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“Everything You Know Is Wrong”

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on November 18, 2011 | Comments (2)

The title of this post is taken from the title of an album by the Firesign Theater. It’s also the name of a song by Weird Al Yankovic and a book by Russ Kick that supposedly reveals the “secrets and lies” that everyone thinks are true.

Now, it appears that social psychologist Diederik Stapel has admitted that thirty of his research papers that have appeared in peer reviewed journals, were faked. His papers have included such things as claiming that environmental issues (such as litter) can result in discrimination and the way beauty products are advertised can affect self-esteem. His faked “studies” have appeared in prestigious journals such as the internationally known as respected Science.

“Stapel is believed to have acted alone, deceiving colleagues, collaborators, and even PhD candidates for years by providing them with fictitious data.” If it were only his papers, this revelation would be horrible enough, putting into question the entire nature of the peer review system. Unfortunately, it goes further than that. Because his papers appeared in such journals, they were accepted as fact and used as part of other papers.

“This is absolutely horrifying,” said Laura King, a social psychologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “We are talking about research that has major impact in the field of social cognition.”

The results of Stapel’s admission may cause problems for social psychology and the need to re-examine basic theories for years or even decades to come.

Cooking the Roast

This is a story that I once heard…

A newlywed man sees his wife cooking a roast for the first time. The raw meat came from the butcher with a string tied around it to keep it in a round shape. The new wife unwraps the paper in which the beef came, cuts a few inches from each end of the roast, puts it in a pan, and starts to add spices.

“Why did you cut off the ends of the roast?” he asks.

“That’s they way I’ve always seen it done.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing. Where did you learn to do this?”

“From my mother. I’ll ask her about it tomorrow.”

So the next day she calls her mother and asks why she cut off the ends of a roast before cooking it. “That’s the way I’ve always seen it prepared,” her mother replied. “It’s the way my mother always did it. I think you should ask her.”

So the wife calls her grandmother. “Grandma,” she says, “I learned to cook from mom. She always cut off the ends of a roast before cooking it. My husband said he had never heard of such a thing. Mom said she learned it from you. Why do you do it?”

Her grandmother laughed. “When I was young your grandfather and I were quite poor. We could only afford a small roasting pan. I had to cut off the ends of the roast to make it fit. That’s the only reason. If you have a big pan you don’t need to cut off the ends.”

A Running Mistake

Years ago, when the Robert Wang version of the Golden Dawn’s Tarot was published a companion book also appeared. Some of it was copied directly from Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. I spent time working with the instructions and noticed an error. A typo, I figured. I compared it to Regardie’s book and saw the same error. I wrote to Regardie and asked him about it. He was surprised and told me that this was a typo from an earlier edition of his book and it was simply carried on to later editions and into Wang’s book.

This wasn’t one of those infamous “blinds” supposedly found in many occult books. It was just a goof; a mistake. Mistakes happen, even in tightly edited books. They’re not intended, but they happen. That’s why, when I give workshops, I often say don’t take my word or the words of any other teacher or writer as truth. Check it out for yourself. If it works, use it. If it doesn’t work, discard it.

Dion Fortune wrote that there is no room for authority in occultism. Just because something appears in a book—no matter who wrote it—doesn’t make it true. That is why I am a strong supporter of real skepticism. I believe magicians should be real skeptics. However, contrary to popular belief, real skeptics aren’t debunkers. They’re open to proof and investigation and haven’t made up their minds in advance.

Do you take any books on magick, or individuals, as being totally authoritative? Have you discovered that something in the book or something the individual wrote or said is not as true as you thought? What was your experience with this? How did you feel?

 

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By magickdoggie
on November 18th, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

Personally, I have just looked at the authors as people who are not going to be 100% accurate. In the past I felt crushed as I had been taught to obey authority and that authority new better than me what was wright for my life. Now that is no longer the case. Still, it is significant that information like this is life changing for society.

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#2 
Written By Meredith
on November 19th, 2011 @ 3:30 am

People want evidence to back up their claims, but its important to realize that if the evidence doesn’t fit your theory, it’s time to reevaluate your claims. But that is where the concept of bias comes into play in ignoring what doesn’t fit your ideas. It takes a true researcher (magician) to be able to examine your work and figure out what is or isn’t working and adjust accordingly.

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