Sunday, July 24, 2011

A few words about comments

For years, the comment threads here at the TM-Free Blog have been almost completely wide-open, and there have been very few incidents where individuals have had their commenting privilege revoked or comments removed.

I've had to take some time away from active participation on the blog, and I haven't been pleased with what's happened in my absence. It appears, given the repetitive nature of many recent comments, some are apparently uninformed as to the nature and purpose of the TM-Free Blog, and the views of the contributors, as has been expressed through the almost one thousand posts made here over the past few years. After consultation with the other contributors, I thought that this would be a good time to point out the obvious.

1) Like it says at the top of the page, this blog specializes in "skeptical views of Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi." Many if not most posts here present that sort of view with respect to TM, the movement, and the writings or activities of those involved or formerly involved with those things. At least one of us (that would be me) has been doing this online in some form for almost two decades, and I don't think I'll be stopping anytime soon. We tend to think that the contemporary and historical TM movement is a worthwhile subject for critical analysis and study from a number of perspectives, including those of popular culture, anthropology, group dynamics and comparative religion.  We also offer an alternative to the often unquestioning repetition of the organization's claims in the media and through its attempted promotional efforts in various fields including science and medicine. At times, we will talk about our own past experiences, often in the light of what we know today.

By necessity, this process involves a certain amount of rational skepticism and questioning, where the claims made by group leaders, the alleged mental experiences of participants, and the corporate actions taken by the movement are examined, reported on in detail, and analyzed with respect to the available facts.

Also by necessity, we understand that the scientific method is a valid means to learn about the world around us. We take exception to the notion that science is merely another form of religion, or that the claims of religion (including those incorporated, explicitly or implicitly, into the TM movement as we see it today) must be automatically accepted as true. We also object to the subversion of the language of science to back what are fundamentally religious claims, including many of the claims made for the products and services sold by the TM movement today, which are ultimately based on the false, faith-based assumption that the application of "Vedic" "knowledge" as repackaged by this particular Vedic sect will solve all problems.

2) This is not a public venue where anyone and everyone may participate. We are not a governmental agency. Anyone is free to write almost whatever they want to, but we are not obligated to provide space to any and all writings here. Therefore, the coordinator of this blog (that would be me) reserves the right to restrict or forbid any individual from commenting here, to set all comments to moderation, to allow trusted individuals to post freely, to remove posts or entire threads, or even to eliminate the commenting feature altogether.

3) If the things I've outlined in #1 offend you, or you otherwise take issue with them, and your reaction to them is to repetitively attack the contributors and others expressing the values I've outlined for "spewing venom," "not playing fair," "holding a grudge," "name-calling," "grasping at straws," creating a "cult unto itself,"  or for being "prejudiced,"  "miserable," "unhappy," "vengeful," "true believers" or "fanatic"  (all terms/phrases culled from one recent comment thread), then you should probably find somewhere else to play. Ultimately, with or without warning, you may find your posting privilege revoked.

Going back over that same thread, I found this phrase, the claim that we "viciously find fault in everything that Maharishi did and that the movement is trying to do." Given the nature of Mahesh and his movement, "finding fault" is a trivial task, and you'll see that we do in fact find fault with them in much of we write here. It comes with the territory, and it's not an unexpected result when a bit of skepticism and rationality are applied to both the history and present activities of the TM sales organization, Mahesh, and his successors. Again, if you're expecting us to rein in criticism of "Maharishi's movement" because it offends you or you think it's not fair because you believe some great untold story of the movement's actual or intended goodness is not being offered here, you probably shouldn't bother trying to comment here.

4) This is not a comment "policy" nor is it a set of "rules." It is, however, my way of letting readers know that I have no intention of babysitting or analyzing every comment for appropriateness, while making it clear that the nature and language of an overwhelming number of recent comments has run counter to the stated purpose and values of this blog and its contributors, and I will take action to bring things back into line as necessary.

5) If you want to go play in a free-for-all, go sign up for Fairfield Life.

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