Random observations, quotes, excerpts, and stuff
Christina’s Web. I can’t stop thinking about Molyneux’s wife. Should I tell my therapist? Anyway, I continually wonder about her migraine-inducing weltanschauung. Consider the following intricate web of beliefs she has used to build her relationships with her husband, profession, employees, and patients.
As noted earlier, Christina and her husband are apparently doing everything they can to purge evidence of her prior involvement with the FreeDomain Radio site. However, he cannot delete from his foundational essays his claims that her singular insight was the intellectual wellspring for his psychology/philosophy connection.
What was her magic insight? She said, “It all starts with the family.”
Now, to me personally, that sounds like something my slightly inebriated Aunt Tizzy might blurt out at a family reunion instead of the psychological foundation of a world-reshaping philosophy. In fact, I’d venture to say that virtually every psychology expert in the world would call her magic insight a gross and somewhat inaccurate oversimplification. But what do I know?
But by pretending that “it all starts with the family” is some kind of insight, Molyneux was able to use his wife’s credibility in his initial essays. Perhaps he was also patronizing her in an attempt to improve their relationship. Maybe not. Who knows? But somewhere in that tangled web of beliefs between the two of them lies the foundation of the anti-parent/anti-family stance of FDR.
So what could make more sense for Christina, the intellectual wellspring for the anti-family psychology of FDR, than starting a…wait for it…family therapy clinic, right? She used to run it out of the Molyneux home but, when her husband decided to take his FDR business full time, she moved it to a new location and decided to grow her practice to bring in more revenue.
Christina then hires an associate who earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology (Christina doesn’t have one of those) by writing a thesis that suggested…drumroll…peer influence may actually have a much greater impact than parents on adolescent development and stuff like personality and behavior!
So there is another interesting web in Christina’s clinic, where apparently it’s a matter of random chance whether you pick Christina behind Door #1, who believes family and religion are the source of all the world’s problems or her employee behind Door #2, who actually belongs to a religion (I verified it) and probably thinks that blaming your parents for everything wrong in your life is preposterous (and maybe a little, um, adolescent). Can you choose wisely, troubled one?
Like I said, migraine-inducing. I wonder what those two talk about at lunch?
Conrad’s Conundrum. Hey–did you ever wonder how and why Liberating Minds got started and why Molyneux hates it so much? Pull up a chair. It’s a good story. Somewhere around 2007, Molyneux began to be more public in his belief that his philosophy was the one-true-road-to-happiness. I think that led to a lot of unrest and argument on his FDR forum among the early members who tended to be more free thinkers. (That sort of thing can’t happen on today’s FDR, where the only dissenters are newbies and they are quickly purged.)
Some of Molyneux’s followers (as you saw in The Promise and Failure of UPB) believe him to be the most important philosopher in the last 6,000 years. But–darn it all–he’s not even the most important philosopher in the Molyneux family!
Distant ancestor William Molyneux, who came up with the relatively obscure question known as Molyneux’s Problem, wins that title. Sorry, Stefan–but I do think there’s a philosophical problem you can claim at least partial ownership for–a so-far unanswerable question I’ll call Conrad’s Conundrum.
During those early years of FDR, a thoughtful member named Conrad asked Molyneux a seriously troubling question. You see, among the well-read FDR members, it is known that a number of Molyneux’s theories are derived from Murray Rothbard’s ideas. The new wrinkle Molyneux added was his own peculiar take on the psychology/philosophy connection–you know, the idea that you are completely corrupt if you continue to even associate with your religious or statist parents/family/friends.
So, Conrad wanted to know, if it could be shown that Rothbard associated with his families or religious/statist friends, would that mean Rothbard–the uncredited originator of much of the FDR ancap philosophy–was also corrupt? And what if the same were true for the great Ludwig von Mises himself? Hmm…
Molyneux responded by immediately banning Conrad, of course. (Reminds me of that famous Ring Lardner line: “Shut up,” he explained.) Whether it was because…
- Conrad pointed out an unanswerable logical flaw
- exposed that Molyneux’s best “ideas” aren’t exactly original
- reminded Molyneux that he’d been sidestepping more than a few other flaw-exposing questions
- or simply embarrased Molyneux by reminding him that he has absurdly predicted a total economic system collapse within 5-10 years (even less now!)
…remains to be seen.
It all happens in this short thread, which is one of my all-time favorites. (In just a few short answers, Molyneux exhibits at least #3, #5, and #7 from the list of known Molyneux debating techniques.)
Conrad was asking about more than a point of logic. With one question, he more or less blew up the whole Molyneux philosophic universe, so you can hardly blame Molyneux for the rapid banning. Following that abrupt dismissal, something completely unexpected happened. Instead of slinking away wounded into that good night, as expected, Conrad simply started the rival philosophy forum known as Liberating Minds.
So there you go. It turns out that for Stefan, the least-answerable philosophic problem isn’t ancestor William’s “Molyneux Problem,” but the far more vexing “Conrad’s Conundrum.”
A.C.E.ing out Dr. Vincent J. Felitti. Just as he did with Alice Miller, Molyneux is now exploiting another doctor’s work. This time, it’s Vincent Felitti and the research he’s conducting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. It’s called the A.C.E. (Adverse Childhood Events) Study.
The study is a fairly simple but good idea in that it tries to establish scientific parameters for what nearly everyone intuitively knows; i.e., that people with messed-up childhoods can grow up to have messed-up lives. Molyneux presents it to his members as a giddy revelation. Some of his True Believers have taken the short A.C.E. quiz and are beginning to report their own A.C.E. scores. (It’s easy! Get yours at www.acestudy.org!).
The point of Dr. Felitti’s work is to assess the health-care burden of a number of bad things that can happen in childhood. It assesses 10 possible events that have been divided into three categories:
- abuse (physicial, sexual, emotional
- neglect (emotional, physical)
- household dysfunction (mother treated violently, household substance abuse, household mental illness, separation/divorce, someone incarcerated)
I have no problems with the study itself, although there doesn’t seem to be an attempt to quantify the relative danger of each A.C.E., if any. For example, “my brother smoked weed” and “my father raped me” would each get an A.C.E. score of 1. If you had sex with a 22-year-old the day before your 18th birthday, that is an adverse childhood event. Even if the other person was smokin’ hot.
But I suspect most people who view Molyneux’s little (YouTube presentation) don’t notice how he cleverly misuses the report solely to support and lend credibility to own theories. Remember, Molyneux believes that nearly everyone is badly abused by their parents. But the A.C.E. Study is about a wide range of possible Adverse Events, not just abuse! Given the report’s very wide criteria of possible adverse events, it’s no surprise that only a little more than a third of the respondents reported having none.
Now that’s perfectly appropriate in the context of the study, I suppose, but Molyneux completely misinterprets the findings for his own ends. He leads you to believe that every event in the study falls into the category of abuse when, in truth, it does nothing to shore up Molyneux’s claim that nearly everyone is abused (and certainly doesn’t suggest that the only solution for any “virtuous” person is defoo his or her family), nor would the doctors conducting the study ever dream of making such claims.
What I’m talking about here is not the problem of childhood abuse, but Molyneux’s continued flagrant practice of Psychologist Abuse; specifically, borrowing the credibility of others to create the illusion that they support his own unsupportable ideas. Would Dr. Felitti really have granted an interview to Molyneux if he had known his work would be misused to encourage current and prospective new defooers? I don’t think so. So, Vince, if you just googled your name and found this, well, you’re a part of FDR now. Deal with it.
This is your brain on abuse. All I can say is fasten your seat belts. In the YouTube video we were just talking about (here’s the link again) and also in the outstandingly bizarre recent podcast entitled Why We Are Different (FDR 1551), Molyneux pulls out the latest intellectual bauble he’s been playing with–his conjectures about the physiological effects of child abuse; specifically, that all child abuse causes some kind of permanent brain damage. (Depending on the type and severity of the abuse, there may be a bit of truth to that, but stay with me…).
Here’s what he says in that podcast:
01:45…[in the future] where it [child abuse] does occur, there will be simply brain scans, right? And the brain scan of the child will show the effect of the abuse. And I believe the brain scan of the parent or primary abuser, whoever that is will show the effects of being an abuser….I believe that the perpetration of abuse creates brain changes as significant if not more significant than being the receiver or victim of child abuse.
So, if you watched the YouTube video, you probably saw at about 2:31 a CT scan image that Molyneux believes is a “proof” that abuse causes brain damage.
Well now. Let’s just take a look at where that slide came from, shall we?
Molyneux obscures the fact this image came from Dr. Bruce Perry’s study Altered brain development following global neglect in early childhood. Dr. Perry’s study is about neglect. Certainly, neglect and abuse are kissin’ cousins, but they are not exactly the same. Moreover, the subject matter of Dr. Perry’s study and the subject matter of Dr. Felitti’s work are miles apart. Which is probably one of the reasons Molyneux doesn’t want you to know about the origin of that CT scan image.
Specifically, Dr. Perry’s research focused on “globally neglected children,” those suffering from severe malnutrition, very little social contact, etc. Some of them were so badly neglected that they “were raised in cages in dark rooms for the first years of their lives.”
It seems Molyneux is entirely misrepresenting Perry’s work to make his own points. I guess Neuroscientist Abuse is just as acceptable as Psychologist Abuse. In his defense, Molyneux would probably say that while the image is on-screen, he uses the word “neglect,” but he is clearly slipping it in as if it is part of Felitti’s work.
Not convinced, huh?
Then let’s freeze the YouTube image at 2:31 and compare it to the one on the Perry study I linked to. Notice something? That’s right, Molyneux blocked out the labels beneath the two brain scans, the one saying “Normal” on the left and the one saying “Extreme Neglect” on the right!
I guess Molyneux was afraid you’d worry yourself sick trying to understand what, if anything, that slide had to do with the point he was making about abuse. And that kind of thing could cause brain damage. So he just blocked it out so you wouldn’t be confused. Another little thing he overlooked (and blocked out) was the really, really big text beneath the slide that said “All rights for reproduction of the above image are reserved, Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine.” Maybe there’s a Fair (mis)Use Doctrine I didn’t know about.
So where did we end up on this? Here’s my read. Molyneux (when he’s not going on and on about his own ethics and virtue) is perfectly O.K. with misrepresenting one physician’s work (that he’s using without permission) to aid in the misrepresentation of another physician’s work, all to support his otherwise completely unsupportable theories. There’s something really awesome about all that, in a master-criminal kind of way.
…And this is your brain on philosophy. Any questions? You probably think I’m all through with that Podcast 1551 stuff right? And you would be wrong.
Molyneux says he made the podcast because one of his True Believers asked why are “we” (we, meaning the most ardent FDR members) so different? I’m assuming that means “why are we so amazingly superior to our hateful families and the violent, chaotic, knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers we have to put up with in our daily lives?”
Molyneux’s answer, about those he considers “successful” at FDR, is pitch perfect:
02:45….so the one thing I have noticed that is centrally characteristic of those who are participating in this conversation and particularly those who continue–who don’t hit a plateau and just kind of stop and circle, slowly. is that they have not harmed others. They have not harmed others.
So, once you’ve defooed and tossed in your $500 to become a Philosopher King, you can proudly announce you’ve never harmed anyone. That’s much better than getting absolution as a Catholic, because this is actually retroactive. A few seconds later, Molyneux makes his case that he’s never been a bully (which I guess means we’ve forgotten all about that Conrad’s Conundrum incident.)
Alrighty, then. At least now we have an answer for why some FDR members become True Believers and some do not. If you have joined the FDR forum but haven’t completely given over to defooing and hating your family and whatnot, it is because you have given yourself brain damage from abusing others. Frankly, I’m glad I don’t know you. So, circle on, you harmful bastards.
Whew! January was a busy Quickies! month, wasn’t it? By the way, I’m not actually promising to do these monthly, you know, so don’t get all excited. See you next time.
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