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I was a fervent Dawkins groupie during my teens, it were precisely his books that turned me into a militant atheist rationalist, much to my traditionalist family's horror.

Now I just shake my head when I remember how narrowminded and gullible I was to let myself get sucked into that elitist personality cult he's got going for himself. "Brights." Ha!

BTW, this is a great and well-argued critique of The God Delusion and Dawkins himself, well worth the read:


Who cares about Dawkins? Most serious scientists think he is a joke(i.e. Richard Lewontin).

Michael, I agree. I've been debating with internet skeptics for years, and in the end it's actually quite pointless debating overall, save for two very strong beneficial points that I shall address indepth shortly, (these debates have greatly benefited me myself knowledge wise, and have greatly benefited bystanders on all sides watching my debates).

These Skeptics we debate with have typically already made up their minds regarding these matters, and we likewise already have our minds made up that the evidence clearly indicates that there is indeed "something there" worth considering (and with very good reason). For every very good, seemingly solid argument you can argue in favor of God, The Paranormal, Life After Death, Etc, Skeptics have at least a dozen counter arguments ready up their sleeve to throw back at each of your arguments, and a dozen counter arguments ready up their sleeve to throw at each of your counter arguments to their counter arguments, etc, etc, etc. However, there are two beneficial strong points I have realized in my personal debating with Skeptics...

* Knowledge. Time and time again, I will think I have the "perfect" presentation to cream the arguments of the Skeptics, that they will have to conceed to the evidence and arguments that I have presented, but then I face a Skeptic or Skeptics who will seemingly destroy or cast great doubt on my star arguments, even sometimes making me myself doubt them. This leads me to inquiry knowledgeable friends of mine on these subject matters such as yourself, and knowledgeable friends of mine on various Paranormal Message Forums, and knowledgeable Paranormal Researchers in their respective fields who are open to inquiry, all the while searching for a solid answer to their latest batch of new skeptical arguments. (To date, every single new skeptical argument they have presented to me has been shot down with ease by knowledgeable people I know in these fields with greater knowledge on the subject matter than I, which greatly enchances my own knowledge on the subject, and leads me to read more books and sources on these matters. You yourself have helped me many times in finding a solution to their harder arguments, and it has really benefited me knowledge wise to know all of this. Lately when I debate skeptics, they seem to have run out of all new material, and I in turn have very good material to use against their old explainations that they've already used on me before.)

* Bystanders reading/watching the debate, from all sides, learn information from my debates that they wouldn't have otherwise known. I've gotten a number of PMs, Emails, Etc, from people on the Message Forums I've debated on in defense of Paranormal Phenomenon, THANKING ME for supplying that information, and stating to me that they never would have otherwise known that information was even out there, and that they will investigate the matters further for themselves. I've gotten this both from uneducated believers and honest skeptics who did not know that the evidence was even out there in the first place. I've helped turn several honest skeptics I know into well informed believers in various phenomenon by debating. (These were the more honest open-minded skeptics by the way.) So, regardless if I win or lose a debate, sometimes someone like that who is watching the debate benefits from the information, even if you don't know about it.


Thank you for reiterating a point I've been making about skeptics and dogmatists on all sides for years: the pathological need to be right and to have all the answers is one of the ugliest aspects of human behavior. It was one of the driving forces behind the rise of the Neoconservative culture in this country, and therefore one reason behind the Iraq war. I toss dogmatic skeptics, dogmatic religious types and dogmatic conservatives in the same basket: they bolster their weak self esteem by mocking the points of view that disagree with their own and claim to have all the answers.

Hence the contemptuous, "we're so much more evolved than you pathetic losers who believe in the paranormal" tone of 95% of pseudoskeptic writings. We condemn and slander others to make ourselves feel right, and in the process we lose all ability to perceive the other guy's point of view, because to do so would damage our self-esteem. It's a sad state of affairs. I'm with you: listen and talk, don't try to convince. If your argument is sound and the person you're talking to is truly self-aware and evolved, you'll at least make some headway just through respectful conversation. Otherwise, not a thing you say will make a bit of diference.

This is why I respect Richard Wiseman, though I disagree with his opinions: he has the guts and honesty to admit the other side might be right and pursue truth. Most of us would rather pursue being right.

I always ask, why is it that people who set out to study the physical universe are surprised when all they find is the physical universe. Dawkins seeks an absence of God, so naturally this is what he finds.

I read the blind watchmaker by Dawkins and if my memory serves me right he did not mention the word consciousness. It appeared strange to me that one could write a book on the origin of life and not mention consciousness.

Deepak Chopra debated him on the god delusion and I thought did a very good job of it. Somehow there must be some kind of comfort in being right or at least believing we are right. Doubt must be more painful to the mind than certainty.

His computer game that utilizes software that he developed and he believes "proves" evolution without any help from a supreme intelligence is a farce. Without realizing it he is advocating a world that has an intelligent underlying reality.

I am fascinated by the human mind and its ability to convince itself that its beliefs are infallible. I suspect but don’t know that illogical religious beliefs help to create more atheists than their intellectual reasoning abilities. Some writers claim that many atheists are created because they felt duped as a child with these illogical religious beliefs.

Last night I saw a TV special on how the earth needs the moon for stabilization and how lucky we are to have a moon. Maybe the atheist’s god is luck and chance.

"My response to religion would not be to ban it, but to promote education in critical thinking and skepticism. It really doesn't take much of that for Christianity to crumble. So give people the cognitive tools they lack, and let them draw the obvious conclusions."

This quote by Martin Wagner pretty much sums up the atheists viewpoint. Please note the words “they lack”. He is suggesting that atheists alone have the ability for critical thinking and skepticism. Martin would find it nearly impossible to apply critical thinking to his atheist beliefs and he fails to realize that atheistic beliefs can be as dogmatic as religion.

Is Martin naïve enough to believe that education in critical thinking will cause anyone to challenge his or her cherished beliefs? It is way too painful to the human mind to do that unless of course a significant emotional event happens in their life; then maybe.

I agree with you all on the main points being raised here. I do feel though, that perhaps you're being a little too hard on Dawkins.

First of all, I have to say I totally agree with him that it's unethical to label children "catholic" or "buddhist" or whatever (just as it would be to label them "atheist"). As far as my understanding goes, he is not against religion per se, rather its being imposed on people from a very early age, when they aren't able to make up their minds on their own.

Secondly, it's not like he's trying to eliminate religion from the surface of the earth. Quite the opposite, I've heard him speak quite favorably of the positive aspects of religion. However, it's perfectly understandable to me that he wants to oppose religion when it becomes abusive and dogmatic. It's no question that people who take holy texts literally can be led to do a lot of awful things. The same can be said of certain types of evolutionists (nazis).

This is not to say that I agree with the way Dawkins formulates himself at times, nor that I agree with ANY aspect of his atheism.

Just imagine how hugely entertaining it must be for God when people like Dawkins cross over! I imagine it's highly entertaining. I'd like to be there just to watch. - Art

I think the issue is fundamentalism of any stripe: a mode of thought and attitude that says, "Our way is the only way and there is no room for discussion," thereby ending any inquiry, questioning or seeking. Whether Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others are fundy atheists is a matter of opinion.

But what I object to is the portrayal of atheism as tied to compete dogmatic skepticism. I'm an atheist in the traditional sense: I don't believe there is a personal Deity interventing in life. But that has nothing whatsoever to do with my belief that the holistic universe, psi and distant intentionality are real, and that survival may be real. Why? Because those are not religious issues; they are aspects of the fundamental function of reality that we don't yet comprehend well. I think what we don't know makes the universe a thrilling, mystical, spiritual place without the need for God.

However, the militant atheist crowd denies everything (though to give Dawkins credit, he does admit that psi is becoming more and more of a given), I believe because there's a long tradition of lumping anything paranormal in with religious credulity, especially survical of consiousness. It's like if you believe in psi, it's only a tiny step from belief in the Resurrection, the Easter Bunny and Bigfoot.

We're so desperate to be right and to let others know we're not one of "them,"the great unwashed who've been suckered. By the way, I call myself an agnostic these days. I've reasoned that it is much more responsible, and reflective of the awesome mysteries of existence, to simply reply to questions about God with "I don't know."

Bloody hell. I think God intervened in my post to make me misspell "intervening." Grr. I hate when She does that.

But that has nothing whatsoever to do with my belief that the holistic universe, psi and distant intentionality are real, and that survival may be real.

If we life in a universe where everything is fundamentally one, that's what the word "God" is pointing at.

Perhaps, but there's a great deal of difference between the concept of fundamental holism and the concept of a personal deity that intervenes in daily life and judges people on their behavior. One is the nature of reality, the other is doctrine based on a human interpretation of the nature of that reality.

My all-time favorite quotation is something that H.G. Wells wrote in ending a letter to James Joyce explaining his lack of enthusiastic support for Work in Progress (later, Finnegans Wake), "the world is wide and there is room for both of us to be wrong." (Joyce, Letters
I, 275)

I've always thought that this would be an appropriate attitude for all of us to maintain, and most especially when considering issues such as the existence of God...

"However, it's perfectly understandable to me that he (Dawkin’s) wants to oppose religion when it becomes abusive and dogmatic."

But would Dawkins be willing to oppose his own abusive and dogmatic teachings? Most atheists and skeptics that I have chatted with on the Internet and in person are very dogmatic and abusive.

Confirmed atheists suffer from what I call intellectual certainty. (I am certain that my previous statements are not dogmatic). One has to wonder what the world would be like if they controlled the world’s resources and governments?

There lies the challenge in human thinking. Over the years I have had to come to grips with many of my abusive and dogmatic beliefs; and behaviors, and it was and is painful. I think this is why fundamentalism is so prevalent in societies. The mental pain in challenging and changing our cherished beliefs prevents us from doing so.

We humans will endure almost innumerable suffering to maintain the status quo. I suspect that suffering is a necessary condition for our evolution of consciousness to occur.

i agree.

i have a friend who's an atheist but he's also very open-minded and we discuss about our differing beliefs without conflicts.

many atheists' abusive and dogmatic behaviors can be found in the religious folks as well. when you behave like that, you dont leave room for discussion, and you dont leave room to learn and to grow.

i particularly dislike how both side uses extreme examples to justify their belief (how crusade, catholic church, and witch hunt killed and ruined our previous generations, or how stalin and mao were atheists and they were the world's most horrific mass murderers).

in general, i think amoral people exist in both camps and have capacity to do great evil. although at the same time, both side also have people who have done many great things in our world as well.

sir francis bacon once wrote,

"It were better to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of him; for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely."

so whatever God may be, whether it be a personal God or a pantheistic one, we should be cautious in putting labels onto God, so we will not think God as synonymous to hate or anger, as these labels are not only unworthy of God, they are also unworthy of us as living beings and the energy that bind us all.

Myself being a former atheist/agnostic or whatever and having a huge distrust of many religious leaders I can often see where Dawkins is coming from. But in my view he has closed his mind to information that challenges his beliefs. He admits he is a non-believer, which can be as self-righteous and limiting as a believer.

Writing a book called the god delusion qualifies him for sainthood with his followers in the religion of non-believers called atheism. What many atheists fail to realize or admit to is that many of their beliefs are based in faith and assumptions not in fact.

Religious institutions would not exist if people did not need it and support it. To put all religious people into one bag called religion is unfortunate.

I meet such diverse people that are involved in their religion. Some (ok many) are rigid, blaming, judgmental, and self-righteous and others have devoted their lives to helping others. Personally I see being humble and non-judgmental as two powerful attributes of intelligence (universal wisdom) and in my mind Dawkins fails to pass the litmus test on these attributes, but then most of us do.

I suspect this is why we are here having this earth experience to overcome our ignorance, which I believe is based in innocence.

I agree with William that both atheists and believes are confusing 2 subjects; the paranormal and diety. Experience and experiment are the best ways of learning about the paranormal. As to diety (God), who says our beliefs are anything more than projections? There may be an actual, personal God who is entirely different from what we believe; for instance, who says God is omniscient, omnipotent, etc? Or there may be an impersonal God. Or God may be incomprehensible to human rationality. Anyone want to try to design an experiment? Until we can, we can't answer questions about God.

Of course, we can always argue. :-)

Just out of curiousity, what is the fascination with the "holistic" universe? Who really cares if the universe is "one?" The ocean is "holistic", so why is this observation even significant?

James, it's pretty simple. The "you" that you believe yourself to be is not real. It's just a deep-seated and persistent mental idea. There is not "you" versus "everything else". Those are false concepts, and with deep investigation it can be seen very clearly and thoroughly that they are false.

When that is seen (not by "you" who is just an idea, but by Awareness which is what you actually are), life takes on a very different quality than before. Life is no longer scary or threatening to "you", because it is seen that "you" and life are one and the same.

So it is very significant because it is the end of the belief in the separate, suffering self, and hence the end of mental suffering.

Many years into my research on life, death, and such things as the meaning of life I thought to myself "maybe everything is perfection in action and we humans have not evolved enough to see that perfection". Maybe we live in a perfectly imperfect world?

When we surrender our idea of a personal separate self, there appears to be bliss that is beyond our imagination. The mystics have been telling us that for centuries and we pay them no heed.

Could it be that the only way this holistic “isness” that most call God can experience itself is through the illusion of personal selves interacting with one another? One has to admit there is a lot of interaction (drama) going on in the world.

A very entertaining discussion. I share in most of the views. However, I would suggest to Art that Dawkins will still contend he is right after he transits. He probably won't know he is "dead" until some "time" -- however time is measured in that realm -- after his death. He might be a very moral person, i.e., a humanist, but he seems to have ego problems and that may be enough to keep him earthbound. Just my thoughts.

“In a December 2004 interview with Bill Moyers, Dawkins stated that "among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know." When Moyers later asked, "Is evolution a theory, not a fact?", Dawkins replied, "Evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." Dawkins went on to say, "It is rather like a detective coming on a murder after the scene. And you… the detective hasn't actually seen the murder take place, of course. But what you do see is a massive clue ...Circumstantial evidence, but masses of circumstantial evidence. Huge quantities of circumstantial evidence."

This is an interesting quote I found on Dawkins. From my point of view there are huge quantities of circumstantial evidence for the paranormal.

" give Dawkins credit, he does admit that psi is becoming more and more of a given"

Really? Can you follow up on that a little bit?

If psi becomes a reality for Dawkins, does this suggest that Dawkin’s materialistic paradigm is on a very slippery slope?

When my own materialistic world began to crumble, I felt relieved to discover that there is more to reality than this world that has the appearance of insanity, until one realizes that in that ‘insanity’ there is room for growth in consciousness in such areas as humility, compassion, and I suspect most important love of self and others.

I started to discover very slowly that judging by appearance could be very misleading. And I had always thought that Jesus guy was just a longhaired religious hippy out of touch with reality teaching such insane ideas as the meek shall inherit the earth.

Jesus and Buddha proved one thing: most humans prefer to worship the person pointing the finger to our potential rather than look to where the finger is pointing.

This is from the Skeptical Investigations website:

Two days later, Richard Dawkins said he was worried that Randi would eventually have to pay up. Dr. Dawkins had just delivered a truly fine lecture - the high point of the conference, in fact - and Randi had joined the famed author onstage for a public chat. “About the million dollar prize, I would be worried if I were you because of the fact that we have perinormal possibilities.” Dawkins had just introduced this neologism during his talk. An alleged phenomenon is perinormal (from the Greek “peri,” in the vicinity of) if it seems impossible but which, in contrast to the “paranormal,” turns out to be a 100% natural, skeptic-approved phenomenon. Electromagnetic fields, for instance, were once perinormal but eventually came to be recognized as real. The question, then, is which phenomena currently dismissed by skeptics as paranormal are actually perinormal. “I mean, what if somebody-what if there really is a perinormal phenomenon which is then embraced within science and will become normal, but at present is classified conventionally as paranormal?”

Randi agreed he might have to pay up someday. But Dawkins had a trick up his sleeve. If a “psychic” phenomenon turns out to be real, then by definition it is physical and therefore not really psychic after all, and thus Randi still shouldn’t have to pay.

The hedging just shows that old habits die hard. The idea isn't "is psi paranormal," but "Is it real?" In truth, Dawkins is right: with solid evidence and a sound theory, psi would have to become part of the natural world, albeit one that turns much of what we think we know upside down.

In the end, this episode just shows that the paradigm is cracking a bit.

Richard Dawkin's is a closed-minded skeptic I think it is pointless debating with a closed-minded skeptic because obviously they only want to believe in their worldview. He thinks that religions should be gone well what about closed-minded skeptic a dogmatic religion in it's own right. I for one can't stand religions and there dogma and also closed-minded skeptic a dogmatic religion. I am open-minded when it comes to evidence for survival of bodily death that is what i think the world need's to be open-minded not to believe in something just because it feels good but if a idea like life after death really can produce evidence in favor of it which of course if a person investigates and realy reseaches this subject they will find a enormous amount of scientific evidence for life after death.

Here is a recent article in PhysicsWeb for all of the idealists out there: is the real link:

Cool article. It jibes with a recent one in New Scientist and comes to the same basic conclusion: based on what we think we know about QM, reality may be completely subjective in nature.

Then again, as mysterious as physics is, we may be completely wrong. How thrilling.

"There may be an actual, personal God who is entirely different from what we believe; for instance, who says God is omniscient, omnipotent, etc? Or there may be an impersonal God. Or God may be incomprehensible to human rationality. Anyone want to try to design an experiment? Until we can, we can't answer questions about God."

The dictionary says God is omniscient, omnipotent, etc. I think for argument's sake we ought to follow this standard definition, as it would help to clear up the issue. And if you want to talk about a being which can't possibly be conceived of in any way, shape, or form, call that something else. (I suggest Rod, or Todd.)

You may not be able to prove that God exists, but what is proof really, besides a really strong suspicion that something is true? I can't prove that my dog is sentient, but it's still proven to me, you know? I know it's true. Anything can be doubted.

So it's really not a question of proving that God exists, but instead of proving that belief in and reverence for God engenders something substantial. That is your experiment: Worship God and see what happens. If, after twenty years or so, a voice from the heavens begins speaking to you, you'll either be convinced that God exists or, at least, that worshipping God causes a disincarnate voice to proceed from the heavens. How can you argue with that? It's as rational to believe in God as it is to perform any experiment.

As for Richard Dawkins... It seems to me that he loathes his own reflection in the mirror: someone claiming to be the sole proprietor of the absolute truth.

Michael's suggestion that Dawkins will probably remain earthbound for a while is interesting but it is worth pointing out that there are cases in the literature of skeptics passing over and bizarrely continuing to communicate skeptical beliefs via mediums.

Tim - most die hard skeptics are lefties and liberals not neocons! Make of that what you will.....

"Anyone want to try to design an experiment? Until we can, we can't answer questions about God."

That's of course true. But the interesting thing here is that you can't "design an experiment" to prove materialism either. And furthermore, because of the cosmic constants, materialists have to invoke parallel universes to provide a reasonable materialistic theory of reality. Now, parallel universes are not only impossible to prove but also impossible to falsify, right? And materialists reject God, or any kind of transcendent reality, on the grounds that it is untestable and unfalsifiable?

I suspect that the mystics during their mystical experiences come the closest to experiencing the spirit (god) within them. What they tell us is that there are some blissful experiences available to us. It appears that we have to give up this idea that we are separate individuals to find this bliss. Yet we Americans insist that individualism is a sacred right. Could it be that societies values are different that spiritual values?

Every time I see the perfection of a rose in bloom and the birth of a child I often think and to myself “there are people that think this was due to chance and luck?”

I find Dawkins just as distasteful as any other fundamentalist. True science is about objectivity, not blasting religion. Many scientists are also people who either believe in something beyond what we observe, or at least don't discount spirit as a possibility (since it's never been disproven). Using science to speak out against religion is as wrong as twisting science to fit a particular religious view. It's all manipulation.

I wasn't equating skeptics with Neocons. I'm well aware that most Necons tend to be religious fundamentalists. I was pointing the correlation between pseudoskeptics like Randi and Neocons like, say, Rush Limbaugh: impressively stubborn ignorance, an absolute certitude that their ideas are "right," and a virulent hostility toward anyone who disagrees with them.

Maybe James Randi should be president?

Re: the idea of scientists believing in things beyond observation, I highly recommend "Extraordinary Knowing" by Elizabeth Mayer, Ph.D., published this year. It's a formerly skeptical psychologist/psychoanalyst's look at her own paranormal experience and at the incredible number of scientists she interviewed who "came out of the closet" to admit their own extraordinary cognitive experiences--experiences they felt they could not talk about within the bounds of their professions lest they be made pariahs.

Michael, maybe you could read the book and give us your review? I'd be happy to send you my copy.

>>The Archives of Scientists' Transcendant Experiences (T A S T E) is an online journal devoted to transcendant experiences that scientists have reported. It lets scientists express these experiences in a safe space, collects and shares them to debunk the stereotype that "real" scientists don't have "spiritual" or "mystical" or "psychic" experiences, builds a database of these experiences for future research and helps us understand the full range of the human mind.<<

Robert Todd Carroll the closed-minded skeptic has on his skeptic dictionairy site calling skeptical investigation website internet bunk
this coming from someone trying to attack open-minded skeptics.

But of course. When you have already decided, independent of the evidence, that psi and anything else that conflicts with your world view is garbage, and invested so much of your self-esteem and personal sense of purpose in that belief, you cannot see true skeptics as anything but heretics, delusionals and fools. To go back to a previous metaphor, it's like Neocons seeing moderate Republicans as traitors to the cause.

As always, return to the data, look at it honestly, without ad hominem attacks, and let it speak for itself.

“As always, return to the data, look at it honestly, without ad hominem attacks, and let it speak for itself.”

It appears to be almost impossible to let the data speak for itself. There are hidden agendas, paradigms, paradigm paralysis, cultural filters, mental conditioning, sometimes since birth, self-centered desires, needs, wishes, need for recognition, fear, the list goes on and on.

The Iraq war is a classic example of hidden agendas and fear in action. Some wanted a war while others were too fearful of being cast as weak on terrorism so the data was manipulated and not looked at honestly. Most want to blame others for this fiasco, but I think when we begin to realize how the universe works maybe in some ways every American has to take some responsibility for the war.

My point is after 20 years as a consultant teaching people how to define systems, collect and measure data, identify significant variables then analyze that data, make and check improvements, and standardize the improvements to stabilize the system (control) one begins to realize how little the world knows about this process from defining systems to stabilizing systems. In the six-sigma world this strategy is called the DMAIC.

When those skeptics tested that Russian girl and her ability to predict medical conditions of selected individuals in New York City, to say it was a farce and bordered on incompetence would be an understatement.

My point is if one does not do a competent job of going through this DMAIC process the data most likely will lead you down a long lonely road. We see it in our big three auto manufactures in the USA who still don’t ‘get it’ about what customers want, which is reliability plus innovation. Toyota got it and now they are the number one auto manufacture in the world.

This may have taken way to long to say the following: “let the data speak for itself” is almost impossible to do. Our educational institutions do little to promote an understanding using data analysis to understand reality.

To complicate things one has to wonder if data analysis such as the DMAIC process will work with spontaneous phenomena when we try and do research on paranormal events.

Regarding "the general cultural decline that seems to be accompanying the rise of Dawkins's brand of militant secularism," what about the dramatic declines around the world in capital punishment and armed conflict in recent years? (I can supply references upon request.)

In response to my comment about Dawkins still believing he is right after he is "dead," Mickey mentioned that "there are cases in the literature of skeptics passing over and bizarrely continuing to communicate skeptical beliefs via mediums." However, that doesn't necessarily suggest they know they are dead. In effect, they may still be living in the "dream world" of their own making. On the other hand, indications are that there are "earthbound" spirits who don't know they are dead as well as "earthbound" spirits who know they are dead. It seems to be a matter of degree of consciousness, all on the lower end of the scale.

Others have alluded to it in their posts, but I don't think it has been clearly stated that a belief in God is not necessarily concomitant with a belief in survival. Most of the militant scientists (as well as the world as a whole) take a deductive approach, i.e., no God, no afterlife. If we take the inductive approach, i.e., looking for the evidence of survival first, then God will unfold, whatever He, She, or It might happen to be.

One last comment, a quote:

"I once lived in the body -- I know if those cranks (The Society for Psychical Research) weren't so stupid they could find me." -- Dr. Phinuit.

To ban religion is a "religious" act and is therefore an oxymoron. Religion is no different from any other form of political organisation ie a power-to-influence based on some commonality. I like the concept of an ego trap because it encourages us to free ourselves from the urge to influence others.
In my humble opinion.

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