caro thinks

date 2000-12-28:18:05
fallacies See "Reading".
wildlife I visited the Perky-Pet website ( to look for hummingbird nectar for my feeder. Many hummingbirds overwinter here, and they expect their flower diet to be liberally supplemented by their human servants. But a combination of rigidity, stupidity, corporate mentality, and ignorant marketing executives see to it that hummer food disappears from the shelves of Southern California stores when the hummer "season" ends, which is August--in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile I've got angry birds buzzing me in the garden and sliding irate suggestions under my door. I looked desperately at the last pack of food in the box, and found the url, much to my relief. The hummingbirds barely disguised their contempt as they watched me log on.

The Perky Pet site is a mystical experience, and not simply because of the navigation. For reasons I cannot comprehend, they aren't allowed to give prices for anything, and they aren't allowed to list whole feeders. They can list all the _parts_ for the feeders, though; you might think that you can just build a feeder from the parts, but it isn't clear whether you're ordering one ant mote or 50. Regarding nectar, it is not clear whether one is ordering a one pound box of mix, or a case of one pound boxes.

I filled in the form with information about a small feeder, but without a credit card number, to see if I would get a total upon submitting the form. Instead, I got a message saying the order would be sent to me shortly. At this point I was picturing myself using a case of feeders as gifts to landscape consultation clients, but I wasn't sure I wanted to buy $200 worth of feeders and pay for it COD. So I sent email to tell them to cancel the order and let me start over with a credit card number once they sent me some more information on a single feeder and some food.

A single, complete feeder arrived in the mail today, with a bill--no COD charge, though, and no food. A strange company.
Maybe they just need a web programmer who loves hummingbirds.

The hummingbirds continue to grow increasingly disgruntled.

Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions, by Peter Lambrou and George Pratt.

(Note: This is the full text of a letter I just sent to a small mailing list owned by Branden). The Dear who sent me the book is Tom Radcliffe.

I've just finished the first reading of chapter 4, "Energy Alignment:
Correcting Polarity Reversals". I've tried the exercises there a couple of
times but don't have any comments to make about that yet.

I have some highly critical (critical, not skeptical) remarks I'd like to

The introduction and chapter one are all about talking the skeptic into
having an open mind about the technique. There are lots of stories. I
don't believe them. Here's why: While the traumas and neuroses are
somewhat described, they all end the same way: "And they lived happily
ever after." This fails to convince me simply because there's so little to
it. Maybe that's really true, but then that tells me that something
_other_ than these stories is what they need to be giving me. I was fairly
excited about learning about this stuff. I've gotten enthusiastic
endorsements from devotees, and I've heard from people that I respect
intellectually that they thought there might be something to it. The book
was purchased for me because I forwarded Nathaniel's note about it to a
friend who'd heard a testimonial, and because I love techniques and
methods and because I want instant emotional healing. Given that buildup,
I was rather embarrassed by the Non-Stop Hype of the intro and chapter
one. I am still trying to decide whether I should be seriously displeased
and call them up (they're in La Jolla, my fair city) and ask them wuzzup,
or whether I should start my own Best Seller Instantly!

I'm not as impressed by who they are as they might suppose. I have little
evidence that psychologists and medical practitioners are particularly
good researchers or particularly clear thinkers. It strikes me that these
two are in need of some logic classes. I'll get to that later in my
vicious rant. Hint for those who can't wait: "Studies by Larry Dossey,
M.D., have shown that prayer can be a healing agent, even prayers over
very long distances, directed to people unknown to those praying" (p. 43).
No, they haven't.


Ah, good, now on to chapter 2. I've studied Thomas Kuhn in some detail,
and I know about paradigm shifts and resistance thereto. Basic idea:
theory-ladenness of perception and understanding and research, meaning
that we very often see only that for which we are prepared. I was fairly
surprised that they wanted to stretch this out into an entire chapter,
when they know very well I'm chomping at the bit to get healed but am too
scholarly for my own good and am afraid I will miss an important bit.

Unfortunately, this chapter is worse than hype; it is fallacious from
beginning to end. By 'fallacious' I mean 'offering what looks like
arguments, but which are actually sets of statements irrelevant to the
conclusion'. The conclusion is "Tapping isn't all that kooky." The alleged
argument is "Look at all the things that people thought were kooky and
turned out not to be!"

Ok, I looked at those. How about god? That turned out to be kooky. What
about water sprites? Psychic prediction? Horror-scopes? Santa Claus,
leprachauns, spontaneous generation of rats from old newspaper? The Loch
Ness Monster, ether, the homonculous. I guess I can stop now.

What they're trying to do here is argue that their technique isn't bogus.
The reason that they're giving is *that people are saying that it is

Let me write that in standard form:

Some ideas that people at first thought were bogus, turned out to be

People think our idea is bogus.
Therefore, our idea will turn out to be right.

Of course, they're not coming out and saying the conclusion. They are
offering an elliptical argument, and enthymeme, which leaves the drawing
of the conclusion to the audience. Because the audience has to exert the
mental effort of drawing the conclusion on its own, it is more powerful.

But it's still wrong.

I am definitely now becoming seriously displeased. It would be one thing
if the authors bored me by citing lists of statistics or giving me
extended lessons in psychology; at least I could say, It's boring but it's
true. Instead, they are hyping for all they're worth, wasting my precious
time with FALSE things. At this point, it does not bode well for the
theory, that they refuse to offer an argument, some data, some stats,
some history, ANYTHING to actually support their theory. It makes me worry
that they don't believe it either, or they believe it for very, very bad
reasons. And all this build-up? Placebo, for one; and suspension of
thought, for another.

I'm not entirely opposed to placeboes, as some people seem to be. If my
mind is powerful enough to cure my broken leg just by sheer force of
belief, I am all for it. Talk me into it. But I was under the impression
that there is more to this particular technique, and I'd prefer to get
that first. I have therefore been skimming each example of how similar
their current plight in the scientific arena is to Columbus, Reichenbach,
Wright, etc. I am interested enough in having this technique work for me,
that I'd be willing to go through the hype again on the off chance that
therein lies instant emotional healing.

But I seriously suspect that the point of the hype and the fallacies is to
lull me into a non-critical state of mind. Maybe they really do know
something, but they think I'm too stupid or too repressed to hear the
message unless I suspend critical thought first and just accept the theory
on the basis of arguments that have mass appeal. Or maybe they realize
that they got nuthin but they'd like to have lots of clients and sell lots
of books--and if it helps the more gullible people via placebo effect,
that's really good marketing too.

It is not my natural inclination to be stubbornly skeptical. I like to try
all kinds of new things, a la Pollyanna, who tries to find something to be
glad about in everything. I am working tremendously hard to find something
to be glad about in these first three sections, and I did actually find
something, but it ain't the meridian tapping. Rather, I am slowly and
somewhat painfully coming to the realization that I will soon be a
millionaire--and I haven't even tapped on anything yet! This is how it's
done. This is how the psychics do it, this is how L. Ron Hubbard did it.
Is this what I must do? Is there some way to make this OK? Or do I just
get the money and worry about my integrity later?


Here I am at chapter 3. So far, they haven't actually said anything;
it's all been overature and courtship dances. I'm politely overlooking the
clumsy insults to my intelligence because I really want to like this
suitor and I can overlook some pretty monstrous vices without half trying.

I'm going to reread this chapter and the next. I'd like some words
defined. What is 'energy'? What is an energy field? What is thought
energy? What is a thought field?

Questions: What does a nurse touching a patient's body have to do with
people praying for the patient at a distance? Were there controlled
studies done? What were those like? Did the patient have any beliefs about
people praying for him or her? About god and healing? Did the nurses and
candystripers chat about god's goodness and how their aunts were praying
for the sick people and most especially you?

What does the fact that thought is beyond our current ability to measure,
have to do with action at a distance?

What is thought polarity? If it is, as I currently gather, inconsistent
thoughts or resistance to certain ideas that I hold, then what has that to
do with magnetite in my pituitary gland and in those of geese?

If I've got blockages in my meridians, what has that got to do with
crossing my left wrist over my right, and my right ankle over my left, but
always opposite? The meridians can flow through one hand to the other?
What if I get my hands wrapped around for the Balanced Breathing Exercise,
but I lay my hands on my left shoulder and lay my head on my hands--is
that OK, or will I disrupt the polarity of my thoughts?

Is the language of energy meridians and thought fields really necessary,
or can we say the same thing by acknowledging that we live in our whole
bodies, that our nervous system includes brain and all nerves which are
everywhere? Could I just say "the nerve running down my left arm" instead
of "thought field"? Is the Polarity Reversal (PR) Exercise really about
polarity, or about getting past contradictory sets of beliefs to make
self-acceptance possible?

Why do I need to know all this _psychology_ to get the tapping to work?

I hope to find answers to these questions as I read.

I am trying all the exercises as I go, as is my wont. I think I might have
noticed effects from the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
exercise. I found that both times I tried it, I focused on a disturbing
incident that bothers me perennially. Usually when I think about such
things, or just brood or feel pissed off, I think about only that one
thing--that's part of the problem! I found that each time, other memories
came to me and seemed importantly related and better integrated. This is
interesting to me because what I _thought_ was supposed to happen was that
I'd just feel better about the incidents; I can't say yet whether I feel
better, but they seem to have more context and make more sense now. I'd
like to document things like this as I go along through the book because
I'm afraid I'll forget what it was like when I started, and then I'd like
to compare them with other people's experiences. I'll be publishing my
study of the book in my online journal and probably formalizing it for the
Enlightenment web site, but I thought I'd give you all a preview since
it's assigned reading for the next meeting. I probably won't be there, so
I am flinging my thought energy at you from a distance; I thought it might
help if I also flung my email at you, given how resistent you all have
been to my recent psychic communiques.



Reason Number Ten to Live in La Jolla

Santa Anna

While other kids are waiting for St. Nicolas, I'm basking in Santa Anna conditions. You can look up for yourself how it happens; I'm more interested in the symptoms.

It's drier than usual now, and I'm careful to drink extra water. The plants, too, which haven't needed much water all fall, have to be hosed down almost every day to contend with the sunshine and dry breeze and the powdery mildew spores that will land and take root if they find a dry leaf. Temperature drops rapidly in the evening--must have been all the way down to 55 at midnight when I took out the garbage last night. But after a chilly night I open my windows and doors. Warm air fills the house and the scent of dry wood and cistus waft up from the patio. My version of forced air heat. Solar power kicks in at about 1:30 as the sun sweeps by my south-west bedroom/conservatory window.

Find Enlightenment