!

Dan said...

This is the transcript of the exchange between the idiot from psipog who jinzang referenced about the challenege being a fraud because the money is held in bonds.

I suppose people who think it's a fraud because of the money being currently held in bonds think that paper money is worthless because it's just a promisory note...

Dan said...

'The money isn't real' is in the FAQ's on randi's site. here's what it says:

3.1 I heard the prize money doesn’t really exist and that it’s all just a scam.

The short answer: The money is real.

The medium-length answer: The money is held in the form of immediately negotiable bonds held by Goldman Sachs, a highly respected investment firm. Anyone can verify that the money exists by requesting the information in writing from the JREF. They will in turn forward you the most recent account statement from Goldman Sachs.

The long answer: The JREF is a 'tax exempt' organization, so they are required by law to have a level of financial transparency. That means that the public can request things like an annual report and copies of JREF's 990 (the tax return non-profits file). Go to http://tfcny.fdncenter.org/990s/990search/esearch.php (search for Randi, 2005 is here.) to look up JREF's 990. Contained within these types of documents is enough information to verify that the organization does indeed have special assets in a reserved account to cover the prize, should it ever be won. The contract between the claimant and JREF is binding enough that the JREF must pay the prize if someone wins it. This is a published, legal obligation, not just a casual offer. We have no choice in the matter. As a savvy applicant, all you need to do is verify that the organization has the funds to cover the prize. Also, if JREF were not able to hold up its end of the bargain, the IRS would investigate and pull the JREF's tax exempt status. It would mean severe penalties for the JREF, and Randi himself would also be personally liable and subject to potential incarceration. Rest assured: The money is there.

Long answer, continued: The JREF prize fund is maintained in a way that is similar to an endowment fund. Non-profits often create reserves of assets called endowments to build up enough money to take care of the organization in the case of bad financial times, or to save up money for a project down the road, like building a new facility or starting a large new program that would require a lot of capital. Endowment funds are held in a separate Goldman Sachs account designated, "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account." This prevents the JREF from accidentally spending the prize money. It is never a good idea to just let large sums of money sit in a savings account for years and years, so most non-profits invest their endowment funds. The way they invest it is really not important. JREF invests in bonds, which is fine. If a claimant wins the prize, it must be awarded within ten days, as per the Challenge rules and the legally binding contract entered into when the application was signed.

I know you are going to ask, "What if the bonds cannot be easily liquidated?" If the JREF did not pay a winning claimant in a reasonable amount of time, we would be open to a lawsuit for breach of contract. The claimant will be paid. The JREF states that the funds are held in immediately negotiable bonds so that a claimant can feel at ease about the ability of the JREF to pay. The fact that the JREF will do so is going above and beyond the requirements of the law and the generally accepted practices of good, responsible non-profits. It is an enormous act of good faith on JREF's part. The million dollars exist. Arguments to the contrary are utterly pointless, and they will not be entertained by the JREF.

3.2 I still don’t buy it.

It's important to realize that if at this point you still doubt that the money exists, your doubt is in the entire American bond system in general and Goldman Sachs specifically, and not with the JREF. There is really no more evidence the JREF can provide you. For concerns regarding Goldman Sachs, please inquire at their Web site, http://www.gs.com/.

Should you remain unconvinced of the existence of the prize funds, you are free to choose not to apply. The JREF will under no circumstances go beyond the aforementioned measures in providing proof of the prize fund's existence. As stated clearly in the Challenge rules, "The JREF will not cater to such vanities."

3.3 If I pass the formal test and win the Challenge, how will I be paid?

The first $10,000 of the prize money will be paid by check, as stated in the Challenge rules, immediately upon successful demonstration of the claim. Arrangements will be made with Goldman Sachs to liquidate the remaining $990,000 and present it to the winner within ten days of passing the formal test.

Anonymous said...

Yawn. Snore. Yawn. Big Yawn. Snore.

gniz said...

Dan,

Thanks for the clarification--I wasn't about to go through the time it would take to look at the facts here...and I'm not really a fence sitter, since whether or not Reiki works or is placebo has very little bearing on my day to day life.
I would also sincerely question whether the type of exchange where beliefs are denigrated (regardless of how silly those beliefs may appear to you or me) is a very useful exchange.
If someone truly believes in Santa Clause, or God, or Reiki, or Pink Unicorns, that person still deserves to be treated with respect, imo.

Dan said...

unless they're 8 years old i would disagree but that's just me being a fascist i guess. :)

Dan said...

Actually I feel bad now. You're right gniz. I shouldn't get so angry about this stupid stuff. At least appear to get angry. I didn't feel angry when I wrote all that but it's all too easy to write mean things online. I will make an effort not to write mean things about people with beliefs other than mine.
You're correct that even if one is right about something, there is still no excuse to insult the person who is wrong. Attack the argument not the arguer. Got to remember that.

gniz said...

Hey Dan,

I'm very similar in style to you so I definitely get where you're coming from in these discussions.

It's frustrating when I can clearly see the "facts" and someone else simply refuses to look at them.

But from another point of view, it might be rather cruel to take away someone's beliefs (or security blanket if you will) before they are ready.

Everyone sees what they are ready to see in due time.

Sincerely,

Aaron

gniz said...

By the way, I'm not implying that Reiki is a security blanket or anything of the kind.

However, if it turns out that Reiki is useless and not helpful in any concrete or objective way, that doesnt mean it isnt still of value to some people.

Its not my job to decide whats valuable and whats not valuable to other people (thank god).

Dan said...

Fair enough.

I think my problem is that I used to be a full on woo woo without even realising there was such thing. I believed in all sorts of nonsense based on the flimsiest of evidence and from personal experience of what i 'knew' to be the truth. Reiki,homeopathy, magic(k), psychic powers, telekinesis, , you name it I believed in it. I can't really pin point a specific time but at some point a few years a go I kind of woke up and realised that so much of what I had assumed fact was bollocks. And then I kept waking up. I realised that a lot of the less extreme stuff that I still believed in was also bollocks. I'm still waking up. That's what scepticism is for me, a continual process of dropping beliefs when it becomes obvious they are false. I'm very glad it happened to me though and I guess that's why I get so over zealous. I want people to be free of the woo that plagued my thinking and indeed has plagued humanity's thinking since the beginning.

gniz said...

Dan, that makes sense. I am similar to you in many ways...
But there are, it would seem, an infinite number of ways to wake up.

And the last thing you'd want is me or anyone else throwing a bucket of cold water on you and telling you how stupid your new ideas are.

Because i'm sure you still have some woo-woo left in you, as do we all.

I dont personally think there's anything wrong with sharing opinions or disagreeing, etc. But part of waking up might include seeing all the ways in which our ideas of arguing and proving ourselves right have proven to be fruitless and harmful to ourselves and others, no?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan1 (sorry dan2 been forgetting the 1's recently) said...

The thing is I would disgagree that it does no harm. There is a definite danger of people rejecting convential, evidence based treatment when they get ill (or worse when their kids get ill), and instead opting for things like reiki because it makes them feel better or their friend told them it was good or whatever. This is especially appealing in a country like the USA where evidence based healthcare is not free.

There is a huge difference between feeling better and actually being better though and this is what proponents of things like reiki often overlook.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Dan, well said on the blinding ability of the woo. It's not easy
dropping long held beliefs.



First time i've heard Bukowski, really enjoyed the posts! keep
it up.

Mark

mysteriondan said...

dan, no need to attach the 1 to your name. you are the original dan. I will be.. "mysteriondan".

Mysterion said...

BTW, I hope there is enough awareness on the part of the typical reader to discern those few posts of mine that ooze with sarcasm.

Sarcasm is among the tool in a complete teaching kit. Like ringing a small bell, it is a 'wake up' call.

"Alice, meanwhile, was one of three women among 56 men in the Yale School of Medicine’s Class of 1945. Her memories of the time are nothing but fond. She is quick to point out that she experienced no discrimination because of her gender from either the professors or her male classmates. “The few professors who used sarcasm as a teaching tool were just as sarcastic to the men as to the women,” she says."

Anonymous said...

there is some serious ego on this comment board.

gniz said...

Hey Dan,

I sent an email to my brother--a diehard skeptic--and this is his response about the million dollar challenge.

I think its a pretty balanced response. And i think, as so-called Buddhists, the stuff at the end is the most important...
---------------------------------
I spent a lot of time reading through the stuff on that link, and there’s a lot I could comment on. I don’t know exactly what you had in mind though.

Is the challenge (and the money) legit? Basically, yes. As they claim, there are bonds sufficient to cover the $1 million prize which would be liquidated in order to pay a winner, should one emerge. There is, of course, no way of knowing whether they would actually pay if circumstances dictated that they should… but my guess is that, if someone were to meet their extremely stringent criteria, they would award the prize, and probably find a way of capitalizing on what would have to be a truly extraordinary event.

It was disappointing – but not surprising – to see how the inquiry was treated by both the members and particularly by the leadership of JREF. It bears remembering that skepticism is an ideal, a philosophy, a way of examining the world; it is not in and of itself an inoculation against hypocrisy or bias. Just as investigators who practice the scientific method can be influenced by their own biases, or practitioners of a religion can bend its precepts to their own preconceptions, skepticism is prone to attracting the kind of arrogant people who are drawn to an ideal which allows them to believe they are more rational (and thus, more “right”) than their fellows. I imagine this tendency is magnified quite a bit on an internet message board.

I would have hoped that at least Randi himself wasn’t such a… well a curmudgeon if you want to be kind; an asshole if you want to be accurate. But he is what he is, and I don’t suppose that has much to do with the price of tea in China, or the return on a bond from Goldman Sachs, for that matter. In the end, it was nothing more than a few jerks acting like, well, jerks. Maybe a bit of an eye-opener for some of their colleagues (though I suspect they weren’t surprised either) but nothing more than that.

SigmundFreud said...

Anonymous said...
there is some serious ego

The brick wall of reality is:
"Where id was, there ego shall be."

actually:
"wo Es war, soll Ich werden."

Jinzang said...

"...the level of that improvement may be no better than the caring touch of an average person."

jinzang closed his mind to that bit i just quoted and instead chose to quote an ambigous phrase


I considered the quote above and did not cite it because it was unsupported by the evidence. None of the studies mentioned compared Reiki to caring touch. They compared it to placebo and/or sham Reiki.

A million would pale in comparision to the money you would make from definitively proving the efficacy of homeopathy/reiki/ fairy magic.

Exactly how would this earn me millions? Your understanding of how the world works is slightly naive. No man ever ingratiated himself to another by showing him that he was wrong.

A woo like you ...

You don't know me at all despite our interactions on this blog and you shouldn't be making rash assumptions about what sort of person I am.

vegiebob said...

I'm headed to lunch in a Reiki-shaw.

As we approach the sandwich shop I shal say: "Woo, woo, woo."

But I am NOT having pork.

aumeye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

snore yawn snore snore

Anonymous said...

GLBT - each represented

Dan said...

"Exactly how would this earn me millions? Your understanding of how the world works is slightly naive. No man ever ingratiated himself to another by showing him that he was wrong."

If you proved once and for all that homeopathy was real, not only would you get the million dollars from mean old arrogant randi but you'd get book deals, scientific funding,tv appearances (larry king would worship the ground you walked on). you'd be famous. You would go down in history as the guy who turned our current scientific understanding of the way the world works on its head. You would make millions. If a fraud like sylvia brown can make millions being a fraud, imagine how much money someone could make if they could definitively prove that they were psychi would make. Same with homeopathy.

I called you a woo because you believe that homeopathy is more effective than a placebo, that there is some discernible difference between a sugar pill and a homeopathic pill. that belief has no basis in science and in fact contradicts many well established scientific principles. hence it is a woo belief. That would then make you a woo.

Dan said...

Also using a source from a website that believes in telekinesis as 'evidence' that the million dollar challenge is a fraud, well that doesn't exactly do you any favours in distancing yourself from woo woo.

Anonymous said...

yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
snore...............................................................................................................yawn.......................................................................................................................................................................yawanyawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................snore..........................yawn........................................................................................yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Dan said...

"None of the studies mentioned compared Reiki to caring touch. They compared it to placebo"


...... arrgghhh! It burns!It burns!

Gniz,

You're bro makes some good points but what you have to remember about randi coming off as a crotchety old man is that he is continously bombarded with nutters telling him he's a fraud/dark wizard (seriously)/ that they can make the sun rise every morning etc etc. so it is understandable that his patience wears thin and his manner becomes curt with people like sean from psipog who were obviously time wasters.

all he has done is offered a million dollars to anyone who can prove a paranormal claim. The grief and abuse he gets from doing that is never ending.

Dan said...

"yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
yawn............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
snore.............................................................."

dude, either have a cup of coffee or go to bed. You sound really tired.

Jinzang said...

If you proved once and for all that homeopathy was real

Who makes better cars, Ford or Toyota? What proof do you think it would take to get a Ford dealership to say Toyota made better cars?

mysteriondan said...

jinzang - look at their resale value. toyota makes better cars than ford. it's not even close.

Dan said...

"Who makes better cars, Ford or Toyota? What proof do you think it would take to get a Ford dealership to say Toyota made better cars?"

So, what, you're saying that that is a good analogy between homeopathy vs placebo? lol.

It's very simple jinzang. YOU (the homeopath) can devise a test that removes all traces of experimenter bias. This is simple to do. It's called double blinding.

Dan said...

And that's the beauty of the million dollar challenge. The woo's must devise their own test. And the results must be self evident. i.e. results must be such that no judgement is required. There are a million ways to do this. If you genuinely believe that homeopathy can perform better than a placebo then YOU can devise a test in which you are sure demonstrates this beyond a shadow of a doubt. If homeopathy is real it should be easy to do right? Two members of randi's team will be at the test to record it on camera but they will have NO part in performing the test or judging the results. The results must be self evident so that no judgement is required.

The million is waiting.

dan said...

Top excuses to not take the challenge.You've used two of them so far Jinzang

Jinzang said...

*I* can't win the million dollar challenge or "prove" that homeopathy works because I'm a *computer programmer* not a doctor or medical researcher. Stop being silly.

Incidentally, the term "proof" is appropriate for mathematics and logic, but not science. Science works by building consensus based on the preponderance of observational or experimental data and not by proof.

If you would like to review the existing trials of homeopathy, the information is out there or the web if you look for it, just as it is for Reiki. The British Homeopathy Association has put together a summary of the research that's a good starting point.

dan said...

i have looked into the 'evidence for homeopathy'. It's nonsense. Woo's always assume that the reason why people are sceptical about their claims is because they haven't 'done the research'. trust me I have done the research. The last time you tried that, you pointed me towards dana ullman! Hah!

You're excuse of not being a qualified medical scientist is interesting. i will post it on randi's site. Doubtless some bright spark will create a very simple and easy test which YOU could perform to determine the efficacy of homeopathy. Which I will of course post to you.


Also, why did you put computer programmer in quotations? Does that mean you're not really a computer programmer?

dan said...

Oops. I spelt 'your' wrong. Sorry about that for those who are sticklers for good spelling.

dan said...

Oops. I spelt 'your' wrong. Sorry about that for those who are sticklers for good spelling.

Dan said...

Regarding your proof comment, Jimbo from randi.org had this to say:


"The confusion comes from the quacks cleverly picking up the language from the intellectually honest and perverting it. It concerns the definition (usage) of the word: proof. Around here, we know what proof is, and in order to be intellectually honest, a scientist has to say that science is not involved with proof. It's true.

However, for the layman, science all but proves the existence of certain principles. Principles like F=ma, or conservation of momentum have been demonstrated so many times that you and I may as well consider them to be proven.

So when a challenge glibly says prove it, they should mean: you don't have to show a preponderance of observational or experimental data, just at least show even one convincing data point!"

Jinzang said...

Also, why did you put computer programmer in quotations? Does that mean you're not really a computer programmer?

If you increase your font size, you'll see that they're *asterisks* and not "quotes". Back in the day before rich text and html they were used to indicate emphasis. Yes, I'm a programmer, as you can see from my work web site.

dan said...

Jinzang,

Found a simple test for you. get a friend to provide you with sugar pills and homeopathic pills that look the same.

Take one without knowing which one you've taken and then, from the effects that you experience, write down which one you think it is. a placebo or a homeopathic pill. It should be easy for you to tell the difference right?
Obviously you'd have to be able to do this repeatedly with a greater than 50% success rate bu this should also be easy right? If you can do this repeatedly then you have an ability that qualifies as paranormal under randi's terms and you will be eligible for the million dollars. Your next could well be that 'you don't have time'. But who the hell doesn't have time to win a million dollars?

This simple test was first thought of in 1835.




I will quote from rolfe from randi.org about this simple test that anyone can do:




"I seem to have been going round this very same argument for years, and the actual challenge posed by le Canard Noir goes way back - the first mention of it is in the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes essay of 1842.

Quote:
In 1835 a public challenge was offered to the best-known Homeopathic physician in Paris to select any ten substances asserted to produce the most striking effects; to prepare them himself; to choose one by lot without knowing which of them he had taken, and try it upon himself or an intelligent and devoted Homeopathist, and, waiting his own time, to come forward and tell what substance had been employed. The challenge was at first accepted, but the acceptance retracted before the time of trial arrived.

Some years ago a homoeopath of my acquaintance threw at me the same challenge we've become familiar with from so many homoeopaths. Just take a few doses of a remedy (in my case it was Belladonna 30C that was mentioned) and you'll be astonished by the very marked effects you'll experience. (As an aside, I did that, and absolutely nothing unusual happened.)

I retorted to him that if the ultradilute remedies produced such striking effects then he should have no trouble with the 1835 challenge quoted above, and challenged him to try it.

I got exactly the same runaround as le Canard Noir is getting. First it would obviously be necessary to have a group of ten people at least to elicit the full remedy picture, and this made it impractical.

So, I changed the suggestion to a simple yes/no distinction. Show that you can tell the difference between Belladonna 30C and blank sugar pills, by noting whether or not you experience these "striking effects", which obviously his original challenge implied could be detected by one person. However, done this way, the test would obviously require a number of repetitions (possibly ten) to eliminate the effect of lucky guessing.

The next excuse was that such a test couldn't possibly be repeated in anything like a reasonable time scale. By now the homoeopath was implying that the remedy would make the prover "very sick", and doing that a number of times wouldn't be nice. Also, delayed effects from one dose might confuse the observing of the following dose.

At this stage I changed the format yet again, to multiply not the repetitions a single tester had to undergo, but to multiply the testers. The final format of the test required a number of homoeopaths (at least ten, but we hoped for 20), each of whom was certain they could recognise the proving effects of any ultradilute remedy of their choice. Each one would be sent either that remedy, or a bottle of blank pills. All they had to do was to say which it was.

It was Yuri Nalyssus who actually ran with this, as he is on good enough terms with a retired homoeopath to be able to ask him to referee the trial. He advertised widely for homoeopaths to take part in the trial, and to be honest we expected he'd get 20 quite easily. (In fact, no testing method was forbidden - they could try the remedy out on patients, do mass spectroscopy or NMR or particle acceleration or even get Rustum Roy to shove it through his magic spectrophotometer if they wanted, but we assumed that as the proving effects were universally declared to be so striking, that would be the preferred method.) Well, Yuri got exactly six volunteers.

Guess what. Three were right and three were wrong.

I cautioned him that it was almost inevitable that some homoeopath would start boasting that 50% of the participants could tell a remedy from a blank, and wasn't that great, but in fact he never publicised the results due to the small number of participants.

Isn't it interesting that so few homoeopaths are prepared to put their mouths where their money is, when actually challenged to a blind test of something they all maintain should be easy even for a non-expert or a sceptic to do unblinded?

I still think this is the best format for the test, to avoid both the difficulties apparently raised by detecting which of a number of remedies is being taken, and by the suggestion that a single person should perform more than one trial. Surely there are 20 homoeopaths who believe they can tell for sure between any remedy of their own choosing, and a bottle of "unmedicated" pills?

But it does seem that there are huge difficulties even here, despite the facile throwing up of the "take a remedy for yourself and you'll be instantly amazed" challenge to every sceptic who engages a homoeopath. Harald Walach was last heard of (several years ago) organising an extremely complicated multi-centre trial along very similar lines, but with all sorts of bells and whistles to try to counter even more objections thrown in the way be every homoeoapth consulted. I don't know when if ever we'll get a result on that. I suspect the final protocol will be so complicated and open to interpretation that it will settle nothing.

However, the predictable and repeatable progression from "just try a remedy, the effects will be so striking you're bound to be convinced" to "no, I can't possibly do that myself under blinded conditions" is awfully telling as regards homoeopath psychology.

Rolfe."

Jinzang said...

The test you describe is called a homeopathic proving. Here's a controlled study of a proving.

dan said...

way to avoid the challenge there. I'll say it again.

If YOU are so sure that homeopathy is not nonsense then why don't YOU try and do this?
If you can tell the difference between when you have been given a placebo or the real thing then you can win the million dollars easily.

If you don't want to do this why not?

Jinzang said...

If you have a headache and someone gives you an aspirin or a placebo, can you reliably tell which is which? No, because placebos work about a third of the time and because conventional medicines do not always work. Only with a large number of testers can one distinguish the two. You need to master the concept of statistical power.

Stop and think before you post, otherwise you will look like an ass.

dan said...

lol, if you had looked at my earlier post properly you would see that i already told you that, if you did this test on your self, you would have to be successful numerous times since it would be a fifty fifty chance that you'd identify it correctly. if you could identify the homeopathic pill over the placebo correctly numerous times with a greater success rate than chance would predict then you would have a paranormal power and are therefore eligible for the million.
So it is you who looks like an ass because you obviously didn't notice that i'd accounted for that before.

Besides, none of that answers my question.
I'll say it again:

If you are so sure that homeopathic pills are more effective than placebos then why won't you take this challenge on your self and win the million?

dan said...

I would like to invite you to join randi.org. I mentioned your study taht you linked to about provings and there are some people who would like to discuss it with you.
I know you think we are all a bunch of close minded idiots but it may be interesting for you to have have your ideas challenged and it would give you an opportunity to state your arguments in a more approriate setting. Unlike homeopathic sites. Posters who do not agree with randi's worldview are not banned for questioning sceptic's beliefs and you will find plenty of other homeopaths there. I post as dannagain at randi.org and i have linked to this argument we are having under the science, medicine technology section of the forum under the heading 'I put this in the challeneg section as well. Not sure which it is more approiate for.'

Do join us.

dan said...

apologies for my atrocious spelling and grammar in the last post.

Jinzang said...

Don't you know statistics is based on the concept of independent trials? Taking the same medicine fifty times does not meet the criterion of independence,

Think before you post.

gniz said...

Not to mention (I've worked in Clinical Trials for a pharmaceutical company)it is exceedingly difficult to create two pills which dont somehow give away their differences.

You need to be sure the taste, texture, weight, and look of each pill is exact, so that the test subject does not accidentally figure out which drug is placebo and unblind your study.

Its not something anybody can do at home so easily.

And i sincerely doubt that one successful trial on one subject would be enough to make a convincing argument, Dan.

You'd need to repeat the study amongst dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of people to prove any kind of efficacy in a statistical sense.

Proving drug efficacy is incredibly difficult, time consuming, and often subject to dispute.

Just my 2 cents.

Aaron

Jinzang said...

it is exceedingly difficult to create two pills which dont somehow give away their differences.

With a little bit of care, this is not a problem for homeopathic medicine.

Clinical trials of homeopathy have been done. There is a small group of researchers who are committed to continuing them. Boiron is willing to fund solid research proposals With a little bit of searching you can study the research that's been done already.

Continuing the research and publishing the results strikes me as a much more sensible way to proceed than pulling stunts for Randi and company.

gniz said...

Jinzang, of course it can be done--my point was that Dan calling for you to simply "do it yourself" is a bit silly. Its not easy to conduct a clinical drug trial in your home!

I looked a bit more into Homeopathy and Randi's million dollar challenge.

I dont see the two as being very compatible.

Randi wants a test which will prove incontrivertably that someone has occult or supernatural powers (such as performing levitation, mind reading etc).

Designing a test for one of those abilities, while difficult, is not nearly as difficult as proving the efficacy of a drug.

Proving that Homeopathy as a whole "works" would be nearly impossible since it consists of many different kinds of treatments--it is more of an umbrella term.

It might be possible to test for one of the "drug substances" that falls under the Homeopathic domain.

That would be a very time consuming and expensive process and not at all conducive to the kind of evidence that would win Randi's challenge.

And anyway, Dan, would it really surprise you so much to learn that some bizarre root or mineral was able to treat some obscure disease?

I'm not an advocator of Homeopathy and it wouldnt surprise me one bit if most or all of it was nonsense, but that doesnt change the basic premise.

Berating Jinzang to take Randi's challenge is rather unnecessary and unrealistic.


Aaron

Jinzang said...

The difficulty is that homeopathy is based on a principle: "like cures like." You can test that a particular treatment works, but I can't see how to test the underlying principle directly. Everyone gets hung up on infinitesmal doses, and I understand why, but that's not the core of homeopathy. Homeopathy has been and is done with low potencies (3X) and with tinctures and that doesn't make the treatment less homeopathic.

dan said...

you guys are missing the point. it really is very simple. If jinzang can tell the difference between a placebo and a homeopathic pill he is eligible for the million dollar prize since randi would classify this as a paranormal abaility.

I'm not asking jinzang to conduct some ridiculously complicated long drawn out scientific trial to 'prove' the efficacy of homeopathy in the clinical sense. all i'm saying is that randi himself has stated on numerous occasions that if someone can repeatedly tell the difference (to a level greater than chance) between a placebo and a homeopathic pill they will win the million.

Based on the previous applicants who have tried similar things. I would guess that if you could do it 10-20 times in a row then you would win the prize.



this is how i imagine the test would go:

jinzang sits in a room. he is handed a pill which neither the person giving it to him nor jinzang knows whether it is a placebo or a homeopathic pill. this would be easy to do. have a jar of placebo's and a jar of homeopathic pills have a third person label each one as such and then cover up the label.
the second person who does not know which jar is which then gives jinzang a pill from one of the jars and the second person makes a note of which jar the pill came from.

jinzang eats pill and waits for the effects. after he thinks the effects have 'peaked' or whatever he then says either 'placebo' or 'homeopathic pill'.

this is recorded.

this is then repeated (not neccessarily in the same sitting, it could be over a period of weeks or what ever).

at the end of the ten or so times that jinzang does this the labels are taken off and the notes are compared

if jinzang can correctly identify when he has been given a homeopathic pill at a rate greater than chance would predict then he will win the prize.

i really dont see why that is difficult or complicated to do for a million dollars. if i believed in homeopathy and someone said 'do the test i just described test and if you pass you'll get a million i'd jump at it.

so my question remains...

dan said...

imagine doing this with painkillers.

if someone told you they were sure painkillers were no more effective than placebos and offered you the m,illion to do the test i just described then (if you were sure that painkillers were more effective than pain killers) of course you'd take that test and easily win the million.

so why is it any different for someon who believes homeopathy is more effective than placebos?

dan said...

(sorry i meant 'if you were sure painkillers were more effective than placebos

Jinzang said...

Dan, give a rest. I don't care about Randi and his fucking million dollars.

Dan said...

sure, because who would want to win a million dollars?

hmmm.

dan said...

incidentally you've just used another of the top ten canards listed as the most common bullshit excuses from woo's as to why they won't take the test.

Dan said...

The Top Ten Questions Homeopaths can't answer:


1. Why do the effects of homeopathy, which are quite considerable when described anecdotally, dissapear when testing is performed under controlled conditions ?

2. What evidence do you have to support your assertion that "like cures like" is a natural law?

3. Exactly how does the solvent's "memory" of the active ingredient become selective, to somehow erase the intimate contact it has had with possibly millions of other compounds in its history and since the dilution process is supposed to dilute out the undesirable parts of the remedy's effects, and potentise the desirable parts, how does the remedy know which is which?

4. How is information stored in water? It's no good just saying that unexpected processes occur in solvents they must store energy and information in a completely faithful and stable manner?

5. How does the memory of water apply when the final remedy is dried onto a lactose pill?

6. How come you can prescribe for animals when you don't "prove" the remedies on animals?

7. Provings are demonstrably nonsense. In the vast majority no attention at all is paid to using controls. So it is vanishingly unlikely that many remedies in use today have the effects claimed for them in provings even if there was some validity behind the principles of homeopathy so that some remedies might truly work. So how come homeopaths using all the dodgy remedies claim success in using them? Doesn't the existence of this mass of defective remedies (even if we cannot identify them from a notional set of valid remedies) completely undermine the homeopaths' claims to make valid inferences from their much-vaunted 'clinical evidence'?

8. What can homeopathy not cure? How do these diseases differ absolutely from all the things they say it can cure. Can it cure genetic diseases?

9. What are the limits of homeopaths' credulity? Are there any alt med therapies they do not believe in? If there are really wild and weird things they do not believe in then please can they explain the rationale for making that distinction?

10. The Randi Challenge Special Question:

Is there any way to tell if a preparation is different from plain water or other solvent? Please do so and earn $1M (and no this is not a single dollar diluted homeopathically

Anonymous said...

"Anjalina" isn't what I expected from Dimentia 13. I was expecting psychadelia with impenetrable lyrics. The song sounds a little like late 80s REM, which is good because I like that stuff. With the right vocalist (sorry Brad) it would be even better.

Mark

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.