Schwartzritter’s Zigguraut

Adversarial Environments

Originally Posted: April 10, 2010

One prevalent annoyance that chases everyone on the path is that of naysayers and antagonistic individuals who actively want the person to fail. Their activities range from simple negative comments to outright jeering to elaborate traps to set the person up for failure. The basic idea is to harass and harangue a person into trying to "prove" what they can do only to enjoy antagonistic self-confirmation as the stress makes the person on the path fall flat on their face. These individuals are best avoided and, if needs be, should be led into a trap of their own making.

The first type of adversary is the heckler. The heckler is normally apathetic to the beliefs and abilities of the path member and only wants to challenge the person to both see them fail and to confirm their own beliefs to avoid a spiritual crisis. These people normally use repeated jeers, heckling and daring to fluster the person to try to accomplish some display of spiritual prowess. This is damned to failure for a number of reasons. The first reason is that the person being jeered is out of balance, emotionally and will not be able to focus well enough to perform. This is especially true of novices. The second reason is that ridicule is an excellent defense mechanism against many forms of attack. A good chuckle breaks up many forms of energy and it really takes a major focused effort to get past this. Nominally, when people who are capable of getting past the "chuckle" defense do appear, these individuals are less likely to retaliate. An easy way to turn the tables on them is to ask them why they are so concerned with the abilities of the path. One can ask them, "Are you bothering me because you want to make me fail for your own amusement, or do you want to see me fail because you are afraid I am right and you are wrong and everything you have done up to this point is a waste." This should take most people off-guard and a logic argument results, but it takes performance pressure off the path member.

The second type of adversary is the pseudo-scientist. The pseudo-scientist is an amateur in regards to scientific pursuits and uses logic arguments and selected scientific studies to support their argument. What makes them pseudoscientific is that, like real scientists, they select studies and research that attempts to prove the abilities false. The reality is that all abilities are scientifically inconclusive. Science cannot prove them, but they cannot be scientifically disproven within the limitations of scientific method. Science is always conservative in regards to inconclusive results and pseudo scientists are the same. "If it cannot be proven, it must be false." It is impossible to reason with pseudo scientists because they are fanatical in their beliefs against anything in the path. Rather than using religious zeal, they use scientific method, instead. They are best avoided simply because it is impossible to reason with a fanatic.

The next type is, perhaps, the most challenging. This group is that of religious fanatics. They use their religious views, which are always extreme and antagonistic, to challenge the path member. Their goal is twofold. The first is to try to convert one to their religion to make their numbers swell; the second is to break you should their proselytization fails. It is extremely important to avoid conflict in this situation as recent events show the extent and depths that religious fanatics will go to in order to enforce their faith. There is no harm in lying to these people for the sake of de-escalation and self-preservation. The goal in his situation is to end the conversation as soon as possible and leave the environment. No good can come from being constantly exposed to this level of animosity.

The final type for discussion is the science trap. The science trap is the usage of scientific method for disproving anything that is not currently accepted into the scientific paradigm. This includes all claims made by all religions. At their core, scientists are materialists. If it cannot be explained, through scientific method, in the 3-D world, it does not exist to them. On one hand, this elevates us past the superstitions of previous eras, but also limits vision regarding seeking alternate answers. While there are some scientists that are truly objective regarding the topics on the path, many seek to disprove the path for the sole purpose of self-gratification. Scientists, like religious fanatics and pseudo-scientists, cannot be reasoned with as they see any non-scientist as an uneducated rube. This natural condescension makes any attempt to engage in debate a failure because the scientist does not extend respect to the person and sees them as either a fraud or an idiot.

There are two particular stories I would like to relay that show two variations of the concept of adversarial environments. The first is that of the heckler, the second is that of the science trap.

The first story involves a recent incident with a member of the forums. This person, who shall remain nameless, was heckled by a family member who feels that the path is a waste of time. This heckler further antagonized the member by daring them to induce a headache. The member was set up for failure from the start. Not only were they prodded to anger, but also any attempt to do what the heckler said would result in failure due to the ridicule defense and the member's inability to focus. The best thing to do was as I suggested earlier, reversing the challenge.

The second story involves something a little more prominent. This story involves the Randi Challenge. James Randi, like many famous stage magicians, is an opponent to anything labeled "supernatural". The prestidigitators’ decades of entertaining people through illusion and mentalist trickery makes this stance completely understandable as there is a logical, scientific explanation for everything they do, no matter how fantastic. Randi's challenge is to offer 1,000,000 dollars to anyone who can scientifically prove any paranormal activity or ability. All challengers are doomed to failure for two reasons. The first reason is in two parts. Part one consists on the fact that the prize attracts the greedy that indeed use trickery to emulate abilities for profit. Sylvia Browne is a recent example of a charlatan who was humiliated with repeated failure. The second part defaults back to scientists who are actively trying to disprove any "paranormal" ability. The second major issue is the logic trap of the challenge. The logic trap is thus; any "paranormal" ability that is scientifically proven is not, technically, "paranormal" anymore. Thus, the prize may be forfeited through a clever application of semantics. While I am convinced Randi's intentions are true, only 100,000 of the 1,000,000 is his personal investment. The remaining 900K is from a separate investor. I could easily see this logic play being made to defraud someone who actually did prove something. However, since only greedy frauds, such as Browne and John Edward, are likely to attempt this fool's quest, the latter situation is unlikely to happen.

There are many situations one can find themselves in an adversarial environment. While some situations allow the person to reverse the challenge, many are set up as catch-22's from the beginning, leaving disengagement the only real course of action. It is important to challenge one's beliefs and to discard those that are truly unfounded, but this choice should be made of one's own will and not through the coercion or manipulation of others who have closed themselves off from other possibilities.  

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