Ignunt Fool of the Week

This week’s Ignunt Fool of the Week is…

Eckhart Tolle

Image Source: His website.

That’s his book. It’s about “spiritual awakening”. He wants us to think positively and be nice to each other… stop being dysfunctional. That’s all well and good, but whenever the man says something about science, as with all New Age “gurus”, his ignunce is clear.

I heard about him in English class. A kid had mentioned that his mum was obsessed with the book because it had been on Oprah, and I was immediately sceptical considering that Oprah was sponsoring it. That dumb bat (no, bats are fine creatures… I will not bring them down to her level) tosh-bag supported The Secret after all, and here we are… still needing self-help. When I told my English teacher my criticisms of the book, I earned the remark… “You know what? I think you need to lighten up and deal with a little spirituality.”

So, I saw the book at a book store, picked it up, and started reading.

“The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur (emphasis added). One day, however, a critical threshold was reached and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet…”

So… we have flowers randomly popping up out of nowhere but they’re not thriving because selection pressure doesn’t favour them… and then, after the flowers are formed the selection pressure is there? Anybody who knows anything about evolution (less than 50% of this country, actually, so he’s not too far behind the curve) can see what’s wrong here.

Flowers don’t pop out of nowhere onto plants for no reason. They evolve from flower-like structures because selection pressure (in this case sexual selection) pushes them to do so. No selection pressure for structures good at attracting insects, no flowers or other structures that serve the same purpose. Not the other way around.

The ignunce continues.

“It is believed that the life forms on this planet first evolved in the sea. When there were no animals yet to be found on land, the sea was teeming with life. Then at some point, of the sea creatures must have started to venture onto dry land. It would perhaps crawl a few inches at first, then exhausted by the enormous gravitational pull of the planet, it would return to the water, where gravity is almost nonexistent and where it could live with much greater ease. And then it tried again and again and again, and much later would adapt to life on land, grow feet instead of fins, develop lungs instead of gills (emphasis added).

First of all, gravity was not the only problem fish had to overcome. Though it was a bit of a problem, the other more pressing matter was breathing. Hence, the lung fish.

Second of all, it is not believed that life started in the sea. It is verified by fossil evidence that life started in the sea.

This time, he doesn’t use the same fallacy as above. I’m not sure if he actually believes that the organism is getting the traits because it’s trying to evolve, but is it just me, or does that sound like Lamarckian evolution? If this guy really does believe in Lamarckian evolution… FAIL.

“The pain-body (the thing he says makes us depressed), however, is not just individual in nature. It also partakes of the pain suffered by countless humans throughout the history of humanity, which is a history of continuous tribal warfare, of enslavement, pillage, rape, torture, and other forms of violence. This pain still lives in the collective psyche of humanity and is being added to on a daily basis, as you can verify when you watch the news tonight or look at the drama in people’s relationships. The collective pain-body is PROBABLY ENCODED WITHIN EVERY HUMAN’S DNA (emphasis added), although we haven’t discovered it yet.”

Oh, I get it. My ancestors were violent so it encoded something in my DNA. I see.

Show of hands, please. How many people know that DNA is a molecule that manufactures proteins? How many people know a way that acts of violence could encode the DNA within us?

Later on in the book, there was some more ignunt jazz about how everything is a “vibrating energy field” vibrating at a certain “frequency” and because thoughts are vibrating at a different frequency we can not interact with them.

No.

Thoughts are electrical impulses in your neurons inside of your cranium. That’s why we can’t interact with them. But no… we have to have jargon that doesn’t mean anything so that we can sound like we know something.

Most surprisingly, though, is that I didn’t encounter any shit about quantum mechanics in the parts I read. But, still…

How to be a New Age guru.

  1. Write a book. No need to do any research. Just make stuff up as you go along that sounds good.
  2. Ramble about quantum mechanics. All you need to do is… “vibration, frequencies, ramble ramble, quantum mechanics! Law of attraction, ramble ramble, magnetic forces, vibration frequencies ramble.”
  3. Tell people that wanting makes it so.
  4. Distort science some more.
  5. Go on Oprah.
  6. Laugh your way to the bank.
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8 responses to this post.

  1. Good job Elles. lol – I sent this one to my Mom. 😉

  2. When I told my English teacher my criticisms of the book, I earned the remark… “You know what? I think you need to lighten up and deal with a little spirituality.”

    Translation: “Stop thinking so much, you’re making my brain hurt.”

  3. Hm, humans having an inherent quality to do evil sounds like the Calvinist belief in total depravity and the Christian belief that all humans are sinful. Although being that this person is probably as ingorant on theology as he is on genetics, he probably wasn’t thinking of that.

    Ha, I am working on a book (fiction) which Lamarckian evolution is true instead of Darwinian evolution, alothough I had to make up most of the science behind it.

  4. I think a couple of my neurons just died reading that. Tell that man to stop making stuff up! There are perfectly good ways to make money with your overactive imagination, without lying to stupid people–they’re called “fantasy writers”.

  5. Excellent review. I like that you didn’t dismiss it out of hand, you researched it. I try to do the same now and again to see if I’m missing something; some important and persuasive insight that will explain “meaning in the universe”.

    I just keep coming up with the meaning we humans give our own lives. Not the other-intelligence-dolphins, atlanteans, or ephemera that vibrate on clouds.

  6. Well, I do have to hand it to the man… He might just inspire a few million people to be kinder to one another. I really wish that we could just do that without having to believe that the universe is conscious.

  7. Posted by Chris on May 9, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I stumbled across this post by randomly clicking around WordPress, and figured I’d let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep up the good work!

  8. Nice thinking!

    Once you suspend rational thought for just one step, then all the rest makes “sense.” It’s like accepting you live in a beautiful house. Then, sure, it makes sense to talk about having a southwest window, ambient music, wallpaper, etc. Meanwhile the house isn’t there!

    These New Age gurus aren’t much different than the old religions. They want you to accept several premices without offering any proof [like the DNA claims of Tolles] and often paying little attention to reason.

    It’s great to see young people being serious thinkers.

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