Random observations, quotes, excerpts, and stuff
(I’m going to experiment with putting up short bits without in-depth analyses occasionally–just little observations or notes about FDR. Here’s the first. And maybe the last! We’ll see.)
What families and Humpty Dumpty have in common at FDR. After recording over 1,500 podcasts, Molyneux has never made one on repairing families. Amazingly, his followers still believe his sole goal is not to separate them from theirs.
Curiosity and empathy are one-way streets. One of the most commonly used phrases among FDR believers is “curiosity and empathy.” It’s almost like a mantra. Yet none of those who have defooed have the slightest curiosity or empathy about how their families are doing. When they get letters, e-mails, or calls, instead of being curious or empathetic about their parent’s meaning or motive, they simply turn to their fellow FDR members (and Molyneux) for instant confirmation about their family’s “manipulation” and “corruption.” Maybe it’s just me, but I think it reveals a stunning lack of curiousity to instantly and uncritically classify every family/friend attempt at contact for every FDR member as a “Foo Attack.”
Surprise!–it turns out that the “curiousity and empathy” mantra is simply a code meaning only one thing: Outsiders are to be tested for their curiousity and empathy to FDR members. If they display any, then the conversion process can begin. If they do not, they are illogical, irrational, and disposable. Of course it’s one-way! Who would want to show any curiousity or empathy to the irrational?
The rapidly vanishing Christina. First, all of the “Ask a Therapist” podcasts featuring Molyneux’s therapist wife, Christina, suddenly disappeared from the FDR site.
Then, the line on the site’s home page that formerly read “Topics range from politics to philosophy to psychology to economics to relationships to atheism” (with links to summary pages of Molyneux’s views on each) was altered: specifically, the word psychology and its associated linked page were deleted without explanation.
And now the infamous podcasts–Defooing, Parts 1 & 2 (#451 and #452)–recorded during an autumn hike as Chistina and her husband ridicule an anquished letter from her own parents, have simply vanished.
It appears that all traces of Christina’s involvement with FDR psychology are being rapidly purged from FreeDomain Radio. Does it matter? Well, the differentiating foundation of the FDR philosophy is the psychology/philosophy connection. In Molyneux’s own words, it was a foundation inspired and co-authored by Christina. If there’s no psychology in the theory, there’s no FDR. Not as we know it.
But these days, Molyneux downplays Christina’s involvement while insistently reminding followers that he is not a therapist and his “convos” are not therapy. They just happen to be a conversation between two friends. Except in this particular case, the younger friend has an emotional problem and the older friend always traces the source of that problem back to the younger friend’s parents using the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (a service for which he gladly accepts donations).
But that’s only a coincidence–it’s just two friends talkin’.
At any rate, what is going on with Christina and FDR psychology these days?
Hundreds of people are flocking to the FDR Community! Every time you hit the FDR forum page, you see a bunch of new members have joined! The community has over 5,000 members and is growing by leaps and bounds. However, is it my imagination or are most of those names suspiciously weird? I’m probably just jumping to conclusions. I’m certain that lcdtvprice11, samedayloans, christiandating (my favorite!), greenteafatburn, and freeappleiphon are perfectly thoughtful philosophers who just coincidentally picked user names that sound like spam e-mail addresses. I mean, who would neglect to throw the switch on the ol’ user registration spam filter simply so they could claim on their home page that they have “largest and most popular philosophy show on the web”? That’s crazy talk.
The one thing you’ll never hear at a therapist’s office. Molyneux wants his followers to seek therapy, right? Trouble is, by the time they are deeply enough into the FDR mind-set to follow that advice, they fully believe they have grown up as abuse victims. I wonder if any of them have had the courage to begin their therapy sessions this way:
“Hello. I’ve come to see you because I believe I am a victim of parental abuse. I’ve left my parents, of course, but in addition I’ve left everyone else in my family and all of my friends because they are also corrupt. I did this after I became part of an internet group. It’s run by a man and his wife. He has left all his family and friends. Then he helped his wife realize she needed to leave hers. By a strange coincidence, it turns out that both of their parents were abusers and all of their friends and everyone else in their families were also corrupt.
“Following their advice, I listened to a few hundred of their hour-long podcasts back to back. They have a lot more for me to listen to, though! During that experience, I spent a lot of time on the man’s forum and chat room and skype conferences where everyone I talked to helpfully pointed out reasons why I was a victim of abuse and surrounded by corruption.
“Those people, who previously left their families and friends, have now become my new friends. They’ve accepted me unconditionally. Every time I post about my former abuse, they respond with little “hug” icons, so I can tell they really love and empathize with me. They know that all of my bad feelings are a result of my family and corrupt friends. Now I talk exclusively to them on this man’s internet site. We call it a “community.”
“Here are some of the podcasts and books that convinced me I was being abused, so you can see for yourself that I came to my new beliefs entirely on my own. Surely you can see that, right?
“Let’s begin our therapy! Where do you think we should start?”
“Pay no attention to that man behind the diploma!” Molyneux reportedly tells his followers they don’t need college degrees. Fair enough, but…did you notice that Molyneux prominently features his own academic credentials in his own FDR bio? And doesn’t he tend to use his wife’s academic credentials as validation for his own psychology theories? Her certification–made possible by her degree–is the reason she could (a) open a practice and (b) support Molyneux’s FDR venture.
Molyneux recently appears to be fiercely anti-academic. But I wonder there is more to it. Sounds crazy, but it appears as if he believes he has replaced academia, as if “graduating” from FDR (however one defines it) is all you need for a fulfulling life. Judging by his and his wife’s actions, however, they certainly seem to think their degrees are pretty useful.
Is this a little harsh? I don’t know. Someone left this comment on MolyneuxRevealed and it amused me:
If you want to be a philosopher, and you are asking Stefan Molyneux for advice, then it’s probably getting close to being time to find a new dream. As it is, there are more people who want to be philosophers than the market can support. Many of them are really, really good. If you don’t see what’s wrong with Molyneux’s arguments, in spite of widely publicized, rigorous discussions of those problems, then you probably don’t have what it takes to compete with them.
As a (presumably atheist) libertarian interested in studying (presumably political) philosophy, it makes sense to try to go to the University of Arizona to learn from Schmidtz and Gaus, the University of Virginia to learn from Lomasky and Simmons, the University of Wisconsin to learn from Lester Hunt, Tulane University to learn from Eric Mack, Brown University to learn from Jason Brennan, Auburn University to learn from Roderick Long, West Virginia University to learn from Daniel Shapiro, the University of San Diego to learn from Matt Zwolinski, the College of New Jersey to learn from James Stacy Taylor, Ohio University in Athens to learn from Mark LeBar…I could probably go on. The point is, there are MANY options out there. Learning your craft from a self-published web site manager whose primary philosophical audience doesn’t know anything about philosophy should not be one of them.
OK. Maybe that is a little harsh. So let me just add: ouch!
Why don’t people do this more often before they defoo? If you have time and money to spare you might find it very revealing to ask a legitimate, reputable therapist to listen to one of the “therapy” podcasts Molyneux has conducted with a listener and critique Moyneux’s methods. (I did, but thankfully she did it for free!) Here is what you will learn:
Competent therapists always ask open-ended questions. They do not guide patients to a conclusion they have already reached. They never plant. They never create their own connections between your feelings and events and convince you to accept them. They never use the technique of saying obvious truths in the beginning, followed by “Right? Right?” until you fall into the resultant pattern of saying “yes, yes” to everything else they suggest later on. And when you reach the core of what you are trying to understand about your relationships, they never demonize the other party in an attempt to drive you further away.
“And then Tom suddenly defooed….” Those who think that Tom (of the UK Guardian article) suddenly decided on his own to defoo after one podcast “convo” with Molyneux have been misled. It rarely happens that way. Tom–along with the vast majority of FDR members who defooed–was actually conditioned over a number of months, first through indoctrination tools such as Molyneux’s book “On Truth” and the hundreds of podcasts on evil parents and then later through the love-bombing that occurs on the forum, chatroom, twitter, and skype conferences. By the time most FDR members defoo their bewildered families, they have fully accepted a view of themselves as victims of abuse. There is nothing sudden about it and many people have contributed in helping the new member accept this belief.
To sell the truth. What happens when you stop pursuing the truth for its own sake and start selling it? I don’t know. I’m just asking.
In his 2006 podcasts, Molyneux was just a guy with a job he doesn’t like who ALSO had an interest in a wide range of areas related to governance, economics, psychology, truth, and philsophy. A lot of people connected with Molyneux at that time and, from what I gather, had their healthiest relationships with him at or before that time. In my view, his very best essays and podcasts were during that era.
Then, in 2007, he made the decision to have FreeDomain Radio and activities related to it be his main source of income.
So what happens when your focus changes from pursuing the truth for its own sake to packaging and selling the truth for your own livelihood? Well, for starters, the most important thing in the former is “the truth” and the most important thing in the latter is “your livelihood.”
In the former, it is a personal pursuit of something, irrespective of the emotional/financial cost. In the latter, it is a two-way transactional relationship. There must be something in the way the truth is served up–packaged, polished, made more palatable, more enticing, whatever–that makes “your customers” want to pay for it.
So when the direction of FDR changed in 2007, Molyneux was no longer asking people to share the burden as they shared their experiences in their personal quests for the truth. Now he was asking them to support a profit-based enterprise designed to provide he and Christina with financial freedom. They were no longer supporting each other in the quest. They were supporting him.
And it makes me wonder. On that new Web site, what would it mean if people openly challenged the “truth” as Molyneux sees it? Doesn’t that mean they might also be interfering with sales? (Imagine a bunch of people in McDonalds shouting, “This food sucks!”) So wouldn’t that hurt the earning potential of his product? Wouldn’t it make the forum look more attractive and with more apparent value to new customers/members if everyone on the site appeared to be happy and fully on-board with Molyneux’s teaching?
And…so…wouldn’t it make sense for the “greater good” if those dissenting people and their comments just, kind of…went away? Even if some of the things they were saying was just a little bit true, too?
More than that, what if you’re doing something potentially risky, such as telling confused teens and 20-year-olds that they’re sad not because they’re growing up and going through something everyone goes through but because their families are corrupt and they should abandon them permanently? (Even though when they’re 30, they’ll realize it really was that first thing)?
Does it make a moral difference if it’s coming from a guy on a personal journey sharing truth as he’s found it versus a guy who stands to make a profit by how he influences them?
And so there it is–does selling truth for money corrupt? Just asking questions…
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