[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

God with a bad haircut

Dec 22, 2001 02:07 PM
by Steve Stubbs

--- hokusai67 <> wrote:
> I would just like to thank Steve Stubbs for making
> me think, and this 
> is, after all, the point of any discussion, is it
> not?
Hi, Hoku:

Thanks. Some people would question whether thinking
clearly, or thinking at all, is the point of this
list, but at least you and I agree. I just recently
encountered a couple of resources which can assist
list members in developing their critical thinking
skills if they are interested.

The first is web page which discusses materializations
and contains a canon of clear thought:

The purpose of the page is summarized by the following

"During three field trips to India to study claims
suggestive of psi-phenomena the investigators were
able to observe at close range some unexplained
occurrences which took place in the presence of Sri
Sathya Sai Baba."

Now notice this comment:

"Although no conclusions can be reached on the
phenomena observed and described in this account
because they occurred under informal conditions, it
seemed worth while to report the events because of the
challenge they offer to carry out further studies of
this well-known Indian religious leader under
well-controlled experimental conditions."

Note that the researchers said "no conclusions can be
reached on the phenomena observed and described in
this account because they occurred under informal

They were not discounting the possibility of unusual
phenomena, but merely said that they and not Sai Baba
had to control the conditions before the stories would
have scientific validity. That standard can also be
applied to other reputed miracle stories, such as
those of Blavatsky. If the stories indicate that the
conditions were poorly controlled, the miracles may be
real, but the stories do not constitute scientific
evidence. The Hartmann story is clearly in this
category. So is the Ootan Liatto story. This is not
aggressive skepticism, as has been charged, nor is it
an effort to "bother" fundamentalists with
uncomfortable truths or to "explain away" something
someone else might wish to believe in. It is simply a
canon of scientific and historical criticism which
does not imply any judgement on the events being

The page has some interesting stories which will amuse
lovers of the marvellous.

Now consider this page, also on Sai Baba:

This page announces itself as an "abridgement" of
claims which "will be useful for assessing the claims
made about Sai Baba's psychic powers." Now notice
this statement, which contains an important message:

"It will be helpful to have these writings [containing
paranormal claims] detached from the theology. If the
theology is sound, it will stand on its own. But the
psychic claims also stand on their own, in the sense
that we can raise the question whether these miracles
ever occurred independently of discussing what they
illustrate about Sai Baba's theology."

Hear, hear. This criterion also applies to those who
say that Blavatsky's miracles or the identity of the
mahatmas and so forth are somehow inextricably tied to
the validity or non validity of her philosophical
theories. The truth is, both can be considered
separately. That is just one of the illogical
statements in David Pratt's paper. Pratt's paper is
well worth reading as an exercise in learning to spot

Those who have followed the career of The Amazing
Kreskin for any time know he does not claim mysterious
abilities but is a performer. Some time ago one of
his performances was video taped and examined by
professional magicians, who were unable to figure out
how he did the trick, despite their special skills. 
After playing the tape again and again they were
finally reduced to studying it frame by frame. Then
they caught him. That they had to go to such lengths
is a testimonial to this performer's amazing degree of
skill. It is also a testimonial to the ability of
video tape to unmask a trick, however skillfully it is

Unfortunately, it also says we should keep the issue
open, no matter how carefully we observe something
which appears to be paranormal.

Magician Doug Henning claims he can reproduce every
one of Sai Baba's miracles by non miraculous means. 
Apparently he is right. Like Kreskin before him, Sai
Baba has been unmasked using video tape. The
difference is that Kreskin is an honest trickster.

Did Blavatsky materialize objects out of thin air? I
am quite convinced she believed, based on what she
came to believe during her spiritualistic years, that
it was possible in theory. Nobody would have written
an entire book on it, disguised as a cosmological
theory, who did not believe it was possible.

I am furthermore convinced that she was sincere when
she said demos of materialization were demonstrations
of the validity of her theories.

I am also convinced that she was familiar with certain
yoga practices which are almost unknown in the west,
and which are described in certain Indian texts, which
relate to this. Some of the comments she made
indicate clearly that this is true. How diligent she
was in practicing it or whether she practiced at all
is unclear. She seems to have spent all her time
entertaining or writing and not meditating.

What is not clear, except to True Believers, is
whether she had any success at it or if she did
whether she succeeded consistently enough that she did
not have to supplement her real phenomena with sleight
of hand. True Believers will say we must believe
whatever they believe. More objective observers will
refer back to the quote at the beginning of this post:

"No conclusions can be reached on the phenomena
observed and described ... because they occurred under
informal conditions."

If herbs were burning in the room, as they were during
the Ootan Liatto incident, and there is clear evidence
of drug influence, it is not reasonable to steadfastly
conclude that things were being materialized in the

The only way to know for sure if Blavatsky could
materialize dishes is to materialize your own dishes,
either in your cupboard or buried in your front yard. 
When you can do that, then you will know that it is
possible. Unfortunately, going to see Sai Baba is not

As for ne, I am going to go naterialize a salad. I am


Do You Yahoo!?
Send your FREE holiday greetings online!

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application