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Deepak Chopra and even fitness guru Bill Phillips have talked extensively about peak experiences. It's an accurate concept. ALthough, I don't think it would (or should) create "Supermen". Aiming for and experiencing great moments can happen throughout your entire day if you're good at this--it does feel vitalizing, healthy, and is part of a great lifestyle. But, the next step in evolution? I think that's stretching it a little.

Also, the 'net is an anonymous place where it's easy to fit yourself into the shoes of an infallible God. In real life, few people are quite as hard-line. I've talked to some of the most brass-iron skepitcs you could ever meet, and during face-to-face discussions I've heard concessions about things like ghosts and near death experiences.

However, if that person had been speaking online, or in an on-record interview, I doubt his same points would have come up.

>ALthough, I don't think it would (or should) create "Supermen".

Neither do I.

The RIght Man Syndrome.

Whoever could you have in mind?

Snicker's aide, I suspect that like many people here, Colin Wilson was the first writer I looked to when I began to seriously study the paranormal and its meaning. I'd place his Beyond the Occult as his best book, although it may be out of print. It's more succinct and pointedly argued.

Wilson is not a thinker so much as a synthesizer. He can stray into popular 60's style psychobabble at times. But he offers genuine insight from time to time and (for me at least) showed that there was a genuine intellectually justifiable case for studying the paranormal. Despite having read popular paranormal books as a boy (Hans Holzer, anyone?) and having had my share of paranormal experiences, Wilson helped me get over the considerable resistance to the idea of life after death instilled by the cultural and intellectual temper of the times.

I have not read him in some time, but seeing him mentioned here was like seeing news of an old friend. Thanks for the post.

If any of you have ever gone to Digg, I think you will agree with me that that place is overrun by these "right men" who are actually mostly teenagers who think they're rebelling against the "system" but really are more or less sheep who are just as dogmatic and fanatical about their own beliefs as the religious fundies/conservatives they dislike so much.

So annoying, really.

>Whoever could you have in mind?

I know that Victor is an obvious candidate, but I was really thinking of the many, many times I've seen a simple difference of opinion blown into a full-fledged argument because one person immediately accused the other of being a "liar." James Randi fans frequently react in just this way. When I did a multi-part series critiquing Randi's million dollar challenge, I was inundated with comments from Randiphiles accusing me of dishonesty, malice, etc. It just didn't occur to them that there can be honest disagreement between well-meaning persons. (I am not saying this is true of all skeptics or even all fans of James Randi, just some of the most vocal and pestiferous ones.)

Michael:

I realize that - just a bit of teasing on my part.

"Dominance is a subject of enormous interest to biologists and zoologists because the percentage of dominant animals -- or human beings -- seems to be amazingly constant. [...] biological studies have confirmed [... that ...] for some odd reason, precisely five per cent -- one in twenty -- of any animal group are dominant -- have leadership qualities."

Isn't 5% the percentage of uber-skeptics?? Probably a coincidence though...

I’d suggest that the Right Man Syndrome is just an extreme manifestation of the almost universal failure of humans to understand the role of thought in our lives. Those who have particularly rigid views of the world never demonstrate an introspective aspect and never question their basic premises. Their world is clearly defined in black and white, and they are threatened by suggestions that the world includes shades of gray as well.

Those with this affliction are also oblivious to it. They don’t see themselves as “Right Men”. They just see themselves as right.

I tend to disagree with Wilson’s suggestion that peak experiences “come only through effort, concentration or focus, and refusing to lose one's vital energies through pessimism.”

It has been my experience that the transcendent consciousness (which is what Maslow means by peak experience) is what remains when one has quieted the internal chatter of thought that is typically present in our minds. It’s a matter of mindfulness, of moving our inner attention from the thoughts and feelings occupying our consciousness to the consciousness itself. It is a state of meditation, but it doesn’t necessarily require meditating to achieve it. It’s simply choosing which to focus on, thoughts or consciousness, moment-to-moment.

The effort and focus involved is paradoxical, in that the goal is a passive mental state, not an active one.

'Right Man' syndrome, kinda sounds like what psychiatry calls Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Although I wouldn't say that it's NPD in all cases, for instance being online can often bring out that aspect in people. I think it's a combination of 1) being emotionally invested in a particular belief. 2) having poor critical thinking skills, or thinking in black & white terms. 3) having poor debating skills. ( you can't outreason the other person so you use other tactics to stop/win the debate )

Ultra skeptics leadership qualities? Not sure I would want an alpha dog as a leader. But it seems to work for the white house with congress.

Leadership to me is not about influencing others but being influential to such a degree that others want to follow your lead.

I will stick with the right man syndrome being based in doubt, so to over come that doubt the right man must maintain an impression of certainty at all cost. I know I am right on this one and anyone that disagrees is just plain dumb and lacks a logical intelligent and far reaching mind like mine.

Embarrassment is one of the greatest learning opportunities we have but oh the mental pain involved. It just plain hurts and can even haunt one to be deeply embarrassed. Maybe due to low self-esteem the right man avoids that embarrassment at all costs and pours tons of mental concrete around their cherished beliefs.

Many good contributions from MP's initial offering, Michael H. and Tony S. being particularly cogent. Time and again I'm amazed to see how great a causative factor insecurity is, with "Right" people being our most extreme example.Since we are reasonably certain that 90-95% of our behavior is unconsciously initiated, we can only hope that any collective unconscious which exists is not similarly inflicted. Here I will add two quotes, one each from the disciplines of physics and philosophy (disciplines which are more than a little troubled to find themselves becoming more and more proximate):

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their predjudices" -David Bohm

"There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to believe what IS true." -Soren Kierkegaard

Great quotes, Kevin. Sort of confirms where I’m at in concluding that truth is realized to whatever degree we can deconstruct our own beliefs. It’s maybe the greatest paradox of all.

It’s so easy to see other’s belief systems, and so difficult to see our own. Somebody once commented that it’s best to remove the log from our own eye before worrying about the speck in our neighbor’s. He might have had a point.

Michael:

This may seem like a tangent, but I am a role-playing game hobbiest who is starting a superhuman-type game centered around superbeings who manifest their powers after peak experiences, both traumatic and blissful. The game setting is called Paragons. It is for Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds game engine, and much of it is built around the idea of paranormal abilities suddenly becoming everyday and very powerful.

I appreciate Wilson's quote in the context of what I am trying to do with this game. I am using what is known of paranormal experiences as a way of adding additional color for the storylines I am writing for my gaming group.

It may not be of interest to you, but I thought I would share what we are doing, and how some of these ideas are used in storytelling.

“we can only hope that any collective unconscious which exists is not similarly inflicted.”

Does a society have a collective unconsciousness? I believe it does. Every society finds it almost impossible to see its irrational thinking and conditioned beliefs based on unconscious influence on our behavior.

There may be several layers of unconsciousness. Can the ultimate collective unconsciousness be inflicted by ignorant thoughts or behavior? I don’t believe it can. Can infinite be changed?

I suspect not if it could it would not be infinite. It appears that infinite can manifest perceived change and beings that perceive themselves as separate and unique but their underlying reality is not inflicted or changed.

When we look at our own society we have lots of people that believe that a black book put together from a collection of writings nearly a couple of thousand years ago is all truth and will fight to their death to defend their truths.

On the other side we have some atheists that believe they and they alone are capable of rational thinking. Do our thoughts inflict the whole? They can and do if the whole or individual is open to receive them. Of course it depends on one’s operational definition of the whole.

Kevin's quotes and Williams pontifications brought the following to mind:

"If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present."

Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Living in the present" is an apt (if incomplete) description of "mindfulness". For some additional reframing, notice how interesting social behavior becomes when, instead of thinking (and positioning) people in hierarchical terms, you consider them HORIZONTALLY: a flat, open plane (as from the Surrealist paintings of Dali, Tanguy, et al.)on which all people are gathered. Most mill about in a large group, some form smaller groups in places away from the majority, and some fewer still are scattered quite randomly even farther from the main. Most are wearing simple blindfolds which could, ironically enough, be easily removed if they put forth a comparatively small effort. Few choose to do so. In this visualization, there is no personal position which is "better than" or "worse than" any other, so the temptation to place anyone in a hierarchically "superior" aspect is eliminated. See instead who stays close to the largest group and who strays, and what different issues lead to particular changes in position relative to any other point. There is no "central" point. ALL positions are relative. It's far from a perfect representation, but it helps shake off the sociobiological framework and see behavior in another perspective.

If believing in Noah's Ark is 'rational thinking,' count me out, thanks.

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