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"Unfortunately, I have to conclude that Carter's chapter comes close to consisting of an ad hominem attack against critics of parapsychology. His emphasis is on the alleged worldview that compels the critics to go to any lengths -- including deliberate suppression of data. Indeed, there are, and there have been, vocal skeptics who have behaved in ways that might justify some of Carter's concerns. On the other hand it is a logical fallacy to dismiss a person's criticisms on the basis of their alleged motivations and mindsets."

Well, if Hyman is saying that Carter is wrong because he's making an ad hominem, then I'd have to say Hyman is mistaken.

Not all ad hominem attacks are fallacious. They can also be reasonable. When they are fallacious they are often distinguished by being called fallacious ad hominems.

Simply claiming an ad hominem is not enough to discredit the argument and if it is not a core part of the argument, discrediting it is not of much use except perhaps to those who aren't paying attention.

"Some of his points are well taken, but on the whole Hyman makes too many questionable assertions to be really persuasive. For instance, he claims he selected Alcock simply because Alcock was well-versed in the subject matter, and for no ulterior motive. But clearly this is disingenuous; there were other people equally well-versed in these controversies who could have brought a more neutral or disinterested perspective to the investigation than Alcock, who has been vociferously and intransigently opposed to psi research for decades. Hyman obviously chose Alcock, at least in part, because he knew that Alcock would agree with his own preconceived conclusions."

I think a problem with many scientists and skeptics is that too frequently they disregard their own minds as subjects of study. They may know a lot about nuclear physics and very little about themselves, encouraged by a neuro-philosophy that wants to explain away the human mind as something that doesn't even exist, rather than pay attention to it. I think one of the negative side effects of that is that it tends to make them self UNaware and poor judges of their own biases, because they don't spend a whole lot of time paying attention to what their own minds do.

These poor skeptical BABIES!

The skeptics have created a great "brand" and a great position for themselves in the media--but that's all it is. They don't represent science or scientists, and they are not serious intellectuals.

While arrogating the high ground of objectivity and reason, there is not a logical fallacy or rhetorical dirty trick that's too low for them. They make me sick.

Having only relatively recently become interested in psi, I've been struck by how cosy and parochial the psi sceptic community seems. Seeing Ray Wiseman here in the UK recently on breakfast TV promoting his new book confirmed this for me. He came over as a real lightweight. A sort of soothing and reassuring uncle figure whose sole job is to calm the children's fears about those funny noises in the attic at night.

By comparison, those scientists doing psi research (e.g. Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake) come over as much larger figures. I do wonder, however, whether they collude in this cosiness to some extent by the way they play the sceptics game i.e. responding with great patience to the sceptic's sometimes ludicrous and intellectually dishonest nitpicking; instead of either ignoring them or telling them where to go.

What is interesting is that Chris Carter's willingness to be a little more robust quickly exposes this. Hyman's thin skinned reaction speaks volumes of someone who is used to a much more cosily deferential debate.

I'm not advocating crude personal attacks in response to psi sceptics - and that is very far from Carter's tone. Neither should psi sceptics be treated with intolerance. But I think the whole psi debate would be much improved if there was more directness when responding to psi sceptics.

In my view, doing this would open up the debate in an interesting way. As Matt says, psi sceptics do not represent the scientific community. Of course, I'm sure there are plenty of Nobel Prize winning scientists who could be wheeled out to attack psi. But across the scientific community as a whole the position is more complex e.g. see this recent post on Robert McLuhan's blog:

"Here I think Hyman, in his prickly defensiveness, simply misreads the entire thrust of Carter's argument. Carter is not saying that the skeptics of psi are wrong because they are materialists. He is saying that skeptics of psi are wrong because they have not come to grips with the evidence. Having made this point, he goes on (as a related, but separate, issue) to ponder the question of why intelligent, knowledgeable people would be resistant to the evidence. His hypothesis is that they find the evidence upsetting because it threatens their deeply held beliefs, which can be labeled "materialism."

Thank you so much for slogging through this book. I am a Clinical Psychologist, with around 40,000 hours direct patient experience. I can also read and understand Experimental Data.

I did read Carter's book. He states that critics "have not come to grips with the evidence" because they are not ENGAGED with the material. If one engages the material, as I have both through the consistent subjective reported experiences of clients who simply don't know what is happening to them and tell me about say "a deathbed vision",NDR, a poltergeist phenomena and through my deep exploration of paranormal material through men like FWH Myers, William James, Oliver Lodge to contemporaries respected men such as Gary Lachman and Colin Wilson. Not to mention my well known scientific investigators.

One must truly engage something to understand something.A true sceptic engages what s/he studies. Engagement does not preclude objective empirical approaches. Ask any cultural anthropologist living with a primitive tribe in the Amazon. There may be dangers of engagement leading to bias but to really understand one must , in a clear eyed way, engage without prejudice. Most Skeptics like Shermer, Randi et al are rather bored with the Paranormal

Carter is eloquent and not ad Hominem in his critique. Belief systems research support his view.

Speaking of Stephan Schwartz, whatever opinion I might have had of him as an objective individual vanished long ago after reading his blog Schwartz Report for a while. He's so far off the deep-end of the leftist political spectrum that its hard to take him seriously. He blames the right and 'deniers' for everything. He only quotes and links to far left websites.

He once attacked pro-life advocates as being far too materialistic, his opinion being pro-choice and labeling pro-life advocates as engaging a war against women.

I usually don't even bother engaging in much political discussion but when all you have is a person engaging in one form of extremist and biased opinion its kind of hard not to at least occasionally leave a comment there about how hypocritical he is.

I was corresponding with a friend on this matter, and I was opining why skeptics, who are atheists after all, have done so well with their media agenda in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Certainly, any atheists in the audience want their worldview validated. But as Simon aptly points out, the skeptics message is also comfortably to Christians, who want to be reassured about "attic noises" (lol) and other things that threaten their worldview.

For example, my mom's house was haunted. I very clearly heard and saw a ghost in the room I stayed in there (the only time I have ever experienced either), and at times there were lots of noises in the house (easier to explain away, but still). Plus, there was just a bad, haunted vibe.

My mother, nominally a Christian, absolutely ridiculed my assertions about ghostly phenomena. In theory, Christians believe in the supernatural, right?

Yet, I'd say a very high percentage of religious adherents use their faiths as a kind of placeholder myth and don't really "engage" (h/t Rick49) with the implications of their belief system.

Skeptics help people not to think about these things. That, IMO, is why they've done so well and why their message will continue to sell (but not for much longer...).

It seems people with unrelenting positions against something are sometimes secret advocates, much like anti-homosexual preacher Ted Haggard enjoys some occasional man-on-man action. I wonder if Hyman and others secretly get off on going to seances?

"I wonder if Hyman and others secretly get off on going to seances?"

Maybe not. But it's a good point, Cyrus, and what I think they do get off on, in stark contrast to their crusade against religion, is blind devotion to their own chosen faith: scientism. (Substitute materialism, if you prefer.)

Their bible—Origin of Species, maybe?

Certainly, that's ONE of their holy books. And it's a good one, but it sure doesn't explain everything.

Hey Mike

You will enjoy this youtube video.

"Applying this term [denier] to anthropogenic global warming or to parapsychology strikes me as premature and unfair."

I've dubbed us dissidents as contrarians, deviationists, defiers, and "scorcher-scam scoffers."

Thanks, Kris, for the link. I ended up watching all five parts of his lecture, as well as a two-part rebuttal he offered to a critic.

Part one of the rebuttal is here:

I also watched a brief video criticizing the fine-tuning argument:

The anti-fine-tuning video seemed poorly argued to me. Most of the objections are dealt with in the five-part lecture and in the two-part rebuttal.

Hi, Prescott

one thing, you said:

"the fact that psi was shown to be more effective in perceiving dynamic targets had been predicted on the basis of the original studies, and the prediction was vindicated by the subsequent, more stringent studies."

But this clearly was not Hyman's criticism. What he said was that "the results on the static targets were consistent with chance and differed significantly from the results on the static targets in the original data base"

Carter clearly missed the point here. Carter wrote about the dynamic targets, which Hyman admits to be significant. But the criticism of the static targets remains untouched.

I read the book and really enjoyed it. I loved Carter's input (and Radin's, too). I thought Alcock was blundering around, showing his bias quite transparently. I felt Hyman's initial contribution was much tighter than Alcock's and commanded a lot more respect. However, his second piece, which you are talking about, Michael, is just too wounded and incensed. He did provide some useful background information that softened some of Carter's claims. However, he seemed to me to fail to address some of the big points. And, with astonishing naivete, he acted as if the method of science necessarily entailed a materialist ontology. That really surprised me.

I remember seeing a TV show, in which he led a skeptical team that evaluated the claims of a Russian girl who said she had X-ray vision. She had to stand in front of seven blindfolded people and match seven X-rays to the right person.

The team had evaluated five out of seven as success. She got four out of seven, and so Hyman rather patronizingly said he hoped she would put all this nonsense behind her and get on with a life in real medicine.

However, anyone can intuitively sense that four out of seven is way beyond chance. And later, I think Brian Josephson evaluated four out of seven as having odds of 78 to 1. Well, that is well within statistical significance, which of course made Hyman's statement look utterly foolish.

I do think that Carter is right--there is an extremely puzzling unwillingness to just face the evidence that can only be accounted for by some profound metaphysical bias.


I would be more careful about Carter. I don't think he is a reliable source. His article "How Richard Wiseman Nullifies Positive Results" is full of problems. I don't trust much in Radin too, although he is more reliable than Carter.

"Speaking of Stephan Schwartz, whatever opinion I might have had of him as an objective individual vanished long ago after reading his blog Schwartz Report for a while."

Goonch, though I myself am more comfortable with Schwartz's politics than you are, I can relate to what you're saying. It can be hard to feel any trust at all for someone whose views in one area seem (to you) to be totally without merit.

But it's been a revelation to me—and a pleasant one—to find that in practice, disagreements like that don't have to translate to goodbye.

My own relationship to this blog is a good example. During the last presidential election, politics more than occasionally crept into the proceedings here, and MP and I were often at each other's throats.

Without the politics, though, it's clear that Michael and I do have a lot of common ground in the things we discuss here. (And allow me to make an official request, as of today, that the blog remain a politics-free zone in the coming election season.) :o)

I have a local friend (the father of one of my music students), who's a bible-thumping right-winger. To my amazement, I consistently look forward to seeing him and talking about other things.

I guess, in general, it's a matter of learning to live with ambiguity, and coming to understand that no person, book, or philosophy will ever jibe, 100%, with my own way of seeing things. And why not enjoy whatever feelings of connection and rapport DO present themselves from moment to moment.

So, you can give up on Schwartz, if you like, but, considering what great work he's done in helping us all to grasp the reality and workings of psi, that might be a sad thing.

I'm glad you at least admit your bias, Michael as I find few people on this topic (or anything for that matter) regardless of their position will admit this and rather say they are in fact impartial despite being either pro or anti PSI in reality.

I'm kind of glad Penn & Teller admit their show Bullsh!t is biased, I think I would be really annoyed if they tried to claim their views on some of the topics their are impartial.

"I guess, in general, it's a matter of learning to live with ambiguity, and coming to understand that no person, book, or philosophy will ever jibe, 100%, with my own way of seeing things." Bruce, I couldn't agree more. One of the problems in the UK is an over identification of the "New Athiest" position of the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and others with left of centre secular politics. Sir Martin Rees' recent acceptance of the 2011 Templeton prize - despite being an athiest - caused a furore here in the left wing press. I found this editorial in the Guardian (the UK's leading left of centre newspaper), therefore, very encouraging; mirroring your language, Bruce, as it did (e.g. praising Rees for having a mind that accepted nuance):

Vitor what do you mean that Chris Carter is not a reliable source please elaborate, then you go on to say you don' trust Dean Radin. What are you trying to say here?
Chris Carter and Dean Radin are honest, decent people in my opinion, unlike some skeptics like Richard Weisman and James Randi.

"And allow me to make an official request, as of today, that the blog remain a politics-free zone in the coming election season."

Oddly, even as the political arguments in the country become more angry and shrill, I find myself taking politics more calmly. It's probably because I'm not convinced the gloom-and-doom crowd is right. It seems to me that the country is in a stronger position than the alarmists would have us believe. So I'm taking more of a laid-back approach to politics these days. When I do comment, it's usually on Facebook.

"Perhaps the best thing about the book is that it is clearly aimed at an academic audience, incidentally giving the lie to Wiseman's lament that university-based parapsychology is on the verge of extinction. "

I think only few books are there who talk on this psychic topic more arguably.

Skeptical Atheist,

I think Chris Carter and Dean Radin are very far to be unbiased. They don't tell you both sides of the story.

For example, in the book "Entangled Minds", in Chapter 5, Radin says (about the psi tests that Rhine did with Pearce) that Pearce loose his abilities after some months. Radin only tell us this.

But in Skeptic's Dictionary, I found:

"According to Milbourne Christopher “there are at least a dozen ways a subject who wished to cheat under the conditions Rhine described could deceive the investigator” (Christopher 1970: 24-25). Rhine did use a magician to observe one of his ESP phenoms, Hubert Pearce. When Wallace Lee (a.k.a. “Wallace the Magician”) was observing young Pearce, he performed at chance levels. Otherwise his scores were significantly higher."

I think this is a very important information that the reader of Entangled Minds should know. Now, why Radin don't tell us that? Because Radin wants to convince the readers that Rhine was not naive about potential methods of cheating.

In the article "How Richard Wiseman Nullifies Positive Results", Carter only mentions one study which Wiseman found evidence for the experimenter effect (in 1997), but he doesn't mention the study which Wiseman found no evidence for the experimenter effect (in 2006).

That's why I think we should be more careful about both.

by: Kris | April 12, 2011 at 04:41 PM

Thanks for:

It led me to:

Which resonates with my thinking better.

Can anyone help a brother out? I can't find anywhere that's selling Parapsychology and the Skeptics. (Well, one copy on ebay but that's priced at nearly 200 dollars. I wouldn't pay that much for a book that proved the existence of God, revealed a lost Shakespeare play and gave reliable directions to buried treasure.)

I find it interesting that you have great faith in the so called Skeptics Dictionary, I think it is terribly biased, look at their entry for the amazing book The End of Materialism by the wonderful Charles Tart.
The Skeptic Dictionary is full of cynicism but most importantly it is full of half truths. Ok you claim Carter didn't mention the study where Richard Weisman found no evidence, this doesn't change the fact that Richard Weisman was dishonest on many occasions. Bottom line is you can't explain away the evidence.

Here is a wonderful comment from Dean Radins blog, someone asked Dr.Radin himself what he thought about the bogus post on the Skeptics Dictionary, someone replied saying this:

I think Carrol's attitude can be easily summed up in this passage from his review of "Entangled Minds":

Yes, and then again the mind/brain might not be a quantum object at all, and the above sentence might not have any cognitive meaning, i.e., be a bit of bovine excrement. The fact is, this section on theories is really a section on exercising the imagination to speculate about how paranormal phenomena might work if they were real. The fact is, though, that the evidence that they are real is outweighed by the evidence that they are not real. Radin can shout as loudly as he wants about skeptics, but their analysis of the data is much more convincing than his.

Not only does he thinly veil calling Dr. Radin's musings bullshit but he also outright says that skeptics always analyze data in a more convincing way. Well if that doesn't speak to his bias I don't know what does!

It can be read here:

However if you are remotely skeptical or familiar with the standard skeptical arguments then I think you can predict just about everything he says. He even goes as far as to say that Dr. Radin intentionally structures the book to mislead and deceive readers not familiar with cognitive biases and the psychology of belief.

I'm not sure when the article was written but he is either deliberately not including new evidence of quantum mechanisms at work in biological systems, or so blinded by his own skeptical beliefs that he ignores anything that could possibly support these psi hypotheses.

Vitor, please read my two posts above and please don't just choose a single case, ignore the positive evidence and arguments that Carter and Radin have provided within the given cases, then use it to attack the both these individuals. Classic skeptics employing the same massive logical fallacies they claim to fight against.

Hardly any of the so called skeptics care to roll their sleeves up and get busy with the experiments, all of them just attack any kind of evidence based on a priori belief in Materialism and Naturalism.

"I can't find anywhere that's selling Parapsychology and the Skeptics."

Wow, you're right. I checked Amazon US, Amazon UK, AbeBooks, and eBay. No luck.

They ought to bring it out as an ebook. Or just bring it back into print.

In response to Simon Oakes comments about politics, I agree and it irks me a bit. There seems to be an assumption that if you aren't a ring-winger, you must be a materialist atheist (or how there seems to be an unwritten belief that the religious is always associated with the right and materialism with the left).

"They ought to bring it out as an ebook. Or just bring it back into print."

I've got it in the Kindle edition. Since you can't even get it as a paperback, why in the world would they make it available for Kindle and then withdraw it?

In response to Simon Oakes comments about politics, I agree and it irks me a bit. There seems to be an assumption that if you aren't a ring-winger, you must be a materialist atheist (or how there seems to be an unwritten belief that the religious is always associated with the right and materialism with the left).

Posted by: Aftrbrnr

That's funny. I associate New Agers with left-wing politics. I'm a socialist myself. I argued with Michael on Facebook the other day. It doesn't bother me at all, and I don't care if he talks politics on this blog.

I think world changes are quickly pushing us toward a more communal, socialistic world. If I'm wrong about that, I'm wrong. Psychic phenomena, however, are not going away. I'm pretty certain I'm not wrong about them.

Seriously Rick

Did you watch the videos? The physicist rebutted all those arguments made by the " Queen of Atheism" quite easily.

I posted the link cause Michael has expressed interests in this argument, the explanations by Luke Barnes are easy to understand and he is an agnostic so he has no ax to grind.

"I've got it in the Kindle edition."

I don't see a Kindle version listed on the Amazon site. Here's the link.

"I don't see a Kindle version listed on the Amazon site."

Roger, that's what I was trying to say, though my comment was easy to misinterpret. I bought a Kindle edition a year or so ago, but for some reason, they've stopped offering a Kindle edition, and that surprises me.

"That's funny. I associate New Agers with left-wing politics." A fair point, and of course any attempt to identify materialism with specific political views is bound to be over simplistic. Nonetheless, many on the left do at least give the very strong impression of equating any sort of critique of materialism with religion; which in turn is equated with religious fundamentalism and is thus the enemy of Enlightenment/ modern liberal values.

Incidentally, can I apologise to everyone for getting Richard Wiseman's name wrong in an earlier post.

"I bought a Kindle edition a year or so ago, but for some reason, they've stopped offering a Kindle edition, and that surprises me."

And the paper edition is out of print. Could it be that the publisher was threatened with a libel suit? Or maybe the author got mad at the publisher, or vice versa?

There is a reason why the book is out of print.

Alex Tsakiris: The final question I have for you, Chris. I’ve had a number of folks ask about your first book, Parapsychology and the Skeptics, and where they can get their hands on it. Is there a second printing coming out?

Chris Carter: What happened was my first publisher ran into some financial difficulties and stopped publishing my book. The rights reverted back to me and my agent and myself are now currently looking for another publisher. We hope to find one soon.

Regarding Wiseman and his Ganzfeld studies, upon which skeptics seemingly put a great emphasis, it might be useful to read the following:

The 30 studies that Milton and Wiseman considered ranged in size from 4 trials to 100, but they used a statistical method that simply ignored sample size (N). For instance, say we have 3
studies, two with N = 8, 2 hits (25%), and a third with N = 60, 21 hits (35%). If we ignore
sample size, then the unweighted average percentage of hits is only 28%; but the combined
average of all the hits is just under 33%. This, in simplest terms, is the mistake they made.

Had they simply added up the hits and misses and then performed a simple one-tailed t-test, they
would have found results significant at the 5% level. Had they performed the exact binomial
test, the results would have been significant at less than the 4% level, with odds against chance
of 26 to 1. Statistician Jessica Utts pointed this out at a meeting Dean Radin held in Vancouver in 2007, in which he invited parapsychologists and skeptics to come together and present to other interested (invited) scientists. Richard Wiseman was present at this meeting, and was able to offer no justification for his botched statistics.

And this was not the only problem with the study. Milton and Wiseman did not include a large
and highly successful study by Kathy Dalton (1997) due to an arbitrary cut-off date, even
though it was published almost two years before Milton and Wiseman’s paper; had been
widely discussed among parapsychologists; was part of a doctoral dissertation at Julie Milton’s university; and was presented at a conference chaired by Wiseman two years before Milton and Wiseman published their paper.

Here we have a case in which Wiseman nullified a positive result by first engaging in
“retrospective data selection” - arbitrarily excluding a highly successful study - and then, by
botching the statistical analysis of the remaining data.

"The rights reverted back to me, and my agent and myself are now currently looking for another publisher."

My advice to him would be to forget about a publisher, at least for now, and self-publish the ebook as a Kindle and Nook. The day of having to work through the intermediary of a publisher is drawing to a close. It's a whole new ballgame out there.

Michael, forgive me for changing the subject, but I just noticed that a small portion of The Cosmic Game, by Stan Grof, has been digitized and put online by Google. It's a book I've been trying to get you to check out for years.

I know that you started reading another book by Grof, but unfortunately, it was a discussion of his therapeutic techniques rather than his broader metaphysical insights, and was not appealing to you.

Here's the ridiculously long link to pages 100 to 101:

If ever there were a book that capsulizes my own understanding of "what it's all about", this is the one. And these two pages summarize a big chunk of it.

I'd love to hear your reaction—what you resonate with, and what you don't.

Oh—I should probably fill you in on a word that Grof made up and that he uses in this passage: holotropic. It describes experiences, such as NDE's, shamanic trances, and other deeply altered states, that "move toward wholeness", providing insights into the nature of consciousness and the cosmos.

Looking forward to your thoughts!

Michael Talbot talks about Grof's work in The Holographic Universe. "Holotropic" is just another allusion to the holographic nature of our universe.

Hania, you've done my little Mathematical heart good.

Thanks for the link, Bruce. I think Grof's description is very apt. The idea of the Universal Mind engaged in role-playing in order to experience all states of being, whether "positive" or "negative," is extremely powerful. And he expresses it superbly, even dealing succinctly with the "problem of pain." I guess I'll have to order this book.

"And he expresses it superbly, even dealing succinctly with the problem of pain."

So glad you like that excerpt by Grof, Michael. And I'm especially pleased that you mentioned his discussion of pain. He speaks a lot more about it throughout The Cosmic Game, and his ability to make such compelling sense of "the dark side" may be the book's greatest strength.

Here's how he sets up his explanation for evil:

"The divine does not create something outside of itself, but rather by subdivisions and transformations within the field of its own being."

Which leads to:

"The various manifestations of evil are expressions of the energy that makes the split-off units of consciousness feel separate from each other. Since he divine play is unimaginable without individual protagonists, the existence of evil is absolutely essential."

And I can't help but share two other tidbits from the book.

This is one I just typed up yesterday for the Skeptiko forum. It's about neuroscientists' desperate attempts to locate our essential selves within the brain:

'"We would laugh at somebody who would try to examine and scrutinize all the transistors, relays, and circuits of the TV set and analyze all its wires in an attempt to figure out how it creates the programs."

He also offers a beautiful and lengthy metaphor (not entirely of his making) for how we emerge from the Source and then return to it. In it, water equals spirit, and snow and ice, our physical forms.

"In sharp contrast to water, ice is dense, solid, hard, and rigid. Like the snowflake, to return to its original aquatic condition, it has to undergo a complete annihilation and lose what appear to be its essential characteristics."

In the cover of my copy of the book, I once had some fun jotting down my own extension of this metaphor:

"An atheist is a snowflake or block of ice that is determined to prove that the notion of water is mere superstition."

Which takes us back, I'm happy to say, to the subject of your original post—the argument between skeptics and believers. Maybe this is sloppy thinking, but I can't help but see that long-running feud as essentially the disagreement between atheists, and those who think we come from a divine, loving, source, and ultimately return to it.

To those skeptics I say: watch out, snowflake! Someday, like the rest of us, you're gonna melt. Then we'll see if water is real or not.

By the way, I've got shelves and shelves of paperback books. The Cosmic Game is the only that I actually went to the trouble of buying a special kit for, including sheets of stiff plastic, so I could make it into a hardcover of sorts.

It's still falling apart. :o)

My copy won't fall apart, because I bought it as a Google eBook, which I can read on my iPad using an app. (The book is out of print, and physical copies were prohibitively expensive.)

Glad you've got the book already, Michael. For me, it really takes off starting in Chapter 4: The Process of Creation.

But I like it all, even the rich and generous acknowledgements at the beginning. Quite a bunch of heavyweights in that list, many of whom are apparently close friends.

I hope you review it!

Michael, what gave you the impression that The Cosmic Game was out of print? Amazon shows lots available both new and used.

Offtopic, but MP relevant AND funny too:,8599,2065348,00.html

"Here's how he sets up his explanation for evil:

"The divine does not create something outside of itself, but rather by subdivisions and transformations within the field of its own being."

Which leads to:

"The various manifestations of evil are expressions of the energy that makes the split-off units of consciousness feel separate from each other. Since he divine play is unimaginable without individual protagonists, the existence of evil is absolutely essential.""

I don't know. Separation between souls is certainly essential for individual consciousness, but that doesn't seem to automatically engender deliberate human evil - it is presumably free will that inevitably allows such evil to exist. Logically, there could be the separation necessary for human individuation, but with no free will allowing choice of evil acts.

Aside from this, much suffering results from the nature of the world entirely independent of human free will choice, such as disease, accidents, disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Why couldn't the nature of the world be such that such externally imposed suffering didn't exist, or was much less severe? This doesn't relate to separation between souls, but to the nature of the physical world.

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