Ted Hand, left, hanging out with me in Sandusky in 2018.
Ted Hand launched a big discussion on Twitter a couple of days ago by arguing that some of RAW's work has not held up well in the current political climate, specifically the interest RAW focused on conspiracy theories. Ted argues that the alt right/racist right have used conspiracy theories as a recruiting tool.
There's a danger I'll misrepresent him if I don't quote everything he said, but here are a couple of representative comments from Ted, and you can go to Twitter and read more:
"Chatting with @mitdasein I realize my attitude about "Fringe research" has changed a lot since my RAW boyhood. I used to think a lot of that stuff had serious intentions but was marginalized. Now I see much of it is racist conspiracy theory. TLDR: Pizzagate ain't Fortean."
And "Lots of RAW has aged poorly, but his methodological agnosticism can be helpful. It's just a bit obsolete, and in practice it's problematic. Look at all the Jordan Peterson fans on RAW boards parroting stuff abut reality tunnels as if they were epistemologically savvy..."
Some of the thread is here, but you'll have to go beyond it.
Some of the folks weighing in include Erik Davis, John Higgs, Cat Vincent, uel aramchek and Semiotic Stochastic. Bobby Campbell, writing at the @RAWilson23 account (a must-follow for RAW fans) writes, "It's strangely cathartic to read such undeniably valid criticisms of ideas I help propagate. Very many thanks for helping to elucidate the dark side of Maybe Logic."
John wrote about similar issues with his "Operation Mindfix" piece in 2017. He comments, "Reading that back, I'm struck by how the notion that the certain and the alt-right are the only people who can never escape from Chapel Perilous stands up well in light of the whole Qanon thing."
Ted also has issues with RAW's alleged "right libertarianism. " I didn't post much on the conspiracy theory stuff, but I did push back against what I think is the exaggerated notion that RAW was right libertarian; I suggested instead that his attitude toward feminism is more problematic. I got some support from Erik Davis on the libertarianism observation and on the feminism comment. (For my money, RAW often but not always combines the best libertarian and left ideas, but Ted complains, "RAW spent a lot of writing hours writing right wing libertarian propaganda that makes perfectly sensible left wing ideas sound ridiculous to bigots." )