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Blogs - Clock - Deconstructing Desteni: A Critic Serves Me Word Salad.

Author: Clock (Show other entries)
Date: Jul 01, 2013 at 10:22

This is a post from Clock's Muertos Blog on Skeptic Project. If you have any questions, check out the Disclaimer

By Muertos

As I mentioned in the update to my first blog about the conspiracy theory cult known as Desteni, I've recently attracted the negative attention of self-appointed Desteni spokesperson Darryl Thomas. On May 13, Darryl started a topic on the Desteni forums entitled "Deconstructing MUERTOS Every Day Project," where he refutes my first Desteni blog paragraph by paragraph. He also started a WordPress blog with this same title where he copies-and-pastes the same text as in the topic on the Desteni forums.

Darryl writes a great many words, but it's somewhat difficult to follow his main arguments because they aren't very concise. Mostly he throws a lot of colorful pejoratives my way--vapid, insipid, tiresome, trifling, sloppy, etc.--but his main points are lost in the word salad. To the extent I can discern a few main themes, Darryl appears to be asserting the following:

Desteni is not a cult.
My comparison of Desteni to Zeitgeist is unfair because Desteni opposes Zeitgeist too.
I have not investigated Desteni extensively and don't know what I'm talking about.
Desteni does not subscribe to conspiracy theories such as David Icke's reptilians.
I am a conspiracy theorist.
Desteni does not advocate "channeling," but rather an "Interdimensional Portal."
The Desteni I Process is not a multi-level-marketing pyramid scam.
Adolf Hitler wasn't such a bad guy.

If these arguments were coherently expressed, there might be grounds here for legitimate debate. Unfortunately, Darryl merely asserts these arguments as conclusions but doesn't do much to flesh them out. For example, in denying that Desteni is a cult, Darryl tries to set up the argument by citing the Oxford Dictionary definition of a cult, which has four main points, but then goes off on a tangent about Zeitgeist and never gets around to explaining why Desteni doesn't fit the definition. Similarly, when he claims I'm a conspiracy theorist, he just posits the accusation and moves on. (Incidentally, conspiracy theorists, who generally hate being called conspiracy theorists, will do anything to try to twist the definition of "conspiracy theorist" to fit whoever is criticizing them. For more on this issue, see this article and scroll down to point number 8).

A key point of Darryl's responses seem to revolve around making distinctions between things I argue about Desteni and what he claims Desteni really is. The problem is that he never makes the distinctions clear. For example, Darryl says I'm wrong to claim that Desteni believes in conspiracy theories involving reptilian overlords similar to those advanced by David Icke, but he doesn't establish why there's any meaningful difference between David Icke's imaginary reptilians and the imaginary reptilians that Desteni believes in. With regard to the "Interdimensional Portal," Darryl doesn't make clear what the difference is between this and "channeling"--the difference, if there is one at all, is totally semantic.

In short, there's very little of any substance in Darryl's responses. If I may go so far as to suggest a way to improve his supposed daily refutations of me, I would advise Darryl to start by making cogent, well-constructed arguments and sticking to the point. For example, if he wishes to argue that Desteni is not a cult, he should proceed point-by-point through a definition of what a cult is and demonstrate why Desteni does not meet those points. Incidentally, while there are many definitions of cults, I like the definition used by Operation Clambake which has five main points:

1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members.

2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society.

3. Its founder/leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.

4. It believes "the end justifies the means" in order to solicit funds and recruit people.

5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society.

If Darryl wishes to argue that Desteni does not meet these five points, let him do so; or, conversely, if he wishes to challenge me to argue that these points do fit Desteni, that is an entirely reasonable basis for a rational debate. What he's posted, however, falls far short of this standard.

Incidentally, I don't believe Darryl is really that interested in "deconstructing" me "daily." Not only has the "Deconstructing MUERTOS Daily" blog not been updated in five days, but he's already moved on to "deconstructing" another Desteni critic in much the same rambling and incoherent manner. Darryl's response is the classic conspiracy theorist form of pseudo-argumentation: meaningless generalizations, conclusory statements not backed up with argument, and lack of any logical coherent structure. While he probably will respond to this blog, I doubt that his response will be much different than what he's already said.

Thanks for reading.