Like many chaotes I am by nature a rebel in the truest sense of the word. I believe in nothing, trust no one and consider very little to be set in stone. That said while I understand the rationale behind holding a sceptical mindset, having spent a couple of years assisting with the Anomalistic Psychology movement back in London while at university, it is a label that I would never claim for myself.
In its modern form the term sceptic describes a deeply flawed movement that is typified by the actions of a few infamous pseudo-evangelists such as Richard Dawkins. These academic marvels quickly set about playing the dual roles of spokesmen for the scientific establishment and watchdogs over the rest of the supposedly uneducated masses. All now claim to know better than we do, because the scrawl on a chalk board told them it was so.
Gone is the old way of thinking, whereby the man in the street would view pseudoscientific claims with an open mind and take the bruises for his credulity when they fell through. This self reliance has been replaced by an educational intelligentsia riddled with both personal bias and a knack for mishandling results. In the ideal world of the sceptic personal accountability would be brushed aside by those who grimly tell you what to believe.
All must kneel and present their neck to Occam’s infallible razor cut, to become enslaved by the one size fits all truth encapsulated within the scientific method. Gods, magick, the human potential to be more than hairless monkeys, all shall fall before this great and bloody blade. The more industrious among the sceptical movement have set up organisations that are little better than churches, run on the same charitable donation and grass roots activism models which typify the religious institutions they would so happily crucify out of existence.
But are these leading lights any more equipped morally and mentally to be playing judge, jury and media executioner for the seething cauldron of seemingly silly ideas bubbling away at the fringes of Western culture? Should the general public really trust the motivations of men such as the late James Randi for keeping all of our feet on the ground? Honestly I doubt it, and so should you all.
“I believe that if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized . . . the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I’m very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars . . . Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would – and presently do – mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.”
No, that is not a misquote, nor am I taking what he said out of context. This is an excerpt of Randi’s very own words copied directly from the comments section of the JREF website, in response to the Charles Lynch medical marijuana case back around 2009. And this is but one example of how he insidiously instilled this particular brand of mental eugenics into the militant atheism he preached.
As someone who has always sat outside of his sphere of influence it is chilling to see such obvious intellectual elitism and social Darwinism being touted by a media darling who claimed to help people defend themselves against what he viewed as the ever present threat of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. And unlike my fellow occultists, he is remembered as a positive influence on society.
“Many people who walk the earth practice the fine art of making others feel responsible and even indebted to them, without cause. Satanism observes these leeches in their true light. Psychic vampires are individuals who drain others of their vital energy. This type of person can be found in all avenues of society. They fill no useful purpose in our lives, and are neither love objects nor true friends. Yet we feel responsible to the psychic vampire without knowing why . . . The psychic vampire is allowed to exist because he cleverly chooses conscientious, responsible people for his victims – people with great dedication to their ‘moral obligations.’”
This second quote is from Anton Szandor LaVey’s Satanic Bible, and while the language is certainly more passionate the underlying theme is much the same. The sentiments speak for themselves, and considering that both of their chosen belief systems have a great deal in common with Humanism, there is much correlation between the two. But then at the other end of the mystical spectrum we find Aleister Crowley being similarly bullish.
“We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.”
Of course, the usual defence for this paragraph is that The Book Of The Law was a channelled text, and Crowley himself was not responsible for the content. That said, a brief examination of The Great Beast’s life easily highlightss to his own biases, and general air of disdain for the common man and woman in the street. I have often wondered what he would think of the chaos magick movement, and the free dissemination of his ideas, though that is a debate for another time perhaps.
So as you can see, James Randi was not alone in his views, and commonalities of thought are easy to draw if you have the background knowledge to do so. This is not the strongest of arguments, but thinking about the above quotes does lead to an interesting exercise in comparative belief all the same. Of course, none of these at times diametrically opposed and now deceased characters would welcome the comparison, spurious or not, but when it so obvious it must be made.