Re: [asa] Occult crankery and the vitality of our email list

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Dec 12 2008 - 23:06:46 EST

The best way to handle a troll is to ignore it. They get stronger
with attention. This truth, BTW, is revealed in the fifth Harry
Potter movie.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 10:36 PM, Stephen Matheson <> wrote:
> Well, it seems to me that this is an opportunity to discuss the guidelines
> we do and don't have for behavior on the email list.
> Right now, a person can be removed from the list (for a time, at least) for
> various kinds of obnoxious behavior. A committee of three excellent people
> is responsible for making such a decision, and I think that every expulsion
> is announced along with a brief rationale.
> Now as far as I know, the infractions that can get a person removed all
> involve rudeness or aggression or other inappropriate behavior that is
> deemed counterproductive to discussion and dialogue -- but the advancement
> of the occult or the advocacy of various forms of divination are apparently
> tolerated. So we've had, over the years, George Hammond's ravings and
> Vernon Jenkins' occult numerology. Now we have Mr. McCray advancing the
> "ideas" of a sci-fi cult that has concocted fantastical tales with plainly
> racist (and sexist) overtones, built on mid-20th-century crackpot
> pseudoscience.
> I wonder: what should we do? I'm personally undecided: on principle, I'm
> opposed to banning anyone for anything other than malicious disruption of
> our discourse. Ideally, we would discourage such crankery by creating an
> unfruitful environment for its propagation; specifically, we would ignore
> Vernon and his ilk, and only limit participation if it came to resemble
> spamming. But that's not how things tend to go, and I think we might be
> underestimating the damage that engagement with nonsense can do to the
> quality and level of participation of our list. In othe words, visitors who
> see a post by Mr. McCray could reasonably conclude that our forum is just
> another mosh-pit of vague supernaturalism. Ongoing interaction with bizarre
> cultic lunacy is surely as unhealthy as regular spasms of name-calling or
> crass insults.
> And yet the banning of unusual ideas, or even the impression of such, is not
> a good thing either.
> Can we talk?
> Steve Matheson
>>>> "Michael McCray" <> 12/12/08 8:44 PM >>>
> Hello.
> I am acquainted with a book that deals with the subject matter of many of
> the ASA discussions. It has been very helpful to me in "solving" the very
> questions that you are so interested in. It is a book of religion,
> philosophy and science, composed of many papers, written by multiple authors
> in the 1930's and published by the Urantia Foundation in 1955 as The Urantia
> Book. You can read it on line at
> There are several papers on evolution, the evolution of man, the development
> of primitive religion. George Murphy you might be interested in these, they
> give examples of primitive cultures form the early twentieth century to
> highlight milestones in primitive religions. They also show how primitive
> religion and revelation have formed the amalgams of the modern religions in
> our world today.
> In the Urantia description there was a first pair of humans about one
> million years ago. The mutations that brought about the six colored races
> took place about five hundred thousand years ago. The Planetary Prince
> arrived about the same time along with one hundred incarnated assistants.
> When that Prince subsequently rebelled, his assistants who were unloyal to
> the Father became mortal. This was the origin of the Nodites.
> Adam and Eve were Material Sons sent as biologic uplifters when human
> evolution had reached it peak. They were incarnated about 36,000 years ago.
> In all there have been nine races of humans on our world; two of these have
> superhuman origins.
> I was introduced to the Urantia Book thirty years ago. It is the most
> unusual book that I have ever read and I am convinced it is not the best
> book of religious science fiction ever written but exactly what it claims to
> be the fifth epochal revelation of God to the people of earth.
> Michael McCray

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Received on Fri Dec 12 23:07:01 2008

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