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When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

 Anais Nin

I have always craved and longed to know the truth.  My passionate (if I may toot my own horn and let all of you know how seriously intelligent I really am) search for understanding has may times driven my most intimate and adoring fans, whom I often refer to as my family, to label me insane, stupid, and at the most condescending, yet respectful at times, an insufferable son of a whore.  Though it has never been communicated directly to me, I am quite sure that my loving parents have often contemplated to have me committed to a mental institution for my own safety.  And as well, they should have!  Not because of any apparent mental illness, but because this craving for understanding has many a time (paradoxically) clouded my judgment and obscured other bits of useless knowledge, which should have always been clear.

It has been a great personal challenge to overcome the darkness that precedes the light.  However, it is one that I have never backed away from.  With all the personal distress and the annoyance of having to squeeze my own balls, and release the emotional “wedgies” caused by my own asshole-like ignorance, I can claim a very rewarding attitude that challenges all ideas that are thrown at me.  It is this newly found critical approach to thinking (almost skeptical) that brings me to question and dispute much of this “new age” wisdom which often appears to be everything but wise.

Take for example the simple idea that there is an energy flowing from all of us and that this energy has mystical healing properties which we can all develop by simply attending a weekend seminar presented by your friendly neighborhood shaman, or any book store psychic charging $500 or more.  Then, let’s imagine that there is any cold scientific data supporting the misconception that nice shiny crystals have a way to affect us other than by introducing them into our rectal cavity.  I am not a doctor, yet I strongly believe that such an action may not be beneficial to your current condition. (Please do verify this with your family physician before you take my word for it, as I have been known to be wrong before).

Now, as it is true that I am madly in love with my own rhetoric, I ask you to bear with me for just a few more paragraphs and as you endure my madness, keep an open mind to the open minded approach to skeptical thinking I am trying to expose to you as a better way see the world.  Moreover, I will offer you the knowledge that this bit on nonsense you are currently reading has been composed by a fool who was once a believer.  Please understand that it is not my intention to label those who inhabit the metaphysical and mythological realms (Goblins, Catholics, witches, crackheads and others of the like) as foolish, because I don’t think that those who believe in anything other than factual matters are stupid, but simply, not well informed.

So, my beautiful (yet misinformed bitches) let us move on and look at some of the other ways in which modern society insists on insulting and offending truth.

Psychics and mediums are in my mind some of the worst and dirtiest bastards to ever walk the face of the earth, and if you’re thinking that the panels of so called “reality shows” like So You Think You Can Dance, and American/Canadian Idol are more deserving of the title, then you might have a point.  Now, this judgment is strictly reserved for those who are fully and consciously aware of their lack of psychic abilities, yet deliberately mislead emotionally dispossessed people in exchange for cold, hard cash.  I feel the need to state this because in my experience, there exists a great number of delusional individuals who are absolutely convinced that they possess a certain degree of psychic acumen.  I cannot claim with full certainty that there are no true psychics, or such a thing as psychic powers, but I can with much confidence assert that 99.9% of those maintaining to be able to produce clairvoyant or mediumistic feats without any trickery or sleight, are mere charlatans.  It is factual knowledge that some of these fakes deceptively use an elegant technique known as cold reading, which is a set of psychological strategies used to gather information about the subject and deliver what appears to be a convincing psychic reading.

NOTE: The 00.1% of this small segment of the population is currently filled by my gorgeous and articulately stubborn 4 year old niece Andrea, who once told her mom (my sister) that I intended to borrow her car before I knew my own objective.

In his much heralded masterpiece The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, Ian Rowland describes Mediumship as the supposed communication with people who have died, or “passed into spirit”. Also known as “spiritualism”.  Also known as “exploiting bereaved and vulnerable people for financial gain”.  In his very little known masterpiece, Myths, Lies and the Human Choice Process, Jose Rodriguez describes Mediums as self-deluded, attention-grabbing, emotional prostitutes.

“In the unlikely event that that anyone wants my opinion, based on over twenty years of dabbling in the subject, I would say that in purely rational terms there is currently no good reason to believe in psychic ability. I believe that in every case of an individual claiming to have psychic ability, the psychic hypothesis is neither necessary nor sufficient. “

The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading

By Ian Rowland

3rd Edition

Yet another unscientific bit information about our fantastic brain organ, which is held as true by many well educated and intelligent people is the 10% Myth.  It is maintained by the majority of the current population of the world that the human brain is 90% inactive.  We cannot tell with accuracy where or when this tale originated; however, it occurs to me and many other rational thinkers that such could be the result of a misunderstood Freudian notion that the mind is mostly unconscious.  Rest assured that this is not what Freud was trying to tell you.  And were he still alive he’d attempt to prove it to us by making you have sex with your sofa, and love chairs (I do miss him).  Other influential characters like Albert Einstein have been credited with this conceptualization; however, there is no proof of his link to the actual utterance.  Another theory regarding the origin of this myth is the ever increasing volumes of self-help and self-improvement literature that it has helped to peddle and push since as early as the 1930’s.

Then again, if the proponents of the 10% theory are referring to Mind, there might be some value in the observation, as we definitely have much more potential than what is currently known (not talking about telekinesis here).  However, potential is so immeasurable a thing that it is misleading to throw percentages around it.

One line of evidence against this popularly held trivia is brain imaging research, which has grown exponentially in the last couple of decades.  Such techniques allow blood flow to be measured in certain brain regions during the performance of cognitive tasks.   While debate continues about the degree to which it is sensible to infer much about functional localization from imaging studies, one thing they make abundantly clear is that there are no areas of the brain that are “black holes” or areas that never “light up” in response to some task or other.

Neuropsychology, in essence, is the study of what the different parts of the brain do by studying people who no longer have those areas.  It is also the oldest technique of cognitive neuroscience, and as well as refuting the myth that we only use 10% of our brains it also sheds some light on why some people may believe this myth.

First, people who suffer from hydrocephalous in childhood have been seen to have large “holes” in the middle of their brains and yet function normally (these holes are fluid filled ventricles which are present in every brain but enlarged in hydrocephalous).  This condition has been the reason for the thrust that we can get on perfectly without much of our brains.  These claims are misleading and what such examples actually show is the brain’s incredible capacity to reassign functioning to alternative areas if there are problems with the standard areas at a specific point during development.  Such Neuronal Plasticity is very seldom seen following brain damage acquired in adulthood.

Second, is the fact that the Glial Cells of the brain outnumber the neurons by a factor of roughly 10 to 1.  Which could indicate, in a very disingenuous way that we only use 10% of our brains, as only 10% of the cells of the cortex are directly involved in cognition.  It is important to note that the brain is fully responsible for all functions and processes of the body.  In fact, the neurons that comprise the cortex are active to some degree all the time, even during sleep.

Developmental studies indicate that neurons that are not employed early in life are likely never to recover and behave normally.  For example if the visual system is not provided with light and stimulated within a very narrow developmental window, the neurons atrophy and vision develops poorly and in most cases never at all.

I can clearly see how the confusion between the physical brain organ and the unknowable mind can blur the issue, yet the 10% myth cannot, and does not, stand up to critical thinking.  It is only a delusion that fits with our “aspirational” culture, and the silly evangelical and epistemological views of the new age community which refuses to challenge and question what it claims, and believes to be true.

It is once again important to reiterate my intentions, which are exactly to insult those who believe in such myths, and misconceptions.  I know now that many of the individuals, who are caught in the modern web of deliberate, and thoughtless deceit, are mere victims of other’s erroneous views of reality.

Peyton Dracco

Edited by: Jeromee Juan