Religious jokes (2)

Maria, a devout Catholic, got married and had 15 children. After her first husband died, she remarried and had 15 more children. A few weeks after her second husband died, Maria also passed away. At Maria’s funeral, the priest looked skyward and said, “At last, they’re finally together.” Her sister sitting in the front row said, “Excuse me, Father, but do you mean she and her first husband, or she and her second husband?” The priest replied, “I mean her legs.”

 

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Jesus, Moses and an old man go golfing. The first one to tee off is Moses. He smashes the ball and it is heading right for the water hazard before the green. Moses raises his club, the water parts, and the ball makes it to the green. Jesus gets up to swing, cranks it out, and it is headed for the water hazard. Jesus closes his eyes and prays. The ball skips across the water and lands on the green two feet from the hole. The old man’s turn comes and he drives the ball. The ball looks like it is going to drop directly into the water. A fish jumps from the water hazard swallowing the ball, as an eagle drops from the sky, grabbing the fish. As the eagle flies over the green, a bolt of lightning strikes the eagle, making it drop the fish. As the fish hits the green, it spits out the ball and the ball falls into the hole, making a hole in one. Jesus looks at Moses and says, “I really think I’m leaving Dad at home next time!”

 

Hijacking Western democracy

Democracy is the power of equal votes for unequal minds,’ an utterance attributed to Charles the First of England in the seventeenth century, can be countered by Abraham Lincoln’s ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without that man’s consent,’ in the nineteenth century.

Thus, in time, it came to pass that, in developed Western nations, citizens became entitled to vote in near-periodic  elections, to elect those who would govern them for a specific period (but with some flexibility of duration). The votes would be cast for political parties, in the main. Hope, optimism, and opportunism by individuals and some small parties would be constrained, almost inevitably, by the evolution of 2 major, but ideologically opposed, parties.

Those qualified to vote do not vote for the individuals who are offered to represent them in each electorate. Instead, they vote for their party of choice, since their electoral candidates are chosen by the party leadership, not by electors. No duty statements citing requisite qualifications, work experience, and aptitude for the job are involved. A genius or a donkey – how could electors know? How prescient was R.W.Emerson in the nineteenth century when he said ‘Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors’?

Worse still, in most Western nations, voting is not compulsory, thus making it easier for the entrenchment of those who achieve control of the major parties.

Yet, it is this form of democracy, known as Western democracy, which is being sold, or required of, developing nations everywhere. The prime objective of this marketing effort is to replace tribal leadership of the traditional, historical, and generally durable kind with the tribal leadership of political parties. It is, of course, easier in a Western democracy to replace a political party, or a party leadership, with another; except that this would be akin to replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee from ‘Alice through the looking glass.’

In the event, could not one honestly assert that, when voters are given the opportunity to change governments, it is effectively only on marginal issues? What might these marginal issues be? Seeking to protect the environment, feather-bedding needed foreign investors, subsidising some of the wealthy, non-specific foreign aid, some middle-class welfare, and so on?

In Australia, it is on human rights that the people are not represented by the major political parties. A national bill of rights is denied, as this would seemingly interfere with the rule-by-authority practice of certain churches. Voluntary (repeat, voluntary) euthanasia is not permitted even when the best of palliative care is seen to be clearly inadequate to counter the most severe pain in specific cases; but family pets can be ‘put down’ (that is, killed) without challenge.

The mantra evoked by opponents of voluntary euthanasia refers to ‘killing,’ the ‘slippery slope,’ and the implied mendacity of the descendants of those who might be seeking relief from a terrible existence.

It is difficult to understand why the stance of the Christian churches involved in relation to this issue, as well as the issues of birth control and abortion, is supported by a majority of politicians of all colours in Australia, when about 30 % of the Australian population denies institutional religion, and the dogma-driven religionists account for a lot less than a quarter of the nation’s population.

Clearly, the Australian federal parliament has fallen under the control of religious conservatives on both sides of the political divide. The media is, of course, careful not to draw attention to this. Thus, the political leaders of under-developed or ‘emerging nations’ will take heart in the operational exigencies of Western democracy as marketed by the leading Western nations.

As said by a William Penn in the eighteenth century, ‘Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.’

 

(The above is a slightly modified article previously published in www.ezinearticles.com. Australians will not be free from governance by unrepresentative political parties until minority parties and individuals replace the union-controlled and big-end-of-town-influenced parties.) 

Denial of freedom for religious reasons

A minority religious community (a Christian one) has successfully denied freedom of choice in certain key areas of Australian social policy to fellow citizens not sharing their dogma. With an exaggerated emphasis on the procreative aspects of women, restrictions in these areas of social policy impinge upon all residents, irrespective of their divergent religious beliefs and associated values.

How had this minority been able to have its religious dogma-based values over-ride the clear boundary between faith and politics which should apply in a modern democratic Western nation?

Is Western democracy, as practised in Australia, the allegedly superior version of accountable government, now being sold with much vigour to non-Western cultures in Asia and the Pacific, responsible for this unrepresentative and unbalanced outcome?  Isn’t Western democracy secular, with diverse communities of believers free to practice, or not, their faith (with all or some of the associated dogma)?

What is the rationale, ethical or legal, for denying members of other Christian sects, or of other religions, or non-believers in institutional religion, or even atheists and agnostics, freedom of choice as to how they live their personal lives, and without interference in the lives of others? Who should decide, and on what criteria, that a right or practice unacceptable to a religious minority should be taboo for all citizens? What can one say about a political process which enables this inequitable outcome?

In a secular society displaying a variety of religio-cultural value systems, should not freedom of choice according to personal conscience be granted by legislation, and indeed captured by a national bill of rights?  How does a Western democracy based upon representative government permit the oppression of alternative values as recently applied in the former Soviet Empire?

(The above is a modified half of an article of mine published in www.ezinearticles.com titled ‘Denial of freedom of choice.’)

 

Freedom of choice

The durian is a tropical fruit whose extraordinary pungent odour and piquant taste have divided people into true lovers and decided haters over the centuries. Those who relish the egg yolk coloured squishy flesh swear that it is a wonderful delicacy. But there is nothing delicate about its impact. On the other side of the fence are those who are disdainful of the powerful aroma emanating from it.

Yet the fruit has not been legislatively banned. No one seems to have sought to have it declared obnoxious. This might reflect the tolerant philosophies of ancient Asian cultures. There is freedom of choice: one does not have to eat the fruit just because it is there, or because others desire it.

Now imagine this situation. In an inland town, the local Council-owned swimming pool offers, for a single month preceding the summer holidays, free entrance and lessons. The reason? Each summer, at least one child drowns in the sea about 3 hours’ drive away. Is it probable that anyone might reject this offer on the ground that their offspring might drown in the pool while taking lessons? Is it also possible that someone might deny the children the opportunity to drown-proof themselves, arguing that swimming in a pool with foreigners is not within their cultural parameters?

That is, would they reject a service, much-needed by many, on tribo-cultural grounds? Indeed, might they then argue that the free service should be disallowed because it runs counter to their traditional beliefs?

Then, there are those of a certain religious persuasion who will not accept blood transfusion; but do not deny access by fellow residents to this procedure. In a comparable manner, another religious community rejects meditation as a practice, claiming certain adverse probable outcomes; yet another community will not join the nation’s military or work for the government. Neither religious community, however, denies the right of members of other religious persuasions to meditate, fight for the nation, or work in government administration. That is, they accept freedom of choice as the right of fellow citizens, especially in an officially secular nation.

(The above is an extract from an article of mine published in http://www.ezinearticles.com. titled ’Denial of freedom of choice.’) 

A drifting democratic cosmopolitan nation

Australian politicians, aided by proud ‘ethnics,’ claim that the nation has a greater variety of ethnic communities and languages than anywhere else.  But Western democracy, as prevailing in Australia, is just a contest between 2 major political entities; electors have no say about those nominated to represent us.

We also have no idea about the competence of those granted the right to govern us. And currently, one might ask whether we are ruled by Papal ‘Bulls,’ since the leading politicians of both sides of politics seem to be Roman Catholics (in spite of people of that persuasion being no more than about 25% of the population).

The flowing are extracts from my book “Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.” Refer Ch.4 ‘On governance.’

“The term good governance cannot apply without quali­fication to Australia. We are subservient to, or controlled by, foreigners in key areas. Our regulatory agencies, whose responsibilities are to protect the public, seem somewhat tardy in taking wing against predators; their strike rate also seems very low. The stimulatory financial assistance pro­grams initiated by the federal government to counter the threatening global economic depression at the end of the first decade of the current century reportedly led to much waste and abuse; yet, the public service departments responsible for managing the programs at state and federal levels, and their ministers, came to no harm.

A shopkeeper perspective brings in more immigrant mouths than we need. There seem to be large pockets of under-employed and able-bodied unemployed who prefer to be on welfare. Pensions galore allegedly enable three genera­tions of a family to live with security, and not that frugally either. Enterprise is thus over-run by dependency. Our politi­cians play silly games in parliament. And recent prime min­isters have adopted a presidential stance: ‘My government’ or ‘the government’ has been replaced by ‘I’. The ‘lucky’ country?

However, we citizens are not simpletons. We rank poli­ticians as low as we do used-car salesmen and real-estate agents, which is probably unfair to these latter occupations. We distrust politicians as a species, although there are some wonderful exceptions. Our unspoken thoughts are how we can ‘keep the bastards honest.’ We know that we are not well governed. But … are the residents of other nations more equi­tably governed?

Recently, Australian politicians were described as ‘mono-cultural.’ The prominent players on both sides of the political fence were said to be right-wing (Roman Catholic?). They were therefore said to be quite separate from the multicul­tural and political mix of the population. They were also described as not capable of good policy directed to the long-term interests of the nation, because of their pre-occupation with politics, the politics of minor difference, not policies. In this they are aided by much of the media.

What an assessment that was. However we, the hoi polloi, are quite safe from being totally bullied. Every three years or so, the political parties suck up to us. We allow the seemingly superior bidder a turn at the wheel of government. We thank God, the planets, the fairies, or whatever is responsible for us being able to choose. Not that the differences are significant.

… … On a broader issue, as long as foreigners choose to acquire more and more of our resources and enterprises, we will eat well. Security? Our stepfather will surely protect us! Ultimately, it is that amorphous ‘fair-go’ ethos of the old Anglo-Australian which will ensure that our rulers do not rip us off. Many a political peacock has lost its feathers at short notice. So mought it be!”

The ‘not-so-lucky’ country

‘The lucky country,’ by the consummate social commentator Donald Horne, was published in 1964, when Australia was struggling to grow out of its self-chosen superior white status. Since I had been in Australia since 1948 (except for one year), I could safely say that neither the people nor the government wanted to accept coloured people as their equals at that time. The new Asian nations, however, had an opposing view, having got rid of their never-wanted superior white rulers at last (with the assistance of Japan).

Horne coined a sardonic term which has been intentionally or ignorantly misrepresented. Penguin Books Australia offers the following commentary by another great social commentator, Hugh Mackay.

‘Australia is a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.’

“The phrase ‘the lucky country’ has become part of our lexicon; it’s forever being invoked in debates about the Australian way of life, but is all too often misused by those blind to Horne’s irony.

When it was first published in 1964 The Lucky Country caused a sensation. Horne took Australian society to task for its philistinism, provincialism and dependence. The book was a wake-up call to an unimaginative nation, an indictment of a country mired in mediocrity and manacled to its past. Although it’s a study of the confident Australia of the 1960s, the book still remains illuminating and insightful decades later. The Lucky Country is valuable not only as a source of continuing truths and revealing snapshots of the past, but above all as a key to understanding the anxieties and discontents of Australian society today.”

A media release titled ‘The Lucky Country’ by the Australian Government said:

“He was thinking about things like Australia’s cultural cringe, its foreign policy and the White Australia Policy. He was, to paraphrase those words, talking about a ‘not too clever country’.

I had in mind in particular the lack of innovation in Australian manufacturing and some other forms of Australian business, banking for example. In these, as a colonial carry-over, Australia showed less enterprise than almost any other prosperous industrial society.

Australia, Horne argued, developed as a nation at a time when we could reap the benefits of technological, economic, social and political innovations that were developed in other countries. Those countries were clever: Australia was simply lucky.”

What can one say about Australia today?

I offer extracts from the Preface of my 2012 book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

“Today’s Australia is not the nation I entered in 1948. Then, it was (ridiculously) officially racist; today, any intended racism is likely to be subterranean (the yobbo excepted). Then, it was mono-cultural, mono-lingual, and mono-coloured, and very British (the ‘wogs’ of white Europe had not arrived yet); today, it is multi-ethnic and thereby multicultural, multi-lingual, multi-coloured …  and traditionally egalitarian.

That is, while the nation has evolved into a modern cos­mopolitan, generally integrated people, the ‘fair-go’ ethos of the ‘old’ Anglo-Australian underpins … official policies …  As a communitarian small-l liberal, metaphysical Hindu, and a card-carrying Christian, I applaud this. I believe that Australia could become a beacon for our neighbouring nations were we to deal with them with our feet on this platform.

Yet, because of the ‘Asian values’ which formed me in colo­nial British Malaya, I do not accept, as an all-embracing ethos, the individualism which underpins Western nations, especially those created by immigrants, viz. the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Their human rights record is deplorable.

These very nations seek to shove a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Western view of human rights onto those nations of interest to us. The intent of this approach is the destruction of trib­alism and communitarian values.

In the meanwhile, exaggerated and often self-nominated individual rights have led to the breakdown of family, which has traditionally been the backbone of society everywhere. Excepting those few involved in civil society (I am one of them), there is a rising tide of ‘takers.’ These are found at all levels – from foreign investors, corporate leaders and politicians, down to the many professionally work-shy welfare recipients.

Pockets of well-meaning individuals, seemingly unable or unwilling to consider seriously relevant policy issues, form glee clubs supporting the takers or those who seek to take, e.g. asylum seekers. Communal responsibility and per­sonal respect are thinning out like an outgoing tide at the beach. Since our politicians are pre-occupied with short-term politics rather than long-term policies – the current batch presenting themselves as the worst I have experienced – the community, by and large, reminds me of the movement of an empty stoppered bottle floating on rough seas.”

‘Light on the darkness of the mind’ (fiction by RAR)

The phone rings.  It is in a largely empty office.  Downsising is now an art form.  Insurance is, after all, very expensive.  Eventually, the phone is answered.  ‘Hopalong Insurance Company’ says a high-pitched female voice.  Before she could say anything else, the caller asks ‘Is that you, Tripalong?’

‘Pardon?’  queries the female.  ‘Never mind’ says the caller.  ‘I want to speak to Mr. Ali.’  ‘We do not have a Mr. Ali here’ says the female.  ‘Has he left the company?’ asks the caller.  ‘We have never had a Mr. Ali .  But, my boss is named Ellie.’  Before the caller can respond, female voice no. 1 is replaced by a deeper female voice.    ‘Ellie speaking’ she says, with an inviting voice.

‘I don’t want to speak with you, Ellie.  I want Mr. Ali.  He wrote to me about my policies’ says the caller.  He sounds quite testy.  ‘I wrote to you.  I am Ellie.’  Female voice no. 2 sounds testy too.  ‘If your name is Ellie, why do you sign your name as Ali?’   ‘That is my name.’  She feels quite cross.  Her voice has risen an octave.  It is almost squeaky with indignation.

An angry voice at the other end of the phone shouts.  ’Why do you, a woman, use a good Muslim man’s name?  Have you no shame?  You insult the Prophet!’  At that point Ellie becomes mindful of the company’s future.  An image of a fire-bomb fills her mind.  She calms down a little.  She now says ‘Could I have your name please?’  ‘No!’ roars the caller.  ‘I want Ali.  He will be more sensible.’  ‘Please, mister, there is no Ali here.’  Since the caller obviously doesn’t believe her, she continues.  ‘I am in charge of the policy renewal section.  I wrote to all our customers last week.  How can I help you?’

‘Listen dumdum Ellie, …’   Before he could say further, Ellie shouts.  ‘Don’t you dumdum me, you Islamist hoon.  Give me your name.  I will delete it from our files.’  At that, the caller remembers reality.  The reality of cash.  ‘Wait, wait!  Your company offered me a 20% discount if I placed all my insurance with you.  You know, house, contents, my life, car, boat.’

Even in the hot darkness of her mind, Ellie (written as Ali) realises what her boss will be saying to her were this customer to take his business elsewhere.  The cold light of reality dampens her anger.  She speaks sweetly.  ‘Could we meet in the coffee shop downstairs to discuss your policies please?’  The caller is now confused.  He thinks:  ‘I want that discount.  What do I care if she is Ellie or Ali?’  ‘O.K.’ he says.  He gives her his name and other identification.  They agree, with shared anger under control, on a date and a time for the policy renewal- with- coffee.

On the day, they approach each other warily.  When their eyes meet, that well-known spark lights the darkness of wariness in both of them.  The light of mutual attraction casts aside all preconceptions.  They sign the renewal policies amicably.  They arrange to meet for another coffee, very, very soon.  The hoon and the dumdum seem quite compatible.  Hopalong Insurance continues to operate successfully.

Some time into their marriage, she asks about Tripalong.  Who was she?  He explains.  She was the wife of a film actor.  He rode long distances on his horse, singing away merrily.  His name was Hopalong Cassidy.  Because she always accompanied him on his travels, his wife was referred to as Tripalong.    Thus, ‘Islamic  hoon’ and ‘dumdum Ellie’ (written as Ali) tripped along the path of life happily, but without any horses.

 

 

‘The Karma of Culture’ – immigrant integration

Australia, throughout its brief history, has experienced 2 ethno-religious cultural challenges in its efforts to achieve and maintain a secular society. The first, the early divisive influence of Roman Catholicism, has seemingly been tamed. The keen observer will, however, note that the social policies of the nation are dominated by the Vatican’s values; for example, compassion is constrained by so-called pro-life edicts.

The other challenge to the institutions and social mores of the nation has recently arisen from a tiny segment of the immigrant Muslim intake. Since Islam makes no distinction between the secular and the religious, some Muslims seem to experience difficulty in adapting to the nation they chose to enter.

Australia’s achievement in the past half-century has been its success in integrating a very broad spectrum of culturally diverse ethnic communities into the Australian ethos. We will not regress. My book deals with the principal issues, in the context of Australia’s surrounds of Asian spiritualism.

Endorsements pre-publication

“Writing from the perspective of an Asian Australian, Arasa addresses some of the fundamental questions confronting human kind at the present time. The clash of collectivism and individualism is seen as an East/West issue. Here is available, perhaps for the first time, an insightful ‘take’ on Australian society written by an ‘insider’ who, paradoxically, is an ‘outsider’ as well. …enormously interesting and not uncontroversial …” — John Western, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Queensland, Australia

“Ratnam’s book is a wake-up call for a more independent national policy on immigration and multicultural policy. Coming from a well-informed former migrant, who has embraced this country as his own, his message has particular value. … Impressed with the depth of (his) analysis” — Professor Bob Birrell, Director, Centre for Population & Urban Research, Monash University, Australia.

This is a book that every Australian should read. It provides a unique insight into the society and culture of contemporary Australia from someone who has been both an insider and an outsider in Australia. It has a refreshing honesty in an age in which ‘spin’ and euphemism too often combine to hide the true nature of things. You may not always agree with what the book says but you will be compelled to sit up and think more deeply about our contemporary world. I think that the book has that element of honesty and insight that much of what is currently published does not. I hope that it will be read widely.” — Associate Professor Gregory Melleuish, Head, School of History and Politics, Wollongong University, Australia.

REVIEWS 

The US Review of Books

Karma of Culture by Raja Arasa Ratnam

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“It is now Anglo-Celt Australia which therefore has to change. It needs to rebuild its communities to enable the close inter-relation- ships between individuals, which used to prevail before individualism took over their souls.”

This is an enjoyably erudite text that will mean most to thoughtful Australians of all cultures. Ratnam served for nine years as Director of Policy on Australian migrant settlement related issues. Surprisingly, to an American reader, his descriptions of some of the worst ills of current Australian society sound almost exactly like the ills of American society: a large and seemingly expanding lower class of people dependent on government subsidies, subsidies in the main funded by an increasingly burdened middle class, while a small number of very wealthy people look on and offer no assistance to either.

To inhabitants of eastern Asia, Australia beckons, its welcome including housing, health care, and other aid to newly arrived immigrants and even more to those who stay longer. But sadly, despite this open door, old biases remain intact: “The most ridiculous manifestation of such prejudice relates to attitudes to study displayed by Asian children. They are accused of studying inordinately hard, and not developing a rounded personality through participation in sport.”

Ratnam makes a plea for a true multiculturalism that does not force one group to tamp down its cultural practices or religious beliefs (many Asians claim to be Christian upon immigrating, change their diet or manner of dress, in order to make themselves more acceptable to the dominant group) and does not take the color of one’s skin to be one’s only calling card.

Ratnam’s Hinduism is reflected in the book’s title; he says the book came to him as a suggestion “by the spirit world.” It would be hard to find a more cogent and simultaneously engaging treatise on this subject, so neatly organized and neatly phrased that even a neophyte can readily grasp its essence.

The Karma of Culture will, one hopes, be read by serious students of Australian politics, culture, and sociological issues, and by some ordinary people who want to be better informed and can see the correlation between the problems in Ratnam’s Australia and those of rest of the so-called civilized world.

RECOMMENDED

Appraisal – pre-publication

“This book provides a thoughtful and fearless approach to some important and highly topical questions. What constitutes Australia’s nationhood? What is her role in Asia and in the world? How can, and should, the burgeoning economies of Asia contribute to the development of Australia, not just as foreign investors and trading partners, but in terms of cultural and spiritual values? What is the nature of democracy, and how can democratic ideals be realized in Australia and in its Asian neighbours? What is the meaning of multiculturalism in the Australian context? These questions are raised in an intelligent and thought-provoking way.”

“You give us valuable insights into your own experiences as an ‘outsider’ in a predominantly white ‘Western’ environment, who has been able to become part of that environment without losing your deepest links with your own culture. And you demonstrate that the influence of Eastern philosophers – to which Australia is uniquely exposed among Western countries – has the potential to counteract the West’s slide into materialism and the spiritual impoverishment that provides fertile soil for cultism and fundamentalism in all their forms.”

“This is a hard-hitting, insightful book that will appeal to academics, public servants, students, and many members of the general public………..”

 

 

 

Dr. Rhine’s research on e.s.p.

Dr. JB Rhine’s research on e.s.p.

Academic researchers were curious to see if the scientific method could be used to find evidence for life after death, and they were open to that possibility that it could. J.B. Rhine was a scientist, and he was willing to give it a try. So Duke’s administrators, like President William Preston Few, were willing to let him.

How did Rhine begin trying to prove this?

Basically, Rhine said we know that when we die, the body dies, the body decays, it’s over. We need to find something about ourselves that exists independently of the body. Otherwise, when we die, that’s it. So if telepathy operates independent of the body, it opens the door to a possibility that there is something within us that can survive death.

What kinds of experiments did he perform while searching for the existence of telepathy?

He started with a test of simple playing cards. He began with children, but then moved on to Duke students. It was basically a simple test: “Can you tell me what playing card I’m holding?” without seeing it. And he found that they could.

He was using a regular deck of playing cards, and he found that people had certain biases—they would guess certain cards more often than others because they were very familiar with a regular deck. So he had a psychologist, Karl Zener, design him a set of cards with completely different symbols. And these are the ESP cards that a lot of people are familiar with, the ones with the wavy lines, a star, a box, a circle, or a cross. Using these cards, he repeated the test with students and found that they were again able to tell him what symbol was on the cards without seeing them.

What other experiments did Rhine and his colleagues conduct?

The ESP cards really were their staple until the end. They refined the experiments over the years—first, they separated the student and the experimenter with a screen. Ultimately, they were in separate rooms, and the tests were done double blind, so that even the person conducting the experiment didn’t know what symbols were on the cards.

The other experiments that they’re known for are tests in psychokinesis, the ability to move objects with your mind. Again, the test that they used was a very simple one—rolling dice. They would see if the students could influence the roll of the dice. The experimenters would use their hands and throw the dice against the wall, but, later on, they were using machines to roll the dice, so it would be more random and the experimenter could not be accused of influencing the roll.

And they found, again, that the students did seem to have some ability to influence the roll of the dice, but the effect was a lot weaker. It’s not like somebody can go to Las Vegas and win a billion dollars with this ability. It was infinitesimally small.

What did Rhine credit these effects to?

Rhine always felt that ESP was something that operated independently from the physical body. He also thought that someday the answer would be found in the study of consciousness and that when we had a better idea of how consciousness worked, or even what it is, it would explain the effects that he found in his experiments.

And Rhine became a household name?

Well, it’s interesting. Rhine is often portrayed as a publicity hound, but he really wasn’t. In the beginning, he turned down a lot of interviews because he saw himself as a serious scientist and an academic, and he thought this kind of publicity was undignified. And so he would say yes to some but not to anything that he didn’t think was serious.

But from the minute they [Rhine and his wife and co-researcher, Louisa] published their first book, Extra-Sensory Perception [in 1934], there was hostility to their experiments from the scientific community. So he started to agree to more interviews than he had originally, mostly just to get the word out that he was in fact doing serious science, and to attract more scientists who might have an open mind—and more subjects—as well.

How did Duke administrators react?

Unfortunately, his two big supporters, William McDougall, the head of the psychology department who lured him to Duke, and Few died not long after the lab opened. So for the rest of his career, he was always on shaky territory. Every time Duke got a new president, they had to make the decision to keep the lab going or not; one by one, they always decided to keep it going. I guess because it brought the university a lot of publicity and, ultimately, a lot of money.

Where did Rhine and his fellow researchers get their research funding?

They got money from Alfred P. Sloan and Chester Carlson, who was the inventor of the Xerox process. The Office of Naval Research gave them money; the Army, at one point, conducted a test with them; the Rockefeller Foundation; and the list goes on. He was very well funded but mostly from the outside. Duke paid his salary and his assistant’s salary and gave them space—desks and stuff like that. It was its own independent lab, and Rhine reported directly to the president.

Where is this kind of work done now?

The lab closed in 1965 when Rhine retired. There was a period where Duke was considering keeping the lab going, and administrators were in talks with Rhine about how that would happen and what it would look like. I found the administration’s initial idea of what it would look like, and I loved it. It was going to be a much more multidisciplinary operation involving representatives from all the different academic disciplines within Duke: people from the hard sciences, psychology, religion, and philosophy. They were going to put people with different expertise to work on the problem.

But Rhine was afraid that if that happened, parapsychology, and the people with expertise in parapsychology, would just be subsumed by all the others and eventually kind of shoved away. And he was actually right. I found memos between certain administrators who basically said that was what was going to happen. And then they started to talk to other professors who were even more adamant; they were like, “No! No! No! This is our chance to get rid of parapsychology once and for all.”

So a couple of years before he retired, Rhine set up the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and when he retired, he moved over there. It exists today, near West Campus, and is now called the Rhine Research Center.

How would you sum up Rhine’s work?

Rhine—and I would include his wife, Louisa, who was equally critical to all this research, too—refined the controls and the statistical methods for analyzing their results in a way that nobody had before. I went through all the various objections, the critics over the years who accused them of fraud or making mistakes with the math, and I examined all these claims and found that they had no basis.

You might want to come up with other explanations for these effects, but you can’t say they are the result of sloppy controls, fraud, or wishful thinking. Based on these experiments, there does seem to be an unidentified source of information out there. Unfortunately, we don’t know how it’s transmitted or how it’s processed, but these effects nonetheless seem to be real. We also have a lot more to learn about consciousness.

(From the Internet: Duke Magazine Q&A)

Comment: It is difficult to understand why those who want to know what human beings and the Cosmos are about would reject investigations into influences beyond the apparently material. One would not expect scientific researchers to behave like purveyors of individual institutionalised religions. The latter generally offer their certainties of what is, and what is not, based seemingly on some kind of revelation, but not research.

Shoud the beliefs of any religious sect have supremacy?

On what basis could a modern government, which had gained office through the (Western) democratic process, impose upon all the people of the nation the politico-religious stances of either a majority tribe or those of a minority tribe which had gained control of the political process? The days of the god-king are over. His right, as a representative of the Almighty, to cast a cloak of obedience over his people went with the Dodo.

As an aside, for years, I tried (through the Internet) to find out how the practice of a god-king had come about. The way religion became part of the behaviour and values of a people does not explain the arrival of this concept. The only writer to offer an explanation is Zacharia Sitchin. The Anunnaki, from the extra-solar planet Nibiru, a giant people who allegedly ruled Earth for nearly half a million years before the Universal Deluge of about 13,000 years ago, brought this form of rule with them, he wrote.

Western democracy, being the sham that it is, is presented by its supporters as offering eligible voters the right to nominate and elect their parliamentary (or council) representatives. Not so. Political parties select their nominees for each electorate of interest to them. Electors vote for the party of their choice. A few independent self-nominated candidates are the exception.

If a minority of a population gains control of a major party, which then wins office, depending on the strength of the opposition parties, this minority can impose its religio-social values upon the whole nation.

This is why Australia has no human rights legislation, and denies voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted end of life to those with a terminal illness and in un-relievable severe pain. It seems that those who claim to know God’s Will can live without compassion and universal human rights for fellow co-created humans.

So be it! Beware the Court of Cosmic Justice!

In contrast to the reported views of some leaders of institutional religions, reliable surveys show that about 85% of Australians have supported compassion for dying humans for decades; that is, only a minority of the doctrinaire Christians lack necessary compassion, and that our governments are ruled by this minority.

In relation to human rights, the rulers of authoritarian religions prefer their control to be unfettered. Gods Will? In an officially sectarian nation?