Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#1534: James DeMeo

James DeMeo is the director of the Orgone Biophysical Research Lab. Yes, orgone, the imaginary, vitalistic “life positive” (think the Force) energy ultracrackpot Wilhelm Reich claimed to have discovered in the 30s and which would promptly herald the New Age and a Cure for All Diseases and so on and so forth. And then you know that what kind of “research” they are doing at the “lab”.

Of course, the name may sound legit to people who are scientifically illiterate, and one of DeMeo’s main moments in the sun occurred when he appeared on scientifically anti-literate senator James Inhofe’s list of scientists who allegedly dispute global warming. Well, DeMeo does in fact, as opposed to many of the entries on Inhofe’s list, deny the mainstream explanation of global warming. Instead, DeMeo claims that prana orgone energy is the cause.

So, orgone energy is the real explanation for global warming: “However, cloudbusting [oh, yes – it can drive away aliens, too] is definitely not ‘magic’, but a combination of both natural science and empirical art [don’t know, but suspect it means, precisely, magic], requiring the practitioner to know much about modern science, climate and technical matters. They must also have the capacity to feel the atmospheric orgone energy via organ sensations, and to see the expressive language of the living which appears across the whole of Nature, if one knows what to look for, and has the eyes to see [yes, in order to verify the existence of orgone energy, you have to believe it is there; how convenient]. It helps us to understand previously inexplicable things such as the relationship between desert-spreading and the subsequent appearance of droughts and heatwaves, both of which fuel the misunderstood ‘global warming’ and ‘El Nino’ effects, which in fact are regional in nature, and always connected with outbreaks of expanding Saharasian desert atmospheres.”

DeMeo is also a signatory to this list of HIV/AIDS “rethinkers”.

He is also the author (with one Steve Taylor) of the long pseudoscientific rant The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era. The main claim of that book is that “[i]t is not natural for human beings to kill each other, for men to oppress women, for individuals to accumulate massive wealth and power, or to abuse nature,” but that human nature changed after a period of intense aridification 5900 years ago (so it is natural, then … oh, never mind). Contrary to what they claim there is of course scant scientific basis for their New Ageish, lengthy fallacious appeal to nature, and knowing DeMeo’s background may be helpful in understanding how he and Taylor deals with scientific data. DeMeo nevertheless has few qualms about claiming that his Saharasia (a follow-up of the book, it seems) “is the largest and most in-depth scholarly study on human behavior and social violence around the world which has ever been undertaken.” Wilhelm Reich himself was a Freudian Marxist who believed that the lack of good orgasms was what kept the working classes from realizing their political potential, and DeMeo’s story of violence contains some disconcerting fascinating observations about the connection between “sex-repression” and warfare.

Diagnosis: Zealous pseudoscientist and crackpot. At present, he has clearly joined the striking-webdesign-with-odd-color-and-font-combinations group of crackpots and will hardly exert influence on anyone not already lost to reason, sanity and reality – but that group evidently also includes certain US senators, so we can’t completely write DeMeo off as completely harmless.

1 comment:

  1. In the 1940s, the counterculture novelist William S. Burroughs ("Naked Lunch") was big into that Orgone crap--so much so that he built what he called an Orgone Accumulator--an outhouse-sized closet that he equipped with an oxygen hose and mask. At the time, Burroughs also was a big-time heroin addict.