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Last night I had an evening meeting for a CQI (continuous quality initiative) collaborative that I’m heavily involved in; so I didn’t get home until late. Unfortunately, that means I didn’t have the time to dish out the usual insolence for today. Fortunately, I do have a video lying around that made me chuckle and is relevant to skepticism and critical thinking. Even though JP Sears does appear to be a real holistic life coach of some sort promoting “healing” and a bit woo-ey, I have to admit, this video of his, at least, amused me greatly.

Hmmm. Am I getting squishy that I find a guy like this not so bad? Well, anyone who uses the word “carnivorosity” can’t be all bad?

I’ll be back tomorrow. There’s lots to choose from for topics, including a particularly target-rich blog that I simply must get around to sometime soon, the heads-up given by my good buddy Mark Crislip.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

27 replies on ““Ultraspirituality”?”

I must be slipping….it took me about 45 seconds into the video to realize it’s a clever spoof on religion.

Dr. Carley (the bane of my existence at the health department where I worked), used to end our telephone conversations with “namaste”.

Agreed, the first video is utter and complete sarcasm. It’s very well done, I would say exceptionally well done.

I would have to guess this guy is somewhere near San Francisco, California, because the ‘flowers in your hair’ meme originated there, in the Hippie subculture during the 1960s. Purple is the colour that represents the New Age movement, chiefly from Marin County, California (near San Francisco, and presently a hotbed of anti-vax nonsense).

He takes a swipe at many of the memes of New Age and its associated subcultures, and anyone who has studied them will recognise the specifics.

Right from the beginning, ‘… and I’m ultra-spiritual…” plays on the well-known item in the sociology of religion, that anyone who claims to be enlightened or equivalent is engaged in the worst sort of hubris. Think of it as the religious equivalent of the Galileo Gambit. ‘Competitive spirituality’ is a brilliant meme. The stuff about ‘abundance’ and ‘can you spare a few Dollars?’ is spot-on. The stuff about ‘energy’ is spot-on. The whole thing is right on the target like an artillery exercise, with equally devastating results.

Lilady, it’s not a spoof on religion as a whole, but it’s very specifically a spoof on the New Age subculture, primarily in California USA.

What to do if someone rings off with ‘Namaste:’ Quickly reply with ‘Gesundheit.’ Do that a few times in a row and they might stop.

A non-medical website I visit regularly had a guest blogger yesterday who started out with a paean to Native Americans (did you know they never got sick because they walked around barefoot and the Great Earth Spirit sucks bad electrons out through the soles of our feet and feeds good electrons back in…or something) and then proceeded to flail around about Roundup and GMOs for another eight paragraphs. Roundup changes the DNA in tomatoes, I guess.

Anyway, it made me think of Orac.

Shay @4 — I suppose whatever kept the Native Americans so healthy just didn’t work in the face of smallpox and measles.

But of course we now know that measles is just a harmless childhood disease. It did wonders for Melanie! /sarcasm, dripping irony, and snark.

I can tell that JP is truly spiritual because of his lovely hair: having the right hair is essential when communicating about your inner
esotericism- despite what the Dalai Lama might tell you.
In fact, whenever I’m in Marin County I find that the warm welcome I receive by those so entranced by this perspective is most likely based solely upon my totally appropriate hair- which -btw- is actually better than Toni Bark’s ( see website) – they have no idea about my SB values, work and history of eating poultry and salmon. Yes, I have routinely benefitted from the deaths of our scaly and / or feathered brothers and sisters.

And I imagine that there is a very important reason for the slow, calm and carefully articulated speech but I’ll leave that to readers to figure out.

I once had a psych professor I’m not at all sure would have seen these as satire. Spent half the semester trying to get us to be self-actualized vegetarians, rather than teaching us about adolescent psychology. Never mind that some of us were over 30, and 2 were grandparents!

@ demodocus:

That’s horrendous! It’s terribly important to study adolescent psychology because so many of the people with whom you’ll interact as an adult are indeed terminal adolescents and you’ll get to learn about scads of things which they’ll never achieve or accomplish intellectually and socially.

On the webpage about Mr. Sears that Orac linked in the OP, he describes himself as being on the faculty of the C. H. E. K. Institute. That sounds rather spoofy to me. A parallel would be Graeme Base’s book on dragons: the alleged narrator has the surname Greasebeam (guess what that’s an anagram of) and the academic degree F. R. Aud.

So I’m not surprised that these videos are spoofs. I suspected as much just from Orac’s description (I haven’t seen the videos yet, because I haven’t gotten around to installing the latest Flash update on this computer).

Thank you, Orac! I’d never heard of him, but J. P. Sears is <3 <3. I looked on his site a bit. It's all pop psychology. He sells only his advice — no supplements or medical quackery. The only 'healing' he offers is attitudinal. He's no more woo-ey than any talking therapy practitioner, and a damn sight less than the Tony Robbins-types and others so blisteringly skewered in Barbara Ehrenreich's excellent book Bright Sided.

His FB page is a gold mine of one-liners and aphorisms:

• Your thoughts have attracted this video into your life today. Good job controlling the universe with your thoughts. Keep it up…
• Using your familiar thoughts as food for thought is cannibalism. Think about thinking what you’ve never thought before.
• The top 3 lessons I learned about myself in 2014:
1. I’m very needy
2. I don’t like being needy
3. I pretend I’m not needy
4. It’s ok that I’m needy
5. It’s ok that I don’t count well
• Dogmatic attachment to happiness is a very elusive form of self medication. Are you aware of the side effects?
• I wear a facade sometimes. It’s not authentic to always be authentic.
• I remember on this day two years ago, Dec 21, 2012, when the world ended. It was so traumatic that I’m still in denial about it.
• Today I’m so judgmental that I judge myself to be non-judgmental. I don’t judge the judgment I have about my lack of judgment.
• At the DMV today I discovered emotions that I didn’t know existed. One was a sensation of getting electrocuted while being torn apart by muscular horses sprinting in opposite directions. I did however feel happy when I left. Life goes full circle…
• Everything I think I think isn’t all that I think. I’m curious to know what I don’t know that I know. I think that not thinking is the way to help me remember what I’ve forgotten to remember.
• I’m all about the art of empowering you to empower yourself to live a powerful, meaningful life 🙂

That last one is his ‘About’ tag on FB. It reads like a line Merle Kessler (‘Rodney’) could have written for Dan Coffey (‘Dr. Science’). The guru proves his wisdom by deconstructing the whole idea of gurus, tongue never leaving his cheek. Brilliant.

His FB page has only 13,155 likes. The market for smart, funny, self-deprecating life coaches might be limited, alas.

He’s in Charleston, SC, though the .pdf downloads of his articles indicate he used to work in San Diego. Folks from Marin get around a bit, so he could have encountered what he calls “the bliss bunny” in SoCal.

having the right hair is essential when communicating about your inner esotericism

Of course. How can you tune into the Cosmic Wavelength when your head aerials are too short or too long?

Who cares if hair is long or short
Or sprayed or partly grayed.
We know,
That hair ain’t where it’s at

There will even come a time when
you won’t be ashamed if you are fat!

(wah wah wah wah …. )

(Zappa, “You can take your clothes off when you dance”)

Denise mentioned Toni Bark, a name I first encountered quite a few years ago when Lake Forest (IL) Hospital sponsored a super quacky seminar series that included homeopath Bark, along with a “doctor” of chiropractic and sundry other pseudoscientific practitioners. Bark, an apostate MD, impressed me most with her off-the-wall comment that the most highly diluted homeopathic “medications” (200 – 300 X) are so powerful that they should only be prescribed by professionals!

Subsequently, I attended another lecture of hers that was even nuttier and again heard her on a Chicago radio program hosted by a well-known mainstream MD who was obviously having trouble keeping from choking at her comments, especially when she claimed that chiropractic is now considered “mainstream ” – by whom I don’t know.

Oh he is too funny. The satire is subtle but stinging in this one. I did a regular yoga class at a gym several years ago with a very wonderful instructor. She is the only yoga instructor I have ever had who wasn’t all woo-ey. She really believed in yoga as exercise and with her it really was. I would be sweating after 5 minutes. Then she left and we got a new instructor and I only went to class for a few weeks. We were treated to an endless lecture on how each post was aligning our chi and cleansing our organs of toxins. For her yoga was spirituality not exercise. When she started bringing in various supplements to share their amazing power with the class I dropped out. Since then I have not found a single yoga instructor who can work on the exercise without an endless commentary on energy, universal connectedness, or various other woo. I am still sad about that.

@ #15

You have greater intestinal fortitude than I.

The first time I heard of this form of “grounding” from someone, the speaker’s mother said it sounded like he was making an argument for not wearing socks with hobnailed boots.

Wait! Sears? From SoCal? Any relation to Drs Bill and Bob?

But I digress, getting back to Dr Bark**-
she appears to be an integral link in the Great Chain of Woo:
if you survey this crap for as long as I have, you notice that certain names pop up everywhere – like malevolent but organic mushrooms- as though they were ley lines interconnecting diverse regions of the woo-sphere. Indeed, it is truly a matrix of poseurs, posing. A fabric of interwoven lies supported by a warp of liars.

She’s everywhere:
just a quick peek around and I find :
PRN, Gary Null, Fearless Parent, Green Med Info, Age of Autism and probably quite a few others but I tire quickly of this sport.

Whilst the faithful perceive themselves to be a vast population, it is more likely the same people showing up in many different locales- just like the many autism advocacy groups ( i.e anti- vaxxers) which consist of the same people in diverse places.

** ing mad

shay wrote:

A non-medical website I visit regularly had a guest blogger yesterday who started out with a paean to Native Americans (did you know they never got sick because they walked around barefoot

Did said guest blogger by any chance live somewhere warm?

shay #4, sirhcton #8

That “petticoats and pistols’ entry is just so wrong on so many levels. Not surprisingly, perhaps, for a site devoted to romantic takes on the American West, its stunningly racist (not in the sense of ‘bigoted expression’, but in the sociological sense of ‘systematic oppression of a subordinate group defined by a culturally constructed category of “race”.’).

The romantic mythos of Native Americans as signifiers of some ‘authentic, natural, enlightened, harmonious, yada yada yada’ way of life arose in the late 19th Century as a means for bourgeois WASPs to articulate their discontents with industrial society and urbanization. To the extent this mythos had anything to do with the actual history of the conquest of North America — which was not much — it offered a palliative to guilt over the slow genocide of the indigenous population via biological warfare. How the mythos mangles the realities of pre-contact native cultures is of little relevance. What matters is it’s complete disjunction from the realities of living, breathing, dying native people in the present. E.g. the myth simply cannot accomodate the complexities of poverty and despair on the Ojibwa rez in Northern MN, where the teen suicide rate is over 20%.

The paradigmatic expression of white bigotry toward Native Americans is of course, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” But this is true of the Indian romancers as well.

As I’ve noted here before, I grew up in an area where they were plenty of live Indians: Sad drunks panhandling on Hennepinn Ave. Kids just trying to be kids. Activists from AIM working for social change. Not one of these folks I ever ran into did anything but contradict the romantic stereotype.

In my travels, I’ve often visited the kind of ‘good’ book stores that cater to a well-educated, largely ‘progressive’ clientele found near college campuses or in ‘hip’ neighborhoods of larger cities. These shops usually have a shelving section devoted to ‘minority studies’ under one rubric or another. African-American studies, Latino/a studies, etc. Some stores with include gender minorities, religious minorities, and/or subcultures in the same area.) However composed, I would scam the titles in these sections, and see that almost all of the books were relevant in some way to current social issues. They were about live Blacks, live Chicanos, live LGBT kids, and so on. Then my eyes would hit the ‘Native American studies’ section. All ancient history. All mythology. All the Indians on those shelves were dead.

If you’re slinging that mythology, celebrating a new religion for privileged WASPs cherry-picked from the beliefs of the exterminated, you need martyrs to your constructed faith. They have to be dead to achieve sainthood, and besides, dead folks can’t say “er, no, that’s not how it really was”. Live Indians — as accounted by Sherman Alexie, Dennis Banks, Ward Churchill, LaDonna Harris, Wilma Mankiller, Russel Means — just make trouble with all those demands for social justice and calling you out on your BS. (See especially the depictions of Betty and Veronica in Alexie’s Reservation Blues)

The blog post on ‘grounding’ was written by one ‘Karen Kay’ So of course ‘Karen Kay’ self-proclaimed “leading voice in American Indian romance”. Her bio explains:

it wasn’t till she was fully adult that she found out via a chance remark that she herself possessed native American heritage. Her great-great grandmother was a Choctaw Indian. Shocked and surprised that it had been kept from her, she was absolutely thrilled to find she had a new family. From that point on she read everything about the native American she could get her hands on, and, about the time she fell in love with “Dances With Wolves,” the urge to write, which had already borne fruit in a handful of contemporary romance manuscripts in various stages under her bed, suddenly had a true and passionate focus.

.”I do exhaustive research,” she writes. Yup, Dunning-Kruger ahead!
My books center upon the American Indian culture as it was–a true picture… The American Indian was a gentleman, in the true sense of the word. Roaming the prairies, he did not fight or kill the white man until so betrayed and driven by the incoming culture, the Indian had no choice but to turn and defend his homeland.
Apparently the true picture looks like this.

Why do I think those books aren’t on the reading list for Winona LaDuke’s women’s reading group on the White Earth rez?

So of course ‘Karen Kay’ is going to frame her angst about GMOs, toxic plastics, and the EMF from buried electrical lines as messing up some spiritual healing thing Native Americas in centuries past tacked on to the fact they walked around barefoot anyway. Whatever issues Kay may have with the practices of corporations and governments, it would never occur to her to see how those things affect LIVING Native Americans — like oil industry usurpation of Native lands for pipelines carrying stuff that is actually, you know, toxic.

How about a romance novel about Naive environmentalists working against AGW? Or maybe instead of worrying about underground electrical cables, she might want to worry about the school on the Leech Lake rez that doesn’t have a functioning heating system.

[Science teacher Allison] Barta’s classroom is housed in a rodent-infested building with a roof that caves in under heavy snowfall, a failing heating system that has many students wearing coats and blankets in class and a sewer system that backs up during extreme cold — all adding to the discomforts of an aging, metal “pole barn” that has to be evacuated when wind gusts top 40 mph. Barta’s science room has no lab tables and few microscopes, and no storage for hazardous materials needed for basic lessons.

A lot of Indian schools don’t even have books. Too bad Karen Kay doesn’t send them some of her books, so they can learn about their culture as it really was.

Julian: Check Sears’ vids for appearances of his GF. Ginger dude seems to be doing OK.

Crap. I can’t watch it on the iPad because Steve Jobs didn’t think the great unwashed really wanted or needed it. I’m sure there’s an app to resolve this, but I’m too tired. Will check on the computer if I make it to the “office” downstairs.

Peace and Love.

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