Thursday 30 April 2020

My 1997 knock-down, drag-out review of Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM; by Sackett DL, Richardson WS, Rosenberg W, Haynes RB

Charlton BG. Book Review: Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM by Sackett DL, Richardson WS, Rosenberg W, Haynes RB. [Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1997]. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 1997; 3: 169-172

The truth is out! EBM is not just a fancy new name for Clinical Epidemiology, nor a novel approach to continuing education, nor simply the latest excuse for managers and politicians to take-over clinical practice. Evidence-based medicine is a fundamentalist evangelical cult: there is no God but EBM: Sackett is its prophet and this little book its bible.

Evidence-based MEDICINE is an astonishing volume (not least in the title: written as Evidence-based MEDICINE - with medicine capitalized, as if this book were actually about ‘medicine’, the whole thing - or everything that mattered, anyway). Never in the history of publishing has so much irritation been concentrated into so small a package. EBM is compact in the same way that the thoughts of Chairman Mao is compact, and for the same reason - we are intended to carry it with us always and refer to it often. And, just like my teenage copy of the Little Red Book, EBM has a eazee-wype vinyl cover so that it will be durable and resistant to spillages and secretions, coffee cups and coughed-up sputum - even at the front line of clinical activity. Clearly this is a book that is not meant to be kept back at the ward office, but must be with the doctor at all times, nestling on the hip, a comforting presence.

I don’t know whether the advocates of EBM have noticed the lukewarm reception their creed has been accorded by practicing clinicians and clinical scientists, and the fact that most of their supporters (and the most zealous supporters) come from epidemiology, biostatistics, health economics and management. If they have noticed this, their response has been to assume that it was due to a misunderstanding about the nature of EBM, and that if only they explain what EBM is about (in louder and louder voices) eventually the laggards will come to share their enthusiasm.

It doesn’t seem to be happening. Critics continue to believe that the techniques of EBM are flawed, its conceptualization of medical practice radically deficient, its remedies narrow and simplistic. And the incomprehension comes, not from the ‘traditional’ clinicians but from the EBM advocates who - for all their statistical sophistication - seem to be incapable of understanding the limitations of their approach. I mean this literally. Neither in this book, nor in lectures by its advocates, nor anywhere in the literature of EBM of which I am aware, have I ever detected any glimmering of comprehension as to the fundamental and damaging force of the criticisms that have been leveled against EBM.

None of this would matter much if EBM were more modest in its claims. But the new name gives the game away. Evidence based medicine used to be called Clinical Epidmiology, which was a good name, describing the major methodological doctrine of the activity - the application of epidemiological information to clinical practice. This activity is, I would argue, more difficult and problematic than the authors suggested, but Clinical Epidemiology is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate branch of medical practice. But renaming the activity Evidence-based medicine strikes one as a rhetorical move that arrogantly (and without justification) begs all the important questions about medical practice. If picking-out the good bits from Clinical Epidemiology is disbarred, and the choice presented is the stark one of all of EBM or nothing, then EBM must be rejected.

The EBM bandwagon is getting rather beyond a joke. This book exudes a blithe spirit, everything in the garden is rosy. Yet, time and again it has been pointed-out that the techniques advocated by EBM cannot do what they claim to do. For instance, skepticism concerning meta-analysis is widespread and deep-rooted among clinicians and medical scientists. The fundamental critique of this technique is ignored completely, and instead the authors busy themselves with raising and answering more superficial problems and quibbles, often of a statistical nature, apparently in order to create the impression of rigor and to try and convince the reader that every possible objection has been answered.

This cannot go on indefinitely. Eventually the advocates of EBM will have to descend from their citadels and debate with their critics.

The book opens with a Preface that is a masterpiece of smugness and self-mythologizing. There are potted biographies of all the writers (a self-styled ‘group of rebels’), with tales of their conversion-experiences. Their credentials are listed: military bravery, unstinting dedication to patients, relentless self-education, skepticism (wonder what happened to that on the way to this volume?). And as we embark on the main text, the authors leave us with the four commandments necessary for EBM to be effective: ‘master’ clinical skills; practice continuous life-long, self-directed learning; be humble (I kid you not, they really do say this) and finally be enthusiastic, irreverent and fun-loving. And that is all you need to make EBM work - X-ray vision and bulletproof underpants are merely optional extras.

The book is dedicated to Kilgore Trout. This gives the game away - Trout is the fictional alter ego of the science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut - doyen of the sixties counter culture. So EBM - authored principally by a Professor at Oxford and McMaster Universities and one of the most famous doctors in the world - is dedicated to an invented, obscure, deluded scribe of pulp Sci Fi. This is telling. In a sense EBM is a pompous artifact into which the medical version of anti-establishment radicalism has declined during the nineteen eighties, in another sense it is the sad monument to the bad faith of those who sacrificed their idealism on the altar of worldly power and success.

Fair enough and good luck to them; but you can’t have it both ways guys. You might have been wild boys in your youth, but now you are the establishment: darlings of Health Service Management; funded to the hilt by the Department of Health; an orthodoxy enforced by contract and regulations. Whatever luster of radical chic EBM once had has been long tarnished as the spirit of reform was melted down and recast into a model of entrepreneurial self-promotion. Skeptical reflection was re-written by systematization and conversion into algorithmic and statistical routine.

This is a book of wild-eyed zeal - never have I read anything to compare with it in medicine: this makes the polemic of Ivan Illich look like a model of Mandarin impartiality. What EBM most resembles are those self-help books that you can buy in airports, telling you how to win friends, influence people, manage multinational corporations, and make a million bucks.

Of course there are good ideas and reasonable points amongst the flight of ideas - after all, the original 1985 Clinical Epidemiology volume from which EBM descended, was an innovative, fascinating and useful book. But nowadays the gloves are off, EBM is not an element of good practice, it is good practice. EBM has moved from fringe cult to world religion, with a systematic theology to rival Thomas Aquinas.

Evidence-based MEDICINE describes and advocates an interlocking system of training, canonical textbooks, commentaries, mantras, technical fetishes, icons, statistical high priests and charismatic preaching. The acolyte is to be sustained in his or her lifelong devotions by regular confession (in EBM journal clubs), a web page, a journal or two, and a local spiritual centre (Oxford - where else?). As yet, there is no requirement to bow to McMaster in the west after ward rounds - but this cannot be long in coming, and pilgrimages to the source have been on the go for many years.

The EBM cult has that hermetically sealed, circular irrefutability (within its own terms) that characterizes Marxism, psychoanalysis and postmodernism and the other ‘isms’ that have defaced Western civilization. Like the Mooney cult, or Scientology, EBM makes its appeal to the young, the uneasy, the unconfident. The first step is to arouse unease, then to offer certainty and security within the fold. The clinical mistakes of the past are paraded. A few carefully chosen examples are set forth where it is argued that if only EBM techniques such as meta-analysis had been around, and if only the wise commissars of management had been empowered to enforce the findings upon a recalcitrant profession, then certain large (and quantified) benefits would have accrued. The eye of narrow and retrospective wisdom is them swept around to a broad and uncertain future, and it is assumed that EBM techniques offer a sure and certain short-cut to knowledge across the board of practice.

The key is to be information. A defining feature of EBM is that it assumes that the answers to clinical questions lie ‘latent’ within existing data, or at worst within data from studies such a megatrials, the principles of which have been reduced to a routine, and the only barriers to which are lack of funding (and those stubborn doctors). EBM works by obtaining an overview of the whole data set, and by interrogating this data set using various epidemiological and biostatistical techniques which can be summarized in checklist form.

So that EBM is a set of techniques, not a practice. It is an arbitrary technique, in that its validity is based only upon highly selective, post hoc reasoning, swift and generalized appeals to ‘common sense’, and especially the mind-numbing effect of large data bases and complex statistical analyses which affect clinicians like the headlights of an oncoming car affect a frightened rabbit.

Yet the reality is that EBM is a vast edifice built upon foundations of sand. It is an incomplete and grossly over-simplified approach to medicine, yet is complex enough that that its partial and simplistic nature is disguised from the causal observer. Mastery of its formulae is easy enough to be attainable by anyone keen enough; but hard enough to mean that some degree of training is required, and some degree of status will accrue from this rarity value.

The basic error of EBM is quite simple. It is that epidemiological data does not provide the information necessary to treat individual patients. This error is intractable and intrinsic to the nature of the methodological nature of epidemiology, and no amount of statistical jiggery-pokery with huge amounts of data can make any difference to it. The edifice of EBM is like a huge attempt to distract out attention from this flaw. But - as the great physicist Richard Feynman said in the relation to the Challenger disaster - nature will not be fooled.

In the end the house of cards erected by EBM will come tumbling down because it cannot deliver what it promises. It offers statistical pseudo-precision, but clinicians will rapidly become aware that precision of predictions derived from mega-randomized trials, or meta-analyses, bears no necessary relationship at all to the precision of prediction of what will happen in their individual patients.

So, although the hubris of EBM is both dangerous and damaging, we can at least be confident that it will not last*. In the meantime we will have to tolerate the waste of time and resources which should be spent on more wholesome or useful things, the erection of new barriers of red tape and regulation, and the construction of a new set scientifically-bogus but rhetorically-effective tools of managerial authority. But hardest to tolerate will be watching the rise and rise of a gang of posturing tenured-radicals whose ascent of the greasy pole of status will be interrupted only by pausing to contemplate their own extraordinary irreverence, enthusiasm and (pass the sick bag Alice…) humility.

*Note: On the contrary, it did last - see my paper The Zombie Science of EBM from 12 years later.

It has never been more important to recognise that science is dead

I can talk real science as well as most people - but this does not matter on way or the other; because real science is dead - and died some decades ago.

The arguments can be found in my 2012 book Not even trying - which has the following blurb:

The argument of this book in a single paragraph

Briefly, the argument of this book is that real science is dead, and the main reason is that professional researchers are not even trying to seek the truth and speak the truth; and the reason for this is that professional ‘scientists’ no longer believe in the truth - no longer believe that there is an eternal unchanging reality beyond human wishes and organization which they have a duty to seek and proclaim to the best of their (naturally limited) abilities. Hence the vast structures of personnel and resources that constitute modern ‘science’ are not real science but instead merely a professional research bureaucracy, thus fake or pseudo-science; regulated by peer review (that is, committee opinion) rather than the search-for and service-to reality. Among the consequences are that modern publications in the research literature must be assumed to be worthless or misleading and should always be ignored. In practice, this means that nearly all ‘science’ needs to be demolished (or allowed to collapse) and real science carefully rebuilt outside the professional research structure, from the ground up, by real scientists who regard truth-seeking as an imperative and truthfulness as an iron law.

One implication is that we need to replace the word science with bureaucracy, and the word scientist with bureaucrat.

As in:

The science says = The paid-for bureaucracy says

Scientists have advised us = Our bureaucrats have advised us

Follow the science = do, unquestioningly, whatever The System dictates

And so on.

(In case you suspect irony; the above is no exaggeration but literally, pedantically accurate. )

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Bass guitar version of Lord of the Rings medley

I've known and enjoyed this performance by Zander Zon since it came-out six years ago; but it strikes me that some readers may be interested.

This is a fine arrangement of (presumably) the best movie music ever written (IMO by a large margin), and played 'musically' - with lyrical phrasing, pacing etc. Beautiful in parts, exciting in others.

At the same time, one has to notice that this playing goes strongly against the grain of the instrument! The bass guitar is essentially a rhythm instrument - indeed the primary rhythm instrument (more so than the drums and rhythm guitar) in most kinds of pop and rock.

Why use a bass guitar if you spend nearly all your time playing the highest notes; why use four strings instead of six? There is a flavour of elephants tap-dancing about the enterprise - its surprisingly well done, but why have elephants doing this kind of thing?

(Yes, I'm aware of the Sam Johnson quote...)

I could imagine that (on the one hand) the very best bass guitarists ever could not play this; while (on the other hand) someone who played this well might nonethless be a useless bass guitarist!

So, for such reasons, it is difficult to see this as (in musical terms) more than a virtuoso novelty. Yet at root; music is music, and good playing is good playing - and why seek further?

Stark contradictions between official policy and official explanations for policy - our task is to notice, acknowledge, and learn-from them

Way too much time and energy is spent exhaustively enumerating the myriad contradictions between official policies in theory and in practice.

But most of this effort is misplaced, or even counter-productive. It is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel to point out that the official reasons for doing things is contradicted by what officials actually are doing - but the point is to draw the correct inference from this.

When it comes to the birdemic it has become almost a hobby for people to point-out the many ways in which official actions contradict the professed goal of controlling the virus by increasing the rate of disease transmission.

Yet people repeatedly, persistently, systematically draw the conclusion that the reason is that officials are incompetent, stupid, crazy - maybe corrupt. People assume that officialdom is well-motivated, but messes-up the implementation.

People assume that pointing-out the contradictions in what-actually-is-happening, will lead to a coherent set of actions directed at birdemic control.

Almost never do people conclude that the reason for contradiction is because offical practice is not driven by the official theory.

Almost never do people even entertain the possibility that the outcome is intended, and the official explanation is dishonest.

Almost never do they assume that officials are wickedly-motivated, and what happens is (broadly) what They want to happen.

Yet, if we are able (at least hypothetically) to assume that the actual implemented practice is the outcome of being motivated to achieve that outcome - then, contradictions largely disappear!

Suddenly we observe that these supposed contradictions are not contradictions. They only appeared to be contradictions when we had made a wrong inference about what was motivating policy.

When the correct assumption is applied, we see a broadly-coherent set of policies, diving a broadly-coherent set of outcomes.

My point is that most people do not learn from experience. They never learn from experience - no matter how often it is repeated.

And the reason they do not learn from experience is (nearly always) because they interpret experience in light of their prior assumptions; which assumptions are seldom acknowledged, and even less often analysed or challenged.

What we see in the world now is a set of outcomes which are coherent on the basis of a motivation to achieve maximum power by means of increased population monitoring and increased regulation of specific behaviours. What we observe (from personal experience, via our own perceptions - as well as in the media) is a world rapidly moving towards omni-surveillance and micro-control.

This is very simply understandable, and non-contradictory, if we assume that power, monitoring and regulation are the primary motivation.

However, these changes are shot-full of contradictions if we assume that they are motivated by a desire to minimise deaths from the birdemic.

This isn't rocket surgery... It is about as clear and simple as anything of such a large scale ever can be.

So, can people learn from experience, or not?

Our primary spiritual task at present (as always, but more obviously now) is to learn from the experiences of mortal life. Can we see the obvious - or are we content to have the obvious explained-away by a mass of contradictory theories and policies relating to the birdemic.

God has made it easy for us! Which carries the implication that if people fail to see the obvious, and remain enmeshed in falsehoods; then they have chosen to live by lies instead of truth. And lies are sins (the devil being a liar and the father of lies).

And this choice of untruthfulness carries a 'karma' (in a Christian sense of the word) - that is, actively choosing sin entails consequences. And these consequences are not avoidable, since we have inflicted them upon our-selves - consciously, actively, freely (knowing the contradictions, but ignoring their obvious implications).

Spiritual warfare is endemic in this mortal life; but now it has reached the climax of a decisive battle; with the world transformed more rapidly, more completely, and at a larger scale than ever before in the history of Man.

Which side have you chosen?

Do you want to change your mind?

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Choice phrases selected from official birdemic guidelines of the Church of England

These are quoted from the official guidance directed at priests. I will refrain from commenting, except to add emphasis, here and there: 

In response to government legislation, the archbishops and bishops have advised all churches to close completely during the government lockdown. This is both to reduce travel and to help to model best practice in maintaining social distance. The Archbishops’ Council is aware that some elements of what the Archbishops are asking goes beyond what is required by government but considers that this shows the Church modelling the very best practice* in promoting social distancing and reinforcing the message to stay home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Can I livestream a service from within the church? No.

Should I stop access to the site, as well as to the church building itself? Ensure that vehicle access to your church is secured if possible, so that vehicles cannot easily access the building itself. If you have gates, close and lock them.

Can we do anything to keep an eye on the building? ... There will probably be members of the congregation taking their daily exercise or shopping for essentials whose route will pass by the church. They could check if all looks well from the outside, without entering the building... A pair of binoculars can be helpful in assessing the building.

Can a nursery still operate from church premises? The government has issued specific advice for early years and childcare. Early years provision can stay open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

Correcting the time of the clock, winding the clock, and raising or lowering of flags does not justify the risk of a lone person climbing the tower.

Can I collect post that is delivered to the church? Yes, but only if this is done as part of exercise or another essential trip... collecting post cannot be considered an essential activity that would justify a separate journey.

Can I access my closed church to do the cleaning? ... Cleaning cannot be considered an essential activity that would justify a separate journey. Please be aware that a building in which someone who may have the [birdemic] has been is considered ‘dirty’ (i.e. may contain infection) for 72 hours afterwards.

Should we still pay our parish share? Parishes should aim to pay as much of their parish share – ideally all – as they are able. The work of the Church continues, albeit in a different way.

Are we allowed to lead worship outdoors, if people maintain 2m distance? No. The Archbishops have given clear guidance that our church buildings are closed and there should be no public worship.

Will food banks have to close? Foodbanks and services such as GoodSAM should continue where possible under strict guidelines

The church (or a hall) is used for blood donation, can it continue? Yes. Donating blood is an essential activity, and travelling to give blood is allowed.

My summary - The Archbishops have decided, going beyond government requirements, that (ideally) churches should be closed, locked, nobody should enter the building or their grounds, and no public worship should occur. On the other hand, church buildings may still be used for non-Christian purposes. And the congregation should continue to pay their full tithe.   

* This phrase is the nearest to an explicit confession of being engaged in virtue signalling, that I've yet encountered. Some more Church-birdemic themed posts can be found by following links from here

The high prevalence of confusion in a world of plans readily understandable; since the assumption of reigning materialism (denail of God/ Creation/ The Spiritual) is that there is no purpose to anything.

Mainstream Modern = The universe of stuff has no purpose - it just happened; and there can be no meaning without purpose. (Because meaning is the relationship between a specific thing and the direction-of-things.)

Life loses its livingness - and this is the experience of most people in the developed world.

Instead of purpose; modern Man has plans.

Plans are a kind of mortal hell; yet we depend on plans to manufacture the pseudo-purpose - hence meaning - of our lives.

Plans locate our existence in the world of plans - you and I need to plan, because everybody else is planning. Yet, this world of plans we know, from our participation, has no root, is arbitrary.

Plans are our World, and our world is arbitrary: our 'meaning' can, therefore, be referenced only to plans.

Ask a question of what some-thing is for? What is science for; art, music, education - my job, my hobby? We can't answer such questions in any satisfactory way, because when we go back and back we get to plans merely - and these (we know) are arbitrary.

All questions of meaning nowadays land-on psychology; on some assumption of the effect had on how people feel. "I do this because it makes me feel good", or "because it stops me feeling bad".

And all activities (art/ science/ education etc) land on this same justification; because there is nowehere else for them to go.

But 'how it makes me feel' is not a reason for doing something, because it is just a guess, a hope, a correlation or probability - and such relationships are hypothetical - can and do change. Actions and feelings have a loose and unreliable causal link.

So, in the end, its just more plans.

People are confused because they are not located in the world.

But knowing one's location in the world should not be about one's 'place' (static, fixed, going-nowhere); but instead be a dynamic, purposive, directional sort of knowing.

Knowing where one is aimed and why; the rhythms of living, and the development through life.    

Ideally, 'plans' would not come into this - I don't think there are many plans in Heaven.

(At least, I hope not!)

Monday 27 April 2020

Communications from God

William Wildblood posted a very important discussion today, concerning the nature of communications from God in this day and age.

William's insights on spiritual communication are of special interest as he has seen this from both sides: as a young man he had verbal messages from, and dialogue with, angelic spirits that were channeled by a friend; in later life he has had no such communications.

His conclusion includes that:

God wants us to advance into the spiritual self, the soul which exists above the strictly phenomenal level. And he knows we are now capable of this. We have developed intellectually and are ready, or some of us are, to move on to the next stage. Thus his communication to us takes place nowadays largely at the level of the soul and is not in the form of words or even visions (both sensory) but impressions which we have to first pick up on and then translate into a mental form to understand clearly. This is where our own spiritual development comes in. We have to have enough sensibility to respond to the soul and also a mind capable of interpreting it correctly. Both are important. This is not to say that God never sends us more direct experiences or communications but often we find that is at the beginning of an individual's spiritual journey. It is to get him started, to show that the spiritual world does indeed exist. But it is a mistake to demand these things continuously or to expect them as a regular favour. It will keep us trapped at a low level of spiritual understanding if we do that.

Read the whole thing.

I would add something I learned from reading William Arkle. If we agree with Arkle that this world is the creation of God who is our loving parent; then we may assume (and confirm by prayer or meditation) that this is a world that is well-designed for our benefit - for the benefit of each of us as beloved children. But this benefit relates mainly to our eternal life, beyond biological death.

So this world is primarily a place for learning. And we can 'reverse engineer' from the nature of the world and of ourselves that these are designed such that God wants us to do as much for ourselves as possible.

God can and does step-in to save a situation - when we have not been able to cope (or are immature); but the first and best way we can learn from our lives is to work things out for ourselves, by trying and failing and trying again.

And this business of making us work to communicate with God. We cannot just sit back and be instructed by God; cannot passively wait for God to show us, tell us, speak to us.

Instead God wants us to meet him halfway. To make an effort. To be active in our part of the process of communications.

That is the free-est way.

Christianity is - after all - an opt-in religion; it must be chosen freely, consciously, actively - and the usual, expected, hoped-for mode communication with God is a part of that.

How does salvation-damnation work? A choice of The Moment - described by CS Lewis

From Surprised by Joy The Moment with a choice of salvation: 

The odd thing was that before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice. In a sense. I was going up Headington Hill on the top of a bus. Without words and (I think) almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armour, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being, there and then, given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armour or keep it on. Neither choice was presented as a duty; no threat or promise was attached to either, though I knew that to open the door or to take off the corslet meant the incalculable. The choice appeared to be momentous but it was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desires or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, "I chose," yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite. On the other hand, I was aware of no motives. You could argue that I was not a free agent, but I am more inclined to think that this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done. Necessity may not be the opposite of freedom, and perhaps a man is most free when, instead of producing motives, he could only say, "I am what I do."

From That Hideous Strength - The Moment with a choice of damnation:

Still not asking what he would do, or why, Frost went to the garage. The whole place was silent and empty; the snow was thick on the ground by this. He came up with as many petrol tins as he could carry. He piled all the inflammables he could think of together in the Objective Room. Then he locked himself in by locking the outer door of the ante-room. Whatever it was that dictated his actions then compelled him to push the key into the speaking-tube which communicated with the passage. When he had pushed it as far in as his fingers could reach, he took a pencil from his pocket and pushed with that. Presently he heard the clink of the key falling on the passage floor outside. That tiresome illusion, his consciousness, was screaming in protest: his body, even had he wished, had no power to attend to those screams. Like the clockwork figure he had chosen to be, his stiff body, now terribly cold, walked back into the Objective Room, poured out the petrol and threw a lighted match into the pile. Not till then did his controllers allow him to suspect that death itself might not after all cure the illusion of being a soul--nay, might prove the entry into a world where that illusion raged infinite and unchecked. Escape for the soul, if not for the body, was offered him. He became able to know (and simultaneously refused the knowledge) that he had been wrong from the beginning, that souls and personal responsibility existed. He half saw: he wholly hated. The physical torture of the burning was hardly fiercer than his hatred of that. With one supreme effort he flung himself back into his illusion. In that attitude eternity overtook him as sunrise in old tales overtakes trolls and turns them into unchangeable stone.

From this blog - The Moment occuring after biological death:

Heaven is a choice, a decision, an act, an opt-in - and salvation therefore happens only through faith - that is love, trust of Jesus. To understand this requires recalling the fate of the soul after the death of the body, and before the resurrection of Jesus - the soul was a witless, demented thing of little intelligence, little memory, little judgement, no free will... incapable of helping itself... (This, at least, is how both the ancient Hebrews (with Sheol) and ancient Greeks (with Hades) regarded life after death - and other variants may be understood similarly. The soul after death was a damaged, incomplete, incapable thing - eternal life was merely eternal existence.) I regard the Good Shepherd parable as providing the key to understanding salvation - which is that while the soul is always resurrected, resurrected Man cannot find his own way to Heaven. The resurrected soul must be led to Heaven; that is, Man must choose to follow the guidance of the Good Shepherd. This following is not imposed, it is chosen. This was made newly possible by Jesus because the resurrected soul has greater capability than the discarnate souls destined for Sheol/ Hades; the resurrected soul has sufficient capability to recognise Jesus, to know him; it has the capacity and necessity to choose whether to follow the Good Shepherd, or not. Why would the resurrected soul follow the Good Shepherd to Heaven, except that the soul loved and trusted the Good Shepherd? That is the need for faith.

Note:  It might be asked why there needs to be a permanent and irreversible decision on salvation versus damnation. Why can't people change their minds?

There are a couple of aspects to this. First is that all decisions are irreversible - in the sense that they have permanent consequences. This is because Time is real, sequential, and linear. Every decision changes the sequence, changes the future; and Time cannot be rewound - because that is its nature. We know this; albeit are inclined to wish it away and that we might undo our mistakes of the past.

Second is that Heaven would not be possible unless Men were able to make a permanent positive commitment to it; a permanent commitment to Love, God, The Good and God's work of Creation. Therefore, salvation must, at some point before we go to Heaven, be irreversible.

The same need not logically apply to damnation - which is (broadly considered) the negative decision to reject Heaven; because in principle that decision might be reversed.

But in practice - as we know from the experiences of our mortal life - there is a strong tendency for choices in favour of evil to lead to further corruption, to further evil choices... and the tendency is for a choice for Good to become harder and harder, less and less likely.

This is a matter of 'psychology' rather than logic; but I think we can see from the example of Frost in That Hideous Strength how unlikely it would be that someone who has seen reality and then chosen damnation, would later reverse that decision.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Terry Boardman on the current crisis

Ever since this crisis broke, I have been awaiting with anticipation Terry Boardman's analysis: here it is - I excerpt a few of the more striking (and accessible) insights (lightly edited - italics are mine):

Again and again in his lectures on The Karma of Untruthfulness, Steiner emphasised the importance of the search for truth. He began with the question that was in everyone’s minds at that time of the First World War: “what can I do in this crisis?” – and answered simply and directly: “Endeavour to understand! See through things!”

Thoughts, he said, are forces and have effects. What people think is far more important than what they do, because thoughts become deeds in the course of time

We live today on the thoughts of past times; these thoughts are fulfilled in the deeds of today. Clear and proper understanding of what is going on is the only way – “Nothing else is of any use”

We need wide-awake vigilance and discrimination in all things. All forms of atavistic mediumism and spiritual practice that avoid the conscious mind are anti-modern and harmful. At the very beginning of his public life, in his book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1894; a.k.a. The Philosophy of Freedom), Steiner showed how it is vital to combine the correct thought with the object, to find the concept that truly corresponds to the percept. 

Nothing is better for a person, he said, than real insight into how things work in the world. The truth can never be as damaging as an untruth and to adhere to the truth is a solemn and holy act of worship. Have courage for truth, he urged; stand on the foundation of truth, even if it is harmful or embarrassing. 

It is essential “to develop the will to see things, to see how human beings are manipulated, to see where there might be impulses by which people are manipulated. This is the same as striving for the sense for truth. ….

This Consciousness Soul epoch (1413-3573), which according to Steiner lasts 2160 years, will continue until the middle of the 4th millennium. A crucial aspect of this epoch is for individuals to become conscious of themselves as spiritual beings and of their relationship to the worlds of spirit, nature and other human beings. This is something that only individuals can do in freedom; it cannot be done en masse, as a group... 

In this epoch the main challenge is for individuals to penetrate their mental life so that they can become the conscious masters of their thinking. The Consciousness Soul Age will be followed by the Age of the Spirit-Self, the first period in which the spirit of man will be developed, as distinct from the soul. The focus in that epoch will not be so much on individuals and thinking but on the development of new communities and a higher, more refined life of feeling...

The current coronavirus crisis in this 21st century since the time of Christ is taking place within this struggle for the corona (crown) of world power between China and America... 

From the early 1970s until today we have seen countless examples of this animalisation. In their paranoid overreaction to the coronavirus, governments have sought to reduce whole nations to sheep, locked up in domestic ‘pens’, unable to move freely until their ‘shepherds’ allow, and whole nations have meekly complied. 

Public social and cultural life has all but been sheared off and we wait dumbly for we know not what. Perhaps a vaccine that, like sheep, we shall all be required to take for purposes of “health and safety”, our vaccination records accessible on an implanted ID chip in our bodies, just as farm animals already have...

Meanwhile, as we are not in fact sheep but human beings, we can at least use this current imposed detention in our ‘pens’ to study, research, think and meditate, and try to understand what is going on, even though much of that research and study may have to be in the ahrimanic realm of the Internet (the inspiration for which, like almost all modern technology, came from that realm). 

We can take courage from the knowledge, a result of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research, that in this Age of the Consciousness Soul, in this 21st century of the Christian Era, and in this Michaelic Age, since the 1930s17 the Christ Being, the Divine Logos, has been visible to those who can perceive Him in the etheric mantle of the Earth, which is the realm of the angels. 

There He is borne by an angel, as in Palestine He was borne for just three years by a human being. Since the Ascension he has united Himself with the Earth. This can become a great source of strength and comfort to people in times such as ours.

(Note: this essay is difficult, esoteric in a way different from my own frame of understanding - nonetheless, I regard it as full of deep insights.) 

The time of discernment and choice

We have had (it continues, but may end at any moment) a time of choice - a time in which some hundreds of millions of Western people have been withdrawn from their usual life of doing, and compelled into a life where the opportunities for contemplation are unprecedented.

Some (and this was substantially self-chosen) have had a situation in which marriage and/or family was reasserted.

Here, we have been helped by unremitting dry and sunny weather in the spring (when the usual is plenty of rain).  A glorious spring.

But this is an hiatus (whether planned, accidental or of divine contriving). We have been given a chance, of several weeks, such as has never been given before - and which (in the nature of mortal life) cannot be sustained.

Did we make the best of the chance to appreciate beauty, quietness, a broad margin to life? Time to read good books, listen to good music, do arts and crafts, pray and meditate (whatever we think highest, whatever we personally most need - spiritually)...

Vitally: time really to examine and think-through our lives, experiences, motivations; at the deepest level possible.

Or did we redouble our immersion in the mind-absenting distractions of the mass and social media; did we allow fear to spiral: focus more-and-more exclusively on health-and-safety, risk reduction, skin-saving? 

Did we realise that this mortal life is our own responsibility? Or did we clamour for our life (our thinking!) to be even-more controlled-for-us? 

This has been a challenge for discernment - can we discern what is the result of evil, and what is the product of good? (Do we even acknowledge the reality of good and evil powers contending in this world?)

Having discerned; can we then embrace that which is good; recognising, repenting and rejecting that which is of evil motivation?

The crux of these times has been (could still be) what each person makes of the gifted chance; before this phase ends, the next stage emerges, and other events supervene.

Saturday 25 April 2020

On missing the core (spiritual) point about the birdemic

I have myself often missed the point of the current crisis; in the sense that I overemphasised that the epidemic is a fake - an excuse for totalitarian coup.

Whereas the key point is that even if this were a real plague (e.g. if it 100 times more common and deadly than influenza); a spiritually healthy society would not have responded as ours has.

And spiritually healthy society would have continued with whatever spiritual activities it regarded as primarily important, despite everything. It would have put the spiritual above the material; where it belongs; and without-which life falls to pieces.

Such a society would have recognised that sacrificing all of life to any monomania is necessarily evil - and a health monomania is a particularly insidious and corrosive evil (because so superficially plausible).

As it is - we have all the disadvantages of a real plague or natural disaster, but with spiritual consequences worse than the real plagues of the past.

The lesson of these times seems to be that 'society' is itself a insane, stupid and evil: all three. We are living the fact that all goodness and strength is outwith The System - in each individual, in families, and in nature. Probably, these are vital lessons that we absolutely need to learn.

And the price - which is destroying The System and bringing-down civilization - is ultimately worth paying, given that nothing else has worked; taken in the context of life eternal.

Friday 24 April 2020

To those people who currently feel abandoned by God, who lament God's lack of communication to them... From Francis Berger

Over the past month or so I have encountered many comments on various blogs in which the commenters explicitly cited God's apparent unresponsiveness in light of everything that has occurred in connection with the birdemic.

Some commenters lamented feeling abandoned by God; others expressed disappointment at the perceived and seemingly conspicuous lack of signs or communication from God. For many, the church closures did little more than rub salt into these despondent wounds... 

Yet, ... I cannot believe God has ceased communicating with us. What I can believe is the notion that perhaps our communications with God - those tried and true, good, solid Christian methods of communication that served so well in earlier times - have become inadequate and insufficient in the here and now.

By the same token, our adherence to these tried and true methods of communication might very well be making us deaf and blind to God's communication. Simply put, perhaps God does not appear to be responding to us because we are not properly responding to Him.

I believe God is [our] loving father, and that he desires what is best for his children.

Like all loving fathers, God wants his children to grow up and mature. This entails different approaches to and different levels of communication. God has taken this step forward; we in turn, have not. Put another way, God is trying to talk to us like adults, but we continue to talk and listen to him like adolescents (and fairly apathetic adolescents at that).

Why passivity has become evil

Mental passivity is evil - here-and-now, although probably not at all times and places in history.

Why? - Because when the environment is evil, we our-selves must be active in order to avoid becoming evil ourselves.

A passive person is (here, now) an evil person: he or she is a person who is actually living in service of evil, on the side of evil, promoting the agenda of evil. 

Active in what way? Well, it must be an activity in what stands-apart-from - autonomous of - that which is evil; and which is itself good.

In a world where all large institutions are clearly (overall, sometimes very completely) corrupted into service of that which is evil. So we cannot look to external institutions to save us.

Furthermore, we cannot look to individuals either! The past weeks have shown what a high proportion of the population are passive with respect to institutions when it comes to their beliefs. So probably we cannot even find many individuals to guide us; because so many (nearly all) individuals are agents of evil in their own right.

Maybe we are in a situation where know no single person (in real life) we could confidently regard as being on-the-side-of-good, and towards whom it would be good to be passive. That must be the case for many, many people.

If we want to join the side of good; then we are on our own; and also we must look outside of human society for guidance.

We must expect to discover for ourselves what is good; and in pursuit of what is good we must be active agents; we must live actively from that source of good.

From there, it is over to you - because you need to decide (for your-self) what is the source of uncontaminated good in the world? And how you could get access to - and live-from - that source?

Nobody can tell you this (because nobody can be trusted, except for those you already trust to be on the side of good).

You must work it out for yourself - or rather, you must recognise and decide where you absolutely belief goodness to derive-from.

(Myself, I believe there is a source of goodness external to my in God the creator and Jesus Christ the saviour - and that the discernment and wisdom of Jesus is avaiable to me from the universal spiritual presence of the Holy Ghost: This is revelation. I also believe that there is an internal, innate, uncontaminated source of divine goodness in myself - God-within: what may be termed my real self: This is intuition, or direct-knowing. But - so far as you are concerned, me saying this is just someone you don't know spouting stuff of unknown validity. Me saying-it has no value as such. You need to know that there exists an accessible source of goodness; you need to know what it is and how to discover it. And then do it from your own inner resources: actively.)

It is a man's part to discern good and ill

[Eomer] "How shall a man judge what to do in such times?" "As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them..."

We should not find it plausible that a character in Lord of the Rings was unable to discern good and ill; yet we somehow don't expect modern people to be able to do so. We let ourselves and other off too lightly: it is a man's part to do this. And if a man fails to do so, and supposes Sauron or Saruman to be good - he stands judged.

This would apply to those among the Easterlings, Dunlanders or the Haradrim; who were surrounded by willing servants of evil, and for whom expedience (a man's very life) depended on choosing evil... We would still expect a good man to know that he served evil with his sword; even when terrorised and enslaved.

Why then should we be keen to absolve the mass of Western men from a responsibility for knowing that the global establishment, national politicians and mass media are truly evil? Is it that They pretend to be good, and espouse noble ideals? So too did Sauron and Saruman.

But the servants of evil knew that they served evil, because it was to the evil in their hearts that S & S appealed.

All men have evil in their hearts ("The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being" - Solzhenitsyn.) And that is indeed how we make a discernment - precisely because we each know both good and evil, and therefore can know which we serve, which of good or evil is active in our belief, motivation and actions. This we can and do know.

We can pretend that evil is good - that (for example) resentment, pride, fear, cowardice, lust, greed and despair are good - 'when properly considered'... But then we also know that we are lying to ourselves, and inverting true values for reasons of expediency.

We each know, and God knows that we know - no matter how cleverly we deny it to our-selves and to The World. 

The responsibility for making a correct discernment is inescapable because the capacity of discernment is universal.


Thursday 23 April 2020

Motivation is (almost) everything

One of the great teachings of Jesus was that motivation counts for more than action. The Pharisee who did everything right was a vile sinner unless his behaviour was properly-motivated; the sinfully-behaving tax-collector/ collaborator might be well-motivated. The affectation of virtue was actually worse (according to Jesus's condemnation) than bad behaviour, confessed.

Salvation is by repentance, which is about motivation - about what we acknowledge to be Good and True: what we try to do. Salvation is not about what we succeed in doing...

So with the birdemic-response-crisis. What we currently do in and with our lives is less under-our-control than it has been for several generations. The contrast with what motivates us becomes ever-starker.

To live well is primarily about what motivates us in that living. Secondarily it is about our discernment concerning the motivation of others - which is a matter of judgement, of intuitive knowing (and not a matter of 'evidence'). As social beings, our discernment is an essential part of living: there can be no genuine neutrality or agnosticism in inferring motivation; any more than they can be concerning the reality of God.

Despite the cant about 'not being judgemental' (often parroted by self-styled Christians) the need for discerning the motivations of others is necessary and good, as well as unavoidable. We therefore need to discern whether the current situation has Godly-motivations, or evil. Has the totalitarian-takeover been done from altruism, or from the desire for power... We must each decide - an affected refusal to decide is, in fact, a decision.

And then, our own motivations - in this situation where we find-ourselves - need to be well-motivated. That is, to be well motivated, we each need to be motivated in alignment with God's creation and God's hopes and wishes (which also we must discern).  

There are innumerable official and media pressures to do this or that, to be seen to do this or that - and then there are own motivations for compliance or rebellion with these rules.

It matters less whether a person complies or rebels than that they are honest (with themselves) about this motivation.  One who complies due to cowardice, but who acknowledges and repent this; is a better person than one who rebels for short-termist, selfish reasons - and vice versa.

The Biblical hypocrite (and hypocrisy is a sin) is one who pretends Godly motivations for that which is done for other reasons - status, power, wealth, expedience... This is essentially identical with 'virtue-signalling' - except that the virtue-signalling hypocrite is typically advertising his support of a inverted-good=sinful behaviour or policy.

Bringing this together; I regard our current situation as arising due to evil motivations. I can see that I and other people are reacting in various ways - and some behaviours are better some worse. But I need to remind myself that it is the motivations behind these reactions that matters, in the spiritual sense that matters ultimately.

Only when our response is motivated towards God and aligned with God, and when this comes from-within from our agency - and is consciously chosen, can the response be spiritually valuable.

All the rest is just at the level of people passively responding to external pressures in specific situations; acting passively according to upbringing, social conditioning and innate disposition. Spiritually, this is equivalent to behaving like the automatic output of a computer program.

Because the sitation has been created with evil motivations - to behave passively is to serve evil.

(And this is why it is essential that we discern the motivations of those who rule, inform and advise us: politicans, officials, lawyers, 'scientists', doctors... and the mass media.)

Editing Medical Hypotheses

I edited the journal Medical Hypotheses from 2003 to 2010. It strikes me that I never set-down an account of what I actually did in this job - which has now disappeared from the world. So here it is:

I say the job has 'disappeared', because MeHy was, apparently, the very last significant journal Not to be peer reviewed (although all old journals implicitly had that form, in the golden era of science); and was founded on that basis by the original editor David Horrobin in order to encourage theoretical thinking in general and non-mainstream/ anti-establishment ideas in particular.

What this meant in practice was that I would review all the papers submitted, and decide which to include. My philosophy was that an editor should be a 'chooser' not a 'changer' - because the author should be wholly responsible for what was published under his name.

The only modification I would routinely advise was to rewrite the 'Abstract' or summary to be a microcosm of the paper, and to use near to a maximum of 400 words  - because I regard this as the most important part of the paper; and because only the Abstract is freely and widely distributed (even to those without a subscription to the journal) by the major indexing services (such as PubMed, or Google Scholar).

In cases of doubt, and in line with the journal's founding principles, I would give the author 'the benefit of the doubt' - on the basis that if a paper made me think, it was serving a valuable function. As back-stop; I also had an editorial board, upon whom I could call for a second opinion, in cases of uncertainty - which did not happen often - maybe once a month?

But mostly I relied upon my scientific-medical intuitions, honed by an unusually broad experience and a lot of thinking and reading on such matters. This meant that I could work very quickly, compared with a conventional 'peer reviewed' journal - and the average time lapse to a decision was about three days (instead of the usual three months or more).

When I started editing, founder David Horrobin had been terminally ill for a couple of years, and the journal was at rather a low ebb, with a backlog of papers, and a modest and still-falling Impact Factor of about 0.9 (the IF for 2004 would be approx. total citations to the journal for 2002 and 2003 divided by the number of papers - so 0.9 is just under one citation per paper).

The journal began with about 100 pages, and I rejected about half of submitted papers. As the years went by, the journal began to attract more and better submissions; and I ended by rejecting two-thirds of submitted papers, despite increasing the length of the journal to about 150 pages.

The Impact Factor peaked for the last two years of my tenure (2009-10) at about 1.6 citations per paper - which was comfortably in the top half of medical journals - so I managed to increase indices of quality, as well as quantity (depite the fact I was deliberately choosing non-mainstream stuff). For example, there were a thousand downloads of papers per day - which was the same as a mainstream successful specialist journal - such as the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

When I began editing MeHy, great bundles of manuscript papers would be posted to me about once a week; and I would e-mail my decisions to a secretary near Oxford. I would compile each issue in contact with the production group in Exeter. After a few years, the whole process was moved online - and I used to log-in and read the submitted papers on screen; as soon as they had been inputted.

So, by 2010 I was getting approximately three submissions to decide-upon each day. As I said, I would averagely accept one of these (although these numbers are averages - in real life, the daily variation in submissions and acceptances was considerable).

The whole process was very quick and efficient, and the results were 'objectively' above average - using the standard scientometric data - when compared with the much slower, more expensive and more complex methods of all other journals. Also, I made a lot of money for the publishers! - and received a good (performance related) salary of 30K pounds - which was considerably more than half of my then university salary.

Naturally, it could not continue - and such a journal is now impossible, unneccessary and (since the further corruption of science) serves no valid purpose; but it was fun while it lasted.

And the experience confirmed what I knew already from studying the history of (real) science: the fraud that is 'peer review' and the sham that is academic publishing... which was, of course, an important reason why the last editorially-reviewed journal could not be allowed to continue!

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Another beautiful day

I wake-up... at 03:30, with a migraine - third night in a row! But that aside... It's another beautiful day; and at least I was awake to appreciate it breaking, and to hear the dawn chorus take-over from the solo nightingale.

Over the last four weeks we have been experiencing the longest run of sunny early spring weather I can remember. This has made the... recent changes... into something of a golden era, when considered on a day-by-day basis - and that is how I have been considering them.

(That is, when I am not doing my circa hour-a-day of general, abstract, overviewing and prognosticating; results of which is what I what I tend to post here.)

A lot of what I am doing is meditative, in the sense of trying to become better at self-remembering, better at recognising that everything is alive and conscious; and more continuously-aware of the presence of Jesus Christ (the Holy Ghost) and the detailed creative activities of God.

This comes under the category of that imperative for Modern Man of becoming aware of that which is mostly unconscious - including those intuitions which we are so adept at denying, ignoring or suppressing.

Furthermore, is my attempt to enhance or strengthen 'thinking' in the direction of Final Participation - which means that my conviction that thinking is real, active and objective needs to become not-just-a-theory and develops into experiences.

Such experience is greatly rewarding, so long as I do not allow myself to be dismayed at how transient are my successes - which is inevitable in this mortal world.

When I am at my best I do not regard such imperfections and difficulties with life as being due to us living in a 'fallen' world; rather, I regard such limitations as being 'functional' (part of the divine plan for mortal life) and for my own good.

After all; it would not do me much good if I had as a routine the ability to experience each new day, in its many aspects of repetition and novelty. It is better for me that I am unable to sustain an ecstatic response to life; and am compelled to continue solving many variants of the same old problems, as well as having new problems challenge (and defeat) me on a frequent basis.

Thus I am encouraged to keep learning - about love, faith, and hope among many other things - which is what this mortal life is 'for'.

In some ways, the sunny and fresh days are not much distinguishable, one from the other, in terms of what I can do (and what I am allowed to do); but in other ways, every hour brings me up-against new limitations of my attitudes and knowledge, or reveals how partial and feeble were yesterday's (or last night's) 'answers'.

So I strive, and often succeed, in greeting each new dawn with hope and confidence.


Tuesday 21 April 2020

World population - Four numbers that explain why this current catastrophe will be By Far the biggest in history

World population (rounded)

1804 (and all human history up to this time) - 1 billion (usually much less)

1927 (123 years later) doubles to 2 billion

1975 (48 years later)  doubles to 4 billion

c.2024 (50 years later) doubles to 8 billion.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the world population could not rise about approximately 1 billion. It is the increase in productivity that began in Britain in the late 1700s - and was initially driven by the European/ descended industrialising nations - that allowed the eightfold increase since that time.

The extra 7 billion people that the world carries currently, is a consequence of the Industrial Revolution; with its vast and complex infrastructure of specialisation and trade sustained by a vast infrastructure of functional human capability and work.

In turn, that vast infrastructure depends on growth in production of essentials fuelled by growth in productivity - that growth in productivity is just-as essential as food, water, medicines etc. But productivity has now been locked-down on a global scale, into a sudden and massive reversal (with size unknown and sequential consequences unknowable).   

History is therefore no guide to our present situation. For example, the crucial difference between the world during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s and the world now, is an extra 6 billion people.

When The System goes down, most of the people in the world will die - since they absolutely depend on The System for supporting that extra 7 billion.

And when most of the people in the world die, that fact also will have (ahem) many knock-on effects.

History is no guide: there is no guide. Our situation is unprecedented and the outcome cannot be predicted, beyond such broad-outline realities as described above.

Yet there is nothing to be gained in worrying about what's coming.

We are each and all standing in the path of a tsunami/ comet/ pyroclastic flow in a real-life mega-disaster movie; and there is nowhere to run. 

As WmJas says our primary (minimal) task here-and-now is to learn Not to be scared.

Monday 20 April 2020

A Text for our Time - "He that is not with me is against me" - William Wildblood explains

There are many ideas put forward as solutions to the crisis of the modern world (not Covid 19, that's just an element, albeit an important one, of something much larger), political, ideological, even spiritual of sundry sorts. But they all lack overall coherence. However, there is something that stands above them all which reconciles any good there might be in them at a higher level without including the dross, illusion and bad qualities they all contain without this thing. It can be summed up in a sentence.

That sentence is Matthew 12:30. "He that is not with me is against me". This pithy injunction means if you are not actively for the truth of Christ, you are against it. Not passively against it, actively so. According to this saying, there is no middle ground. If you are not for Christ, you oppose him. Neutrality is not an option. 

 This might seem unreasonable. Why, if you don't accept Christ, does that mean you are the enemy of Christ? Why can you not be a good, upstanding, morally decent person without acknowledging Christ? 

You can't because Christ is the embodiment of truth and if you don't recognise that then you don't recognise truth in which case you will be on the outside of truth, working against it whether that be in a greater or lesser sense. Christ is like magnetic north. If the lodestone of your being does not point to him then it is broken. You are broken. Your soul is sick.

William goes on to say that, although this sounds harsh, it is true. It is indeed a harsh text; and harshness is appropriate. Because life is for learning from our experiences - looking towards life everlasting. Life is not meant to be unrelieved niceness. 

This applies with especial force when our society is set on a determined course to be ever-more value-inverted, shallow, smug, hedonistic and cowardly than the low-water-mark we have already achieved. And now we - as a society - are about to experience the consequences of generations of dishonesty, evasion and hypocrisy.

Our coming challenge is to meet a catastrophic situation without bitterness, fear, resentment or despair - and with that trusting confidence that comes from faith in the loving God who is our Father; looking-ahead with indestructible hope for that eternal Heavenly life promised by Jesus to any and all who choose to follow him through the transformation that is death.

Another text from Matthew that should guide us in the days, weeks and months ahead:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Russian electric folk Otava Yo - Cossack's Lezginka

This is my latest craze - a perfect music video with a surreal folkloric visuals and narrative; and that supreme confidence about it which comes from the vitality of clever and witty young men. It splices the world of Gogol with modernity in a crazy fashion that makes poetic sense. The same romantic spirit - transmuted to Russia - as Steeleye Span and the Albion Bands of the 1970s. Enjoy.

How clever are They? Very clever, but only in destruction

The Global Establishment are, in some ways, clever - but Their cleverness is primarily destructive.

They have, for example, been very clever at first subverting then inverting Christian morality in The West - so that (for example) monogamous marriage and the natural family have been first weakened and eroded, and then transvalued into being regarded as evil (promoting them is forbidden in the UK). But this is merely destruction, because what replaced traditional morality does not work.

Politically, They have been very clever at preparing the ground for the recent global totalitarian takeover - and have cleverly linked this to the negative emotion of fear. Their favoured impersonal-inhumane transnational bureaucratic system of governance has been built on the ruins of millions of small, local, spontaneous, autonomous ways of living. But this is merely destruction, because what has been implemented does not work.

The mass media is built upon the addictive nature of short-term, attention-grabbing stimuli - on passivity and the felt-need for continual distraction. But the mass media has merely degraded the quality and value of communication.

The ideology of the Global Establishment is New Leftism (aka Political Correctness - the 'woke' ideology of Social Justice Warriors). This has evolved from the originally utopian politics of revolutionary Marxism and bureaucratic Fabian Socialism, to become an almost wholly negative, dishonest and destructive belief-system - a Hobbesian war of each-against-all.

So, They are very intelligent when it comes to negativity and destruction. But they are very stupid at positivity and creation. The best that They can manage is to select and distort already-existing ideas and motivations stolen from religion and tradition.

Their capacity for creativity is sabotaged by pervasive and spiralling dishonesty; since for Them truth is whatever is most expedient.

Their nearest approach to a morality is to favour long-termism over immediate gratification; but they have no rationale for practising this when it becomes inexpedient to do so. Dishonesty feeds-upon-itself like monetary hyper-inflation - which it much resembles in terms of destroying value.

Consequently, They do not know what is going-on because everybody, everywhere in The System is lying, spinning and hyping the truth, all the time. All Their knowledge is thus contaminated, biased, unreliable and drowned-out by noise.

Therefore, all Their action that is based on knowledge is at best inefficient, and more often simply does not achieve its aim. All the positive capability is always being undermined by false information, wrongly analysed.

They haven't a clue how to Do anything. And are thus increasingly reliant upon the mass media, public relations and propaganda to fill the gap between the virtual fantasy world of bureaucracy, and the real world of truth.  Yet, the effectiveness of the mass media is itself continually being subverted and misrepresented by the same negative impulses and tendencies as creates the gap in the first place.

What does this mean? It means that the Global Establishment have been very effective in the destructive task of making an invisible-denied totalitarian world government; which has very effectively imposed wholesale destruction all around the world - where as-of-Now - hardly anybody is doing anything useful or productive.

But They have no idea about what are and will be the real world consequences of what They have done - because all their information is based on the lies and incompetence of incapable, selfish, cowardly people. All their 'experts' are fakes; and They cannot distinguish between real ability and their own propaganda.

They have taken-over the world, destroyed the economy and trade, and destroyed civil society and organisation. They seem to believe that They can now use high technology and Artificial Intelligence to create an all-seeing, all-controlling, centralised world government.

However, this will not happen.

They have destroyed far more than They realise. It is far harder than They realise to build the world that They want - and it is beyond Their capability to do so.

It is trivially easy to break complex systems - any fool can throw sand into precision machinery. But when it comes to inventing, building and maintaining multiple and interacting functional systems - That is very difficult even for honest, competent and well-motivated people; but They will find it absolutely impossible.

Their information is wrong, Their people are incompetent, dishonest and untrustworthy. Their short-termist expediency will sabotage their capacity to create at every step.

My conclusion is that They are very clever at destruction, very dumb at creation; very clever at smashing things, utterly unable to make things work.

They may have plans and schemes - but these will come to nothing. They have cleverly broken the world, but will be unable to remake it.

Indeed, they lack even any sustained desire to do so. When push comes to shove; They will hardly even try to remake things. They will instead continue on-and-on with their work of incremental destruction, which They so much enjoy, whenever this benefits Them in the short-term.

...All the while revelling in their own cleverness, and gloating over our stupidity. 

Sunday 19 April 2020

The fall of Western materialism by 'Plan X'...

Commenter Ingemar made an excellent and thought-provoking point in the recent post on how the One Ring was destroyed with the aid of divine providence, by a sequence of plans - each of which was worse than the previous one in terms of 'collateral damage'.

My understanding of Western history is that we embraced materialism (aka. positivism, reductionism, scientism)* as our underlying philosophy from the late 1700s particularly - and since then we have seen various Plans (B, C, D etc) offered to solve and destroy this way of thinking.

I call these Romanticism, which has come in waves - each of which failed by eschewing Christianity (and also being rejected by Christians) - instead dissipating into just-more-materialism: radical leftist politics and/or progressively extending the sexual revolution.

So, my assumption is that materialism - like the One Ring, which it so much resembles - needed to be destroyed...

Yet not by by reversion to an earlier phase, not by tradition (since history is linear); but by being superseded by further (and divinely forseen and ordained) development.

Plans were sequentially offered to The West by providence, which wove these into on-going creation - however, each successive Plan depended absolutely on human agency to acknowledge, accept, adopt - and consciously creatively participate-in - that Plan (or else it would not happen).

(This is a vital point: The early Plans could not and should not be 'imposed' on Men. All early Plans required Men to be consciously aware of them, required voluntary and active cooperation. This was desired by God, and also entailed by the nature of Man.) 

What happened was that the first phase of Romanticism (late 1700s, early 1800s) could be termed Plan A, and that was the best plan - which would supersede materialism with the greatest benefits and the least disadvantages.

Plan A was refused and distorted; and further Plans were offered over the next couple of centuries - but each with greater collateral damage than the previous one, because the best possibility had been refused and therefore damage and sin had accumulated - more and more as time went by.

Meanwhile, materialism continued to grow, with less and less opposition - into the modern form of anti-Christian, spirit-excluding, leftist bureaucracy. This consists of many national and specialised social systems (government, law, churches, education, science, health services, police, military etc) which are all linked into a single hierarchical and cross-linked System.

These 'functional' sub-systems (and The System as a whole) are vitally supported by a vast Public Relations and propaganda bureaucracy: the mass and social media.

And so we come to the recent totalitarian+ takeover by The System. 

We have now run-out of Plans, used-up all our good options; and providence is left with Plan X, the Plan of last resort - which is that The West be permitted to express all the contradictions and self-destructive aspects of materialism that have, until now, been moderated and restrained by providence.

The need to destroy the evil of The System is now so urgent and vital that it overwhelms any large scale Romanticism - and will proceed regardless of collateral damage.

With the corruption of all institutions, and their incorporation into The System henceforth, the true Christian spirit will be carried by individuals (and small loving groups of individuals) or not at all.

It turns-out that we had misunderstood the old prophecies as believing that God would impose pestilence, natural disasters, and wars as a punishment - whereas it is in fact our response to these phenomena that will destroy our civilisation by pulling it down on our own heads - and destroy it very completely.

Most of what is Good will perish with the evil; this being the unavoidable price of destroying the evil and generation after generation of rejecting better Plans. Instead, we and our ancestors have progressively embraced materialism more and more thoroughly - more and more rapidly and coercively; and The West are well advanced to imposing materialism upon the whole world.

We have therefore forced the hand of the Creator; who has allowed us to adopt Plan X; and will allow it to unfold by it own inexorable internal logic over the coming months.

But, unlike Plans A, B, C etc - Plan X is happening despite most men being unaware of it.

Plan X is, indeed, the direct consequence of our refusal to be aware of, or to cooperate with, divine providence; an outcome of our denial of both the reality and Goodness of God. Our wholesale inversion of true values.

As a civilization, we have chosen, cumulatively, to be passive and blind. Therefore our self-made fate will happen to us without our comprehension or consent.

And because it happens-to-us, we will lack that courage which derives from the active pursuit of Good. 

*+Note on materialism and totalitarianism. It might be asked whether these are necessarily evil? Might they simply be merely 'philosophy' and 'politics' - hence orthogonal (nothing necessarily to do with) Christianity? My answer is that The System is demonic (led by actual demon spirits, those willingly possessed by demons, and by the slaves of demons) therefore it is intrinsically evil in its objectives and motivations. Further, the dominant demonic evil of modernity is of the 'Ahrimanic' type: which works via materialism and totalitarianism - by bureaucracy and the mass media. Therefore, any totalitarian materialist takeover is in practice necessarily evil. 

Saturday 18 April 2020

A Roman Catholic perspective on the current crisis from "Bonald"

Bonald is the pseudonym of a a thoughtful and rigorous traditionalist Roman Catholic blogger. Like me, he was one of the original members of The Orthosphere and I have been reading him, and exchanging e-mails, for most of a decade.

Even if, especially if, you are not a Roman Catholic (and remember that it is the biggest Christian denomination in the world); I recommend reading his honest discussion of the birdemic crisis.  

Most people agree - the virtual-media world is essentially the-same-as real life (or better)

One of the more sinister insidious assumptions brought to the fore recently, has been the repeated statement that life (or religion, or perfomance art, or education, or medical consultations) is being kept-going online.

So, people watching (or, more accurately, logging-onto) streamed (or recorded) church services on their computers is seen as a positive development - if the viewing figures exceed the numbers typically attending.

Telephoning or video conferencing contact and 'meet-ups' between family members and friends has, by order - and without any declared end-point - replaced actual proximity, conversation, and human touch.

By and large, I think people approve of this abolition of life. Maybe it provides the perfect excuse to avoid human reality?

Because that is what we have seen. The near abolition of real life for some billions of people.

Most people (by their revealed preferences) apparently don't see any qualitative difference bewteen online and real life; and online life is easier, cheaper, more convenient. 

The equivalence of virtual and real (or passive and participatory) is a typical rationalisation of the 'what's the fuss?' denialism of people in general, faced with the biggest and most rapid societal change in the history of the world.

Their primary underlying aim seems to be to deny that anything significant has been changed by the fact that real human life has been suspended, without any assurances that it will ever resume. Certainly they seem to be happy, and indeed keen, for another month, or two, or twelve-month of the same... (So long as it there are vague and dishonest assurances that this keeps people 'safe'.)

Resumption of real life is being stated to depend contingently on if, or when, the birdemic goes-away - and this means goes-away and is not replaced by some other problem declared by the Establishment to justify the end of real life.

Whoever said that people get the government they deserve was onto something. Those who regard the virtual world as equivalent to (or better than) real life will be rewarded with a virtual world and the minimum possible real life.

And they can be optimistic that virtuality will replace reality, because that looks like the goal of the Establishment...

With the proviso that when real life has been made permanently illegal or officially-controlled (to keep us 'safe'), and the virtual world is all that remains - the content and nature of the virtual world will be shaped to Their requirements, and access to it will be regulated in pursuit of Their goals.

What that means depends on what you suppose the Establishment's goals to be...

Metaphysical materialism trumps the perception deception

Media analysts have described how people are primarily influenced by their perceptions, how perceptions come to us via the mass media (now amplified by social media); and that this de facto monopoly on our input of information substantially 'controls' the population of modern societies.

We could call is the theory of Perception Deception. The implicit antidote is to make perceptions more truthful... At the mass level, this entails aiming for a truthful mass media; and paying close attention to the biases and censorships of the mass media and propaganda more generally. 

However, the birdemic has demonstrated that this explanation is grossly inadequate - to the point of being mostly-wrong. Inputs are near-irrelevant; and far more important are the basic assumptions about Life by which perceptions are interpreted.

The basic assumptions about Life is what I mean by metaphysics; and for most - nearly all, it turns-out - modern people, these assumptions are materialist.

Therefore, a person's response to the birdemic is a much better guide to someone's metaphysical assumptions than is whether that person professes left- or right-wing views, or whether they profess atheism, New Age or religious beliefs.

To put it bluntly, the only people who see-through the deception of the birdemic are those who have (not just profess) a metaphysical assumption of the primacy of the spiritual in Life.

So far as I can tell, spiritual people recognise the birdemic fake - whereas those who are actually materialist cannot recognise what is really going-on; and they fail utterly to recognise what is going-on even when exposed to vast and powerful evidence of it (such as they get from their own daily personal experience).

What is really going-on is as obvious as anything can be - from the fact of (pretty much) the whole world being under house arrest (including you and me) without end-point - suspension of elections - working only as directed labour in approved activities - control of what you can buy - indefinite forbidding of all real-life church activities - prohibition of all real-life social and extended family life - prohibition of all performing arts - prohibition of travel - multiplication of coercive rules and laws - pervasive police impositions etc., etc., etc...

Do I really need to describe what is visible to everyone and happened over a timescale of days?... Well, yes it seems I do - but description does no good at all when all and any such perceptual inputs are automatically and unconsciously explained-away as being 'therapy'.

Because it turns-out that a global totalitarian, anti-religious, anti-human, anti-individual regime can be imposed - but nobody will notice when it is explained as being necessary for health.

Billions of people have been rendered blind to the obvious. That is a stunning thing - more remarkable a fact than anything I have ever encounted. 

The communist, fascist, national socialist totalitarian societies of the twentieth century have simply been redescribed in terms of medical and therapeutic necessity in relation to a single disease. And nearly-everybody is not merely accepting of this, but clamouring for more of the same - in order to keep people 'safe'.

(The fact that lockdownsocialdistancing cannot keep people safe from a airborne virus, but will instead perpetuate the epidemic and expose more vulnerable people and cause far more deaths by delaying herd immunity is completely irrelevant to the argument - because all facts are irrelevant when one's metaphysics are materialist.) 

Interestingly, most of the 'Alternative media' - or what the Establishment call 'conspiracy theorists' also fail to see through the birdemic fake - fail to see that the birdemic is itself merely an excuse - but have instead been distracted into focusing on health-related red herrings about bioweaps and fie vegee - which (whether true or not, and they may be significantly true) miss the central and obvious point - or even lead to bizarre inversions relating to plans for mass killing (with the virus).

(This is wrong for the plain reason that totalitarian takeover has been based-on the rationale of health, medicine, life-saving and death-counting - which makes little sense if mass killing were intended. But even if it were right; it misses the stunning magnitude and speed of what has actually happened.) 

What we see is that perceptual inputs, information, 'facts' and 'data' - are secondary factors when what is happening is based in the spiritual. Even when people expose themselves to a different set of inputs (eg those who participate mostly in the Alternative media), they fail to see the obvious reality - because they are materialists.

It is significant that David Icke, although perhaps the grandfather of the Alternative media and conspiracy theorists is - unlike most of his followers - one of the rare people who immediately recognised what was really going-on. This because Icke is primarily a spiritual person (not a Christian, more of a deist, but genuinely spiritual),

We can observe that those who are in practice (whatever they may suppose about themselves, whatever their personal self-identification as a 'spiritual' or 'religious' person) are materialists; fail to see the obvious.

This is often evident in having de facto socio-political alignments as a prime priority in their lives, into-which spirituality and religion must be fitted) - but we also see that those who live what look-like spiritual or religious lives are also mostly living on the basis of materialist fundamental assumptions - so that their spirituality or religion is, it turns-out, merely a matter of lifestyle.

To recognise today's obvious entails a spiritual perspective, but only to those with a spiritual persepctive is it obvious. To everyone else, the obvious cannot be true; because excluded by (unconscious) assumptions. 

So - the birdemic reveals the difference between, on the one hand, the superficiality of life-style - such that even very dominant life-styles amounting to a full-time occupation (e.g. religious professionals, obsessive New Agers) make no difference to their blindness. They are just as blind to the obvious reality as any professed skeptic, atheist activist, card-carrying humanist, or philosophical materialist.

On the other hand, the reality of a person's experienced 'inner' life is revealed by their capacity to 'notice' the biggest-fastest qualitative change in world history.

It is the inner life (ie. a person's metaphysical assumptions, by which he understands life) that turns-out to matter most; to the point that it is almost as if it is the only thing that matters, in a spiritual sense.

Differences of religion, denomination, theology, ritual, scripture etc are all washed-away as superficial and ineffectual...

Spiritual sensibility is more important at present than ever before; since those who lack it are being stampeded into embracing a world based on the principle of materialistic self-damnation, at a shocking rate.

In conclusion, metaphysics is primary; and especially in a world where the reality and importance of metaphysical awareness is denied.

A world where 'everyone' believes that 'evidence' is the only thing that matters, and believes that perceptions control behaviour is - it turns-out - a world where evidence is irrelevant and behaviour is dictated by prior assumptions of which (almost) everybody is insensible.

The single most important thing that people can do (here, now) is to become aware of their primary assumptions about life.

And that is something every individual person must do for himself, or it will not be done.