The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher

By Martin Gardner | Go to book overview

18 The Third Eye

Since 1950, almost every top publishing house in the United States has been issuing books that its editors know to be occult garbage. Why? The answer is obvious. Like worthless diet books, they make lots of money. I am sure I speak for everyone in CSICOP when I say we are all firmly opposed to government, at any level, telling publishers what they can't print. There are, however, moral issues involved. Just as publishers have the democratic freedom to print books that mislead and do harm, so we citizens have the freedom to express ethical outrage.

Hundreds of shabby books could be cited as examples, but I'll confine this chapter to just one, because it has an amusing history and because it ties in with one of the craziest of New Age fads--using acupuncture to arouse memories of previous lives. In Shirley MacLaine's latest autobiography, Dancing in the Light, she tells about her treatment in a village near Santa Fe by Chris Griscom, a trance medium who also practices acupuncture. (This is not the book I will be attacking; Shirley's four autobiographies have redeeming merit as works of fiction.) Shirley writes:

The yoga tantra tradition maintained that there was unlimited energy locked in the central nervous system located along the spinal column. . . . If it is released, it flows up and down the spine. Along the way it passes through the seven centers of energy (chakkras) that govern various functions of the body. The chakkras, they say, are the knots of centered energy by which the soul is connected to the body.

With yoga and proper meditational techniques, the energy at the base of the spine (kundalini energy) can be aroused until it moves up through each chakkra dissolving the knots binding the soul until it reaches the brain and a feeling of the liberation of the soul is achieved.

In most people, Shirley continues, the seven chakras (I adopt the conventional spelling with one k) are "closed," permitting "only the barest amount of vibrational current necessary for functioning. The person is walled into himself and sees the world from a closed and limited perspective. When the chakkra centers are opened, he sees with a more unlimited vision."

-123-

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The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Part 1 11
  • 1 - Project Alpha 13
  • 2 - Margaret Mead 19
  • 3 - Magicians in the PSI Lab 25
  • 4 - Shirley MacLaine 32
  • 5 - Freud, Fliess, and Emma's Nose 38
  • 6 - Koestler Money Down the Psi Drain? 44
  • 7 - Targ: From Puthoff to Blue 50
  • 8 - The Relevance of Belief Systems 57
  • 9 - Welcome to the Debunking Club 65
  • 10 - The Great Stone Face 72
  • 11 - From Phillips to Morris 79
  • 12 - George McCready Price 93
  • 13 - Wonders of Science 99
  • 14 - Tommy Gold 103
  • 15 - Rupert Sheldrake 109
  • 16 - The Anomalies of Chip Arp 115
  • 17 - Thoughts on Superstrings 119
  • 18 - The Third Eye 123
  • 19 - Irving Kristol and the Facts of Life 129
  • Part 2 135
  • 20 - The Great SRI Die Mystery 137
  • 21 - Perpetual Motion 145
  • 22 - Psychic Surgery 167
  • 23 - 666 and All That 170
  • 24 - D. D. Home-Sweet-Home 175
  • 25 - PK (Psycho-Krap) 179
  • 26 - Chicanery in Science 182
  • 27 - Fools' Paradigms 184
  • 28 - Look, Shirl, No Hands! 188
  • 29 - The Channeling Mania 202
  • 30 - Who Was Ray Palmer? 209
  • 31 - Prime-Time Preachers 223
  • 32 - L. Ron Hubbard 246
  • 33 - Psychic Astronomy 252
  • Name Index 265
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