03 December 2012

Open letter to the family of the late General Sir Richard McCreery

We have posted below advertisements for some of the properties near here which supporters might buy or rent to help us expand our activities to a more adequate level.

I would suggest that buying the house advertised at £500K in the name of Dr Charles McCreery would indicate a wish on the part of his family to start making reparation to him for the damage to his prospects that was done, and continues to be done, by slander and disinheritance.

The value of this house is almost certainly far less than the present value of the Chelsea flat which Charles’s mother, Lady McCreery, left to his sister in her will, from which Charles was excluded.

Our current enquiries show that the value of such a flat at Cranmer Court in Chelsea is not less, and probably more, than £800K, this being the current market value of a one-bedroom flat there. In fact, his mother’s flat which was left to his sister appears to have had at least two bedrooms.

It should not be overlooked that, deprived of financial support as we are, the gift of a house would need to be accompanied by a gift of money which could be invested to provide for the running costs, insurance and expenses of the house. The cost of the house purchase would be £500K, so £500K in cash could be added to bring the total up to £1m. This would indicate a serious intention to start making reparation to Dr McCreery, but would still be a small fraction of the benefits which would have accrued to him over the years by investment of the inheritances of which he was unjustly deprived.

* * *

Further information about this situation can be found at Charles McCreery and his family.

29 November 2012

Supporting us by buying or renting houses

Lenin is said to have declared that the way to crush the bourgeoisie was to grind them between the millstones of inflation and taxation.

This seems to be the programme that has been, and is being, followed in this country and throughout Western civilisation.

There is a smallish house for sale near here, and also a small house for rent near here. Any potential supporter could buy or rent one of them, as a holiday home and/or for us to use. It seems that in modern society we have no potential supporters, but I just mention it.

The agent for the house for sale is Penny & Sinclair.

The agent for the house for rent is Morgan & Associates.

26 November 2012

Professor Colin Blakemore and 'near-death' experiences

‘Near-death experiences’, which have become a staple of popular journalism, were never heard of (or at least I had never heard of them) until a decade or so after the publication of my book on out-of-the-body experiences in 1968, so it may be supposed that they arose in reaction to my having publicised the concepts of out-of-the-body experiences, lucid dreams, and apparitions.

I should explain how it was that I came to publish work on these topics, as it has been widely assumed that I found them particularly interesting.

In fact, I was thrown out at the end of my ruined ‘education’ with no usable qualification, after eleven years of state-funded oppression which was aimed at producing an egalitarian outcome, i.e. at cancelling the advantages which I might have been able to gain as a result of my exceptional ability. I had no research scholarship nor any way of proceeding with the high-flying university career which I needed to have, in any field.

In this shocking situation, serendipity led me to the Society for Psychical Research and I was able to obtain a research studentship (the Perrott Studentship) on account of the relationship of the SPR with Trinity College, Cambridge.

I do not know of any other way in which I could have obtained a grant for postgraduate work in any field in the absence of support from Somerville (my Oxford college).

I had therefore to survey the fields of potential research that fell under the auspices of the Perrott Studentship to find the areas most likely to enhance my claim on a university appointment.

Out-of-the-body experiences (OBEs) appeared to me to be the phenomenon which would most readily lend itself to research leading to advances in scientific understanding. They were, however, and perhaps for this reason, ignored by those working or interested in parapsychology. They were predominantly associated with a belief in an afterlife, and the cases compatible with such a belief which were sometimes published by spiritualists or theosophists were supposed by those without such beliefs to be imaginary or dreamlike experiences.

Dr Charles McCreery and I made appeals to the general public for reports of anomalous experiences. As a result of our work, it now appears that such appeals can be expected to produce a substantial number of cases. The cases often had various characteristics in common, which could provide plentiful scope for further research, but we did not see any of this as having any bearing on the question of spiritualistic survival.

We hoped that we had released OBEs as a topic for research from this unrealistic issue. However, the way to our doing further research was blocked by a lack of interest in providing financial support for us to carry it out. (There had all along been hostility to our commencing research in this area, even from members of the SPR.)

After a decade or so, we started to become aware of the previously unknown category of near-death experiences, which began to receive publicity on the television and elsewhere.

For example, a near-death experience was quoted in the Daily Mail recently.
Death was beckoning but I was aware of everything around me. Suddenly, I felt my entire body being sucked up into the white light above. I found myself in a white tunnel — and I knew I had died. Away from the cursing of the medics and the bleeps of the machines, there was a wonderful sense of calm.

But I also became aware of somebody standing a few feet away from me... it was Ruby — wearing her new school uniform and with her hair tied neatly in bunches. She smiled and took my hand. ‘Come with me, Mummy,’ she implored.

At the end stood a gate. I stopped, feeling an urge to walk back down the tunnel, where I was sure my beloved grandmother and other family members who’d passed away would be waiting to greet me.

But little Ruby was insistent. ‘Mummy, step through the gates NOW!’ Her urgency brought me to my senses. I stepped through it and Ruby slammed it shut behind me.

The shock jolted my body — and I am sure it was at this moment that the defibrillator pads being used by the medics shocked my heart back into a rhythm. (Daily Mail, 10 October 2012)
Also recently Professor Colin Blakemore commented in the Daily Telegraph on a book (Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander) about near-death experiences.
... NDEs have taken on a new cloak of respectability with a book by a Harvard doctor. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, will make your toes wiggle or curl, depending on your prejudices. What’s special about his account of being dead is that he’s a neurosurgeon. ... His, and the multitude of other memories reported by people who have been close to death, have to be seen first through the prism of hard science. The crucial question is not whether such astounding experiences should lead us to abandon materialist accounts of brain function, but whether materialist accounts can possibly explain them. ... Since the lucky survivor can only tell you about them after the event, how can we be sure that these things were perceived and felt at the time that their brains were messed up, rather than being invented afterwards? (Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2012)
And this is what has apparently resulted from our attempts to establish out-of-the-body experiences as a field in which we could carry out further research. The concept of OBEs has been replaced by the new concept of NDEs, and these are seen as only of interest in relation to the question of spiritualist survival.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.

19 November 2012

Biography of General Sir Richard McCreery

On Wednesday (14th November) a book was published about the life of the late General Sir Richard McCreery, the father of my colleague Dr Charles McCreery. According to the book, Sir Richard was ‘arguably one of the finest British fighting generals of the Second World War.’

The book gives a misleading impression of the life of Charles McCreery and of our past history as an organisation for academic research, an organisation which was intended to supplement the university career of Dr McCreery, among others. The General was, in effect, antagonistic and his hostility had damaging effects on Dr McCreery’s prospects in life and those of the Institute of Psychophysical Research, with which Dr McCreery had become associated.

What is said in the book omits most of what happened and gives a misleading impression of the little that is mentioned.

Other members of the McCreery family should have exerted themselves (but have never done so) to repair the damage to Charles McCreery’s prospects, by disinheritance and otherwise, which resulted from the General’s unjustifiable hostility towards this organisation, and towards Charles McCreery’s association with it.

Readers of the book might like to look at the category Charles McCreery and his family on this blog which provides further insights into the General’s life. The following six posts may be of particular interest.

A Registrar of Oxford and other deflating gas-bags

Slandered by academics

Treacherous parents and a treacherous fund-raiser

Slandered by aristocrats (part 1)

Your name will be up there one day

The sacrifices of sadism are the greater

13 November 2012

Hostility to research on hallucinatory phenomena

text of a letter

This is an account of the conversation about Charles McCreery’s sister Sarah, which I had with Sir George Joy.

Sir George was the only one of our ostensible supporters who visited us fairly regularly and to whom we talked about what was really going on. During my early years at the Society for Psychical Research he had been more like a wholehearted supporter. This had lasted long enough for him to play the role of senior supporter in getting the covenant from Cecil King, chairman of the group that owned the Daily Mirror, but by now he (Sir George) was as worried as anyone that we might get enough money to enable us to do something noteworthy, and acted as if threatened by anything that might increase the chance of that.

The conversation with him about Sarah McCreery must have been fairly early on, because it was very much in the context of everyone having made a lot of effort to convince Charles’s parents, and Sarah, that there was no reason why types of experience which had been associated in the past with parapsychology could not be studied quite objectively and scientifically. What we were proposing to do was in no way different from other psychological research, and we had a large number of prestigious academic Consultants to ensure that we never deviated from the best standards of experimental design.

So I said to Sir George something on the lines of, ‘I hope Charles’s family are genned up enough by now.’

Sir George conveyed to me that Charles’s sister certainly appeared not to be, and that she was stirring up people connected with the SPR, including himself, in demanding further details about what it was really all about, and what Charles’s motivation could be for becoming involved in it.

I was rather dismayed to hear this and said something on the lines of: ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake. What more is there to know? She sounds like a troublemaker. Can’t you get her to simmer down?’

It was clear by that time, although we accepted it philosophically, that Charles’s family were a bad investment. A good deal of time and effort had been expended on dealing with the usual prejudices about anything connected with parapsychology but, after making trivial covenants of £10 a year each when they first became Patrons, General and Lady McCreery had not made any further donations. Nor had any of their relatives or contacts, many of whom were wealthy.

In the years that followed, each time we started a new research project, we applied to the Research Committee of the SPR for funding to supplement our small covenanted income from Cecil King, and we were always turned down. There were plenty of ways in which the projects could have been made more informative, and a better preparation for future work, if it had been possible to spend more than the absolute minimum on carrying them out. Of course the negativity of the SPR might have been as bad as this anyway, but certainly it was increased rather than decreased by the agitation frequently expressed by members of the McCreery family.

It seemed that the most we could hope for was passivity on the part of the McCreerys. Nevertheless, Charles continued to work hard at keeping in with them, because it was so important that he should retain his position as an accepted member of his family and of his social class.

Sarah McCreery certainly did us no good with the SPR, which was already hostile, by contacting Sir George to express her doubts and criticisms.

* * *

Hallucinatory phenomena, as well as other phenomena associated with psychical research, aroused, and still arouse, strong reactions or prejudices. For example, there was a prejudice that the existence of such things must be regarded as a proof of spiritualism or other belief systems.

In fact, the work which we were able to do on them, restricted as it was by a lack of adequate finance, established the existence of some types of experience convincingly enough for them to become acceptable in academic contexts. Nominal research on them began to be done in university laboratories around the world, while complete resistance remained to allowing us to carry out research on them any further. We were as unable as before to obtain academic appointments, or funding for an academic institution, including facilities for research on the topics which we had pioneered, although research of a kind was now being done on them by people with the initial advantage of academic status and salary.

The only recognition of our position as pioneers in these fields was that Charles McCreery and I were, many years later, offered the opportunity to work for DPhils, as the hallucinatory phenomena had by then become acceptable topics for academic research.

* * *

Charles McCreery’s family have treated him outrageously. I was shocked that a respectable family with professed high moral standards could behave in such ways. His appeals for reparation, or even for support independently of any admission of responsibility for harm done, were greeted by assertions that his father was such a great man that other members of the family felt that respecting his wishes was the primary consideration. (I.e. that if he wished one of his sons to be unjustly treated, no right-thinking person could wish to remedy that.)

I was, however, amazed that no friends or relatives of the family felt it incumbent on them to use their influence to make the family behave honourably.

We are seeking money to enable us to do the research which we need to do outside the university system to establish our claim to be given suitable, high status positions inside the university system, and to take much further our work in various fields, including those associated with hallucinatory experiences which were initiated by us.

08 November 2012

Discrimination against the cleverest by schools, universities and families

It is a feature of the downfall of Western civilisation that above-average ability is discriminated against; this is expressed in the form of preventing it from having ‘unfair’ advantages. In the case of people with exceptional IQs, not only is the school and university system geared against them, but their families are encouraged to turn against them, especially if they make any attempt to recover from the position in which they have been placed by a disadvantageous education. (‘Education’ here means ‘process of acquiring, under the supervision of negatively motivated teachers and tutors, qualifications considered necessary for careers of certain kinds’.)

The paradigm of the ‘pushing parent’, supposedly providing the clever offspring with unfair advantages in the taking of exams, came in with the Welfare State. Less well advertised is society’s fear that middle or upper-class families might give financial and social support to clever offspring attempting to recover from the ill effects of an education over which they had no control. In practice this is not a serious risk; families, rather, appear spontaneously to invent accusations against their cleverest members, which justify them in treating them as if they had voluntarily placed themselves into a socially disadvantageous position.

The family members of the outcast person are probably already jealous of his superior ability, and readily latch on to the opportunities for casting him in a bad light, which can only be to their advantage in obtaining increased shares of any inheritances.

Inheritances, and any social support which the family might give, are now far more important to the outcast than they would have been if his way into a suitable career had not been blocked. At the same time he can be represented as a left-wing, anti-capitalist dropout who despises money, and who lives in poverty as a matter of free choice – but who can also be criticised as ‘greedy’ if he asks for money. (In spite of the vast quantities of money poured out in grants for rubbishy work, carried out in socially recognised academic institutions by people of no particular ability.)

05 November 2012

Fast Track to losing your freedom

The time it takes to diagnose dementia is to be slashed from 18 months to just three following a scientific breakthrough. David Cameron will this week announce the creation of a chain of brain clinics to end the agony of those who find out they have Alzheimer’s when it is too late for help. Experts say early diagnosis will give those suffering from the early stages of dementia 18 months of extra independent living, transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable and elderly.

More than 400,000 people in Britain are suffering from dementia but are denied the care and support they need because their condition is undiagnosed – in part because they have to wait a year and a half for it to be confirmed.

Patients at risk will be able to do a series of tests on an iPad in the comfort of their local GP’s office. In only ten minutes the software can determine the difference between people with normal and abnormal memory.

Those at risk would then be referred to an NHS brain health centre where they would have more extensive memory tests while hooked up to an MRI scanner. A new computer program can detect signs of dementia such as brain shrinkage and damage to blood vessels that can affect memory. The results would be beamed back to the GP.

The Government is also investing in a series of mobile diagnostic clinics which will park outside GP surgeries, so people can be tested on their own doorstep. (Daily Mail, 5 November 2012)
The population of people over what is, at present, pensionable age is a population with an above-average IQ.

Once a person has been ‘diagnosed’ with Alzheimer’s they are potentially regarded as incapable of making decisions in their own interests, leaving the way clear for their GP to pop them into the killing fields of a ‘care home’, with or without their consent.

The article from which the above extract is taken stresses how comfortable and easy the process of diagnosis will be made.

Given what is emerging about the treatment by state hospitals of those who are seen as ‘past it’, one should be wary of the medical mafia finding easy ways to diagnose ‘dementia’.

During the Second World War, Jews who signed up for ‘relocation’ (which would turn out to be to a concentration camp with gas chambers) were rewarded with supplies of flour and other food. ‘If they did not want to help us, why would they give us flour to keep us alive?’ some said desperately.

‘Mobile brain clinics’ may come to have the same resonances as ‘gas chambers.’

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.

I hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.


02 November 2012

West of the Moon, East of the Sun

Charles Morgan (1894-1958) was a writer who expressed a kind of psychology that is suppressed or outcast in the modern world. This comes across most clearly in his novel Sparkenbroke, published in 1936.

There is a sense of incalculable possibility that human psychology may lead to something different, which was also expressed by J.R.R. Tolkien in a poem in The Lord of the Rings, and by H.G. Wells in his short story The Door in the Wall.

As Tolkien’s poem1 puts it,
Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
In H.G. Wells’s story, a boy finds a door which leads into an enchanted garden, and throughout his life is haunted by glimpses of it, but is always prevented from entering by some urgent consideration of his normal life.

The following extract2 from Charles Morgan’s Sparkenbroke shows that in 1936 it was not yet unfashionable to admire genius, nor to entertain ideas about the possibilities of human psychology, which now might be called ‘elitist’.
“Do you remember where Lord Sparkenbroke wrote this?” [Mary] asked, and quoted his words. [“The gods offer their own nature to all of us, but only a god knows how to accept.”]

[The Rector] said at last, answering her unspoken question … “When he says that the gods offer their own nature to all of us, he’s writing what most people will deny. They deny the offer because they can’t bear to remember their refusal of it; but I think it’s true that the offer is made. I know it was made to me. There was a moment in my life when I was capable of changing my nature, perhaps of becoming a saint. It was partly my curiosity for mankind, and partly – by an odd paradox – my love of it, that prevented me, and instead of a saint made new I became what you see – a scholar, something of a pedant; a parish priest, a little puffed up by the simplicity of my life; not a failure, not unhappy, but not what Piers [Sparkenbroke] calls ‘a god.’ ‘Only a god ... knows how to accept.’ It’s a hard saying, and harder for Piers than for the rest of us; he knows how to accept but cannot. The offer was made to him when he was a child. It is made to him continually, it is always open to him – that’s the meaning of genius. But because his genius and his life are incomplete he can’t fully accept.”

“But everyone?” she said. “He – yes. And you. But everyone?” … He said instantly: “I think so. To me it’s one of the Christian evidences, though Piers wouldn’t see it as such. Everyone – usually when very young – goes through a kind of spiritual crisis. It varies greatly in intensity and it arises in form with the temper of the age, but in its essence the thing doesn’t change. Sick of a world seemingly stuck fast in the mud of human nature, the young man believes, in certain instants, that he alone has wings. In those instants, he does indeed possess them. He has power to tread the air as St. Peter the water. He cries out, like St. Paul, ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ and for answer, the gods, as Piers says, offer their nature to him. No one knew this better than Paul himself, but even he couldn’t accept fully, even his great genius was incomplete. And the rest of us? In the very impulse of flight the young man remembers the earth and fears it and desires what he fears. …

We turn away because we have not yet power to cast off our own natures, and are, as it were, stagnant, standing apart from that principle of energy, of movement, of perpetual becoming which, as Heraclitus conceived of it, is an essential principle of the universe:

Man is a king in exile.
All his greatness
Consists in knowledge of that Kingdom lost
Which, in degree of quickness, is his fate
And character on earth.
We are in exile. We have lost our power to ‘become’ because we haven’t the genius to die and be reborn – that is Piers’s idea. If the genius of death fail us while we live; if – as he puts it – we can’t die of ourselves; if we’re so weak that we can’t seize any of the opportunities of transcendence, then death itself will accomplish what we cannot, endowing us with the resurrection.” …

And, pursuing the line of his own thought, he began to speak to her of Voltaire and of the value of scepticism in driving faith back upon its sources.
Sparkenbroke was published about twenty years before the onset of the oppressive (Welfare) state in 1945, at which time Morgan appears still to have been a well known, prestigious and even fashionable writer. When I was at Somerville some ten years later, he was still well known: other undergraduates had heard of him and had opinions about some of his books. But by now the opinions were becoming dismissive. He was not down-to-earth; what he wrote was divorced from real life.

Any idea of relating human life to something beyond itself had become annoying, and was treated with hostility.

I aroused hostility myself, partly no doubt on account of my high IQ, but also in part because my motivation was driven by internal determinants, not by a wish to comply with social pressures.

Mary Adams of the BBC, atheist socialist, and friend of the Principal of Somerville (who was also an atheist and a socialist) said, when I mentioned Morgan’s name, that he was ‘insanely Christian’. My own drive to get on with doing research was also ascribed by her to pathological psychology. I was supposedly ‘schizoid’ and ‘reclusive’. She said of me that I wanted to do research ‘not for any sensible reason, but because she thinks she is divinely suited to it’.

Before the onset of egalitarian ideology, an interest in transcending normal experience was not associated with social dysfunctionality. The man in H.G. Wells’s story, for example, who is haunted by the memory of his door in the wall, is a successful politician and Cabinet Minister.

Nowadays, any motivation other than that of social conformity is automatically diagnosed as pathological and ‘autistic’.

1. The Return of the King, George Allen & Unwin, 1955, p.308
2. Sparkenbroke, Macmillan, 1936, pp.284-287


29 October 2012

Vlucht in de Medemens

text of a reply to someone who recently wrote to me, having read the Dutch edition of The Human Evasion (‘Vlucht in de Medemens’) some years ago, and having put part of it on the web

Dear ...

I wrote The Human Evasion under duress. I was in a terrible position, having been exiled from a university career, and my previous distress flares had brought me no alleviation of my position.

I thought people would be inclined to turn the book into a belief system, and in writing it I tried to make this as difficult for them as possible. I am amazed that it can be taken as showing that ‘there is a way out’!

I do not think that freedom, as you suggest, is a word for ‘nothing left to lose’. Freedom, in my mind, is something that society has been trying to keep me deprived of throughout my life.

If part of my book is being inserted into someone else’s book, or on someone else’s website, could there at least be added a note expressing my position, namely that I am desperately in need of help (or freedom) in the way of money (commensurate with setting up institutional environments, since I am still excluded from the socially accredited ones from which I was thrown out in the first place), and in need of people coming to work here. Also, what I have published has been only the tiniest fraction of what I might have said if there were any market for it.

If you have any sympathy with my position, or even recognition of the fact that I myself regard it as intolerable and in need of relief, come for a vacation, perhaps at Christmas – though that is just a delay to coincide with a social convention, so why not come immediately.

You would have to help with any work that needs to be done and which you know enough to do, which limits it to jobs regarded as ‘unskilled’ or ‘menial’. You would get to know a bit about our outlook, and what we regard as our urgent need for opportunity to do what is (from some points of view) important.

Also, you would get to know about the advantages that people might gain in association with us. Even if you never come permanently yourself, you would at least be able to give other people more realistic cues.

When the Dutch edition of The Human Evasion was published I was fed up (as with every other edition of my books published by an outside publisher, and hence with any chance of being reviewed, and bought and read on a decent scale) that I was given no opportunity to contribute an introduction explaining my position and desperate needs. Without such an introduction to put each book in context, from my point of view it might as well not have been published at all, and the efforts that had gone into writing it in bad circumstances were abortive.

How about coming? There is a pub very near to us where you could get bed and breakfast.

update

People often seem to use their own lack of money as an excuse for not coming to help. They say to themselves ‘Celia Green obviously needs money, and I don’t have any’, and do not even offer to come to do some work here, however enthusiastic they may sound about my ideas (as they interpret them). Usually they do not even come for a visit when I have definitely invited them to come.

There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but they are very infrequent. It would have been nice if this person was one of them.

I am now very used to people’s unexpansiveness, but this long-standing feature of human psychology is no more helpful to me now than it was when I had just left college and was attempting to set up my own research department, with residential and dining facilities and live-in caretaking staff.

The fact that I need financial support on the scale necessary to set up institutional environments does not mean that we could not find ways of supporting potential new workers; however, no plans can be made until we have experience of their compatibility with us and of what, in practice, they are able to do.

12 October 2012

A ‘level playing field’?

The provision of free state education used to be described as creating a ‘level playing field’. However, it may be wondered whether the real purpose was to iron out the advantages of genetic IQ.

In the early 1940s, and probably also earlier, it was still acceptable to suggest that the effect of state education would be to oppose and damage the prospects of those with above-average IQs.

The following, for example, is an extract from an essay entitled ‘The Uncommon Man’, in which the novelist and essayist Charles Morgan discusses the oncoming ‘age of the Common Man’, and the educational conformity which he thought would result.
If the governing idea is to be that of the Common Man and all things are to be shaped to his supposed needs, education must conform to his conformity, and educational authorities, with a dutiful eye on the Common Boy, must deny exceptional opportunity to exceptional boys. (*)
I do not know what the powers of ‘educational authorities’ were at the time Morgan wrote this. I believe they were given much greater powers of interference in the 1944 Education Act, so that they subsequently had the right to enquire into, and specify changes in, the running of private schools and the circumstances of those being educated at home.

The essay by Charles Morgan was certainly written before the 1944 Education Act, and about ten years before I was prevented from taking the School Certificate exam (the exam then usually taken at 16) at the age of 13.

In 1944, when Morgan’s collection of essays, Reflections in a Mirror, was published, I was eight or nine, and unaware that I was about to run the gauntlet of a hostile educational system.

However, the ideology which was to shape the Education Act and later education policy was already having some effect on my life, via my parents and my school.

At the small private primary school I attended, I was sheltered from the hostile attention of the local authority and was treated politely, as was everyone else there. When there were periods for reading on one's own, while the other pupils read books from the general collection available in the classroom, the headmistress provided me with more adult books (for example, historical novels which could be regarded as educational).

Yet neither the school nor my parents made any efforts to encourage my attempts to learn sciences or languages, or to make me aware of exams in such things that I could be working for.

When I taxed my mother with this, long after my university career (and my parents’ lives) had been ruined, my mother claimed that there were no exams like the School Certificate that could be taken during the war years.

‘Well, at least’, I would say, ‘I could have been learning some languages, and even sciences, properly so that I could take exams in them as quickly as possible as soon as it became possible to do so.’

In drawing attention to the negative effects of the new ideology, Charles Morgan was expressing a position which is unlikely to be viewed as acceptable nowadays. Nevertheless, the ideology was clearly on the way in even in 1944, and people of Morgan’s class were tacitly accepting the greater part of it. Earlier in the same essay, Morgan wrote:
There are two kinds of law – law that requires and law that forbids. ... To refuse all [law that requires] would be to revert to an extreme policy of laissez-faire, and this is neither possible nor to be desired.

But there is a real distinction between those who wish to preserve and those who, in pursuit of the theory of the Common Man, wish to overthrow that balance between positive and negative law upon which has hitherto rested our whole conception of a community at once orderly and free.
Unfortunately for critics of conformity, once you accept the need for state intervention, and limit yourself to arguing about the detail, you have essentially lost the battle.

* originally published in The Times Literary Supplement, reprinted in Charles Morgan, Reflections in a Mirror, Macmillan, 1944

06 October 2012

‘Class warfare’ as a cover for IQ warfare

Critics have accused Ed Miliband of ‘class war’ tactics after he devoted most of a party political broadcast to the fact he went to a comprehensive school.

In an attempt to compare his background with that of Eton-educated David Cameron, the Labour leader makes repeated references to the fact he was educated at Haverstock School in North London.

But a backbench Tory MP called the broadcast ‘a bit rich’, given that Mr Miliband’s background is far from ordinary. Weaver Vale’s Graham Evans, who grew up in a council house and left school with few qualifications, pointed out Mr Miliband was born to a very well-off family which was part of the ‘Labour elite’. ‘Whenever a wannabe prime minister tries to use class war, I think it’s ridiculous,’ he said. ‘I am a working class lad who went to a comprehensive, but I think it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re going to that matters. It is a bit rich for him to say I am a normal bloke just because I went to a comprehensive school. Most will look at the broadcast and think he’s just from the Labour elite.’

Mr Miliband is the son of Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, who was close to prominent Labour figures in the 1960s and 1970s and lived in a large house in Primrose Hill, North London.

In the broadcast, to be shown tonight, Mr Miliband is filmed in a classroom at his former school. He says: ‘I’ll always be grateful to Haverstock because I honestly don’t believe I’d be leader of the Labour Party if it wasn’t for the grounding, the education, the learning about life that I had from this school.’ The broadcast also includes former teachers and students who were taught politics by Mr Miliband at Harvard University in 2002 and 2003.

Meanwhile, in a New Statesman interview shadow chancellor Ed Balls said he thought private schools were a barrier to social mobility and social justice but admitted he ‘enjoyed’ his private education at Nottingham High School. (Daily Mail, 2 October 2012)
It seems extraordinary that Ed Miliband’s academic success must be ascribed either to his comprehensive school or to his advantageous home background. The debate about the causes of his success is able to continue indefinitely without even a passing reference to the possibility that he might have inherited an IQ somewhat above average from a father who was known as a leading intellectual.

I know that there is a strong wish to believe that there is no hereditary factor at all in IQ or in related personality attributes. But it is remarkable that this has led to a universal belief so strong that any mention of the possibility that it might not be so is suppressed.

Apparently the social consensus would like to believe that intelligence is created by social influence. Society must own the individual body and soul. There can be no doubt that it owns him bodily by the time it has set up a National Health Service, and an army of social workers to take him into care (away from his parents) at the earliest possible age, if they see fit.

In spite of all this, there remains a lingering suspicion that IQ is not created by ‘education’.

In the article quoted, Ed Miliband is also credited with saying that the country has ‘deep problems – about who Britain is run for, and who prospers in it, about one rule for those at the top and, too often, another rule for everyone else’.

Considering the distribution of power, one might well conclude that Britain is ‘run’ for the benefit of people with a fairly high, but not necessarily outstanding IQ, who have a liking for political power, and for interfering with others.

In other words, the country is run for the benefit of agents of the collective, of whom Ed Miliband himself is one of the better-paid ones, who are rewarded for interfering in people’s lives. Prominent among them is the medical ‘profession’, as well as teachers, social workers, lawyers, and purveyors of psychological ‘help’.

It might be imagined that the country is run for those who receive the benefits which are administered by agents of the collective, but if you think this, you should think again.

What they receive is what others consider suitable for them, and generally involves surrender of freedom. Even when it is money rather than a dubious ‘service’ which is being provided, this is handed out only when there is an obvious drain of a socially acceptable kind on the expenditure of the recipient.

19 September 2012

Should the state choose for you? Certainly not.

A recent advert in the Financial Times shows a female professor at the London Business School, asking the question:
‘Should financial regulation intervene in the portfolio choice of investors?’
Why is the gender of the professor chosen to represent the London Business School female? Is it coincidence, or has it been selected to make some ideological point? If the latter, what point? That the School has its share of female professors? Or are readers supposed to regard it as more natural to have an interventionist position expressed (or at least considered) by a woman? Herbert Spencer thought that women were more likely than men to adopt interventionist positions, and one can certainly posit evolutionary models which would fit with this.

The LBS could have asked me to comment on whether the position invoked by the advert is philosophically defensible, or logically flawed, but they did not, perhaps in part because they guessed which answer I would give.

Modern economics is rather keen on the concept of ‘bad choices’, and much has been made in recent years of one version of this, the so-called phenomenon of ‘cognitive bias’. It is supposed to be possible to demonstrate, experimentally, that people make choices that are not optimal. In fact, no such demonstration is possible.

This is not to say that the concept is nonsensical to begin with. I dare say the average human being has a psychology that is full of unresolved conflicts, which trip him up in a way that prevents him getting what he really wants. But demonstrating that this is the case, by comparing his actual choices to supposedly superior ones, is another matter altogether. From a strict point of view, it simply cannot be done.

Consider person X making a choice between option A and option B. The choice is made in favour of A, through some action on his part, and consequences start to follow. How are you, an outside observer, going to assess that it was B which was the optimal choice from his own point of view? Because A causes him harm of a kind that B does not? But how can you assess what weights X places on different benefits and detriments, or whether indeed a detriment really is a detriment, from his point of view? He may choose to smoke, for example, precisely because he does not wish to live to the maximum possible age.

What if things become extreme enough, you may argue. If A causes him to lose his wife, and his job, surely he cannot have wanted to choose A? Of course, we have to distinguish between consequences he foresaw and those he did not. Your assessment of the probabilities of different possible consequences may be different from his. ‘Oh, but the way things turned out proves that my probability assessments were correct.’ Well, no. Also, even if he himself thought that the hoped-for outcome of his decision had a low probability, the value he assigned to that outcome may have been so high that the choice was still rational from his point of view.

What if X now seems miserable in a way that is hard to envisage he would have felt if he had chosen B? Even if it were possible to make comparisons between his current emotional state and the one he might have derived from the other option, and possible to rank one above the other on his behalf (it is not), it still would not prove that he should not have taken the gamble.

What if X claims he would not have made the decision if he had known something which he did not know at the time, but which he now does, i.e. if he had had access to information P? And what if a lot of other people say the same thing? (For example: ‘now we have read the leaflet about lung cancer, we think we would never have become smokers if we had been able to read it when we started smoking’.) Would that mean that if awareness of P were increased, decisions would necessarily be made that were ‘better’ for those kinds of individuals? No.

What if additional knowledge does not come into it, and the individuals just say ‘I was foolish’, or ‘I did not think it through’, or ‘I was under the influence of alcohol’, and claim that in a more normal, sensible state they would have chosen B, not A. Can we not at least then conclude they made a ‘bad’ decision? Not really, for the same sorts of reason.

One cannot reach any strong conclusions from what someone says, especially after the event, because of the principle of ‘cheap talk’. If what you say has little or no effect on what happens to you, then arguably nothing can be read into your statements except (possibly) your intention to influence the listener. Only actual choices can reveal something about a person’s desires or interests, and even those only in an imperfect way.

You (a) do not know whether a person’s claims about what they would have done are meaningful, and (b) do not know what their optimal choices, given all available information, would have been. What is more (allowing for the sake of argument the possibility that there is a better choice, and that others know what it is), you can certainly not assume that intervening to produce the outcome of the optimal choice has the same ranking, from the person’s point of view, as the case in which he chooses the outcome for himself.

Such considerations, showing that (strictly) you can never judge that another’s choices are imperfect, can never know what the optimal choice would have been, and can never recreate it artificially even if you knew it, are routinely waved aside.

We can guess the reason why the possible objections are ignored. The assumptions that we can know what is good for people, and that we can bring it about, may seem to provide legitimacy for intervention. It can be claimed that the intervention is done, not for the intervenor’s benefit, but for the sake of the victim.

Conversely, consideration of the philosophical flaws underlying theories of irrationality tends to undermine the arguments in favour of intervening, whether in portfolio choice or any other area of decision-making.

Theories which provide justification for the exercise of power should always be regarded with greater scepticism than those which are neutral with respect to power, and certainly not with less.

02 September 2012

The Bourgeoisie strikes back (or is prevented from doing so)

Lenin is said to have declared that the way to crush the bourgeoisie was to grind them between the millstones of inflation and taxation.

This seems to be the programme that has been, and is being, followed in this country and throughout Western civilisation.

There is a smallish house for sale near here, and also a small house for rent near here. Any potential supporter could buy or rent one of them, as a holiday home and/or for us to use. It seems that in modern society we have no potential supporters, but I just mention it.

The agent for the house for sale is Penny & Sinclair.

The agent for the house for rent is Morgan & Associates

11 August 2012

Oxford's professorship in education

In December I applied for a professorship in education offered by Oxford University. The text of the covering letter was reproduced here.

I was not even shortlisted for this post, despite the fact that Oxford seem to have had difficulty filling it, since they advertised the same post again in April.

I reapplied, and again was not even shortlisted.

I reproduce below the text of the letter I sent in response to the turndown.

I think – and my colleagues at Oxford Forum agree – that if Oxford was genuinely interested in making progress on topics coming under the rubric of ‘education’ then the individuals responsible for filling this post should at least wish to meet me to find out what ideas I have for research and what I might do if offered the position.

In fact of course, it is doubtful that such motivation exists in modern academia, at a level capable of having an impact on such decisions. Far more important seems to be that mechanical rules are observed (the candidate should have at least so many publications under their belt, they should have at least x years’ ‘experience’ at other institutions – regardless of whether they have actually contributed anything significant to the advancement of knowledge), and that appearances are satisfied (what will other institutions think; are we doing what is ‘normal’ in the academic profession).

So the system is successfully perpetuated: some kind of activity passing under the name ‘research’ is duly carried on by a large number of people, providing one another with spurious professional endorsement (‘what you are doing may validly be regarded as educational research, because everyone else “working” in the field would say so too’).

However, understanding of the underlying issues is not meaningfully advanced.



Dear ...

Thank you for your letter of 16 May. It appears I was not even shortlisted for the Professorship of Education being offered by the Department of Sociology in association with Green Templeton College, for which I made an application in April 2012.

It is an indication of the oppressiveness of modern society that nobody considers it their business to enquire into the predicament of the victims of social outrage and support them in recovering from it.

And yet, not long ago, a teenager with an IQ said to be 130, currently in prison, was awarded damages against an education authority which had failed to provide him with enough intellectual stimulation. This was regarded as having led to his turning to crime instead of to gainful employment. I realise this provides no grounds for my entertaining any hope that I could sue for loss of my earnings from an academic career as well as my father’s loss of salary as a headmaster when he was forced to retire early on a breakdown allowance.

Normally in this situation I would ask you if you would let me come to see you to explain my position, to make it more likely that you will remember me if a suitable appointment arises. However, I realise that it would be unlikely to do me any good if you did grant me an interview with you. Nevertheless, I think that you should wish to come to see me to find out what help you could give me in returning to a normal position in society.

One form of help which you could certainly give me, even without coming to see me, would be money. Without a salary, and having to provide myself with an institutional environment as best I can, it is almost impossible for me to write books expressing my views, to publish those which have already been written and stockpiled, or to carry out any of the research which I have now been prevented from doing for several decades, and which I need to do to enhance my claim on restoration to the sort of career which I should have been having all along.

In your position, I would probably be happy to contribute half of my salary on a regular basis if I heard of someone in so grievously anomalous a situation as mine.

This is a standing invitation to you or any senior academic to come to visit me at my impoverished independent university, to discuss ways of supporting me, morally or financially, so that I do not continue to be prevented from contributing to the intellectual life of my time, as a headmistress (who perhaps lost her job for the crime of allowing me to be too happy at her school) once said that I was certain to do.

However, I am not inviting you or anyone else to come without warning, and an appointment would have to be made well in advance, and accompanied by a donation of at least £5000 towards the support of my institution, or to me personally. In fact, it would be better if made to me personally, as our affairs are too constricted and under-staffed to accept any additional burden in the way of processing and accounting for donations.

I do not expect you to come, although I think you should, but a donation of that size would at least prevent a visit, if it were to happen, from being an entirely fruitless drain on our time and emotional energy.

Yours sincerely,
etc.

04 August 2012

Philosophy students and vacation workers

text of a reply to a university philosophical society

Dear ...

Thank you for inviting me to speak to the ... Society. I am afraid that I will not be able to come in the foreseeable future.

I am not a member of the ‘international academic community’ to which you refer, although I certainly should be. The rejection of hereditary ability is fundamental to communist or socialist ideology, and I have never been able to overcome the handicap imposed upon me by my ruined ‘education’. I have been, and am being, prevented from making major progress in many fields.

Opposition to us expresses itself in the fact that we do not have a single senior supporter, i.e. any person outside of here, preferably with some social status, prepared to put our case in fund-raising applications. It is actually impossible to gain any financial support without a representative. We do not have one, as the nominal supporters we once had (of which there were originally a great number) offered to resign as soon as they were asked to be active on our behalf, or to contribute money themselves.

Although social status is (or would be) preferable in a supporter, anything is better than nothing. You and your colleagues may well start to have some social status in a few years’ time. If we had one or more academic supporters we could, for example, make applications to overseas universities to set up overseas departments here, so that we could give seminars in vacations on political, social and ideological developments in this country.

We are now in the summer vacation, so why do not you and/or some of your colleagues come to stay in or near Cuddesdon for six or eight weeks? You would need to be prepared to help with whatever work is in progress here, to justify our spending time on putting you in the picture in various ways. And you would need to have bicycles and/or a car to travel into Cuddesdon, as you might not be able to rent rooms close enough to us for walking.

I have put this invitation in the plural, but when we meet new people it is best if they are on their own, as a companion will be sure to reinforce or remind them of elements in the modern outlook which are incompatible with ours.

Kind regards,
etc.

Any undergraduates or academics are invited to come to Cuddesdon in vacations as voluntary workers. They are expected to have enough money of their own to pay for accommodation near here, but would be able to use our canteen facilities. However, we cannot enter into correspondence about arrangements before they come. While here, they could gain information about topics and points of view suppressed in the modern world, as well as giving badly needed help to our organisation.

21 July 2012

The onward march of egalitarianism

Prior to the 1939-45 war, getting university fees paid if you, or your parents, could not afford them depended on showing remarkable academic achievement (correlated with very high IQ).

For a time, there were State Scholarships which were regarded as exceptional. They were dependent on getting several distinctions in the exam normally taken at age 18, now called A-levels (though of course quite different in intellectual difficulty from what was taken then).

I got a State Scholarship at 16, regarded as a young age. At the time there were third years of the Sixth Form, and some people stayed on at school until 19 in order to try to get State Scholarships, or at least to do well on the S-level papers. S-level (scholarship) papers were more demanding than A-level papers.

But although the State Scholarship gave me a notional cachet as compared with a County Scholarship, it did not give me (at the time I took it) any financial advantage. All those who had their university fees topped up by the state had them topped up to the same level and received the same amount to live on.

I also got the top scholarship to Somerville College, known as the Senior Open Scholarship, but this also was a cachet and no more. A fraction of my fees was paid by the college, the rest by the state.

From that time on, the number of people going to university each year increased continuously, all receiving a similar level of financial support, regardless of ability.

By now about 50% of the population attends university or similar institutions. The fees have about trebled, and those who get bursaries or subsidies are those from the poorest families, which is in fact most likely to favour the lowest IQs.

Those with the highest IQs are now at no advantage relative to any other university entrant from a middle-class family, and have to acquire enormous loans (likely to be over £50,000 for those starting in 2012) in order to complete their university courses.

Pre-Welfare State, the highest IQs were at an advantage in getting the few scholarships available; now they are bracketed with the middle class at large in being discouraged by the prospect of debt, quite apart from any discrimination practised against them during the admissions process. Debt, one may surmise, is likely to deter the higher IQs the most, as they are likely to be more forethoughtful and existentially aware.

Only those with the ‘poorest’ backgrounds will be actively encouraged by getting their fees paid, and by various ‘outreach’ strategies that are being pursued. Those with the highest IQs, who would formerly have had the best chances of State Scholarships, are unlikely to fall into this category. To have such an IQ implies at least a fairly high IQ on the part of both parents, and at least one of them is likely to have a reasonable income.


11 July 2012

Tax the pensioners till the pips squeak

Attention continues to be focused on the population of pensioners. This is a group with an average IQ above that for the population as a whole. One might have hoped (and did hope) that having run the gauntlet of the taxation system up to retirement age, one might be left alone with whatever resources one had managed to conserve. But no, it will not do. An additional direct tax on the working elderly is being proposed (misleadingly labelled ‘national insurance’).

At present, there is a reduced rate of tax on the earnings of those of pensionable age, which one might have considered reasonable as recognition of their having reached an age at which they are likely to be needing to pay more for age-related facilities, such as cleaners and takeaway meals, while the hours which they could work might be limited. Now it is argued they should be taxed more, ostensibly in order to finance a tax cut for younger workers.
Older workers who choose to stay in their jobs beyond 65 should pay national insurance to support young workers, a group of Tory MPs has said. Up to £2 billion a year could be raised by imposing National Insurance on the income of Babyboomers who are still in work. The money would be used to give young, low paid workers a National Insurance ‘holiday’ to allow them to get ahead.

The recommendation is on the back of studies showing that this generation of young workers is likely to end up worse off than their parents. At the moment, older workers are not required to pay National Insurance - although their bosses have to pay 13.8 per cent - because the money is perceived as being for pensions and benefits.

The money would also be used to scrap the National Insurance payments for those who employed young workers. This would be worth an extra £375 for an 18 year old working 40 hours a week on the minimum wage rate of £4.98 - and would save their boss £450 per year. For a 21 year old, it could be £675 a year, saving the employer £800. (Daily Mail, 9th July 2012)
Over-65s are a selected population, even if selected only by managing to survive to that age. The proposed tax involves resources being transferred to a younger population, selected only by being ‘low-paid’. This fulfils the familiar acceptability criterion applied to a potential tax used to finance benefits, that resources should be moved from a population with a higher average IQ to one with a lower average IQ.

There are other potential rationalisations waiting in the wings as reasons for taxing the working elderly. For example, it is being argued that all local councils should have the same criteria for assessing ‘need’ for the sorts of ‘help’ they provide. So overall, councils will no doubt have to pay out more than they do at present, and where will that come from? From taxpayers, which includes the population of those who do not seek, or do not qualify for, ‘help’ from councils. Thus, in effect, resources are to be transferred from the more independent pensioners to those who fall into the clutches of the Oppressive State, voluntarily or involuntarily.

It seems very likely that the population of pensioners who keep themselves independent, by working or otherwise, has a higher average IQ than the population which fails to do so. So transferring resources from the former population to the latter also fulfils the standard acceptability criterion (see above).

* For more on how pensioners are being increasingly regarded as milch cows, see here and here.

08 July 2012

A YouTube video about my ‘misogyny’

text of a letter to someone who posted a video about my ideas on YouTube

My colleague Dr Charles McCreery came across your video on YouTube. It is interesting that you find some of my ideas fairly palatable – that is, my ideas about the drawbacks of female psychology.

As you may have gathered, the main point of my writing books is to advertise my need for people to come and work with me. This applies to people of any age, sex, social status, and ethnicity. Also of any IQ, although in practice only people with a very high IQ consider coming here.

You mention in your video that you regard my writing to have deteriorated since I wrote The Human Evasion. While writing The Human Evasion I had a very small modicum of financial support, and while I was writing it I was still hoping that my other books (Lucid Dreams and Out-of-the-Body Experiences) would encourage people to give me financial support to carry out further research in the areas which I had opened up.

However, no such support was forthcoming. I was not in a position to carry out any viable research into lucid dreams or any other hallucinatory experiences, nor in anything else, such as theoretical physics. The books which you regard as showing a deterioration in the quality of my writing are simply what I have managed to squeeze out in a totally unsupported and constricted situation. If you have looked at my blog (which has been running since 2006), you will see that I am still attempting to enter on the 40-year professorial career which I should have started 50 years ago when I left college. I am also attempting to build up my current situation into at least one university department which will provide me with the hotel environment which I need to lead a liveable life of progressive intellectual activity.

As I said, I need people to come and work with me, to help me build up my situation. If people want to help me, they have to be unselective about what they do, and not insist on doing ‘creative’ work. If you are interested in this possibility, you are welcome to come. I do not know how difficult it is for Australians as regards visas, work permits, etc. You would have to sort this out yourself if you are interested enough. Even if you do not wish to come yourself, please let other people know about my existence and my need for people to work with me. I would be happy to send complimentary books to anyone who supplies a postal address, including yourself. If you send your postal address we would send you complimentary copies of books, which you could present to public or university libraries.

04 July 2012

To potential associates in Greece (and elsewhere)

An open letter

We welcome people from Greece who wish to visit us, because we want people to know about our situation and our need for people to work with us.

We are a developing and hopefully expanding organisation opposed by the bitterest social hostility, in spite of being extremely respectable. We say we are aiming at being an independent university with several research departments and a publishing company supported by a business empire, because people need to be aware of our long-term aims so as not to misinterpret our present embryonic state, which can still do little more than some book publishing and investment. Our relatively modest position, and apparent lack of progress, results from the apparently universal desire that we should be squeezed to death, and is not a reflection of our objectives.

Our expansion depends very much on getting to know more people who might come and work with us. We would like to have people coming as temporary or part-time workers to get to know the situation, and spread the word about it among their acquaintances. People who come need to be unselective about the work they do; it is no use to us if people insist only on doing ‘creative’ or ‘interesting’ things such as working with computers. We need people to be willing to do whatever happens to be useful at the time, especially when they are starting with no knowledge of our office systems.

It is best if people come as voluntary workers, supporting themselves in the first instance, so they can get to know the work. We realise this may be difficult for people from Greece, but it is only by coming on a short-term basis that people can get to know about our position realistically. Even if this does not lead to their ever wishing to come permanently, at least they would be in a position to tell others about us and about our need for additional manpower.

When we say that people should be prepared to support themselves in the first instance, this refers to their legal position. We would not want them to be uncomfortable before we could work out if a permanent arrangement was possible.

We are situated in Cuddesdon, a pleasant village outside Oxford. The village has good views and clean air, and is near to major roads to both Oxford and London. There is a Christian theological college (Ripon College) in the village.

There is a demand for workers of various sorts in Britain. If more people were to come than we could support in our organisation, we would attempt to set up ways in which they could supplement their income by doing freelance work.

David Cameron has threatened that, if Greece leaves the eurozone, he would set up border controls to prevent Greek citizens from flooding into the country. It might therefore be a good idea to act promptly if the prospect of coming here permanently interests you.

If you are interested in the possibilities discussed, please email us via the contact page on my website, putting the word ‘Greece’ in the subject header.

28 June 2012

Withering faster on the vine

After some years or decades of ‘withering on the vine’ it was announced first that state pensions would be means-tested, and then that the ‘basic’ state pension which remained would be increased each year in line with the CPI (Consumer Prices Index). This is less than if the increase were based on the RPI (Retail Prices Index) which includes the cost of housing, presumably because it is supposed that if you are poor enough you can apply for housing benefit, so your pension should not need to include your rent, mortgage, house repairs etc.

Not only that, but the CPI can be manipulated in various ways, one of them being to arrange for individual suppliers to operate means-testing. Electricity and water suppliers are to supply more cheaply to ‘poorer’ customers. Supermarkets are to keep down the cost of the cheapest and most basic foods so that price rises will be made only, and more steeply, on higher-quality or more nutritious foods.

Now the threatened increase in fuel tax is to be postponed from August to January. If it had started to apply in August, as was apparently planned, it would have affected the September CPI, on which the increases in next year’s pensions will be based.

In any case, it would have been a tax on motorists commuting to their jobs rather than on those who were excluded from academic careers and had to live as capitalists; or on pensioners, few of whom commute to jobs. Such a tax would be penalising the ‘working’ population more than the ‘independent’ population and that is presumably not what modern ideology favours. Independence is normally to be stamped out at any cost.

Those drawing pensions who will never apply for any means-tested benefit, such as myself, can derive little joy from observing the real value of their ‘pension’ shrinking year by year, ever further from a realistic cost of living, even leaving the cost of housing out of it.

Three or four decades ago I remember asking myself whether it was really good value to pay voluntary contributions towards the state pension when I had no salary. Might I not do better by putting aside an equivalent amount of money and investing it as favourably as possible? But, I thought, as probably many others did, there might be an unforeseeable Weimar-style inflation, and then the state would have to keep the pension at a realistic level, whereas one’s own investments might not keep pace with a very high level of inflation. So paying into the state pension was an insurance policy, protecting at least a small part of one’s money from erosion under all conceivable circumstances. So I thought, some decades ago.

27 June 2012

More on lucid dreams and the BBC

text of a recent letter to an academic

I have just sent you a link to our comments on the BBC’s omission of any mention of me from their history of lucid dreams. This omission is despite the fact that it has always been said that no one has denied my priority in the field of lucid dream research.

Moreover they give a link to Stephen LaBerge’s website, but not to mine. I have got far more information and ideas about what could be done to make real progress in research, and people should want to know about my need for funding to get started on it. Stephen LaBerge, having a salary, research assistants, laboratory facilities, access to college dining facilities, and so on, is in a position to be ‘doing something’ in their eyes, whereas I, who could be making much more progress than he does, with even half as much money as he uses, can only continue to work towards being in a position to get measurements made in a laboratory; so I do not count as ‘doing something’ in the eyes of the BBC or anyone else.

Stephen LaBerge is able to raise money to finance his ideas on ‘virtual reality’, whereas I can get no support at all.

When I met Stephen LaBerge at a conference, he expressed no sympathy with my disastrous situation. By that time he knew that my work on lucid dreams had been motivated by my need to get back into a suitable academic position. There was certainly no indication that this modified his rejoicing at the favourableness of his own position, in which he was well-placed to get money to do (nominal) research in this field which I had opened up, while I could get no money at all and hence could do nothing.

He has continued to publicise the possibilities of lucid dreams ever since, but he has never even had the decency to send me a small fraction of anything he received.

His name is on the list of people who have worked on lucid dreams in America, presumably all salaried, from whom I have requested a donation of £1000 a year each to support my work in my independent academic institution. None of these people have had the decency to send me a small fraction of their salaries, which would have appeared to me natural in the circumstances.

We will make some sort of protest to the BBC, although this is very difficult when our secretarial capacity is already so overloaded.

Another American research worker, Jayne Gackenbach, told me that she had put some money of her own into supporting an organisation of people having lucid dreams, so that they could compare notes and publish a journal. But although she had been prepared to put some of her money into that, she had not been prepared to put even an equivalent amount into supporting the person who had originated this field of research in which she was allegedly working.

I asked Jayne Gackenbach if she could suggest ways in which I could get financial support to carry on my own research. ‘Oh no’, she said, ‘Getting money for research is impossible. I have given up on trying to get any’. She conveniently avoided noticing the great difference between her position and mine, that she had all the advantages of a salaried academic career. Being deprived of this, I needed large-scale funding for research in a specific area, to start making good the lack of money to live on and the lack of an institutional environment to provide the minimum conditions necessary for a tolerable life.

26 June 2012

Academia and the IPR: not mutually exclusive

There has always been a tendency to represent working in (or being associated in any way with) my incipient independent academic organisation, known as the Institute of Psychophysical Research, as if it were an alternative to an academic career, and that a career in the IPR and a university career were mutually exclusive. This has been used as a way of forcing those who became associated with me into an outcast position.

Consider, for example, the case of Dr Charles McCreery.

In his final year at New College, Charles had met me and become aware that my intellectual precocity had led to hostility which, since I was not free to make my own decisions, had ruined my education and career prospects. He recognised parallels to his own problems in those I had encountered, and saw that my position was, at least superficially, even more appalling than his own, on account of my low socioeconomic status, which in fact arose from the social displacement of two families with aristocratic antecedents.

Therefore he wanted to help me and thought that he could do so, as he saw no reason why my fund-raising, virtually aborted by the hostility of Somerville and senior academics associated with the SPR, could not immediately be put on an altogether different footing by invoking the aid of his parents and their numerous wealthy and statusful contacts.

Therefore, after his degree, he did not immediately embark on a career at the Tavistock Clinic in London or at Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology, but put his energies into assisting with my fund-raising campaign. The future structure of the Institute and his possible relation to it, probably working for academic status on his own account while helping me to plan projects and organise research assistants, would depend on the scale of operation that was possible, and this could not be determined until it was seen how successful the fund-raising could be.

I was always keen on the idea of my associates working for DPhils and aiming at professorial status, so that their academic status could be used to support my own applications for Professorships.

Charles had been considering applying to work as a clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic. I thought that I might prefer him to do a DPhil and proceed to an academic appointment in Oxford, but he was disenchanted with what went on at the Department and thought that he would probably prefer the Tavistock.

I deferred any discussion of the alternatives until it could be seen how successful the fund-raising could be, and what scale of operation it might permit. The more successful it was, the easier it would be to combine our research activities with Charles having a salaried job in London.

In any case, there was certainly no plan, either on his part or on mine, for his association with the Institute to involve any detraction from other career paths. It is perfectly possible for an academic – provided he is successful enough, whether in terms of peer approval, public success or fund-raising skills – to combine roles for a number of different institutions at the same time. This was certainly the idea when we started, even if in retrospect it was over-optimistic, since it underestimated the opposition we would encounter.

In fact the fund-raising was aborted by the hostility of Charles’s parents, who joined forces with those who were already hostile to us, in spite of having agreed to become Patrons, and hence ostensible supporters. General and Lady McCreery both made tiny covenants, ludicrously incommensurate with the benefits which they bestowed on Charles’s siblings.

Charles was driven into the breach with his family by their persistent and insulting hostility, in spite of the great efforts he made, over a period of at least a year, to comply with their demands. In putting so much pressure on him, one may suppose that his family were motivated to justify themselves in slandering and disinheriting him. His siblings, of course, had the additional motive of seeing the opportunity to enlarge their own shares of any inheritance from which he was excluded.

The idea has always been widely promoted that, in setting up the legal constitution of an independent academic organisation, I was setting up something in which people could work as an alternative to an academic career. My potential associates were, almost always, people with very high IQs who might normally have been regarded as good prospects for such careers. The image which tended to be foisted upon us – that of a group of ‘enthusiasts’ for some unusual area of research – was maintained by the repeated rejection of my associates for higher degrees, or for appointments.

This, of course, may have had something to do with the storms of slander which arose whenever there seemed to be a possibility of my gaining an advantage by acquiring a financial supporter or an advantageous associate.

Charles, with his family connections, was the most potentially advantageous associate I had ever had, or have had since. The fund-raising having been aborted, it was clear that his working at the Tavistock would be too demanding, in view of the costs of travel to London and accommodation when there, so that the option of taking a DPhil at the Department of Experimental Psychology now became the best possible one.

However, the pressure upon us continued to be so great that Charles did not attempt to take a DPhil until he was 44, and his then obtaining it led to nothing, as no allowance was made for the difficulties created by our anomalous position. Far from it, of course, he was stigmatised by the well-publicised awareness of his association with me, and could obtain only disadvantageous appointments, such as that of College Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at Magdalen College. For this he received only a pittance, but continued to hope that this sweated labour might lead to better opportunities.

Without going into detail about all the discriminations against him, and the rationalisations used to justify his exclusion, it became clear that he was, like me, to be kept out of any appointment worth having.

It has throughout been the case that we were motivated to do research work which would enhance our individual claims on academic careers aimed at Professorial status, but this was made impossible by the financial siege conditions. No money could reach us from any source, so research, and even the writing and publishing of books, became impossible. It remains the case that we are attempting to raise funds to enable us to establish our claim on starting our forty-year academic careers, however belatedly.

22 June 2012

Worthless ‘degrees’, pointless ‘research’

I wrote previously about how socialism had been a bad influence in my life until I got a very modest amount of support in setting up my independent research establishment from a newspaper tycoon, Cecil Harmsworth King. As I had been thrown out at the end of the state-funded ‘education’ with no usable qualification, I had seen no way ahead but to set up my own academic institution to provide me with the circumstances of a tolerable and intellectually productive life.

The temporary initial support from Cecil King was the only non-trivial support I have ever had. By trivial I mean donations and covenants which cost more in accountancy, bookkeeping work and letters of acknowledgement than they are adequate to pay for. Neither bookkeepers nor secretaries come cheap, or are reliable.

I am still in need of financial support now.

When the very modest amount of finance from Cecil King ended we were left with no support from any source. I would not get into debt, nor would I sell the house, so we lived from hand to mouth.

It has continued to be impossible to get financial support from any source. The modern world has become increasingly averse to ‘unsupervised’ research, in which a person might be free to find something out. The concept of supervised ‘research’, on the other hand, has expanded as ever larger populations acquire worthless doctorates, Masters’ degrees, and so on. Before a certain date I do not think that the concept of research included ‘supervision’; I am not sure what that date was. Certainly by the time I was an undergraduate there were ‘research students’ working under supervision for ‘higher degrees’.

People, especially of course academics, like to talk as if ‘degrees’ had some intrinsic value, and as if one should be grateful to the university for allowing one the opportunity to use one’s ability in this ‘interesting’ way, even if one has been receiving no salary and, on the contrary, paying fees to the university.

It is important to realise that none of the degrees, at whatever level, which have been obtained by people here were of the slightest use. This includes my own DPhil, which I obtained in 1996. In every case it was a matter of putting in a good deal of hard, boring and pointless work over a period of years, with the sole aim of obtaining a qualification, which one had to hope would lead to a salaried appointment, or its equivalent in the form of a grant adequate to support comparable work outside a university.

I always hoped that my colleagues Dr Charles McCreery and Dr Fabian Wadel would attain professorial status as quickly as possible, so as to be able to use their status in support of my applications for Professorships, etc. But their careers never progressed beyond the stage of sweated labour; doing useless but tiring work to obtain academic ‘recognition’.

19 June 2012

Lucid dreams

My colleague Dr Charles McCreery recently sent the following comment to the BBC in connection with a page about lucid dreaming on their online News Magazine.
I think any article which purports to include even a brief account of the history of scientific research into the phenomenon of lucid dreaming should mention the contribution of Celia Green, whose book Lucid Dreams was first published in 1968. Both Stephen LaBerge and Keith Hearne, whose later contributions are mentioned in the article, have acknowledged in their publications Dr Green’s priority in the field and their indebtedness to her work.
In fact, the subject of lucid dreaming did not exist even as a non-academic field of interest, prior to the publication of Lucid Dreams.

The definitive signal that our work had led to acceptance of two new fields of research as academic subjects was that Oxford University (I gathered) started to list both lucid dreams and out-of-the-body experiences as suitable topics for postgraduate theses, in both Psychology and Lit.Hum.

Professor Jayne Gackenbach, a lucid dream researcher in America, said some years later that Lucid Dreams was still the most referenced work in academic papers on the subject of lucid dreaming.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources. I hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed university research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.

07 June 2012

State pension: not enough to live on

The number of older people who will be forced to pay their own care bills will double over the next 20 years to more than a quarter of a million, a report said yesterday. It said spending constraints and growing demand for help will mean councils no longer provide any care apart from that which the law forces them to pay for. (Daily Mail, 30 May 2012)
A number of pensioners who are now struggling and suffering would not be, if the state pensions, for which they had qualified by paying the necessary contributions for up to 45 years, had not subsequently become means-tested.

In The Great Pensions Swindle, the author describes exchanges in Parliament from which one gathers that there was a strong emotional investment in the idea of paying ‘benefits’ only to those in ‘real need’, that is, those who would not have their freedom increased by the payment, as it would all be accounted for by outgoings necessary for staying alive.

At the time (about 1970) this did not suit the Government’s book, as they needed to justify raising the contributions made towards pensions, so as to have more money available for their favourite forms of expenditure, such as salaries paid to doctors, teachers, social workers etc. for their activities in reducing the freedom of others. Therefore it was necessary to talk as if a person’s contributions were paying for a certain level of pension, in a way that was comparable to previous commercial schemes.

By now, post-means-testing, few people remember what went on, or impressions that were created, around 1970.

People do not complain that they were given no warning that means-testing might come about. Certainly I was acutely aware of the difference between a benefit and a pension paid ‘as of right’ when I made the efforts necessary to pay voluntary contributions over 40 years, being usually unsalaried and unable to draw income support.

But, it may be objected, most people are not making a deliberate choice about paying or not. They pay automatically because they have a job which involves compulsory national insurance contributions, and so they cannot complain if the government subsequently changes its mind about what it will pay, or at what age it will pay it. However, while it is true that they may not think about the deductions from their pay packet, and may acquiesce in what is considered a sensible thing to do, they always might think about it, and do something else instead. And the consensus always might decide that salaried jobs with pension deductions were bad value, and it might become received wisdom that everyone should run a small business from home instead.
A fifth of workers are putting nothing into a personal pension, threatening poverty in old age. People are sacrificing saving for their retirement in favour of covering immediate bills such as mortgages, heating and food. The proportion of those who are saving the minimum needed into a personal pension to provide a comfortable old age has fallen to an all-time low of 46 per cent.

Pensions expert Scottish Widows ... said most people are hoping for a retirement income of £24,500 in order to provide a decent standard of living. (Daily Mail, 21 May 2012)
Various means-tested benefits are suggested, such as a few free stamps for Christmas cards, or going on a cheap ‘social’ tariff to be provided by energy suppliers. These would all involve an extra workload for salaried staff, who would need to interact with each applicant about the validity of his claim.

No one suggests that the pensions already paid for should be restored to a non-means-tested, and more realistic, basis. Discussing plans for a future non-means-tested pension, the Scottish Widows experts give £24,500 p.a. as the amount that most people hope for on retirement to provide a decent standard of living.

The present basic (non-means-tested) state pension is less than £5,500 p.a., so that the gap is considerable. If the present basic pension were raised to, say, £20,000 p.a., a considerable number of pensioners could be relieved of extreme pressure, conceivably at less cost to the taxpayer than relieving the same number by complicated schemes to provide marginal relief with specific expenses, such as bus fares, Council Tax, heating, meals on wheels, etc.

But the reason that people do not like this idea is that some pensioners, who have other pensions, or a certain amount of capital, might have some money (i.e. freedom) left after the most basic expenses. And we know that the ‘fair’ society is one in which there is no freedom at all for anyone. The average voter, I expect, is far more interested in absolute fairness, in this sense, than in the cheapest method of providing for certain types of distress.

04 June 2012

Social engineering and the Thought Police

The following is an extract from an article by Professor Max Hammerton* entitled ‘The Thought Police’ in a recent issue of the Oxford Magazine, which mildly endorses the idea that heritability of intelligence undermines demands that there should be more representation among university students from outside the middle class.
David Hume, the greatest philosopher of modern times, rightly pointed out that no ‘ought’ statement can validly be deduced from any ‘is’ statement. However, if you accept some ‘ought’, an ‘is’ may tell you how some action, or want of action, may help or hinder its achievement. Now I trust that you will agree with this ‘ought’: that ability to profit from a course of study should be the only criterion for a person’s being selected for that course. If it should appear that factors other than ability are influencing the outcome then there is a case for altering the selection procedures used. (Oxford Magazine, No.325, p.7)
I certainly do not agree with Hammerton that the ‘ability to profit from a course of study should be the only criterion for a person’s being selected for that course.’

This implies a context within which a ‘course of study’ is a necessary prerequisite for obtaining a qualification and is not devised and paid for by the person seeking the qualification, or by his representative (parents, etc.). The ‘course of study’ is an obstacle race devised by people who have been given their positions by other people, all the way back to a democratically elected government, the members of which are motivated to win approval from the population at large. The ‘course of study’ devised in this way cannot even be freely bought by anyone who has sufficient money to do so. It is bestowed upon those who are selected to receive it by agents of the collective who are empowered to do so.

When the Oppressive State was introduced in 1945, people, including those with above-average IQs, rejoiced that they would receive, under the names of ‘education’ and ‘medicine’, goods which corresponded to things for which they might previously have wished to pay.

However, ‘courses of study’ for which you have not paid directly cannot be presumed to be a positive factor in any sense. They are certainly likely to be less positive than those for which you might have paid, as indeed is generally supposed to be the case in comparing state-funded ‘education’ with private education (with the consequence that those who have not been exposed to state schools ‘should’ be discriminated against). Or the unpaid-for version may be so destructive in every respect that you would be far better off without it.

‘Caveat emptor’ does not apply, because you are not paying for what you get.

Those who run a person’s ‘free’ education may act on any combination of ideological rationalisation and personal malice. As Hammerton says, ‘it is now a generally adopted act of faith that group differences simply do not exist, and any hint that they may is to be suppressed by the Thought Police.’

It is not only an act of faith, but expert dogma, that differences between individuals are predominantly the result of environmental influences.

Therefore, we may plausibly assume, agents of the collective are strongly motivated to make their beliefs appear true, and will stop at nothing to ruin the lives of those with exceptional ability, who might otherwise give the naive observer grounds for wondering whether ability is not, in fact, largely innate.

A recent Daily Mail quotes someone as admitting that the middle classes (in other words, those with higher average IQs) are being discriminated against. Actually, in my experience, high IQs have been discriminated against throughout my lifetime (from the age of 10 onwards, when I was first exposed to state-funded education).
Mary Curnock Cook raised a series of concerns over the so-called social engineering of university admissions. Under the policy, universities are expected to make background checks on applicants and use the information to reduce entry grades for poorer students. But Mrs Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, warned that ‘somebody has to lose out’ unless the total number of university places increases ...

The UCAS chief went on to admit she had ‘real concerns’ over the quality of official data on pupils’ backgrounds supplied to universities. The system could result in discrimination against deprived pupils who received bursaries to go to private schools while giving an advantage to wealthy pupils at under-achieving schools, she suggested ...

Her remarks to a conference came on the day Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched a major social mobility drive aimed at breaking the grip of middle-class families on top jobs and sought-after universities. (Daily Mail, 1 June 2012)
Of course somebody has to lose out, and it will obviously be offspring of the middle class, i.e. those statistically likely to have higher IQs.

Expressing concerns over whether the discrimination urged on universities may not work exactly in the directions intended merely diverts attention away from the more serious flaw in the whole programme of admissions engineering: that there is no reason why discriminating in favour of some relatively excluded social group is going to result in more, rather than less, weight being given to innate ability. The issue of heritability is simply ignored. One may well conclude that the programme is essentially an effective part of the strategy for discriminating against ability.

* Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Newcastle University. Head of Department 1973-92.