In Monday’s post about a psychobabbler, I said I would soon post about another one. Well, here it is. And unlike Monday’s post, where the guy really wasn’t that bad, this guy is the genuine article: a card-carrying woo of the highest order. And not just that, but a Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) trainer to boot (more on that at the end). Prepare to be amazed. Marvel at the psychobabble word games he most likely uses to effect in his NLP day job – word games he clearly thought would give me what-for. Just make sure you’re not drinking any liquids as you read his emails to me – I will not be responsible for damaged keyboards due to coffee spat out while laughing.
Regular readers may remember my review of Gregg Braden’s book, “Awakening to Zero Point”. Braden’s fans don’t like my treatment of this pseudoscientific book, or my exposure of Braden’s manipulative writing, and several have emailed me over the past four years or so to tell me so. Usually they fold when asked to back up their complaints, but occasionally one goes a couple of rounds with me first. So meet Darrell Brown, who as I discovered, “travelled (sic) into the mountains of Tibet with Gregg Braden” as part of an expedition called "In search of Original Wisdom". Well, talk about being “invested” in being right about Braden… I thought, finally - someone who actually knows Braden and goes on trips with him. Finally I have a worthy opponent. I thought. I was wrong. His complaints turned out to be nothing more than the usual New Age psychobabble. The following is our email exchange – first his email to me that started it all off:
I have only just read your appraisal of Gregg Bradens (sic) book "Awakening to Zero point". (Dec 2002) As it was 4 years ago I was wondering if you were still so (sic) misinformed as the report you wrote then?
As much of what Gregg predicted back then now seems to be proven correct by our own academic institutions it appears science is finally catching up with what most of us intuitively new (sic) then.
The world no longer needs the "sceptic's" (sic) who are holding up our evolution as a species. Especially as we are now in so much trouble. Its (sic) time for you to let go of your need to be right, and start being effective.
But I'm sure by now you know that already (sic),
your family needs you to finally show up - so do we,
Note the “need to be right” maneuver again. (I think I’ll trademark that.) As I pointed out Monday, I don’t have a need to be right; rather I use critical thinking to try to arrive at what is right – a crucial distinction. (There must have been some New Age memo detailing this “need to be right” criticism. I guess I’m not on the list.) Also note the dig about my family. Highly manipulative wording, to be sure. I don’t care though. You’ll note his email contained two claims, namely (1) my review was misinformed, and (2) Braden’s predictions have proven right. Well, I just love claims, and I expect people to be able to back them up, especially when they come from someone who goes on camping trips to Tibet with New Age gurus, so I shot this back to him:
Perhaps you could tell me what parts of my review were "misinformed"? And please show your work.
Also, perhaps you could tell me exactly which of Braden's predictions have proven correct?
Richard aka Skeptico
Pretty easy to do, you would have thought? After all, if he didn’t know the answers to those questions, why would he have made those claims in the first place? Apparently it was too much for him though. After over a week I had had no reply.
It’s at these times that I employ an old rhetorical trick – I flip my opponent’s words around and send them back to him. (You have to make a few minor changes for it to make sense.) The point is to show the other person that his words were vacuous – without any meaningful content. (You can only play this trick if the original words were empty claims; try it with factual wording backed by evidence – it doesn’t work.) So I flipped his words around and played them back at him (with grammatical errors and incorrect apostrophe use corrected):
I have just re-read your comments on my review of Gregg Braden’s book "Awakening to Zero Point". (July 29, 2006.) As this was over a week ago I was wondering if you were still as misinformed as the email you wrote then. I note you have been unable to answer either of my two simple questions relating to your claims. Clearly it’s easier to make claims than it is to back them up. Thanks for playing though.
As nothing of what Gregg predicted in his book seems to have been proven correct by our own academic institutions, and since everything I wrote is still true, it appears science confirms what most of us knew then, namely that Braden’s book is a load of pseudoscientific nonsense.
The world no longer needs credulous “new-age bozos” who are holding up our progress as a species. Especially as we are now in so much trouble. It’s time for you to let go of your need to be right, and start being effective.
But I'm sure you knew that already.
Your family needs you finally to show up – no one else cares.
Richard aka Skeptico
That obviously annoyed him. By return I received this:
What's it like to live with so much anger?
If you were to truly look deeply at the work of Gregg Braden, past all the scientific analysis, the left brain analytical details and past your own scepticism you would reach a place we call compassion.
Like most people in the world of academia Richard you continue to make the same mistake. The answers to the worlds (sic) problems will never be found on a spread sheet. It wont (sic) be until you take you (sic) thinking out of your head and steer it towards your heart that you will lose the scepticism that holds you back.
"Scepticism" is simply a label which for you has become a filter to your world. The observer will always effect what is being observed. Its (sic) the one flaw in your rush to be right. Your (sic) using an ineffective filter.
I obviously hit a nerve in you that has been festering for a while. My invitation to you Richard is to simply ask yourself. "What is the gift in his message that I am yet to recieve (sic)?
love and light
First, note the psychobabble again. There is the opening manipulative comment about my “anger”- the exact same word used by Kaz in Monday’s post. Of course, (as with Kaz’s comment), it doesn’t matter I if am angry or not (actually I was having too much fun to be angry, but that’s just me). Note also the “need to be right” maneuver again, and note the manipulative “I obviously hit a nerve”. Here’s the thing – these were his words used back against him, so if they showed anger, a need to be right, or hit a nerve, then he is describing his own emotions when he wrote his original email to me. What a dummy to fall for that.
The rest of the email consists of various different lame fallacious appeals to other ways of knowing. Darrell’s better method for understanding the world (better than science) seems to involve taking my thinking out of my head. Well, I suppose if your mind is so open your brains have fallen out, that is what you would have to do. I doubt it’s very reliable though. Note also the fallacious appeal to quantum mechanics – “the observer will always effect what is being observed”. Standard woo to invoke poorly understood (read not understood) quantum mechanics to justify any wacky idea they believe in without good reason. You’ll note though, still no answer to my questions about his two claims in his first email.
Wow – so many words; so little content.
Apparently you didn’t notice I used your own words against you – I just made a few minor changes and they applied just as well to you as to me (better actually). So if my words contained “anger”, or if you think you “hit a nerve”, you are describing your own outlook, not mine. Here’s the thing: you can only work that trick with content-free writing; you can’t do it with factual content backed by evidence (try it – it doesn’t work). You started this exchange, obviously thinking you were going to put me down with your lame psychobabble, but you failed: you could not provide one word of why Braden is right or why my review of his absurd book is wrong. How embarrassing for you.
I asked you two questions that arose from your claims. It’s a sign of intellectual honesty to answer reasonable questions that arise from your own claims, so are you intellectually honest, or dishonest? Let’s see. Your two claims were:
- The review I wrote was “misinformed”, and
- Much of what Braden predicted back then now seems to be proven correct by our own academic institutions.
So, answer my questions: what was “misinformed” in my review and which of Braden’s predictions have proven correct? And please show your work. Answer the questions please or don’t bother to respond – no more drivel.
If your answers continue to display sufficiently good examples of fallacious reasoning I will not bother to reply but will feature them instead on my blog as examples of how not to present an argument.
And this was all I received in reply:
I wish you well on your journey Richard,
love and light
That’s it? This traveling companion of the great Gregg Braden, this Neuro-linguistic Programming trainer and life coach - that’s all he’s got? Despite the snotty email he sent me that he clearly thought would put me in my place, he couldn’t think of one thing – not one sentence – that was wrong with my review of Braden’s book, nor could he think of one solitary thing Braden got right. What a lamer. Well, I think we have the proof that my opinion of Braden was right on the money. Not that we needed any more proof.
Still, I would just like to point out that Darrell’s last reply is an example of passive aggressive behavior: a "pervasive pattern of passive resistance to demands for … performance." (Hey, this psychobabble stuff is easy. And fun!)
So what’s all this about Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), you ask? Well, my search also discovered Darrell is an NLP Master Practitioner and Associate NLP Trainer. Now, I don’t know much about NLP but Bob Carroll has obviously done a bit of research on it. See this lengthy SkepDic article on Neuro-linguistic Programming:
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is one of many New Age Large Group Awareness Training [LGAT] programs. NLP is a competitor with Landmark Forum, Tony Robbins, and legions of other enterprises which, like the Sophists of ancient Greece, travel from town to town to teach their wisdom for a fee.
Aha – now I do know something of Landmark, having known several people who have been on the courses. I do know these LGAT courses can be highly manipulative, that attendees are often not allowed to question what they are being told, and that group-think is rewarded. Very cult-like.
While it is difficult to find a consistent description of NLP among those who claim to be experts at it, one metaphor keeps recurring. NLP claims to help people change by teaching them to program their brains.
Aha – this is the look “past all the scientific analysis, the left brain analytical details” drivel. Wow – people pay Darrell money to hear him spout this drivel at them.
However, do not contact this organization if you want detailed, clear information about the nature of NLP, or DHE (Design Human Engineering™ (which will teach you to hallucinate designs like Tesla did), or PE (Persuasion Engineering™) or MetaMaster Track™, or Charisma Enhancement™, or Trancing™, or whatever else Mr. Bandler and associates are selling these days. Mostly what you will find on Bandler's page is information on how to sign up for one of his training sessions. For example, you can get 6 days of training for $1,800 at the door ($1,500 prepaid). What will you be trained in or for? Bandler has been learning about "the advancement of human evolution" and he will pass this on to you. For $1,500 you could have taken his 3-day seminar on Creativity Enhancement (where you could learn why it's not creative to rely on other people's ideas, except for Bandler's).
Darrell not only practices this stuff, he is currently designing his own courses in it. I suggest anyone thinking of going on a NLP course, and especially one given by Darrell Brown, should read the above exchange and decide for yourself if you could possibly benefit from anything this lame twit has to tell you.