Dr. Richard Grego explores how academic objectivity has hamstrung our understanding of extended consciousness.
photo by: Skeptiko
Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers in their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and today’s guest is a very interesting guy, he’s a former professional boxer, trained by heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson, quite an amazing thing there. A former criminal investigator who’s worked on many high profile cases before becoming an instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute. And Dr. Rich Grego was also a Professor of Philosophy and World Religion at Florida State College in Jacksonville, who earned his PhD with a dissertation on Krishnamurti and Thich Nhat Hanh. So like I said, an interesting guy and for those of you who’ve been around Skeptiko for a while, you’ll recognize Rich as someone who’s been on the show before, somebody I lean on to, kind of weigh in on topics. He was recently on the interview that I did with Dr. Donald Hoffman, and he provided some great analysis there, but he’s also done some interviews for Skeptiko over the years. So it’s always great to connect with him, and Rich, thanks for joining me on this one. Dr. Richard Grego: [00:01:15] Thanks again for having me.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:18] We’ve talked a couple of times and we have a good rapport going back and forth. But I kind of re-dug into your background and it’s really, really interesting and it’s particularly relevant to these kinds of things that we’ve been talking about today and that we’re going to be getting into, in terms of what kind of background it really takes to be able to engage in the discourse that we need to when we start getting into extended consciousness or talks about evil or those kinds of thing. What else can we know from your background that you think is maybe coming into play with the work that you’ve done and the worldview that you have?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:02:13] Wow, you’ve really done a substantial job, you’re a pretty good investigator yourself. I could have used your help back in the day, I didn’t realize you knew that much about my background. But in terms of the past that led me here, I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that, I suppose being a professional philosopher and I suppose a trained historian too, it is one branch of the quest for ultimate meaning and truth. Certainly just investigation in a practical context, doing a criminal investigation or any other kind is also essentially about the very same thing.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:54] So I’ve been sending you a ton of these interviews I’ve been doing lately, and they’re kind of all over the board on this stuff. I sent you Anneke Lucas, who’s been a victim of, what turns out is satanic ritual abuse, since the time she was six years old, sold into sex slavery. Then I sent you an interview with a Christian fundamentalist guy who deals with it, that is, deals with satanic ritual abuse from a whole different basis. So I’ve sent you a bunch of these along with these interviews I’ve done with scholars and I’ve been like, “How are we supposed to sort this out?”
And I think one of the things that emerged from that discussion is, your background as a criminal investigator and how that might… I don’t know if there’s a worldliness to that, where it’s like, you know, come on man, this guy is a creep and he’s done these horrible things. And as a criminal investigator you have to play both sides, you’re like, “I can’t be too prejudiced, but on the other hand, I know this guy’s a creep and I’m going to nail him.” That’s needed, I think, that kind of lack of naivete is needed and is wanting in some of these interviews I’ve done.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:04:09] Yeah, and I think the Hugh Urban one is particularly salient in that regard, isn’t it? In terms of both you and Christ Shelton, who you subsequently interviewed, being kind of frustrated, him even maybe more than you, with the lack of any, what shall I call it, commitment in the scope of his inquiry?
Again, I tend to be a both end guy in my thinking versus an either/or guy, and I try to reconcile, maybe seemingly contradictory views.
When I did an interview with Stanley Krippner at the American Psychological Association conference, I remember you expressing the exact same frustrations, not the exact same, it was a different context I suppose, but very similar frustrations with him in that connection, and I understand that. I guess at the same time though, I also understand the need for an investigator, whether it’s a scholarly investigator or a criminal investigator, to be impartial and unbiased, in so far as you can realize that ideal. Because when you’re not, then you’re just doing a polemic, you’re doing apologetics instead of an investigation, and that’s my big concern.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:32] You brought up that interview you did with Stanley Krippner and that’s a good one. But I’ll tell you what I want to do, I want to play folks a clip from another interview you did for us, one with a guy who you’ve known for a while and lives down there in Florida, Dr. Hoyt Edge and this from a while back, I had to dig into the archives. But I listened to this interview and again, it’s one of those where this stuff has come up for a while, particularly in parapsychology. But I wanted to play you this clip and then we can chat about it, so here goes.
Dr. Hoyt Edge: [00:06:08] A number of parapsychologists, a lot of them perhaps, want to call the field a part of anomalistic psychology.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:06:16] Why?
Dr. Hoyt Edge: [00:06:18] It is for two reasons. One, it is just as Bob Morris said, what we ought to do if we want to have parapsychology mean something and parapsychology be paid attention to, if we can contribute something to normal psychology, then they’re much more likely to say, “Oh, these are good people.”
One that he didn’t like, I think he’s also perhaps been a little unfair also.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:06:45] Just to explain it away?
Dr. Hoyt Edge: [00:06:47] That’s right. I like Richard, I know Richard. I like him. Susan Blackmore the same way. Susan has stayed at my home and so forth, I love Susan. These are good, good people.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:02] These are good, good people! He is, of course, he’s talking about there, Dr. Richard Wiseman who, I don’t know, we haven’t really kept up with him much on this show, but he’s the guy I would remind folks that Rupert Sheldrake, who’s a pretty measured guy and has that British Cambridge kind of formality, called intentionally deceptive regarding how he treated Sheldrake’s research.
And then Susan Blackmore, more or less out and out lied on this show when she said she wasn’t interested in near-death experience research anymore and she hadn’t kept up with it. And then the very next month went and did a public presentation on near-death experience.
This is someone who’s naive, they’re just naive. They just don’t understand the extent to which these guys, who he says are nice guys, are not nice guys and are completely undermining what is parapsychology. I don’t even know that parapsychology is relevant anymore. Which leads back to the first part of his quote where he says, “Gee, if we’re just nice enough, then maybe science will let us in the door and get us a seat at the table. If we can just convince them that we’re really nice guys.” This just doesn’t fly.
So that’s where I get back to the, you know, a criminal investigator looks at it and goes, “No, it isn’t going to work out for you,” you know?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:08:29] Yeah. It’s interesting, Paul Smith, who I think you did a show with on Skeptiko, I met him at a parapsychology conference and talked to him about that issue in parapsychology there. Paul Smith being a remote viewing guy, worked with the army’s program, just to refresh anybody’s memory.
I remember talking to him about the very situation you’re addressing and his response was, the need of the parapsychological community specifically to please the scientific community, to become acceptable to it, reminds him of Stockholm syndrome, in the sense that these people who abuse you and don’t understand you and are really out to get you, are the very ones you’re just trying so hard to please. And I think maybe, to some extent, you see some of these guys bending over backwards in deference to that project.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:34] I want you to weigh in on that further Rich, because as I was sending you these interviews that I’ve done, I was kind of more and more trying to come to grips with the complete disconnect, the complete disconnect here in academia, and you’re part of academia. So I’m kind of asking you to maybe do what you cannot do in terms of… But how bad is it, I guess is what I’m saying?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:10:02] Again, and I suppose I’m of two minds, I’m torn. I see where you’re coming from, I really do. On the other hand, I get the very rigid commitment of academics and scholars to want to maintain a sense of impartial and unbiased perspective on the issues that they’re discussing, not act as though they have their minds so completely made up about, not only the field but their opponents, the people like Richard Wiseman and Susan Blackmore, and I think there are millions of them, that they’re going to sort of name call and simply dismiss them. Because then you’re not only going to get ignored in the academic community, which again, it’s an important voice, it may not be the only voice, but it’s an important voice and it’s an important repository of knowledge, but you’re also going to get, probably and rightfully so, you’re going to discredit yourself in the court of public opinion because you’re going to sound biased, you’re going to sound like you’re not a disinterested, detached, uncritical, objective observer.
I don’t know if people would trust that, and maybe they shouldn’t. I don’t know if that message resonates with you at all. I know how you feel, I know you’re like, there’s got to be a point where you just call a spade a spade and make a commitment.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:11:34] Exactly, and it’s not even so much calling a spade a spade, it’s just, at some point it’s kind of being out of touch with reality. There’s a certain reality there and if you’re not coming to grips with it, then what’s the point? So that’s I guess my thing, with Hoyt Edge, is you don’t know. It’s not going to work out.
You were doing that as a specific strategy in this case and I think this is going to relate to the interview we’re going to talk about in a minute with Hugh Urban and then Chris Shelton, of course, who is a former Scientology member, who gets totally screwed over by this cult. And then you’ve got Hugh Urban who can’t bring himself to talk about it in those terms and has do dance around.
This is a repeat with Hoyt Edge, where he’s saying, “No, these are really nice guys and they really have my best interest at heart,” and it’s like, it just doesn’t work that way, and I don’t think science can go forward with that kind of level of just naivete, about the way that the world works.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:12:36] I get where you’re coming from. On the other hand, I’m looking at things from, say Hoyt Edge’s perspective and thinking, sort of, what do you want him to do? What should he say about Richard Wiseman and Susan Blackmore?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:52] He should say what Rupert Sheldrake did, which is, “I’ve carefully considered his opinion on this, I’ve looked at how he’s handled the data, and he is intentionally deceptive in this case, and that does not speak well for him as a trusted researcher.” That’s everything that Rupert said, and I don’t think you have to back off of any of that. Why would we trust someone who’s intentionally deceptive?
I had Daryl Bem on and he says the same thing, he said it in a little bit nicer terms, but he said, “I don’t know if the guy is completely deceptive, but in the case of how he tried to jury rig this phony replication of skeptical stuff, he was being deceptive.”
So that to me is clear, and that’s where parapsychology has completely run off the rails and that’s why it’s no longer relevant. And that’s why when Sam Harris says in the email exchange to me, in his snarky little stupid kind of thing, “It’s the backwater of science,” everyone goes, “Well, it must be because that’s how they act, they act like they’re the backwater of science, they deserve to be the backwater of science.”
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:14:00] Yeah, I feel like for the sake of argument, I should disagree with you there, but I think at least, certainly in terms of parapsychology, it’s hard to disagree. It seems that way and again, I suppose, I haven’t kept up with that research as much as I used to, and that’s one of the reasons why, it’s just not a very exciting field in a sense for me anymore.
But gosh, I don’t know. I suppose if you really are convinced that the disagreement and the claims being made by those who oppose you are egregious enough, that they really are deceptive, that they really are intentionally trying to deceive, then certainly, you should call them out on it, even if you do it like a gentleman, if you do it in non-adversarial terms.
I don’t know though, I wouldn’t say that Hoyt Edge is convinced of that though. I think he gives these guys the benefit of the doubt.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:15:04] He isn’t convinced, and that’s the problem, he’s naive. The evidence is clear. We’re relying on him to have a clear read of the evidence and he can’t do it, so therefore he’s not relevant and that’s how parapsychology has become irrelevant. Parapsychology is irrelevant. All of the important people in it have kind of moved on or never even joined the club in the first place because they were skeptical of it.
It’s interesting looking back, we’re looking back in an interview that you did in 2012, is anyone talking about parapsychology anymore? Not really. Not that I can think of. Who are we going to look to, Dean Radin? He’s always been a little bit, kind of parapsychology, but not exactly upfront at the parapsychology conferences and all of that. Kind of doing his own thing over there at IONS and now he wants to do the spirit stuff, which is kind of a leap forward, even though I’m not totally down with what he’s doing. It’s the leap forward with extended consciousness, it’s not staying in this stupid, “Oh, well let’s kind of look at it as anomalous psychology, because then they’ll like us,” kind of thing. It doesn’t make any sense.
And that’s my point of kind of getting into this. We’re going to talk about comparative religions and we’re going to talk about this other thing that I sent you with Hugh Urban, but my concern is that that whole branch of the social sciences, including philosophy is headed down that same path of parapsychology where they’re just completely irrelevant. When I listen to Hugh Urban it’s irrelevant, he sounds irrelevant.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:16:54] Really, it was that frustrating to you, the dialogue you had?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:17:01] No, the entire dialogue wasn’t that frustrating. But at the end of the day, I think his argument as it stands up to the real guy who was in it, he sounds irrelevant.
We’ve been talking around it, so let me play in some clips from that interview.
So, here is the episode that I did with Dr. Hugh Urban and it’s episode 437, and I really did like and enjoy this guy and I think, probably over a beer we’d have a great conversation. He’s interested in a lot of stuff I’m interested in and he’s a tantra guy and he’s cool. But he’s written this book on the Church of Scientology and the book, like our friend Dr. Jeff Kripal at Rice University said, “Wow, this is a great book. Until now there was no extensive scholarship on Scientology and this guy has done it, isn’t this great?”
But the thing that I really hammered him on, that led me to you is, if you look into Scientology and you look at the history of it, it has this kind of very overt occult connection. So it’s L. Ron Hubbard and Parsons who were out in the desert in California and they’re trying to summon the antichrist through the Whore of Babylon and they’re dead serious about it. But here’s the thing. It’s not that they’re dead serious about it, it’s that we have to, I think, fully consider whether or not there is any reality to that, and that I think is the question and that’s what I brought up with Dr. Urban. Let me play that clip for us here and then we’ll chat about it a little bit.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:18:53] The part that concerns me is we have reason to believe that [unclear 00:00:19], The Men Who Stare at Goats, I mean all of this stuff is going on. So I’m just not sure that we can bracket that back into, “Oh, you know, those Scientologists, they were kind of playing off of the cold war jitters that people have.”
Dr. Hugh Urban: [00:19:15] But I guess I would say that, I can’t know, as a historian of religion, whether there’s a reality to what they’re talking about, but I can say that they certainly believed there was and took it very seriously.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:28] Okay, so that is the crux of it, what do you think?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:19:33] Again, I guess we were going back and forth about this a little bit and I made up the criminal investigation analogy. I kind of get the idea that, again, if he wants to be a credible historian. As I recall, I read the book, it was a while ago, I read the book, he was doing more of an institutional history of it, wasn’t he, kind of? Sort of how the organization was formed. He wasn’t really talking about their ideas as much, right? Maybe that’s irrelevant.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:20:09] Because here is the issue. If we fly up 10,000 feet and we look at how Scientology interfaces with our culture, it’s a cult, right? You talk to anybody at this point and they go, “Yeah, it’s a cult. I know, I saw the woman on TV who’s done the exposé, it’s a cult, it’s a cult, it’s a cult.” And now we have this total disconnect because I’m talking to this respected Ohio State University professor and he’s going, “Well, you know, it’s a new religious movement and we have to understand that we can’t be too quick to condemn…” So now it’s back to Hoyt Edge, no dude it’s a cult, you don’t get it.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:20:53] I think I’m a little bit even more sympathetic with the historian’s perspective here, because what he’s trying to do, and again is do precisely what the general public in a sense doesn’t do, right? If we allowed, whatever the fashionable trends and what you hear in pop culture, to determine what the truth of a situation is, then why would we need courts, why would we need scholars, why would we need criminal investigators?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:21:21] You’re the both end guy and you’re kind of playing this slippery slope game here. No, I think we can have both. I’m going to hold up Rupert in that case because Rupert can say, “Look, I tried to do this research with Richard Wiseman, and he was intentionally deceptive.” He’s deceptive in doing research. He’s deceptive in reporting that research. That is important. We don’t need to dance around that.
So then in the same way, I think the objection to what Dr. Hugh Urban is saying comes from, again, we’ve referenced this, but now I’ll play it, this interview that I did with Chris Shelton. Who is, I guess, we’ve got to call it for what it is, because I asked him if that’s okay to call it that, and that’s that he’s a victim of Scientology. So, let me play that clip and then we can talk about that.
Chris Shelton: [00:22:25] If you’re going to publish an academic paper about Scientology, you better have something to say and if what you have to say is simply regurgitated Scientology promotional materials and I am intimately familiar with Scientology’s promotional materials, I wrote them. So I understand how Scientology presents itself to the world and I understand the curtain or veil behind which Scientology operates and what they do when people aren’t around.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:22:57] Is Dr. Urban just being duped here, he’s just being taken in.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:23:03] You know, in regard to Chris Shelton’s claims there, having read the book, and again, he’s obviously more knowledgeable about Scientology’s promotional materials, but I never got the impression that I was reading a biased account in favor of Scientology or to try to make them look good or to try to be a public service announcement for them, when I was reading Hugh Urban’s book. In fact, interestingly, after I read it, and this was a while ago, I came away with a much worse view of Scientology, as least as an institution, than I had previously. I didn’t know a lot of the things that he revealed.
I know several people in the Church of Scientology, who are very prominent in the organization. They do all of these classes themselves, they’re up to those, what do they call them, OT levels on the bridge, they call it, they’re at the highest OT levels, which in Scientology means that you’ve attained the highest spiritual state you can. So they’re very prominent in the institution, and I mentioned it to one of them, and apparently, they went out and read it themselves and they were going to send me a bunch of mistakes that he had made, that Urban had made, making Scientology look bad when he shouldn’t have. In other words, casting them in an unfairly bad light. So, I don’t know.
And as a criminal investigator again, I think it’s great to hear all of these victims and witness, eye-witness statements as a criminal investigator, from people who have endured Scientology’s worse practices. But again, as a criminal investigator, the value of a victim or witness statement is great, and it’s important, but it’s also limited by the very intimate vantage point that it gives you on a situation. I don’t think you’d really buy that. But I can sympathize with that perspective.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:25:06] It’s not that I don’t buy it. Let me hit it from a different angle that I think you can definitely relate to, and we’ll see how this plays.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:25:15] Beyond the Eckart, Oprah Winfrey, new age thing that most people get, what he’s saying about science, the science of consciousness, is much, much closer to what leading researchers are saying. So I guess returning to kind of this earlier point, if you can’t get consciousness right, if you’re playing with the consciousness is an illusion as your atheist colleague no doubt believes, you’re not even in the game.
Dr. Hugh Urban: [00:25:45] Yeah, that’s an interesting point. And I guess I would say that, well, there’s a couple of answers to that question. There is a movement in religious studies and other fields that is extremely interested in consciousness from different perspectives. But in my own work, I mean, I’m a historian, and so I look at what people do and the texts they leave behind and what we can sort of see.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:11] Okay, so, I think that this puts a different angle, a different spin on what I keep pounding, and I want you to pound back, that’s what I like, that’s what Skeptiko is about. But he is forced, Dr. Urban is forced to come at this from an atheistic, biological robot, meaningless universe perspective.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:26:36] Do you think so?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:37] That’s who, the head of his department…
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:26:40] Okay, go ahead.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:41] If you listen to the whole interview, early on, you really hold his feet to the fire and it’s like other interviews I’ve done with academics, they go, “Look man, I can’t publish with that. I may believe that that’s true, but I can’t get that published.” Hugh is out there doing tantra, he’s joining some tantra obscure community in India that has these ancient connections to the tantric tradition and when you ask him he says, “Yeah, of course, I do rituals, I do these other things because I immerse myself in what’s going on there, and anthropologically that may have its disadvantages, but I don’t see any other way to do it.”
So he is entering the extended consciousness realm and then he’s coming back and telling us, “Yeah, but when I write about this or when I have to talk about this, I have to create this, kind of false reality that says I have to jam this back into this goofy materialistic thing,” and that’s why I think the whole thing comes out a gobbledygook.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:27:49] Again, a fair point, but I need to push back a little bit. I don’t know if this particular guy, doing this particular kind of research, in that particular case, meaning the institutional sort of history of Scientology, feels that he is in a position to make judgements about the veridicality. Is that the issue, the veracity of their beliefs on that basis?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:17] See, but I think you’re going back on the email that you sent me. I’m calling you out on it Rich. Because he’s going to go back on one or the other, right? He’s going to have a certain paradigm, a certain mindset, worldview, and then he’s going to go back on it. So he’s adopted one, which is this humanistic atheistic one.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:28:39] See, I didn’t get that from the book. At the end of the book I found myself wanting to know that, because like you, that’s what I’m really interested in. That would have been the meat. I wasn’t really that impressed with the book actually because of that.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:54] So you’ve got to play along with me here, but I go back. The hook for me was that L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons, in the desert, summoning the antichrist.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:29:05] Me too.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:08] So this is the point where all of this comes to a head and if you’re Hugh Urban you go, “Well that doesn’t really matter, what matters is that they believed it.” No, you’ve got that completely wrong. That is secondary. That is completely secondary to whether or not there is any possible reality to them making contact, making connection with an extended consciousness realm and that extended consciousness realm interacting with us and in the formation of this religion. That’s what matters most, it’s not whether they believed it or not.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:29:48] Yeah, I agree personally, but I get, if somebody feels as though that’s beyond their… You don’t buy that? You think if you do that deeper study, I guess is what you’re saying, that if you’ve done that deeper study of Scientology and what the people are all about and what they’re saying and doing, that you should at least be able to commit yourself to some statement about the veracity of what they’re doing and what they believe?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:17] I think it’s a slightly different issue. It goes back to Rupert and Richard Wiseman, Rupert Sheldrake and Richard Wiseman. I can’t look into the soul of Richard Wiseman and tell whether he was being intentionally deceptive. What I can do is I can look at his behavior, and this is to the criminal investigator model. I can look at the behavior and say, was there criminality here? And in the case of Richard Wiseman, did he perform his duties as a fair and honest researcher? And I would say, no, he didn’t. And therefore when Hoyt Edge says these are good people, he’s missed the point. The point is was he deceptive?
And I would say the same thing here is true. If you cannot come to some determination as to whether or not there’s a reality to that extended consciousness realm, then you need to stop everything you’re doing, and you need to do as much research as you can in order to determine the reality or non-reality of that. You can’t pretend like that isn’t the main thing.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:31:33] How about this. I’m reading a history of Western anthropology, and you’re right, that’s a big issue there, where you go in and you observe a culture and its practices and beliefs and should you, as a disinterested spectator, which is essentially what an anthropologist theoretically is supposed to be, a fly on the wall, should you be then drawing conclusions about whether their, by our standards, mystical believes have any substance or not? Or is your job just to describe how they feel and reserve judgement?
There are things to be said on both sides of that, but I get why anthropologists would for instance, and that’s essentially what Hugh Urban was doing, right? I get why they want to be a disinterested fly on the wall instead of going that one step further, in other words, just describing, telling you what Scientologists believe as opposed to saying, “Well, they’re full of crap, or they’re not, or, I believe them.”
Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:38] It’s up to me to say whether they’re full of crap because I get to do my little thing here. But what I do think they have to do, is they have to be able to, and again, this came out in the email exchange that we had, is that they need to understand that they are never a disinterested party. They need to understand that what the science at the very least tells us is that we are interacting with that which we observe, and we can understand that more than just from a pure subatomic physics standpoint. We can also understand that, as many anthropologists have, is that from a cultural standpoint we cannot get in there and just be this observer who doesn’t affect it, right?
So, when you leave your machete behind in the forest to the culture that never had a machete, and you come back three years later, and you find that it’s the Lord of the Flies and whoever has the machete is now the King. You are always part of the process and how that gets played out is just the way that it is.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:33:46] Yeah, I guess so. On the other hand, you know, again, to draw on experience from my criminal investigating days, I was a polygraph examiner as well, I got the credential, I was trained in it and I sometimes did polygraph examinations. And I did one on a big capital case and they actually called me in to testify, which doesn’t usually happen because usually they don’t like polygraph. They don’t admit polygraph evidence in court, but this time they did, and I was testifying for the defense attorney, and it was weird, it was at a sentencing hearing of all things after the verdict of guilt had been determined. I’m not really sure why he wanted this evidence entered. But I testified that this guy had essentially passed my polygraph test and interestingly, now the attorney there, he was asking me about it, and we went through the whole thing.
And at the end of my statement to him in court there, he said, “So, in your opinion then this guy is innocent of the charges, right?” And I said, “Well, I’m not really qualified to…” and maybe this is where Alex Tsakiris will get mad at me, I said, “I’m not really qualified to attest to that.” And the reason is because all I did on that case was I took one forensic, kind of narrow look at the circumstances and provided the testimony that came from my narrow perspective on it, like any forensic person does on a case, and that was all I felt responsibly compelled to talk about. The person’s guilt, with reference to the entire scenario that I wasn’t an expert in, and I hadn’t done an investigation on, I thought was wrong to do, and the attorney kept pushing me to do that and I wouldn’t do it and he got mad.
So again, I don’t know if that’s exactly analogous, but to me, maybe…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:35:47] Let’s make it analogous. What if I asked you to defend the idea that we need to take a balanced look at Scientology as a new religious movement that will stand beside other religions that we respect and admire, and we shouldn’t be kind of too swayed by personal accounts and testimony like that of Chris Shelton who says, “This is a cult. I was in it. I know that it’s a cult. It’s a destructive cult. It’s been incredibly harmful to all of these people that I can bring forward.” How would you give a balanced view of that in defense of anyone who writes a book in that balanced kind of way?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:36:33] You mean, how would they be justified in doing that?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:38] How would you defend Scientology as a new religious movement?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:36:42] I’m really vague on what, because I think it is sort of a vague concept on what a cult is as opposed to a religion. It’s a term we throw around a lot, but…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:54] What is it called then? What is an example of something that you think is clearly a cult?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:36:59] I guess I don’t, that’s why, and again, this is where I guess I’m more sympathetic to the Hugh Urban perspective on these things. I don’t know if you’d agree with this, but to me, cult is just sort of a vague term that says nothing but carries a lot of biased baggage with it.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:18] As opposed to religion, as opposed to religion? How is religion as a word as a definition any better?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:37:26] Any better? That’s a good question. I don’t know.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:32] I feel like you’re kind of trying to box here with one arm tied behind your back, which I guess is a training technique sometimes boxers employ. You’ve got to tell us about that. You’ve got a weak left, tie the right behind your back.
But here’s the thing, it comes back to me of the extended consciousness, and if you get consciousness wrong, then yeah, you wind up with all this silly, goofy stuff of what’s it called? What’s religion? What’s spirituality? Because underlying it, there is no spirituality, right? I mean, it’s just a social construct, it’s just something that we invented. It’s not real. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s all gobbledygook until you wrestle the consciousness issue to the ground, isn’t it?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:38:21] It certainly is to me and obviously to you too, but what about people who just aren’t interested in the consciousness issue and they just want to explore Scientology as an institution?
I was just thinking, I was looking on one of my bookshelves, I have History of European Socialism on my bookshelf that I have reviewed for a course, I forget, it was either a course in Western civilization or a course and moral and political philosophy, but I didn’t know much about the subject. I got this very dry, clinical, disinterested History of European Socialism by some guy at Yale. And frankly, if that book had been written, because I just wanted to be informed on the subject, if that book had been written by Joe McCarthy or Karl Marx or maybe Joseph Stalin, I wouldn’t have wanted to read it, I don’t think. All I wanted to get for those purposes was a quick, unbiased, disinterested account of socialism. And I don’t know, maybe you don’t see the comparison here, but again, if somebody just wants to read about the history of Scientology, what happened. I mean, how are we going to get data about things that we can use to make evaluations if everybody who’s looking at it has an agenda beforehand?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:40] I guess I’d answer your question of why or what’s wrong with it, kind of from a different perspective and that is from the philosophy and science perspective, since you are a professor of philosophy.
So I have up on the screen the very famous quote from physicist Stephen Hawking, who told the Google’s Zeitgeist conference that philosophers have not kept up with science and their art is dead. Which I think probably did more for philosophy, in terms of giving it a good kick in the butt than anything that has occurred in the last 20 years.
But I would juxtapose that with the interview that you just helped me on with Dr. Donald Hoffman, because physicist Donald Hoffman, when he comes out and says, “Well, look, space-time is doomed and every experiment we’ve done with the deep, deep physics, subatomic physics, quantum physics, has proven over and over again that consciousness is fundamental,” and we don’t have any contradiction to those experiments. Then I think, this is my conclusion, he doesn’t say this quite directly, but I think it’s a natural inference, is that materialist scientists, and I would add all the social scientists that just follow along in their wake, pretending, have not kept up with consciousness research and their art is dead. So that would be my response to what you said.
So if Hugh Urban and Ohio State University wants to go on and still bilk students into coming in and paying for those classes and giving them phony boloney degrees, I don’t care. I mean, it doesn’t really bother me that much, but their art is dead. There’s nothing to it at the core, because they haven’t kept up with consciousness research, and that’s where we’ve got to give Hawking credit. He does put his finger on something. You know, if you don’t keep up with the science, then you risk being left behind, you risk a deadening of your art.
So what do you think?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:41:59] You certainly can’t ignore the science. There obviously is more to reality and more things to consider than just that.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:42:08] Hold on, because you made a great point when we were talking about Donald Hoffman, and I want to broaden, if I can, our understanding of what we’re defining as science. And I’m talking about science as this process, this method for moving forward with our knowledge, or at least creating the illusion that we’re moving forward, because we may not be moving forward at all. And you understand that from a deeper spiritual perspective.
But in terms of all the stuff you’re talking about, gathering data, sifting through the data, trying to find out valid and invalid interpretations of the data. I would call all of that science, and I would say that philosophers are doing that kind of science in the same way that physicists are doing that kind of science. But the caution is still the same. If you don’t understand consciousness science, then your art is dead. And that is my claim with regards to all these guys who we’re talking about, who we’re relying on to give us some kind of view of the world.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:43:15] I tend to agree with your worldview and the prominent place that you give consciousness studies, but then, you know, it kind of felt that way about the Scientology book. So how do we account for people who just don’t agree with us? So you’re willing to just say, “Well, they’re just wrong, they’re deluded”?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:37] I can say that, and I guess I do say that, but you know, if I was going to put it in more polite terms, like you’re kind of asking for, I would suggest that if you’re not engaging with the data in a thoughtful way, then the value of your opinion needs to reflect that. So it’s like, you know, unfortunately after my interview with Chris Shelton, who…
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:44:03] Yeah, I was wondering what came of the exchange of information.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:07] And I’ll talk more about that, but it’s the same old thing. He sends me these books, and so we’re having this debate about psi and all I have to do is go to the books and do a quick look inside on Amazon, Radin? No. Bem? No. Sheldrake? No.
So are the books that he sent me by these trusted academics, are they engaging with the data? Clearly, they’re not.
So, can I make a cut, you know, I have to cut the team there, can I cut them off the roster? I can, they’re just not engaging with the data. And I don’t mind people who are at least engaging with the data.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:44:50] Yeah, and that’s a big issue for me, and I’ve often wanted to ask you about that. Do you think that it is possible, because I gather you don’t, for somebody who really takes a complete comprehensive and objective look at the data, to come to a conclusion that is different from yours? Or do you think that any reasonable sane person who looks at that data has to agree with Alex Tsakiris?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:45:18] It’s a real question, it’s a loaded question. But I think how we all kind of deal with this stuff, is we have certain litmus tests that we develop. Like, I shared this with people but I was never into conspiracies at all before doing this show, and it was the conspiracy of science and consciousness in particular, this conspiracy that you’re a biological robot in a meaningless universe and how that meme gets perpetuated in the face of all of the data against it. It just led me to say, “Wait, there’s something more going on here than Hoyt Edge’s explanation that they’re just really good guys that got something wrong.”
So I started looking at other areas where people saw the same thing and conspiracy research is one of it. So I started with the really tame one, I started with JFK, the JFK assassination. If people don’t know this and a lot of people still don’t, because I still have people who say, “The ‘lone nut’ assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.” 00:46:29
Just so you know folks, that is not the official conclusion of the United States government. The final subcommittee investigating the assassination came to the conclusion, not that they should be the ultimate authority, because they’re not in my opinion, but even they came to the conclusion that it was a conspiracy and that the ‘lone nut’ assassin thing didn’t hold.
So that is a Litmus test for me. When I talk to someone and they say, “Oh no, I’ve seen it, there’s nothing to it, it’s a ‘lone nut’ assassin.” I’m like, “You haven’t engaged with the data.” I’ve watched probably more of it than I should have.
The same thing with 9/11, I hate to say. I know that triggers a lot of people but 9/11, I just ran across a guy the other day and we were talking, we were having a good conversation, and he’s telling me how he just finished his 700 page book on 9/11, and I was like, “Oh, interesting. So what do you think about building 7?” and he goes, “What do you mean?” I go, “You don’t know building 7? So you don’t know the 47-story steel framed building that wasn’t hit by any debris and is the only building in history to ever fall from office furniture fire?”
Again, at this point, I don’t care what your conclusion is, but if you don’t know that, if you don’t understand that data point, if you haven’t dealt with it, if you haven’t said, “Well, I think the NIST report…” which they filed as top secret, in terms of their modelling, in the face of other academics who reported it openly, their model of it, “I would trust that.” Or if you say, “Well, I can’t explain why the 9/11 Commission makes no mention if it.” If you’re not engaged with that data, then do we really have anything to talk about here?
So, that’s how I feel, to a certain extent, about these guys. I mean, if you haven’t engaged with the data at that point, and I have to say, everyone on this screen, I’m talking about Jeff Kripal, Gregory Shushan, Brian Hayden, Dr. Hugh Urban, they have engaged with it. So in that case it’s kind of the second point that we haven’t really dealt with, but I’m trying to drag you into the conspiracy thing, because what I hear them saying is, “I’ve tried to engage with it, but I’m not really allowed to engage with it because my institution and academia in general really won’t let me engage with it.”
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:49:08] Yeah. That I wonder though too, and this is one of the things… a bunch of questions I had for you. One of which was, if Hugh Urban was to come to a conclusion, was to actually have the moral fortitude or whatever, to actually commit himself to a conclusion regarding what Scientology and his history of it tells us about the nature of consciousness, what would that be?
And then the other one is a larger point, a larger question that I had for you, which is, what does all of this stuff… because the more I listen to Skeptiko and engage with the evidence that’s presented on it and the sources that your people give and that you refer people to, I’m starting to see these connections myself and I’m wondering if there is some larger pattern that you can draw a conclusion from.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:50:01] I get what you’re saying. I would really take a more measured approach, much like you did in your polygraph testimony, which is to say that, I don’t know and I don’t have to know, and in order to falsify or point out the weaknesses in someone else’s argument, doesn’t mean that I have to present a solid case that I know everything. And in terms of what I wanted from Hugh Urban, and I’m really picking on Hugh Urban and throwing them under the bus, it shouldn’t come out that way, because I respect the guy.
I also had up on the screen Brian Hayden, who, a lot of times it sounds like I’m being negative on these people. I have a ton of respect for Brian Hayden. I learned a ton from Brian Hayden who’s done this cross-cultural analysis of this kind of self-aggrandizement thing. So he said, “Hey, when I look at these cultures and I find the…” I don’t want to throw the wrong native American tribe under the bus, so I’m not even going to say it, but this one tribe who had a chief, who said, “Hey pal, got a good deal for you. Tell you what, let me sleep with your wife, and you know, I’m talking to the gods, so I could kind of put in a good word for you if you let me do that, and they said that you should really let me do that.” So he’s saying, “Hey, does this look legit to you? It doesn’t look legit to me.” So therefore we should be skeptical of all the claims that are being made about interactions with the extended consciousness realm. I say right on to that.
Or Dr. Gregory Shushan who I have up on the screen, who does a cross-cultural analysis of near-death experience and says, “Hey, there are these very significant differences in how NDEs are understood across cultures.” But I’m kind of burying the point, because what I really wanted Hugh Urban to say is that this burden of proof thing, which I come back to in the analogy, it’s not even analogy. The comparison I always make is to the Catholic Church, and I always relate it back to the fall of Arthur Andersen, which was the largest accounting firm in the country, and was asked to close its doors, or did have to close its doors and send everyone home and many people lost millions of dollars and 401(k)s and lives were destroyed. But they said, “Hey, you had a responsibility, a public fiduciary responsibility to hold this trust. You so violated that Arthur Andersen, you shouldn’t be in business anymore.”
Well, same is true of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church should just be shut down without making any judgment on whether it’s done good things or its charities around the world. You just would say, “You had a certain responsibility, you failed that responsibility clearly. You don’t need to exist anymore as a new religious movement,” or an old religious movement, whatever you want to call it.
So that’s what I wanted Hugh Urban to say, is to say, “Based on the evidence at hand, the burden of proof would be on Scientology to clearly demonstrate that it is not a destructive cult that destroys people’s lives, and until they can overcome that burden of proof, then we should regard them as a cult. Because we do understand that cults can be dangerous, and they have not met the standard where… but there’s evidence that suggests they are a dangerous cult and we don’t have enough evidence to overcome that. And I as a trusted academic who’s sorted through the data, I have to take a position, and that’s the position I take.” And I think the reason he doesn’t take that position is because of the box that he’s in, and it is that box that humanist atheist academia has created, and they shouldn’t be allowed to comfortably live inside of that box.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:54:10] I actually agree with all of that, except, is that box the result of their humanist atheist materialist assumptions? Do you know what I mean? I mean, suppose academia had deeply spiritual assumptions, as opposed to materialistic ones.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:54:30] We’ll never know, but as our friend Stephen Hawking points out, their art is dead because they haven’t kept up with the science, if you will, in this broader term. So until you tackle that problem and understand that consciousness isn’t an illusion, until you grapple with that, we won’t know. So, it’s not that they’re humanist, it’s not that they’re atheist, it’s the assumptions they’re making based on that philosophy.
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:55:01] Yeah, I agree with you too. Atheism and materialism and scientism is… I don’t know about atheism per se, but I know what you mean. The biological robot in the meaningless universe worldview is sort of the assumption of our intellectual culture.
I did want to ask though whether every religion then would be a cult, every organization? I mean, as my old influential philosopher, Krishnamurti would probably insist, every religion or every institution is, I guess a cult, as you would understand it, as you would define it. Governments certainly are, I suppose, and in terms of what they do, the secrecy and the harm that they cause.
So what do we do then? You know what I mean? If we’re going to hold Scientology accountable, the Catholic Church, I mean, where do you stop? And is it possible, is it possible to have an organization without it being all the things eventually that you don’t like about Scientology?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:56:05] Yeah. I mean, this is now getting to the question at hand where we can kind of pretend that we have this kind of master control of everything, which we don’t. But until somebody kicks off the discussion then no one can kick off the discussion.
So I think though, embedded in that, I would phrase it slightly differently. The, where do we stop? question, we don’t stop. No, you keep asking that question over and over again. Do you stop with the Catholic Church? No. Do you stop with the LDS Church? No. Do you stop with the Baptist Church? No. You keep asking the same question.
And that’s why I flashed up on the screen this little snippet I pulled from an interview you did, and this was your point of moral responsibility and criminal culpability. Somewhere in there I think are the makings of a new way of trying to understand, of trying to look at spirituality as it becomes institutionalized and giving us a real important, meaningful look at it, rather than just this, fairytale meaningless and in some ways completely conspiratorial.
I mean, I don’t know what we’re to make of Hugh Urban, but is he doing an incredible disservice to people who have been engaged in a dangerous cult that is Scientology? I could make the case that he is, and even though we could say, “Well, gosh, don’t we need someone who writes a nice book out there, that gives a balanced perspective?” Well, that may be true, but we have to weigh that against what that means to respecting the rights of victims who have been victimized by a dangerous cult.
So I think this is a question that we have to ask. And I know you’re kind of playing devil’s advocate, and that’s why I love it, because it’s hard for you. But I think like where you’re coming from with the Krishnamurti stuff, hell yes, that’s who you are and that’s where you’re coming from. So, don’t you agree Rich, don’t you agree?
Dr. Richard Grego: [00:58:32] I guess so, yeah. On the other hand, I mean, I don’t know. If we shut down the Catholic Church as a criminal organization, besides that being just not feasible, well maybe it is, I suppose, or Scientology. I mean, in the legal ramifications of the separation of church and state that I suppose it would raise and all that kind of stuff, would it be a good thing to do? What would happen to religions?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:59:02] We shouldn’t concern ourselves with whether it’s a good thing to do, we should concern ourselves with whether it’s the right thing to do, and that’s why I love your little snipper there of moral responsibility and criminal culpability. And I think it’s not an either/or thing, it’s a both thing. So, if you put yourself out there as a religious institution, then you’re putting yourself out there as a spiritual institution and then you’re claiming to the public that you are upholding a certain moral responsibility and certainly a criminal culpability, and to the extent that you don’t measure up…
I mean, we don’t have the power, and Hugh Urban doesn’t have the power, and Jeff Kripal doesn’t have the power to shut down the Catholic Church, but they do have the power to take a well-reasoned position on just what that is, in the same way that I so appreciate when Rupert Sheldrake is able to say, “Richard Wiseman was intentionally deceptive in the way he carried out research with me.” That clarifies things. We need that clarity in religious studies, comparative religions, all of those phony baloney departments in the social sciences.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:00:04] Yeah, I can’t but agree. You win Alex Tsakiris, I give up.
I did want to ask you though, if it’s okay. The contemporary and a lot of feminist philosophers and postmodernists sort of have made this claim, sort of this ideal of the clinically detached, critically detached, objective, impartial, unbiased observer, fly on the wall, God’s eye view of a situation, who doesn’t make value judgments or anything like that. And then the intellectual world is the scholarly ideal, especially in the social sciences and certainly in philosophy. Do you think that that has put those people unwittingly in the service of forces that are very biased, but can hide behind that and can enable them to hide behind that veneer of supposed objectivity to actually push an agenda?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:01:34] I’m going to answer that question with another question, and that is the question that’s raised by another person that you greatly admire and for good reason, because I admire him as well, and that’s Thich Nhat Hanh. And the quote that I was sharing with folks who are watching it is, “We run during the daytime, we run during our sleep, we do not know how to stop. When we can look deeply into the present moment we can look deeply into our true nature and we can discover the ultimate dimension.”
And the reason I think that quote is so significant is because it gets at the core question of spirituality that we’ve so lost in all of this nonsense, and that is, is there an ultimate dimension to be discovered? What could we know about that ultimate dimension? How would we interact with that ultimate dimension?
So now I’m substituting ultimate dimension in the way that I normally talk about extended consciousness, and I’m suggesting that, what the beauty and the power of what Thich Nhat Hanh and so many others that I’ve talked about on this show, the power of what they’re doing is they’re misunderstood as being, talking about some airy fairy philosophical shit, they’re saying, “No, there really is another dimension out there. There is another energy out there. There is another reality.” And if we don’t approach it, or at least ask that as a question, we’ll never be able to answer the question that you asked. So I think that has to be on the table.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:03:26] Yeah, I agree. Do you think all of this stuff, from biological robots in a meaningless universe philosophy to the distractions of our commercial culture and propagandize infotainment nature of our media and everything else, do you think that those are designed to prevent us from… Because this really gets to the heart of how deeply this conspiracy goes. Do you think these things are deliberately designed to prevent us from engaging that ultimate dimension that Thich Nhat Hanh talks about?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:04:07] Let me turn that around and ask you, do you think that is a possibility that we need to consider?
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:04:14] Yeah, I mean, if it’s even possible, it’s the most important, right? It seems to me that it is the most important thing we need to consider, besides the nature of this ultimate dimension itself, which I guess is the most important thing to consider. But why are we being prevented from attaining that and even worse, are there forces that are deliberately trying to distract us from that because of the way they can benefit from it?
Now, I can see where that would be the case in the academic world and in the commercial world. I don’t know if those people have that profound a view of reality, they just know, if you keep them distracted and addicted and superficial, they’ll buy, and that’s all we really give a damn about, we haven’t even thought about anything any deeper than that. And in the academic world, we keep them scared and conformist and afraid to really do any original thinking, but just mimic the jargon that we approve of, it will keep us in power and contributes to our prestigious dollars.
But is there something? And truly, I come to you as a Sage in this dimension of existing, and I really mean this in a serious tone, because you’ve devoted a good part of your life now, really examining that on a level and in a way that just nobody else is doing.
So, what I’m asking in this long-winded way is, what do you think, how deep is the conspiracy in your opinion?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:05:54] See Rich, this is great, because I’m really sucking you in now with the whole thing. Because this larger project that I want to get you to help me with is answering the question of evil and not for the sake of evil, but because, in the same way that if you get consciousness wrong then you can’t get science right. If you get evil wrong, then you can’t get consciousness right or extended consciousness right. So, the tricky part that you’re eluding to, and you’re phrasing it as a question because you’re a smooth dog.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:06:37] That’s a real question. I don’t know.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:06:40] I think based on my little bit of investigation into who you are and your philosophy, that you have a strong inclination, and it really, I think, speaks to this broader question of Luciferianism, and do what thou wilt and is there anything wrong with that? And in particular, when we look at our larger culture and say that our culture is certainly a reflection of that value system, we all embrace that. Is there anything wrong with that?
So that’s a very, I think, unclear middle ground. But where I’ve gone, and again folks, I’ve pumped a lot of interviews Rich’s way, and he’s been so generous with his time to review these and talk to me about it and engage in email conversations. So where I am trying to pull him into a bigger project on this, is that I’ve kind of gone to the extreme and I’ve said, let’s, kind of clear up the smoke in the mirrors.
I just had a post from a guy I really like, a friend of mine, Mike Patterson who’s on the Skeptiko Forum, we were kind of chatting about good and evil when he goes, “Hey man, I think the catch and release of brownies in the brook, or trout, that’s kind of evil, why do you want to traumatize that fish and stuff like that?” And I’m like, okay, I kind of get that. It doesn’t really reach my level of evil in the same way it does for Anneke Lucas, who was sold by her mother at six years old into a sex cult in Belgium, who we later find out was engaging in satanic practices, whatever you make of that, and was just repeatedly, unthinkably abused and raped and just tortured, to the point where they were going to kill her and she was on this chopping block. It was soaked in the blood of hundreds of kids they had already murdered. And only by luck, if you want to call it that, she’s spared by one of the people in the cult who actually gets her out and that person later pays for it with their life.
So you think folks, if there still are doubters, I haven’t heard from people who have listened to that interview because I haven’t published it yet, but if you think there’s any doubt to her story, if you think she’s making all of this up, I really encourage you to investigate that fully and see if you can maintain that belief.
But my point, before I get way, way too far afield is, that’s a little bit easier to hone in on and say, “Yeah, that sounds pretty evil to me.” And it also sounds to me like they were intentionally trying to connect with a malevolent force in the extended consciousness realm, that’s what they were doing, and it isn’t just…
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:09:38] Are you talking about Parsons and…?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:09:42] No, now I’m talking about the people that abused Anneke Lucas were satanic. So, I don’t know what that means. I want to explore what that means because I don’t accept a strict Christian understanding of that, and we’re going to expand on that too.
But when they’re talking about satanic ritual abuse, they’re not doing those rituals to get anything more, like physically, they are making an intentional effort to connect with an extended realm, in the same way paralleling what Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard is doing.
So we need to understand that. We don’t need to gloss over it with a Hugh Urban, “Well, they certainly think it did,” which by the way, is the same thing that Chris Shelton winds up saying because he’s locked into an atheist, critical thinker, pseudo skeptic kind of thing. You can’t get there from here if you don’t understand that, and the point is evil clarifies it. That level of evil clarifies it and says, “Okay, something is going on there that I need to talk about and then I need to understand, I need to incorporate into my worldview.”
And then, I guess I’d ask you Rich, how does that fit with, and this is narrowly, how does that fit with the question that you asked me? If that is a reality, then what’s the big deal if a guy is trying to sell a few more widgets in whatever way he can do it, does it really matter? You know, playing fast and loose with the kind of Luciferian do what thou wilt. I don’t know, what do you think?
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:11:27] I don’t know. Really, I’m intrigued, and I think it’s very important to draw the connections. Again, it’s certainly in a lot of people’s interest to push the materialist worldview and certainly in a lot of people’s interest, I suppose, to push whatever it is. But again, I don’t know what it is that motivates people and satanic cults really. I don’t know what it is that’s motivating those people and who’s directing it. And is it something that goes as deep or high as the government that’s deliberately trying to promulgate this kind of stuff and promote it? Or is it deeper than that, do the Gnostics have it right? That really the kind of thing that I assume you’ve started to develop a worldview about.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:12:31] That’s why I have a tremendous affinity with what you’re kind of bringing forth with this moral responsibility, criminal culpability, and as grandiose as it might seem, this idea that we can kind of suggest a new paradigm with which to understand extended consciousness realm and understand it from a serious intellectual standpoint. And I think it requires a reboot, it requires a real reboot and in that I think we would want to be really careful in the way that you’re talking about in some of your stories as a criminal investigator. We’d want to be really careful about rushing to a lot of conclusions, but we would want to be really aggressive in pointing out the huge failings of what we have currently. So that’s kind of where I’m coming from.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:13:25] Gotcha. Yeah, I certainly agree. I can’t disagree with that.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:13:31] Alright, you don’t know what you’ve just signed up for.
As we wrap things up here, do you want to tell folks what else is going on in your world, and what else you do when you’re not being harangued by…?
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:13:44] I’m doing some research and publishing a book chapter that’s coming out, Bloomsbury, I think. You can preorder now, a book about the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and my contribution is in respect to his philosophy of mind and metaphysics and how it maps onto traditional Western philosophies of mine. So it certainly speaks to the skeptical constituency.
And then I’m doing an article that you were kind enough to subject yourself to on scientism in Western culture and Abe Maslow’s little known book, The Psychology of Science, and a couple of other projects along those lines, collaborating with scholarly peers, as valueless as the such scholarship might be and superficial. I’m only joking, that wasn’t fair. I’m just teasing.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:14:44] We have to reform, we have to try and reform it.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:14:50] I agree with you, I completely agree with you. And again, that’s why I went on that roundabout about the academic culture being… because they sell themselves as the paragons of intellectual freedom and imagination and creative thought and liberating your mind, when they’re just the opposite.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:15:07] This is what I always say, like, in the broader conspiracy world about 9/11 or like all hope is lost really in this post constitutional age that we live in, and like my interview with Richard Dolan and stuff like that. But it’s like the Navy commercials are our best hope, right? A force for good. A force for good and the boys sailing out. We should aspire to that.
So, in the same way, great, you go ahead, you keep talking about freedom and truth and all of that stuff, you academic towers live in people, because that’s what we want. We want you on that tower, we need you.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:15:52] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that is one reason why I’ve never been particularly… I’ve been a very half-hearted scholar. It’s a game you really have to play seriously and abide by really rigid rules and devote yourself to it in a very disciplined kind of way to make a name for yourself in it, like Hugh Urban. I respect him, what he’s had to do in order to do that, but again, he’s limited by the constraints of the monastic order that he’s joined.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:16:27] That is a very personal question that I guess I wasn’t going to ask, but since you brought it up, I will ask it. And that is, do you think your particular academic journey has given you more freedom? Because a lot of people would look at it and say, “God, this guy teaches online classes. He also teaches at Florida State College and you know, that’s not an Ivy League school.” But I get the sense that in a lot of ways, you’ve managed to use that to your benefit.
When I talk to these other folks, like I’m talking about, there is a weight on their fricking shoulders that they can’t escape.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:17:15] Yeah. That’s very observant. I would say yeah, I’ve somehow managed to carve and unconventional enough path for myself within that community that I have pretty good access to a lot of the interesting and valuable, I don’t know, resources and opportunities that an academic has, while not having to endure the really… And again, I don’t think they’d think it, they don’t think it’s a rigid, hidebound ordeal.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:18:02] I think they do.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:18:03] You think they do, really?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:18:04] I think they do, when talking to them, I think they do.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:18:03] Really, you do, maybe so.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:18:05] Brian Hayden, as soon as you make the Royal Society, we’ll pick on Brian Hayden for a while. The Royal Society of Anthropology, you don’t want to not be invited next year to the pre-cocktail hour where they have those little smoked salmon, Canadian smoked salmon… You don’t want to be left out of that group.
For you, when you said, “I wasn’t invited last year, I might not be invited this year.” But you can say, “I can go…” you know, pluck down a couple of hundred bucks and go to the Parapsychology Association meeting, “and I can talk to people and I can really…” I don’t know, I guess that anyway.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:19:00] Yeah, it’s liberating in some ways, but then in other ways Donald Hoffman has a huge constituency that cares about what Donald Hoffman says, or same thing with Hugh Urban, whereas, you know, nobody… I publish a paper once in a while or a book chapter and I’ll give a paper at a conference or something, but nobody cares, they really don’t. You’re playing in the minor leagues, you’re not as famous as guys who are in the major leagues.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:19:29] We are all in the minor leagues. We’re all in the minor leagues, and I mean that with all respect to Donald Hoffman. Go and talk to my kids, 25 years old. “Who’s Donald Hoffman?”
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:19:42] That’s true, yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:19:43] I talked to somebody the other day, I said, “I just had an interview with Richard Dolan…” No, I said this to three people. I had an interview with Richard Dolan, which I was so delighted about because I so respect him and he’s so highly regarded in the UFO community, doesn’t move the meter an inch. PewDiePie, that’s who we’re all chasing, right? PewDiePie is the most respected. I like PewDiePie by the way, but it’s like, are you kidding? If we’re going to measure it by that! I think the only way to measure it is, we just have to try and advance the ball and not be too attached to the results, which your mentors and my mentors would kind of agree with.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:20:24] Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you. And again, I think that’s what you’ve managed to do. You’ve managed to create this forum in which you can engage and access, really, these great minds and people who are playing in the major leagues of their academic fields and really push them. But you can also do it in ways that their colleagues can’t because they’re not free to do that, they’re not free to go there. I think you’ve done the same thing with this show.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:20:54] Well, that’s nice of you to say. You know, I didn’t do it kind of intentionally, I just did it because the way I was coming from it, my expectations and the fact… The big thing was that I didn’t have any financial expectations from the beginning, and I had never designed the show to do that.
But I remember a long time ago talking to a Dean Radin and I talked to him really early on and then I talked to him a few minutes later and he goes, “You know, you’ve really kind of done something here because you’re truly independent.” And it didn’t quite strike me until later, I go, “Oh, I see what he means.” Because I don’t have that financial component baked in, and because I’m not interested in giving keynote speeches at anyone’s conferences and I’ve turned them down when I’ve gotten them, it does give me an ability to kind of just do my own thing in a way that I certainly like, and in the longer lens, I think has served a purpose in terms of a certain independent objectivity. Even though it’s opinionated, you know, it’s highly opinionated by me. But it’s just my opinion, it’s not somebody else’s.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:22:06] Rupert Sheldrake pointed that out, he said several times that your show does important work for those reasons. But I think you tend to be such a… I don’t know what your political leanings are, you’re sort of an intellectual libertarian anyway, as far as ideas go, you’re sort of a libertarian, you’re like, throw them out there in the free market and see how they fly and let everybody hash it out and let everybody come to their own conclusions. You tend to be an iconoclastic sort of… at least I sense that in you, an individualistic kind of thinker and that’s a luxury that you just don’t have. And as you suggest, maybe that’s the point, it’s on purpose that you don’t have that luxury in the established institutions, that’s what worries me. I’m getting paranoid.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:23:02] That’s a great point there.
So Rich, it’s been just awesome again having you on. Our guest has been Dr. Richard Grego. You’ll find his past interviews, I’ll try to include those in the show notes because they’re really good, you want to check those out, and I’ll have a link to his website where you can check out his work.
Rich, thanks again for joining me.
Dr. Richard Grego: [01:23:21] Always a pleasure. Thanks.
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