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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A few words on Cosmic Trigger

I've been re-reading Cosmic Trigger I, which I think is one of Robert Anton Wilson's best books.

I confess that I've never been a big fan of RAW's crusade against CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal. It seems to me that over the years, CSICOP has fared rather well, and the folks who seek to prove ESP exists haven't made their case. It there really is psychic phenomena, it ought to be able to withstand a little criticism.

So I might not seem to be the right audience for Cosmic Trigger I, which certainly has its share of the paranormal. But instead, I think it is a relentlessly fascinating book. And I think other folks who are a bit skeptical would like it, too.

The physicists mentioned in Sunday's blog post are prominently featured in Cosmic Trigger.


Anonymous said...

He was certainly unfair to Martin Gardner, who was a far subtler thinker than the caricature he presented. I try to keep that in mind when tempted to do a tu quoque to the current crop of attack materialists.

Eric Wagner said...

Well, Bob tended to present Martin Gardner as a subtle thinker who wanted to supress writing he didn't approve of. Gardner didn't object to the burning of Reich's books or Reich's imprisonment for his scientific work.

I think Bob objected to CSICOPS' supression of data and aversion to scientific method.

Oz Fritz said...

Haven't read Wilson's objections to CSICOP in awhile but seem to recall him complaining about their tendency toward bias confirmation. Meaning, they get the results that they expect to get.

My father taught a class and did some paranormal research and experimentation at the University of Calgary in the 70's and early '80's.
I asked him once if he thought ESP existed. He answered that researchers who thought it possible tended to get results supporting the existence of ESP while those who thought it unlikely came up with results that supported their bias.

My bias in my early 20's held that anything that Science couldn't easily explain probably didn't occur. Cosmic Trigger 1 really opened me up to the possibility, and eventually the realization that a lot of things happen that Science can't currently explain or verify under laboratory conditions. The reason my belief systems expanded to allow the possibility of psychic phenomena had to do with Wilson suggesting possible explanations for this phenomena using scientific models in Cosmic Trigger 1. So I encourage all skeptics to read it, it opened my mind.

In the series of talks RAW Explains Everything he mentions at one point that skeptics are usually skeptical of everything except their own skepticism. This may in part explain why CSICOP hasn't found evidence of anything outside their own beliefs.

Neil_in_Chicago said...

It's entirely possible for the fundamentalist wing of the church of pure materialism to be wrong AND for the woo-woos with their crystals and gematria and druidism to be wrong.

Neil_in_Chicago said...

If you read Prometheus Rising carefully, he doesn't say things like, “I received messages from the dog star Sirius,” he says, “From about such a date until such a date, I was in a belief system where I believed I was receiving . . . ”
In terms of taking a scientific approach, there are worlds of difference. I think this is the most intimate of his books; when I first read it, the murder seemed to me to be the center. The family never really recovered.
And Prometheus Rising also illustrates the centrality of Korzybski to RAW's thinking.

Oz Fritz said...

Robert Anton Wilson then qualifies as a "woo-woo" with his gematria. I first learned about gematria from Cosmic Trigger I.

Gematria comprises one aspect of Qabalah. Wilson said in lectures that Illuminatus! is a guide to Qabalah.

The difficulty of communicating the value of Qabalah reminds me of the book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimension by Edwin A. Abbot. I heard it was a favorite of RAWs.