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everyone saying what they think

Feb 17, 2002 01:48 PM
by Eldon B Tucker

At 03:36 PM 2/17/02 -0500, you wrote:
> At 07:11 AM 2/17/02 +0000, you wrote:
> >Brigitte wrote:
> >
> >As far as I can tell Brigitte has been the one to avoid at any cost
> >clarifying her statements. I've never seen any one work so hard at
> >not answering a question!! :) ...
> Daniel:

Daniel, could you clarify this? You are the one who has gone to
extraordinary lengths to produce a matrix comparing the positions of
Brigitte, Paul, and Steve. Why do you not add an additional column and
include Daniel's position in your matrix at each question point?

That's a good question. If I were doing it, I'd include a
"what I really think" column alongside the ones for what
the others think.

> One thing that I've found helpful when someone is unable,
> for whatever reason, to clearly express themselves in writing,
> is to summarize what they said for them. After reading what
> they've written, put it down as clearly as possibly, then ask
> them, "is this what you mean to say?"
> If their desire is to clearly communicate something, they'll
> either agree or correct your summary, leading to something both
> they and you agree says what they intend.
> On the other hand, if they never desired clear communication,
> but were speaking ambiguously in order to create a certain
> impression or as part of at attempt at misinformation, then
> you'll see no cooperation in your request at clarification.
> Instead, the subject will be changed and you may be personally
> attacked.

Eldon, am I to understand from what you say above that you think Brigitte is
speaking ambiguously in order to create a certain impression or as part of
an attempt at misinformation?
It's a traditional technique to put in your own words something,
then ask someone, "Is this what you meant to say?" That's much
better than simply holding them to a particular statement they
may have made, and not giving them a change to explain themselves
when what they say seems unclear or simply wrong.

The argument I'm making here is that if someone is speaking
with the intent to be understood, they'll cooperate when others
ask them to clarify themselves. If they're speaking with other
motives, they'll not cooperate, and try to change the subject.
As to Brigitte, I'll form my opinion based upon how she reacts
to requests for clarification. I'll wait and see and then

> >As I said in my last email, I will not attempt again to ask Brigitte
> >for her scholarly opinion on Olcott's encounters.

> If she is just chatting about whatever interests her, then
> she's free to respond to or ignore any discussion, thread, or
> questions put to her when she's not interested in them.

I dislike being placed in the position of defending Brigitte, however she
has said repeatedly that what she writes on this list is hurried, not
checked nor cross-checked, and certainly not spell-checked. In other words
she is just chatting. After all, this list is Theos-*talk*. She has also
said that what she considers her scholarly work is posted on her web site.
Chatting is fine.

> If she's writing as a scholar, and her writings are to be
> considered academic and possibly scientific, then she would
> be expected to hold to higher standards. Then, if she's
> written poorly, not making clear what she's saying, it's fine
> to act for clarification.

And of course its fine to refuse to clarify. Especially for someone as
aggressive as Daniel. I must ask Daniel why he continues to pursue this
line concerning the existence of "real" adepts (whatever "real" means as
opposed to just plain real.)
If someone were writing as a scholar, and wrote unclearly,
and wouldn't clarify themselves, I would question their
right to call themselves a scholar.

It's not unreasonable to expect a clear statement of position,
summary of evidence, and analysis, if a historic claim is made.
Expecting someone to be clear about what they said -- that's
part of the communication process.

Someone could say, "I'm not interested in discussing this further
at this time," but still make clear what they're said before.

> >One of my correspondents believes she is "terrified" to publicly
> >reveal her thoughts on the subject. Personally I haven't a clue as
> >to what is motivating her in this matter.

Eldon, why do you suppose Daniel has taken this approach? Who is this
correspondent? Is he/she "real" or just plain real? If Daniel personally
doesn't have a clue what motivates Brigitte in this matter, then what is
Daniel trying to imply with his inclusion of an unknown correspondent's
privately conveyed thoughts? Does this correspondent lack the courage to
speak publicly for him or herself? Why let Daniel advance the theory?

Now it has been my experience in spiritually-based intellectual discussions
that gentlemen do not force others to say "Uncle". If they did, I would
still be aggressively asking Daniel to answer my questions about probability
vs. possibility, criticisms of Paul Johnson and not Sylvia Cranston, and
attack dog ethics. When Daniel is backed into an spiritually-based
intellectual corner he simply goes silent for several days and then
reappears on a slightly different heading while completely ignoring the
previous thread. That is Daniel. I accept that. Brigitte is different. I
accept that.
Yes, we all have our own faults and behave differently under
pressure. I haven't been following the historic discussions
closely. I have noticed Daniel doggedly pursuing certain lines
of inquiry long after others want to move on. And a substantial
number of Brigitte's posts catch my attention, where I see her
angrily lashing out at people who've said something she doesn't
like, or at groups or ever nations she doesn't approve of.

> I'd expect a scholar to "come clean" on their personal views
> on a subject. Even though there should be high standards of
> objectivity applied to a particular type of research, the reader
> is entitled to know the potential bias that the scholar might
> unintentionally introduce.

We do not know the potential bias that Daniel might unintentionally
introduce. We can guess at it though. Daniel has not "come clean" on the
reasoning behind his 8 year dogging of Paul Johnson. Daniel has not "come
clean" on his personal experiences with the paranormal which certainly might
bias his conclusions. He uses them as evidence, but will not provide them
for analysis.
So everyone needs to "come clean" if they want their materials
to be objectively considered. It's not a question of how well
Daniel may have done so. It's that we expect the whole lot of
them -- those historians -- to fess up to their personal biases
and slants. (grin)

> This is why the "double blind" study is preferable over other
> types of research. However objective the observer may try to be,
> there's often some interaction with the subject. In this case,
> the interaction is between the historian and the history described.

Eldon, do I understand that you are implying that Daniel's research is being
done under "double blind" conditions and Brigittes is not?
No. I don't think that historical analysis can ever reach
that level of scientific objectivity. But it can be approached
to the extent that we (the consumers of the historic materials)
are presented with a picture of both the history and of the
historian recounting that history.

> The same may be found in the presentation of Theosophy. Someone
> may seek to present the original doctrines in an unbiased
> manner, making careful distinction between personal views and
> what has been learned. Even so, it's best to know the biases and
> background of the person doing the presentation, so that the
> listener or reader can take them into account in hearing the
> presentation of the philosophy.

We do not know the biases and background of Daniel despite repeated
solicitations of such information so that we can take them into account in
reading Daniel's presentation of the philosophy.
So in that regard, we're just as in the dark with all of
the materials offered for our consideration.

Now, one could argue, and it has been argued, that the personal biases and
background are unimportant in the presentation of theosophy. The ancient
wisdom speaks for itself and vibrates within us those chords of timeless
truth carried on the shoulders of present faith. Personally, I find
resonance with this approach and do not need to know Daniel's or Brigitte's
bias and background to taste the essence of their understanding. However,
if you are going to write a note like this that implies that Brigitte is
somehow not forth-coming, then it is only fair to mention that Daniel is not
forth-coming either. However, Daniel does spell-check beter.
We get to the timeless philosophy when the personal details
drop out of the picture. Just as we get the eagle's view of
life, when soaring up in the clouds, gazing down on the
distant world below, where the big picture is seen but the
small details of life become obscured.

In a presentation of Theosophy, I'd say that there are two
types of valid materials. One can present the philosophy as
accurately learned, saying, here is what has been said, consider
it, weight it, take what is of value and make it your own.
One can also say what one thinks, one's own interpretations,
insights, and personal experiences. As long as the two are
distinguished, the student has the opportunity to consider
what Theosophy has to offer, and likewise benefit from the
experience of the presenter.

-- Eldon

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