Thursday, September 13, 2007

Karla McLaren

It is very difficult to find someone who was once immersed in the New Age culture that has publicly recanted and adopted a science and reason point of view.

Karla McLaren has been a member of the metaphysical/New Age culture for thirty-two years. She has authored nine titles in the genre, including Emotional Genius, Energetic Boundaries, and Your Aura & Your Chakras: The Owner's Manual.

After thirty two years of having magical powers, she decides she never really had any after all.

As a former new-agey healing arts practitioner myself (just admitting that fills me to the brim with embarrassment and makes me want to crawl under my desk) I can certainly recognize Karla's voice as my own. I just finished reading her wonderful 2004 expose in Skeptical Inquirer where she announces the end of her new age career. Then I read her 2007 website article describing what has happened since. It's amazing how much I have forgotten about my sojourn through the land of fairies and nymphs. Living through that was one of the key reasons I can be staunchly atheistic today. If McLaren isn't an atheist yet, it is only because she is in the middle of the progression towards it. It's like a whole new life since I abandoned that world-view. I just can't believe that was ME!

McLaren came to the same conclusions I did. The new age community rejects and abhors critical thought. It is filled with people who have untreated mental illnesses and who enjoy being victimized, and none of the methods and practices it proposes actually works in any way better than something available on non-mystical terms.


"We love to say that we embrace mystery in the New Age culture, but that's a cultural conceit and it's utterly wrong. In actual fact, we have no tolerance whatsoever for mystery. Everything from the smallest individual action to the largest movements in the evolution of the planet has a specific metaphysical or mystical cause. In my opinion, this incapacity to tolerate mystery is a direct result of my culture's disavowal of the intellect. One of the most frightening things about attaining the capacity to think skeptically and critically is that so many things don't have clear answers. Critical thinkers and skeptics don't create answers just to manage their anxiety. "

"My challenge to anyone who is concerned about the reduction in critical thinking in America, and the seemingly overwhelming movement toward magical promises is this: Instead of haranguing people who are trying to soothe their pain, do something to relieve it. Fight not against the myriad opiates. Fight against the things that make them necessary. It's a much harder job, but in the end, it's one that will actually make a difference. Research shows that in countries with adequate social support networks (such as most of Western Europe), religious observance is very low. It's not the educational levels that make the difference, though proper education is certainly a factor in adequate social support. It's the fact that people don't require as many opiates because their social structure is more functional. "


Mike O'Risal said...

Actually, it's not that difficult for me to find people like McLaren. I'm one of them; I used to be heavily involved in something called "chaos magic" and was one of the two founders The Autonomatrix ( back in the 90's. I share your sense of self-loathing at this point for it as I work on my biology PhD.

And as a special added bonus, here's a link to another ex-wizard:

Aaron said...

Maybe it's more common than I've thought. It's hard to find people who are willing to admit it at least.

Kenneth said...

Re: Mike O'Risal's comment. Apparently your self-loathing includes some delusional self-aggrandizement (this guy doesn't know anything about the AX) as well. Good job!

zma said...

Thats pretty funny, mike, since none of the founders of Autonomatrix has ever ever heard of you.

Furthermore, slotting AX into a newage category is wildly wrong, few of these people claim to have "magical powers" in the classical sense but rather uses ritual as a means of communicating with the universe. Im a 98% hardcore realist, but have seen enough among the gypsies of Spain and the Bandjalang in Australia to allow for the other 2%, even if I exclude my own ritual experiments..

Kenneth said...

I regret posting without any comment on the post itself (apologies deserved to Karen) or googling Mike O'Risal. The comment that he's "one of the two founders of the AutonomatriX" is somewhat true, though only a third so; "Mike" is Brian (aka Tzimon).