Friday, October 31, 2008

Comedic Relief "The God Warrior"

Check out this lady from the Wife Swap television program. She is very much into the spiritual life. Watch how she flips out when she finds out that her new family are into dark spiritual practices. This is the kind of thing that can happen to your head if you get involved with groups like Warriorcult. Beware Warriorshippers, this could be you in a few years. The only difference is that you have guns! and Prather Warriorschool Cult

Yet another web site talking about Prather and his cult

Here is a quick quote from one of the 3 pages

Well, after reading all of that, I wasn't sure I was going to reply-where to begin.

First off, my sometime affiliation/play/involvement with Bujinkan came from one thing and one thing only-the desire to continue to develop my hanbo skills. That said, I have found that some practitioners/teachers have substantial skills, and some only think they do. No matter. I wouldn't call the Bujinkan a cult, though, like a lot of martial arts organizations, it has some cultish elements, and like a lot of organizations that are spread away from any centralized control, these elements can and do blossom into something a little more malevolent, like all the political bickering about who's teaching the real stuff.

As for the "Warriorship" training of Jeff Prather, while I have no first hand experience with it, it sounds a little off, and a little okay. The okay parts, as far as Native American spirtual practice goes might be difficult for some of you to agree with, but here goes.

24 hrs. of fasting is no big deal, and the inipi (sweatlodge) is not particularly difficult-especially for only 45 minutes. Sundancers bind themselves to a tree and dance staring at the sun for four days without food or water . This ritual takes place every summer, all over the west, and a Sundancer typically commits to participating four times. Sundancers-the more pious ones, anyway- usually refrain from sex and alchohol in the four months leading up to Sundance-try explaining that to your white wife. (Never mind getting her to come support the vividly brutal thing that you're doing to yourself as a form of prayer.....)

And, typically, one does go about "asking for permission" and/or "saying thank you" for the elements used in ritual. One doesn't go digging into the earth without asking-and apologizing. That's just the way things are done.

The whole "females preparing and serving" thing is also pretty common to Indian cultures, and doesn't indicate the entire place of women in Indian society. It's worth pointing out that the "Supreme Court" of the Five Nations was composed entirely of women, and their word was final.

On the other hand, the co-option of these rituals and social constructs by various non-Native organizations and movements if troubling and dangerous-where did Mr. Prather learn to conduct the sweat? Was he given permission to pass it on to others? Do they have the necessary skills and training to conduct the ceremony in a physically and spiritually safe manner? What is the leadership role of these women? ALso, the stories of submitting to the leader's will are a big bell ringer-not very Native or denoting of "warriorship" at all.

So, yeah, it's probably a cult-I know nothing of the allegations against Mr. Prather, and have only heard good things about his skills. I don't necessarily think it's a dangerous cult-just not something for the already weak-minded to get involved with.

Mr. Prather might be another story altogether, though. What do I know?

Ad , while it seems kind of hokey, a lot of the statements the writers took issue with are accepted sociological observations: our larger society, while it posesses many avenues for rites of passage, typically lacks organized ones. While a rite of passage might be as simple as having a beer with the old man, taking one's first deer, or getting your driver's license, they aren't necessarily denoted as such.

I think the writers were right to get out, because it wasn't for them, and, as they found out, Mr. Prather might not be such a great guy. But I also think they're a little soft to confuse a 24 hour fast and 45 minute sweat with brainwashing-but hey, I'm a Sundancer, and I drink nobody's Kool-Aid.

As for the whole "warrior" thing, it's also overdone. Who wants to be a warrior? I'd rather just be able to tell a good story now and then.....of course, it depends upon how you define "warrior," and that's probably a whole other thread.
Aaron J. Cuffee

Mentalism Podcast Interview

Project Alpha

Here is a short article I copied from Wikipedia about the project alpha. It was a project in which a magician and skeptic used two kids to fool scientists into believing they had supernatural powers.

Read below for an idea of what happened:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For the military project, see Project Alpha (military).

Project Alpha was an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the stage magician and skeptic James Randi. It involved planting two fake psychics, Steve Shaw (known as Banachek) and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project. During the initial stages of the investigation, the researchers came to believe that the pair's psychic powers were real. However, more formal experiments, as well as criticism from both the parapsychology community and Mr. Randi himself, led them to dismiss their initial trust.[1] The hoax was later revealed publicly.

The success of Project Alpha led Randi to use variations of the technique on several other occasions. Perhaps the most famous example led to the downfall of TV evangelist and faith healer Peter Popoff, when Randi had a man pose as a woman with uterine cancer, which Popoff happily "cured". In another example, Randi hired a performance artist to pose as a channeller known as "Carlos", who was presented on Australian TV and soon had a wide following. After this hoax was exposed the artist was constantly approached by people who believed him to be genuine, even if he told them directly that he was an actor.

I listened to a podcast recently from Penn Jillettes radio show. He was interviewing the leading Mentalist and Alpha Project kid Banachek. They also had on another famous magician called Ian Swiss.

I will post the file later, but I just wanted to post some of my notes here really quickly.

3:59 - 5:30 Talking about Korean Yogic Flying Priminovin


8:00 The Alpha Project Kids were intended to fool the scientists. The hoax lasted 180 hours and was spread over 4 years. The scientists had the goal of performing various psychic tests on the kids and merely accepted the two kids into their program, because they applied for it. Neither of the two were trained by James Randi. Randi did however help the kids come up with their plan on how to organize the proceedings of the hoax. None of the scientist engaged in any sort of background check on the kids. Later though the scientists claimed that they had had other experts check on the kids. Randi had encouraged the kids to play up their abilities in their home town as best as they could, in case there ever was a background check, but all were surprised that the scientists were so unprofessional in their selection of subjects. Randi even joked that the scientists become arrogant when they receive their Ph. D.'s saying in their hearts: "I have a Ph. D. they can't fool me". Randi had offered his services as a magician to help scientists debunk those who claim to have paranormal powers, but the scientists would always reject his help. Well in this case Randi took advantage of their arrogance to show them a lesson that they need to be more weary of their own beliefs and of those making outrageous claims.

One of the directives of the Alpha Project Kids was to answer honestly that they are using tricks and deceptions, but only if they are directly asked and confronted. Otherwise they were to continue. The scientists sadly never directly asked or questioned the kids. They were true believers and never even questioned nor catalogued their own belief systems.

17:00 Spit on Camera = ghosts

19:30 stop

28:12 Being set up by Howard Stern as magic geniuses



32:59 Tricks, easy cheat, 36 seances, mentalists are able to deceive people because they are always one step ahead and know how you will think. People who come to the show are already primed. Synchronicity and coincidences will always give the mentalist an opportunity to connect dots and seem to have supernatural and magical abilities.

This is a rough draft post. You will have to listen to the entire 1 hour podcast once I post it. It will be worth it. It was fascinating to hear how these amateur magicians were able to fool scientists for so long under controlled circumstances.

At one point the two kids actually broke into the lab and bent all sorts of silverware that was inside of an aquarium. In the morning the scientist called them and the kids talked about a strange 'dream' he had had. He told the scientist that he had bent all the silverwear and the scientist exclaimed: "Your dream came true!". He totally believed the kid had psychically bent the silverwear.

Those of us who have been deceived by Warriorschool most likely didn't approach it with a scientific perspective. We weren't skeptical or suspicious enough and therefore we were duped. But even the most sophisticated of people can be fooled so easily as well. In the end it boils down to the fact that you either have a skeptical toolbox and can sort through all the frauds and lies or you don't.

If you click the link directly above this line, it should take you to the Jillette Podcast site where you can listen to the full podcast.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rape Victim of Warriorschool

I was just reading some more of the Action Skeptics web site today and found a few comments I wanted to highlight. They are an account of a woman who says she suffered from rape while she was in Warriorschool. Read below.

Post on

Lisa said...

Yael et. all,
I have done some research not on cults, but on cult recovery due to my deep involvement with Warriorschool. A cult is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The sweat lodge and all the nice people you met, including me (I gave you a ride to the airport after one Initiation I think) are the sheep part - all soft, fluffy and non threatening. "We're all free to graze or not." The wolf part comes out during the apprenticeship part that you narrowly missed. That is when you have committed yourself to the organization. I lost everything because of Warriorschool. I was raped by the founder and told it was a healing. I was asked to lie to other bracelets and simple folks who just came for the "free sweat". You should consider yourself lucky. Anything else is just mincing words. Call it a cult or call it just plain wrong, Warriorschool was more than it claimed to be. The best lie is sandwiched between two truths. Yeah there was some good stuff, but that was just the bait. And the good stuff was nothing new or unique. The bad stuff was really bad, I am (barely) living proof. And anyway, even if you're not convinced it was a cult, you should have a little more respect for those that have been hurt by this group. I'm glad you're out. You seemed like a nice girl when I met you.
12 June, 2008 04:13