Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Closer to Truth

Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator and host of the PBS television series Closer to Truth, the author or editor of numerous books, a long-time advisor to the Chinese government, and Senior Advisor at Citigroup (investment banking). He holds a Ph.D. in anatomy/brain research from UCLA and an M.S. in management from MIT.
(Adapted from the potted bio. in Skeptic)

It's an impressive resume, but to my way of thinking it misses out Robert Kuhn's finest accomplishment: as Plain Truth writer and wunderkind protégé of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Actually, I owe a personal debt to Kuhn. With his unknowing help I once snatched a rare "A" on an essay in my second year at Hamilton Teachers College. The lecturer was most impressed with my cogent research on animal language, but was puzzled at the frequent references to articles by Kuhn. Could I provide her with copies? I mumbled something, knowing full well that I'd never get around to that task - not unless I wanted a regrading in the general direction of South. The articles in question - coauthored by Kuhn and HWA - were on the subject of "animal brain and human mind" then appearing in the PT.

There's quite a leap between writing for The Plain Truth and Michael Shermer's feisty journal Skeptic, but Kuhn has hurdled the divide with a dense article in the last issue (no.2, 2007) called Why This Universe? - including four and a half pages of notes and references in small print! My science literacy stretches only as far as dipping into New Scientist, but Kuhn's article pushed me so far up the learning curve I developed a two-Panadol headache after the third paragraph. I won't embarrass myself by trying to offer a précis.

What did interest me was that Kuhn straddled the skeptic's fence by drawing on Shermer at one end of the spectrum, and anglogelical theologian Keith Ward on the other. It's an intriguing possibility that we live in a multiverse rather than a universe (see for example Parallel Universes Born Again in the 22 September New Scientist) but Kuhn remains aloof from drawing any conclusions. Obviously someone who is traumatized by the question "why not nothing?" at the tender age of 12 has brain wiring different from mine.

Such issues will apparently feature in the new series of Closer to Truth. Maybe it'll be a little clearer then.


Douglas Becker said...

Yes, well, there are those with manipulative skills to use the name and talent of both chess champions and brilliant scientists, aren't there?

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Does he happen to cite John Titor for his belief in the multiverse? ö

Stan said...

From the Closer to Truth show's transcript:

In quantum mechanics, we sort of accept the notion that since we can't predict the properties of a particle, we give up the possibility that it has those properties--until we measure them. But requiring the intervention of human consciousness is very upsetting to scientists.

KUHN: Andrei, if we don't look at the universe, does that mean it doesn't exist?

ANDREI: This is one of our main challenges.

Stan said...

Explore the rest of Kuhn's series:

Stan said...

BB said:

Does he happen to cite John Titor for his belief in the multiverse? ö

No, but Kuhn does cite three others in his taxonomy of possible explanations:

Worth a read. Kuhn is no dummy.

Anonymous said...

Gavin said :

The articles in question - coauthored by Kuhn and HWA - were on the subject of "animal brain and human mind" then appearing in the PT.

Actually, I owe a personal debt to Kuhn.

And Armstrong owes a personal debt to Robert Kuhn. I remember that series very well on the human mind, running in the PT, circa January 1972. This "new revelation" was thrown out to the faithful as a sop to make up for the fact that nobody had yet left for the Petra. And it did not appear that anybody would be leaving any time soon. :-)

The only problem with Armstrong's revelation about this "spirit in man" (which he denied for decades existed) is that is wasn't his revelation. He "borrowed" the whole concept from Kuhn. (Shucks, what idea or teaching didn't the Herbster borrow?)

I know this for a fact because a church bud of mine showed me a magazine (which title I have forgotten) with an article written by Kuhn on this very topic. And the magazine was from 1969, a full three years before Herbie's "revelation."

I was dumbfounded, of course, at the Herbster's blatant plagiarism. You might say I had my own "revelation" at that point about all this Armstrongology I had absorbed. But it still was not enuf to make me let go of "God's" Church. It took me another decade of deception to finally wake up and smell the coffee grinds, Armstrong's unique brew of half-baked and outright stolen religious teachings.

Anonymous said...

Simon Berkovich, Professor of Engineering and Applied Science in the Department of Computer Science of the George Washington wrote,

"The brain is merely a transmitter and receiver of information, but not the main place for storage or processing of information (i.e. memories).”

This intrigues me.

Lussenheide said...

Although "amongst the masses" in the COG, Herman Hoeh was considered to be the "smart guy", from people who knew him, Kuhn was actually one of the few true genius' in the church.

He never really got much fanfare in the church, and I believe that he was feared by HWA, as an intellectual. Armstrong would often rage against intellectuals and those that were "eductated at worldly colleges" in sermons during the "anti-liberal era" 1978 to 1986 period.

Speaking of the liberal era, virtually ALL COG groups other than the most extreme fringe groups embrace most of the "liberal" thinking of that time. Even RCMs Living COG. These include tithing on net, makeup, going to Doctors, Birthdays, pantsuits et al.

In retrospect, I am amazed at how such minor things became crux issues in the Church. Also, it is interesting how in retrospect, and in closing out the scoresheet, how the legacy of the "liberal ministers" of the CGI and its descendants, have held fast to the major bulk of historic COG teachings as opposed to the WCG which was supposedly "purged" of liberals, malcontents and contenders during the 1978 to 1986 HWA sponsored pogrom.


Anonymous said...

...a world or organization without liberals is one dead in the water and frozen in time... It will cease to be soon enough.

This is why "the Wonderful World Tomorrow" would be our worst nightmare for all eternity, and hell for all free thinkers.

It's no coincidence the Dark Ages followed the coming of "the Church"

Douglas Becker said...

For those of you interested, it might be useful to check out "The Experimental Evidence Against Objective Reality" in "The Alternate View" by John G. Cramer in the December 2007 Analog. There you can see the 'proof' of the quantum connectedness that enforces the measurement correlation and state matching in entangled quantum systems that has come to be called quantum nonlocality. For our more advanced Armstrongist friends, the theorem tests by the group of experimentalists at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna should be riveting, if they could but understand one word of it.

Jesse Ancona described the anti intellectualism of the WCG under Herbert Armstrong in LYING WITH THE TRUTH: Deception and Mind Control in the Worldwide Church of God, A Case Study in Religious Manipulation found at:

Herbert Armstrong was very proud, as a badly built self-made man, of his lack of education, having stopped it at the 8th grade, skipping high school and going on to be the Chancellor of an unaccredited college -- Satan's College, as he called it. It was the perfect revenge for a nasty arrogant uneducated man with no degrees to triumph for satisfaction to make intellectuals "eat their words" as he was so proud to boast in his Autobiography. One wonders if something similar to the purge of educators under Chairman Mao would have occurred, if only Herbert Armstrong were able to rule the world as he lusted to do. What he did do is manage to lower the collective IQ of several generations at the shallow end of the gene pool in his wickedly devised cult.

Dr. Kuhn did have an affinity with Garner Ted Armstrong. It is difficult to say when Dr. Kuhn moved on, but much of it may have occurred after an epiphany of enlightenment as Herbert Armstrong adopted Stanley Rader as his "true son" and ousted his biological one. Certainly, Dr. Kuhn is extremely advanced, evidence that even smart people can be conned by psychopaths. To his credit, he finally figured out how badly he was being manipulated and ousted himself before even more damage was done: Smart people move on.

And if it can happen to the brilliant, what place will be found for the nimnuls unable to spell quantum mechanics?

Anonymous said...

Do keep in mind HWA did not corner the market on anti-intellectualism by any means. It is perpetuated today in every Bible College on the planet. The Bible itself is grievously anti intellectual with many admonitions that if humans get too close to real answers they risk proving that the "wisdom of man is foolishness with God.." and that "God sees not as a man sees."

The Bible makes men like HWA feel they can make fun of knowledge too and gives the man plenty of Bible verses to back him up thinking he must be right as God is right. David Pack mocks knowlege and intellect in his sermons and dismisses all of Einstein's work because his hair was "wild." What a fool!

Anonymous said...

There is great new info on parallel universes as well, each breaking off from the individual mind that makes one choice over another. So somewhere, I never joined WCG and lived happily ever after! I just can't get in touch with that one at the moment so have to do the hard work of more decisions and breaking off into other parallel universes less stupid in nature.

I rather suspect our universe is merely one grape in a bunch of other universes, all close but unreachable. Evidently the finite universe expands in infinite space rather than space expanding along with it. However, not having been there....I merely hope this is so.

Dr. Kuhn is a great guy and his association with WCG only made me think that perhaps he was a plant, by someone, to keep an eye on the Armstrongs. Either that, or he was young and taking his Jewish roots way to literally true for a time. How Jewish guys always went to the front of the line in WCG always perpuzzled me.

Douglas Becker said...

In fact, I submitted a "Probability Zero" story to Analog about religion, a guru and parallel universes, but sadly have not heard back from Dr. Stanley Schmidt yet.

You have to know that for any cult to work, it must have the illusion of credibility using Assertive Incompetence (the book is soon to become unavailable) built in a fact free zone.

Herbert Armstrong had Dr. Robert Kuhn. L. Ron Hubbard was his own source, using his science fiction writings to build his religion. Herbert Armstrong stole everything and then had to get someone to legitimatize it, to deceive people of higher intelligence than himself.

It should be noted that Wade Ewart Cox did the same thing by getting a respected professor from South Africa whose daughter married Cox's son and also took on Dr. Thomas McElwain for a brief time, upon whom he built the silly CCg teachings of the Bible being equal to the Koran.

In all this, the inappropriate use of respected intellectuals to establish the authority of nutty religious ideas is fundamental to building a successful empire of straw.

Anonymous said...

Well if you read the current thinking of WCG ministers and wannabe's on The Surprising God Blog (, you'll be able to relax in seeing that the NEW WCG is in no danger of coming to terms with theological realities in the 21st Century. No Wunderkinder commenting there!

If those guys ever got it in their heads that the story of Adam and Eve was pure borrowed mythology and not rich in NT meanings about Jesus, they would have nothing left to say.

It would be funny if it were not so pathetic to read.

Anonymous said...

Douglas said:
"..Chancellor of an unaccredited college -- Satan's College, as he called it."

Is Becker saying HWA called Ambassador College, "Satan's College" or does he mean something else.

Becker can be hard to follow sometimes.


        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Seth Lloyd in his book "Programming the Universe" points out that quantum particles can be measured without violating the uncertainty principle through entanglement and returning the measured particle back to its pre-measured state. Its not that quantum particles can't be measured, its just tricky to do. All quantum particles behave as qubits, and like a computer logic device, can be restored to their original logic state. This ability is key to optical computing.

But back to the (mythical?) enigmatic time traveler John Titor, he said in his "verse" (he was a believer in the multiverse) religion had to alter its view on a human judgment by God, because for each person, there was a person who made the opposite decision, and all these parallel persons were of the same "soul" (explains deja vu?).

IOW, where is religion without the ability to condemn people? Has Kuhn become a universalist by virtue of his belief in a multiverse?

A mutiverse challenges what we believe about free will.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"...built in a fact free zone."

That's a wonderful statement. But it is not only applicable to cults, but to most religions.


Anonymous said...

"God moves in mysterious ways,his wonders to perform".

So wrote the poet John Cowper.

And it was especially true in the life of Herbert W Armstrong.

He had an inherent distrust of academics and intellectuals,yet, he seemed to be able to use their abilities to his greater glory once they were under his thumb.

Pentecost was kept for many years on a Monday,yet God "revealed" to Herb that it should be kept on a Sunday.Of course,he had to consult with OUTSIDE academics on this matter...perhaps he didn't trust his own or wasn't quite sure that God had revealed it,even though this was the official spin.

Raymond McNair had known for 15 years prior that Pentecost should be kept on Sunday.Of course,Herb was told,but at that stage the line was that God hadn't revealed it.There is another take on that which we will leave up to the imagination of the blog reader.

Herb was more cunning than academic,a manipulator of people.

And I am pleased to see that we are not Kuhn bashing.

Most definitely Seamus

Anonymous said...

There were some Oxford and Cambridge alumni and more than a few Ivy League graduates in AC as well as in local congregations of the WCG.

I won't list them here because if you don't know them it won't make any difference. I doubt that many have remained in any case.


Douglas Becker said...

"..Chancellor of an unaccredited college -- Satan's College, as he called it."

Herbert Armstrong did indeed say that Ambassador College was Satan's College.

Until he got it back on track, of course.

Do try to keep up.

Unknown said...

chicago cardinal wants jews to stop calling Jesus a BASTARD!

a post was deleted from this thread because it attempted to show that kuhn, as a jew, knew very well that what armstrong taught and brainwashed people with was talmudic law!

you see, the jews worship the talmud! it came from babylon and it is called the babylonian talmud!

it calls JESUS a bastard and anyone who worships HIM a devil worshipper!

Armstrong was so transfixed by talmudism, he would have converted except for that JESUS problem!

armstrong's solution was the same solution the phariaees chose 2,000 years ago, make christians first become talmudic jews, with all the holy days,sabbaths,fasts,et al, that the first century church CONDEMNED!

you see exodus 12:48 states clearly that unless a man is circumsized, he cannot take the passover! the circumcision to be valid must be done by a mohel, not a doctor. armstrong knew and kuhn also knew that in order to observe the holy days, a rabbi first has to circumcize you!

that is why it is critical to understand the context of paul's vehement oppossition to having christians circumsized!

kuhn, as a talmudic jew, knew all of this and took your tithe money as salary and kept his mouth shut!