FDR Controversy Part 3: Response to the “analysis” of Molyneux’ response to the UK Guardian article
EDIT: If you wish to skip this article due to its length please check The Times interview and consider downloading and listening to it. It contains evidence that refutes much of the assertions in the analysis hereby responded.
Continuing with my series on the FDR Controversy I wish to share certain points pertaining to the purported analysis of Stefan Molyneux’ response to the UK Guardian article.
* The UK guardian article: “You’ll never see me again”
* Stefan Molyneux’ response: “How to Escape a “Controversial Online Community!” (um – close your browser..?)
* FDRLiberated “analysis” of the response: Molyneux’s response to the UK Guardian article, analyzed .
I will do this point by point as it helps address everything that is relevant and in order to quote the article in its current edition so it’s clear what exactly is being addressed.
In the last article, however, where I addressed the “brief introduction” to FDRLiberated.com it was clear that this web site is far from unbiased. It appeared like a presentation of one particular story or picture about FDR which isn’t always backed by direct evidence and is largely constructed by conjecture.
Note that the author at the beginning of this article does not deny that he is biased as he says: “I’ll state my own biases up front, so you can interpret my assessment as you will. I do believe that FreeDomainRadio (FDR) is a therapeutic cult that is in the seminal stages of development.” While his being up front about it may be applauded this hardly inspires confidence that this site is more than an attempt to portray FDR in accordance to this particular bias regardless of what the actual truth may be.
If I have negative feelings about FDR at all, it is only because it promotes itself as a significant Libertarian voice. Given the difficulty that Libertarians in general have in helping people understand our point of view, I’m concerned that–if FDR is a significant voice–then they could be a detriment to the movement. For a large number of people, it is their first experience with Libertarianism.
As explained in my last article FDR is also the biggest if not the only project that encourages consistent application of libertarian principles in every day lives without which the libertarian movement of which the author is here concerned of remains to a large extent hypocritical, and some people do call them out on this. If we believe in the non-initiation of force and fraud as a moral principle why do we support those who support violation of or themselves violate this principle? Again, Wilton D. Alston’s article is apt: Do You Really Want Freedom, Or Are You Just Kidding Yourself? It’s a damn serious question.
The headline of the article strikes an important theme that will occur later in the response—Molyneux’s diminution of FDR as “simply a Web site.” To make his case, it is important for Molyneux to characterize FDR as a simple forum/podcast where people exchange ideas. The truth is, this is the first time I’ve heard Molyneux take such a humble view of FDR. His vision has always been grandiose.
FDR is a financial enterprise and Molyneux’s sole source of revenue. It is a complicated system of video and audio podcast outreach, on-line forum, chatroom, media library, books, and a distribution of members into a hierarchy. There is clearly a social system on display: at the highest level in the hierarchy is an inner circle that enforces behavior and thoughts posted to the site. Critics of the site or Molyneux are swiftly purged.
1. Grandiose statements can certainly be made about something that is not more than a web site.
2. Something being a sole source of revenue tells us absolutely nothing of significance. My web sites are my sole source of income, so what?
3. Podcasts, on-line forum, chatroom, media library and books are all distributed by means of a web site and can thus certainly be “escaped” by solely closing the browser window as Stefan points out. Not all of this is hosted solely on FDR web site, but that does not somehow decrease the ease with which one can get away from it.
4. The so called “social system” referred to is consistent with just about any other online community with levels of participation. The so called “inner circle” (which sounds more like mythology invented by those behind the smear campaign) is easily equivalent to moderators on other forums.
5. That “critics of the site or Molyneux are swiftly purged” sounds like a sweeping generalization. Even IF the atmosphere towards criticism of what FDR or Stef represents is not particularly encouraged on the boards, plenty of call in shows and publicly available recorded debates seem to testify to the opposite of outright purging of criticism. But hold that thought.. I am going to address this issue in the next article specifically, given how much fuss is thrown around this assertion.
FDR members have vacationed together, attended annual BBQ’s at the Molyneux home together, attended philosophy and psychology seminars conducted Molyneux and his wife, and more.
I assume this is supposed to contribute to the point that it is harder to get out of FDR community then just closing a browser because it implies certain social bounds. First of all, the idea promoted by FDR that all relationships are voluntary does not somehow exclude relationships between certain FDR members no matter how much certain accusers would want to advance such a claim. There is no evidence that anybody is coerced into such relationships or instilled unchosen positive obligations towards them. I would defer to part 1 for further examination of that (re all manipulation, control, dishonesty etc. claims).
Of course many online web sites have similar social events and meet ups and most of them are never as explicit about these relationships being without positive obligations as FDR. They’re seldom chastised for it.
But above all–more than anything else–FDR members are intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally invested in a utopian worldview based on Molyneux’s unique approach to anarcho-capitalism. Even though they understand at some level that the utopian society they hope for is at minimum generations away, their investment is powerful enough for many of them to live lives in near-isolation, each one a modern-day Diogenes, hoping to find “honest and virtuous relationships” based on Molyneux’s definition of such relationships.
This is another sweeping generalization. There are currently 3 467 members on FDR and while not all of them are active at all time what basis does the author have for claiming that all of these members or even all of the members who are currently active are without other social circles or that they haven’t even been able to build such ideal relationships which some of them may strive for?
Also, what basis is there for claiming that all of them are anarcho-capitalists? I have easily encountered people who are in fact minarchists and who have debated anarcho-capitalism and continue to participate.
The author is simply trying to arbitrarily infer or invent some supposedly hard to break tie ins to the FDR community. Yet in the case which the Guardian’s article, Stefan’s response and consequently this “analysis” is about, the guy in question didn’t have contact with Stefan Molyneux for months, never met him live and appears to be leading a rather normal life. It’s hardly a case of being trapped in FDR.
Glad? At the time of this writing, it has been discovered that those who now visit Liberating Minds (a site that contains a sub-forum where Molyneux’s ideas are discussed, often critically) and click on a link that leads to FreeDomainRadio may find themselves IP banned from FDR. Not just Liberating Minds members–anyone whose browser tells FDR that the previously visited site was Liberating Minds. This happened the day after the furor over the Guardian article began.
Somehow, this doesn’t seem like the actions of someone who is glad. More like the action of someone furiously trying to control the conversation.
Liberated Minds is by Stefan Molyneux considered a smear campaign. It was largely founded by banned or other former members some of which have made certain disturbing expressions against Stefan Molyneux. It provided the atmosphere of encouragement for mother’s advances against FDR and her sons choice in the media and it continues to serve as a place where even the extreme and unfounded accusations easily gain sympathy. The “smear campaign” characterization doesn’t seem far off.
Given such an identification of Liberated Minds one of the obvious responses would be to defend against it by any means at his disposal and Molyneux apparently believed IP bans were among such means, which given that he owns the site is perfectly within his right (whether I agree with such means is thus irrelevant unless I want to make enough fuss over it to leave a site in protest, which I don’t).
Saying that he is glad the article is out because it constitutes media attention and that he is especially pleased that the concept of voluntary relationships got out hardly means the same thing as being glad that Liberated Minds as such are the ones behind this media outing.
More important, let’s consider the apparent bias of the article.
Molyneux is correct, of course. The Guardian article is slanted. But is that good or bad? The reporter clearly wrote the article from a particular point of view and made no attempt to hide it. And so what? It’s not hard news.
The better question is what led this reporter to her bias?
My perspective is the Guardian article is a result of the reporter’s research. If she had written instead a chronology of how she researched and wrote the article, perhaps the perception of bias might have been different:
A mother calls the Guardian and complains that a Web site ate her son. The reporter is skeptical. It’s far more likely that something bad has happened in the family. She begins to research–how could a simple Web site influence kids to leave their parents? But then she’s surprised to learn from the son’s siblings that they remember a happy childhood. She talks to cult experts about the techniques of Undue Influence. She logs onto the FDR chatroom to watch Tom’s mother attacked by other FDR members. She listens to the podcasts. She reads the books. She hears the many contradictions in Molyneux’s claims (”I don’t charge anything for what it is I do”–except FDR is his sole source of revenue.). She realizes that it is much bigger than a Web site. At some point, she makes the conclusion it is a cult and it is a tragedy. She writes the article from that point of view. It is thoroughly vetted by attorneys prior to publication.
Typically, journalists are natural skeptics and I’d tend to wager skepticism is where the research from this article began.
You may not agree with her conclusions, but I am inclined to think they were indeed conclusions and not her starting point. The bias arose as a result of research.
Common elements of journalistic ethics include objectivity and impartiality as is quoted from wikipedia:
While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of — truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.
Note the emphasis. It is exactly the final product with all of its conclusions which is supposed to be objective and impartial, not just the process of acquisition and research. The fact that the author of the Guardian article did research does not excuse her bias at all, as the author of this “analysis” seems to think.
Additionally, while certain elements of the chronology of the journalist’s research may be inferred from the Guardian article, the author hardly has enough evidence to claim the above description of it as conclusive.
There is one other thing to be noted in this instance. Describing the said chronology the author notes: “She hears the many contradictions in Molyneux’s claims (”I don’t charge anything for what it is I do”–except FDR is his sole source of revenue.).
This is where he sets up a false dichotomy between not charging for what he does and depending on it as his sole source of revenue which effectively discounts the possibility of a person living solely off of donations. For him to be charging for his work he would make it available exclusively upon a payment and not regardless of whether there was a payment or not. Thus he is both not charging people and living off of the donations. Of course, he does charge for a very small portion of the content (premium podcasts), but that is openly admitted so the claims of not charging obviously do not refer to those.
Of course if he would eventually begin charging for all of it, his right to do so would be indisputable given that he is the producer of that content.
I don’t think it’s “striking” at all. One only needs to see how thoroughly Molyneux’s followers have excoriated this mother (one even found and posted her picture and other personal information on the FDR site) to see why the other parents stayed off the record. They know who they’re dealing with.
Tom’s mother is an educated woman who knew what would happen going in. I consider her decision to proceed, fully aware of what would happen, a courageous act.
1. I did not find the picture and personal information posted on the FDR.
2. Even if it was posted by that one member that hardly implies direct responsibility on Stefan Molyneux’ part.
3. Mrs. Weed already outed her personal information through the media.
4. A libertarian calling the act of public humiliation of a son by his own mother for making a voluntary choice to disengage (based on physical intimidation no less) a “courageous act” is quite ironic and hypocritical (as pointed out in part 2). The mentioned condemnation would be more consistent with the principles the author supposedly upholds as a libertarian and market anarchist.
This is complete conjecture. Molyneux has no idea who Kate talked to, so his polite sarcasm here is without merit. She simply didn’t use the quotes of everyone she talked to, most likely for space reasons. Reporters must edit their articles to fit a specific word count. Neither Molyneux, me, nor anyone else outside of the Guardian knows who Kate talked to or were privy to the choices made of what to include and what to cut.
While accusing (in this case probably rightfully) Molyneux of conjecture the author himself first makes a statement that implies certainty of that she did talk to said individuals,but simply chose not to quote them, and then claims he nor anyone else can know who Kate talked to. A little sentence to sentence consistency would help. In any case this may be a fair point, for once.
This is re-framing by Molyneux. First, he has no knowledge of the marriage and his comments on it are all conjecture. Sadly, if the relationship was already strained, one of the worst things that could have happened is losing an 18-year-old son to a cult. Talk to the family of a cult member (any cult) and you will hear tales of near unbearable grief and pain. Molyneux, who is now making conjectures about the marriage, quite possibly greatly contributed to the rift!
I would agree he was conjecturing. However that marriages don’t end over night (or in any case quickly) was a reasonable assumption considering the well known nature of such a process. As someone whose parents are divorced I can definitely testify to that. This paragraph however repeats a baseless and refuted cult claim. Tom’s break with his parents may have escalated the marital problems, but that has nothing to do with whether FDR is a cult, nor is their marriage in any way Tom’s responsibility nor was the break up Stefan’s decision made in stead of Tom.
And really, as far as all the conjecture accusations, pot calls the kettle black.
In addition, it is a common complaint among families that by the time kids reach their teen-age years, family meals are rare. It’s not a “striking fact”–it’s normal! It’s a direct result of teenagers beginning to build their own busy lives as they grow to adulthood.
That is a fair point. Of course it doesn’t change the fact that such meals were, as the mother confirmed, rare. Still, in healthy and exceptional relationships between a child and a parent, which seem quite rare, such shared meals would have probably been more common.
Furthermore, this effectively reflects a child’s readiness to alter the previous relationship arrangement with his parents and embark on his own, which would still to a large degree go in favor of Stefan’s point, especially given that the mother knew that he was well and probably happy. So her whole reason for this media circus is that this departure came with a complete termination of the relationship and thus denies her the pleasure to participate in it. These are pretty selfish reasons for such extreme initiatives as what she undertook. One would hope that if she truly loved him, she would try to understand and let him go without this exercise in humiliation.
Regarding the father’s temper, there isn’t much excusable about it. Anger management is a good thing. However, none of us outside know anything about the severity and frequency of the anger—only that he took it out on inanimate objects in his office and yelling at the family cat.
We know what his very son expressed in the call in show and it involved a little more than was mentioned in the guardian article (such as window smashing for instance, which counts as completely destructive behavior) and was enough for the guy to publicly burst into tears while talking about it. Both the author and the spouse of this angered man appear to understate the severity of the problem by ignoring certain instances of publicly available testimony (the call in show).
What I do know is that Molyneux consistently re-frames the parental actions he finds unfavorable using the most extreme terms he can get his hands on, as part of his persuasion. It is part of the dishonest technique he uses to bond with his members. “My parents were mean sometimes,” says the member. “Mean?” Molyneux replies, “they were monsters!”
So it comes as no surprise during the podcast when Molyneux refers to the Tom’s father’s “psychotic rage” and “his sick and disgusting rages.” He calls the father a “sick son-of-a-bitch,” “terrifying,” “violent,” “a bully,” “dangerous,” “psychotic,” “insane,” and, finally, “the devil.” All characterizations come from Molyneux, not Tom.
And for the coup de grâce, he tells the 18-year-old, “your mother didn’t protect you from the devil–she created you for the devil.”
It is unclear to me how the road to mental health for an 18-year-old begins by convincing him that his father is Satan and mother simply a servant who spawned him as a diabolical offering.
The first paragraph is conjecture and generalization without reference to evidence, especially the charge of dishonesty which was among many other things addressed in part 1.
That said, it is true that Stefan Molyneux used rather extreme and colorful language in this particular call in show. What is seldom stated, however, is that such terminology comes after the guy publicly burst into tears while talking about the issue he called about which coincidentally had to do with the treatment of animals, like the cat that his father consistently kicked. Tom might have not uttered those specific terms that Stefan did, but he certainly set the stage for emotional escalation in the context of which such extreme statements begin to make more sense, as emphatic expressions. And this is the context out of which such terms are usually quoted.
To better understand this consider an example which is essentially an emotional and contextual equivalent to this case. Jack tells his best friend Joe about a particular case where Fred whom he thought was a good friend bullied him with intimidation and humiliation and as he describes this to Joe he begins crying. Upon experiencing this Joe tries to comfort Jack, but also hurls certain ugly terms for Fred as a particular kind of expression of empathy towards Jack. His terms could include such things as “what an asshole he is”, “a god damn backstabber”, “a total nutcase” or even “he should go back to hell where he came from” and of course “he is obviously not your friend and you should probably not have anything to do with that guy”.
Yet in such a case seldom would people consider Joe to be manipulating Jack into breaking his supposed friendship with Fred. Instead most people would normally consider Joe’s reaction completely justified and a sign of empathy for how Jack is feeling.
Now that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with his use of such terminology and that I would not condemn it as a little over the top. But who would take these expressions to be serious and literal portrayals of Tom’s parents the way the author here seems to imply when he speaks about Stefan “convincing [Tom] that his father is Satan and mother simply a servant who spawned him as a diabolical offering” (in his own chosen words, as this is not a literal quote of Stefan)? I would wager a bet that Tom is not living his life today in some conviction that his father is a devil that spawned from hell. Gah.
Patently untrue. You can be manipulated into that kind of emotion. Ask any qualified psychologist. I believe Molyneux consistently uses manipulation during the therapy sessions he provides for his followers. He plants suggestions, pushes emotions, and draws conclusions throughout to lead his subjects where he wants them to go. I believe he employed it in the very podcast in question. The link is below. So, please–listen to it yourself and make your own decision.
(Tom’s therapy begins at about an hour and 25 minutes in. It starts with Tom saying, “Hi Stef, I have a yearning, burning, if that’s OK?” [I believe he means "yearning, burning question."])
I do join in the call for readers to listen to the podcast in question and draw their own conclusions.
By itself, the claim that one can be manipulated into bursting to tears and that every qualified psychologist would confirm this, cannot stand. One would have to actually refer to a psychologist’s discussion of that possibility and methods by which this can supposedly be achieved. This is my own suspicion, but a suspicion nevertheless; that what is possible is to drive a person to certain ingrained feelings which would make that particular person very emotional. But this is not an exercise of manipulation and planting of emotions which were not already there, but an archeology of emotions which WERE there all along.
If any psychologist says that a therapist can make somebody cry, but does not provide the exact methodology of doing this, then that claim alone cannot be given as evidence for the author’s assertion above. Only if methodology is explained and if it involves somehow planting of emotions which were never before present may it serve as such evidence, not that it would necessarily be completely conclusive because different psychologists may have different views on the matter.
In any case, the author simply doesn’t provide enough to back his outright “Patently not!” exclamation.
Again, minimizing (his role) and maximizing (the family problems). The actual facts so far indicate a normal family to me. It’s by no means perfect—clearly the father had problem controlling his temper. Yet, I have no doubt Kate–a highly respected journalist–thoroughly investigated this family before putting her reputation on the line. And does anyone think the Guardian would hang itself by running a negative article on Molyneux, only to discover an untenable family problem? I do not.
This paragraph is full of irony. Undisputed accounts from both Guardian and the recording of the call in show portray the father as someone with serious anger issues and someone who engaged in violence destructive and harmful to both his pet and his property (smashed windows, throwing stuff around), yet the author claims this to be a normal family.
If the author is right then we truly live in a very sad society and much of what Stefan Molyneux says about common abuse in families turns out to be true. If the author is wrong then this family is abnormally worse. If one would claim my standards for a normal family are too high, well then I suppose you’re fine with your father kicking your cat, smashing your window and throwing things while shouting with rage. Enjoy your normal family.
What’s also ironic is that Kate’s and Guardian’s credentials are emphasized in an attempt to strengthen the legitimacy of this story when the story itself accounts for throwing things and shouting at the cat, explicitly acknowledging Tom’s fear of him. It doesn’t appear like the author of this purported analysis is doing himself any favors here.
Of course Guardian does understate the issue, but given that the author himself refers to the call in show recording as valid evidence, he simply cannot discount what Tom himself says of his father in that recording, which adds to what the Guardian article acknowledged.
We’ve finally reached a point in the response where there is a glimmer of substance in this reply, but the glimmer is obscured beneath layers of Molyneux re-framing.
Here’s the glimmer. Everyone experiences their family differently because everyone experiences communication differently. Anyone who has studied personality types knows that each different personality type experiences the same interaction differently. It has been the stuff of drama and comedy for centuries and often the root cause of family dysfunction.
Amazingly enough looks like the author throws Mr. Molyneux a bone here. With respect to such differences in experiencing certain interactions it is not these differences for which one ought to be condemned, of course, but the willingness to try and understand the other’s point of view, the curiosity (which also happens to be one of the crucial things Stefan Molyneux emphasizes in his book “Real Time Relationships: Logic of Love”).
However, without details of the content of what was being discussed between Tom and his mother it is rather impossible to determine if she or he was truly open and curious or not, her one sided claims notwithstanding. This is why Stefan’s asking of those questions was completely sensible.
But Molyneux misses the opportunity for true healing when he mentions Tom’s “genuine experience.” No, it’s Tom’s personal experience. Molyneux’s use of the word “genuine” implies that only Tom’s interpretation is true. Tom’s experience is no more (nor less) “genuine” than his mother’s, father’s, or siblings.
Here the author gets mixed up by trying to make a distinction between “genuine” and “personal” and ends up attacking a straw man (since the claim he tries to address is one not raised by Molyneux). A reputable Merriam-Webster dictionary has these relevant definitions of “genuine”:
* actually produced by or proceeding from the alleged source or author
* sincerely and honestly felt or experienced
* free from hypocrisy or pretense
The author claims that by using the word “genuine” Molyneux implies that only Tom’s interpretation is true, as if “genuine” refers to objectivity rather than sincerity, honesty and lack of pretense. As can be seen from the above definition, however, the only thing that Molyneux could have been referring to here is that Tom did not seem to fake his experience (and I didn’t hear anyone accuse him of doing so). Molyneux never claimed the experience of his mother, father and siblings is less genuine.
This is the point where Molyneux’s victimization of his followers typically begins. Had Tom and his mother gone together to a qualified relationship or family counselor–one who had been educated in the personality-type disconnect I mention above, Tom would not only have found a healthy environment to discuss his issues on the family, but also he and his mother would have received the tools they needed to deepen their loving, family relationship. They would have learned how to talk.
In this video Molyneux claims to have heard from Tom that he did try to “work things out with his family, requesting protection from his father and suggesting family and/or individual counseling” and that “his pleas were all rejected”. Tom confirms this in The Times interview with Tom Whipple where he says the following:
“I tried to sort of improve the situation, improve the relationship, but it didn’t prove to be an easy thing to say the least” and “In talking with my parents, with my mother in particular, I couldn’t sort of broach the topic, (as if) it wasn’t something she wanted to get into at all. I stayed around for a bit and tried to get into it with her, but because that sort of progress wasn’t forthcoming I didn’t feel like it would be and she didn’t agree to get into therapy and my therapist said to me; this guy, your dad especially sounds like a violent one..” In that interview Tom shares a very revealing testimony on the case, shows no regret of his choice and in fact expresses that he feels happy.”
Secondly, whether one goes to counseling or not is obviously not solely up to Molyneux nor Tom himself, but up to the parents in question as well. If a blame is to be laid on the failure to communicate, both Tom and his parents are candidates. Given that these are not his relationships and that he did not make any explicit and direct suggestions (and actually emphasized that the decision was up to Tom, suggesting even some compromises such as staying with parents, but limiting contact with father), Molyneux is hardly the one responsible for failure of communication between Tom and the mother.
In fact what he has to say could largely be helpful in such instances should the parents be open to such an advice. The following would illustrate this.
The Guardian article quoted the mother describing an example of accusations she met in her attempts to persuade, negotiate and compromise as follows:
Barbara says she tried everything – persuasion, negotiation, compromise. “But Tom didn’t seem interested in communicating, merely in throwing accusations – for instance that his brother John and me were fond of laughing at him, which wasn’t true. I began to notice that he was interpreting all family interactions as abusive.
If this example is reflective of the accusations that Tom apparently made against his family it is also reflective of a response the mother had towards them, which is obviously immediately dismissive, a complete denial. Simple denial of a problem expressed by Tom is effectively akin to calling him a liar. It’s like asking “what’s wrong” and once the answer is one you did not expect or personally do not see or agree with just dismissing the answer like “oh, but that’s simply not true” rather than being curious as to why exactly would he think so.
This is exactly the kind of behavior described in “Real Time Relationships: Logic of love”. If the advice of curiosity rather than dismissal was followed, the communication that the author speaks of could have indeed been established. It would not be far off to imagine that Tom indeed tried to point this out to his mother and encourage her to be curious, given that he has read this book. It would also not surprise why would he dismiss his mother after she repeatedly dismissed what he had to say as him “interpreting all family interactions as abusive”.
That didn’t occur and could never occur in a conversation with Molyneux. Instead, he typically puts his arms around his caller and says, “I know you have the genuine understanding of your family. In fact, I’ll show that it’s even worse than you think. Are you sure staying with them is healthy?”
The reliance on the use of the word of “genuine” as somehow manipulative has been already been addressed above. Other than that the author is putting words into Molyneux’ mouth. What is here described as “showing that it’s even worse than you think” can just as well represent validating that ones emotional suspicions aren’t necessarily lying and that whatever negative emotion you do feel about a particular relationship you’re free to experience and address it rather than repress it as nothing significant.
It is easy to see how would the author and others interested in smear misrepresent one for the other.
Molyneux is probably right. I’ll suggest a scenario. The Guardian reporter, the editor, and the lawyers were talking. The lawyer said “In this article here, you refer to FDR as a ‘cult.’ You could be setting us up for a lawsuit with that claim. I know you believe you can prove it, but it would still be a costly legal battle and we’re not guaranteed a win because the legal definition is fuzzy.”
The reporter said, “That’s sick. I know it’s a cult and you know it’s a cult and we can’t say it?”
Then the editor replied, “What we can do is take out the connection but leave the paragraph about the CIC in. The readers will make the connection themselves, even if we don’t. We’ll get the message across and not open ourselves up to the liability.”
I’m suggesting that the Guardian decided to identify FDR as a cult in a way that minimized their legal liability, so on that Molyneux is probably correct. I also suspect that Molyneux hasn’t heard the last of the CIC.
This is just fictional storytelling, pure and simple. The author previously accused Stefan Molyneux of framing, yet he is here doing so much more than just framing. He is painting an entire picture all of his own and then using it as basis for his claims.
He may defend this as just trying to make a point, but in the process of doing it he relies on a few assumptions which he completely made up (that there was any kind of a conversation like this, that the reporter and the lawyer are both truly as strongly convinced this is a cult etc.). Without that story, not more could be inferred than Molyneux already did, making this entire section a superfluous attempt to hype up the association between FDR and cults, not to mention make a snide remark about this not being the first time Molyneux would hear of CIC.
The net effect is that a family has been ripped apart.
Only someone who believes holding together no matter how painful it may be to those involved would see this break up as such a tragic “ripping apart of the family”. By that same logic, divorce is something that should almost never happen, at least not on the basis of such things as shouting, throwing things around, breaking windows, kicking pets etc. Yet of course we see divorces happen for far lesser reasons involving more subtle forms of emotional pain and sometimes a simple inability to understand each other.
Why is it so incredibly hard to demand the same standards for relationships with our parents? Why this double standard? The usual reason behind such irrational inconsistencies is cultural bias and conformity. It’s simply the way it has always been done. It’s effectively tradition. Parents are supposed to be the ones relationship with whom should almost never be terminated and there is a general encouragement of nearly life long indebtedness to them (regardless of the fact that their choosing to have a child was voluntary and what they provided through the childhood was freely given rather than traded for something, or otherwise it really is a case of giving birth and raising solely to have someone to serve you later in life).
The net effect is that Molyneux has helped spread anger, sadness, and grief not only to Tom’s mother and father, but also to every relative and friend, all of whom have been discarded by Tom as a result of Molyneux’s coaching.
He here continues to make generalized and unfounded claims. How does he know that Tom broke up with all of his friends and relatives? Furthermore, how does he know that all of these mentioned relatives and friends are so grieved, angered or sad about such a break up.
Sounds like simple petty emotional sensationalism.
The net effect is that Molyneux has thrust Tom in a long-term existence of unresolved feelings about his family–his anger and his love–that will never be resolved in any healthy way as long as he remains a member of FDR. It has been nine years since Molyneux himself has spoken to any members of his own family, yet they are constantly on his mind. He speaks of his anger against them often, even while he speaks of his glorious new life of freedom.
He wishes Tom the same.
How would he resolve anything if his parents persist in being dismissive every time he expresses that he has a problem, claiming that it’s not so and he must be exaggerating, imagining etc.! How long a time should he waste, indeed with unresolved emotions with regards to these relationships, before he simply finds them to be lost causes? Given the logic that the author seems to operate with, it would probably be close to “his whole life”.
Of course, that breaking a relationship at a point of realization that the relationship was not worth it or doomed anyway simply doesn’t qualify as “having unresolved anger and love”. The whole point of exiting a relationship in such circumstances is to put it all behind and move on to striving to build something better.
And what evidence does the author possibly have to be able to so confidently claim that Molyneux’ parents are “constantly on his mind”? Merely speaking of them often hardly constitutes evidence for constant obsession, not that it actually is “often” considering that most podcasts don’t even deal with the topic of family relationships.
In any case there is a big difference between having unresolved emotions towards his parents and having unresolved issues which are a result of being exposed to particular treatment at a young and formative age. Old habits die hard and this can reasonably apply to old mentalities and emotional complexes. It doesn’t help that he is running a show that is supposed to, among other things, produce useful material on exactly these topics which would naturally remind of his parents with some frequency, as they are the only parents he had first hand early experience with.
When you listen to the podcast, you actually hear that the tears begin for Tom early on, when he is speaking in general about the violence that men do, before Molyneux steers the already distraught Tom to a discussion about his parents.
One cannot hear tears. I assume what he’s referring to are the occasional breaths through the nose (excuse me if I’m missing a proper term, I’m not native english speaker and I’ve never had to describe refer to this before in english), but those are quite ambiguous as far as determining if somebody is tearing up or not is concerned. So neither the author nor Molyneux could know for sure if he’s really crying there or just being obviously bothered by what he’s describing.
I believe if there was any surprise to Molyneux, it was a pleasant surprise. Leaders of therapeutic cults commonly tell their victims that they must experience the pain their “therapies” dish out in order to feel better. Molyneux himself once described the pain and depression you feel as your “old limbs reawakening.”
Statements of beliefs are not necessarily statements of facts. It is assuming quite a lot to so readily claim that it was a pleasant surprise, regardless of what is claimed about what therapeutic cults commonly tell their victims.
In his review of Crazy Therapies, by Margaret Thaler Singer and Janja Lalich, Bob Conrad noted, “Finally, it is quite amazing that most of the therapists discussed by Singer and Lalich seem oblivious or indifferent to their role in priming and prompting their patients. They condition their patients, prompt them, and in some cases, clearly plant notions in their patient’s minds. They give their patients books to read or videos to watch not to help the patient understand a problem but to prime the patient for belief in some crazy therapy. They plant notions during hypnosis, group sessions, etc., and then these planted notions are “recovered” and offered as validation of their therapeutic techniques and theories. Rather than provide real therapy, these “crazy” therapists indoctrinate patients into their own worldviews. This is surreal pseudoscience at its worst.”
First of all, Molyneux does not claim to be offering therapy sessions of any sort and in fact repeatedly and explicitly recommends therapy by professional therapists.
That said, describing dishonest and deliberately manipulative practices of others is hardly evidence of this being perpetrated by Molyneux. Simply offering books and podcasts to read or listen does not by itself indicate an attempt to merely prime the reader/listener towards belief in some sort of a crazy therapy session rather than a genuine desire to express or promote certain sincerely held ideas.
An activity or process A resembling an activity or process B in appearance does not make A equal to B.
Furthermore, relationship issues are only a small portion of the overall set of topics and ideas discussed.
(In the book, the authors also implore readers to immediately abandon any therapist who “requires as a condition for therapy that you cut off all relations with your spouse, children, parents and other loved ones.”
To claim that Molyneux poses such a condition is blatantly false. Most times he has conversations with people before they make any such relationship decisions.
Molyneux completely misrepresents his role as a mere “sympathizer” for Tom. As Crazy Therapies suggests, Tom was primed prior to his Molyneux “therapy” session with hundreds of podcasts and forum conversations about evil parents. In none of these do you find Molyneux simply expressing sympathy for “child over the parent”–the subject is always child as victim of the parent. Always. When the already primed Tom showed up for his podcast therapy with Molyneux (as linked above), he was then prompted throughout until the goal of demonizing his mother was reached.
Absolutely no legitimate psychologist would validate the kind of leading, guided “therapy” Molyneux conducts.
“Priming” insinuations and framing of Molyneux’ conversation’s as “therapies” were already addressed.
The focus of his two books about relationships is on what is problematic, not on what is perfectly functional so of course that the relationships portrayed largely exhibit the “abuser and victim” dynamic. That said expressing sympathy for a child as a victim obviously does not contradict the expression of sympathy for a child over the parent. If this was supposed to pose a contradiction, it is clearly a false dichotomy.
Also, given that Molyneux never claims to conduct actual therapy (and himself refers people to professional therapy), no psychologists validation of therapies is sought nor necessary.
Correct. There is no therapist who would fundamentally disagree with that statement. However, all but the most lunatic among them would disagree with Molyneux’s recipe for “improving the quality of those relationships.” So let’s talk about that.
Let’s say you want to have relationship (including a parental one) with someone who believes in a religion or in some form of government. Here’s Molyneux’s response:
“I do think that it is important to talk to a statist patiently and with curiosity, and help him to understand that when he wishes to use government to achieve his ends, he is advocating the initiation of force against you.
In the same way, a Christian or Jew or Muslim all worship the morals in a holy book that commands death to unbelievers, promotes slavery and rape and other heinous crimes.
If people are willing to reject the use of violence in dealing with others, I think that is wonderful!
I don’t think that it is particularly honorable to remain ‘friends’ with someone who is unwilling to renounce the use of violence against you, but that is everyone’s decision to make of course…”
It’s slippery, but it’s definitive. He maintains that if you believe in either religion or government, then you therefore must believe in violence against him. Resultantly, the only way you can reject the use of violence is to renounce religion and statism completely. As he defines these two belief-sets, there is absolutely no middle ground.
In other words, to “improve the quality” of your relationship with one of his members, you must become an atheist anarcho-capitalist. And–as the atheist anarcho-capitalists who have been banned by FDR have discovered–you must actually believe in Molyneux’s own particular brand of it.
As his books such as “On Truth” demonstrate, this claim of “improving the quality of relationships” is all a fuzzy smokescreen. When you follow all the arguments to their end conclusion, you’re either in FDR or you are not. Period.
When you line all his arguments up and follow the arguments to the end, it is inescapable that FDR has never been about improving the quality of relationships. It is about deFOOing family and friends and replacing them with FDR relationships.
I have largely addressed this issue in my last article. It demonstrates the author’s hypocrisy as a market anarchist libertarian himself.
With the kind of criteria that are set forth by him anyone who practices his own moral beliefs completely and consistently is a burgeoning cultist because such a person would disassociate from those whom support the things which he finds immoral. So in order for you to not be a cultist you must be inconsistent in the application of your own moral beliefs.
It’s really hard to imagine then what exactly should FDR become for the accusers like him to be satisfied, other than for Stefan Molyneux to effectively stop practicing what he is promoting and just “chill a little” and sway into the realm of shallowness and compromise of principles.
Replace “FDR” in his last paragraph above with “consistent application of my principles” and you may get a semblance of actual truth. I am not saying that only FDR members are the ones with whom you can have relationships that are consistent with your principles, since such relationships can be made elsewhere without any reference to FDR and since your principles may conceivably differ from those promoted at FDR. But that is the inference which the author is trying to make.
FDR is a business and Molyneux’s sole source of income. He accepts donations because if he charged people for the therapy he provides, he would be committing a criminal act. Each month he makes a post hawking for donations and he grants rights and privileges to those who pay the most.
If he really were providing professional therapy it still doesn’t mean he would have to charge for it. That he doesn’t charge solely because he may not provide professional therapy without some state permit (which is what I assume “criminal act” is referring to) is complete conjecture that relies on a false assumption that he either claims to provide therapy or does provide real therapy.
To destroy any notion that FDR is anything other than a business, you may be interested in hearing this podcast I found during my internet searches where he happily talks about the revenue he earns from his internet business:
(Click on the lengthy article title, and when that page opens, click on the words “Episode 10″ to hear the podcast.)
This interview was apparently conducted over a year ago, prior to the current monthly subscription model he employs now. I would guess his income is much higher now.
I don’t understand why is it at all significant to destroy the notion that FDR is not a business. In many ways it clearly and absolutely is a business. He is tirelessly providing value on a consistent basis and in return gaining significant returns. Its business model is simply one where nobody is charged for immediate access to content, but instead offered a chance to disseminate it and then pay as a sign of support and to gain certain vanity titles on the forum (like many other online communities).
I could not download the podcast in question as the direct link to an mp3 seems broken. However, judging from the description I don’t see anything objectionable. It appears to emphasize providing of good and useful content as one way to create a successful podcasting business based solely on donations where the sheer value of the podcasts themselves is enough to generate significant profits without directly charging for it.
That said, this talk about FDR being a business obviously in no way contradicts what Molyneux’ says about not charging people, so it’s entirely superfluous. I suppose the author believes this would be a negative point against FDR (it is not).
Molyneux’s humorous coinage of the term “argument from adjective,” is again extraordinarily ironic. Nothing is more prevalent on Molyneux’s site and in his conversations than the way he reframes everything he is against in the most extreme language possible.
Perhaps the larger question is if there is anything more to the argument than the adjective.
But that’s not the most important thing one learns in this passage. No–here we come to the sad realization that he is the most ardent believer in his own theories. He has no idea that the therapy he practices is the utmost quackery.
You may want to listen to the podcast and come to your own conclusions, but if you have time and money to spare you would find it far more revealing to ask a legitimate, reputable therapist to listen to it and critique Moyneux’s methods.
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 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 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.
The podcast is chilling in that it reveals a quack therapist–one of Singer’s “Crazy Therapists,”–with the kind of transparency few people ever get to witness first hand. It is only a result of Molyneux’s narcissism that he posts it with pride.
Insults are inconsequential (“quackery”). Insinuations of planting and manipulation I’ve already addressed here and in part 1. And the author continues to rely on a completely false assumption that allows him to treat Molyneux’ conversations as if they were actual therapies which again (a) he never claims them to be and (b) the author himself disputes them to be in any way comparable to professional therapies.
The goal, of course, is to portray them as some sorts of derogatory “crazy therapies” according to conditions which the author arbitrarily chose. As far as presenting facts, however, such tactics simply don’t count.
Why did Barbara approach Kate? Because she loves her son.
Barbara approached Kate knowing that she may be placing her relationship with her son at further risk, knowing that she would have to expose her private life to the world, knowing above all that she would be excoriated by Molyneux’s followers, knowing that those who do not understand cults may conclude that there “something wrong with the family” in the first place, knowing some might conclude she was the reason why Tom left, knowing that she would be scrutinized, dismissed, sneered at, or worse.
She knew all of that going in and she did it anyway. Why? Because it was her son.
The author seems to operate under the default assumption that the fact Tom was Barbara’s son, she must automatically love him and that him being her son is the only reason she went to the media, which is here portrayed as some sort of a self-sacrificial rather than a self-interested act.
This also flies in the face of the concept of love in that it essentially implies that the biological relations alone are enough for love rather than the integrity of the persons involved and their actual behavior towards each other. At best, this is pure mythology.
The basic argument comes down to “she loves you, thus you owe her” as if love implies positive obligations on the part of the loved one.
The true subject of the article is Molyneux. But the biggest danger Barbara knew she faced (and which Molyneux even quotes here) is that parental criticism of the leader is often reframed as criticism of the victim.
Molyneux has successfully inoculated himself among his followers against parental criticism through this technique. Find any thread on FDR where one of the members is complaining about a letter they have received from their parents or where the parent has foolishly tried to post directly, and you will see an instant response by Molyneux or his inner circle claiming that the child, not Molyneux, has been attacked.
And Molyneux and the inner circle gather around to electronically hug the “victim.”
And Molyneux skates away.
And the circle grows tighter.
But Molyneux’s response here also proves the CIC is correct, because while this article was a exposé of him and him alone, he feverishly spins it into something else. This entire response about his “simple Web site” and the unfairness of the Guardian is the duck gliding serenely across the lake. But underwater, his feet are paddling furiously to ensure you see it instead as an attack on Tom.
The truth is–among Kate, Barbara, and Molyneux– there is only one person using Tom.
And it is Molyneux.
In this response, as always, Tom becomes Molyneux’s shield, battering ram, and weapon to beat back the criticism and demonize Barbara, Kate, the Guardian, and beyond. Hiding behind his crocodile tears for “poor Tom,” Molyneux thrashes back against the world, against anyone who would dare criticize him.
Molyneux sees the article as an “exercise in humiliation.” I see him using Tom as a shield. And I view that as an exercise in cowardice.
Well, pot again calls kettle black. The author again uses the exact same tactic he accuses Molyneux of using, only in the opposite direction. The assumption is that there is manipulation and dishonesty going on and he certainly believes that it is not him that does the manipulating here. In any case while accusing Molyneux of portraying Tom as the sole victim in order to smear Guardian, Barbara etc. the author is portraying Tom as the victim in order to smear Molyneux.
I view that as an exercise in futility.
Again, it’s not a Web site we’re dealing with. It’s Molyneux. And what he claims above here is completely false. Consider this passage from the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook, by Dr. Bruce Perry:
“We know today that, just like when you open a Microsoft Word file on your computer, when you retrieve a memory from where it is stored in the brain, you automatically open it to “edit.” You may not be aware that your current mood and environment can influence the emotional tone of your recall, your interpretation of events and even your beliefs about which events actually took place. But when you “save” the memory again and place it back into storage, you can inadvertently modify it. When you discuss your memory of an experience, the interpretation you hear from a friend, family member, or a therapist can bias how and what you recall the next time you pull up that “file.” Over time, incremental changes can even lead to the creation of memories that did not take place. In the lab, researchers have been able to encourage test subjects to create memories of childhood events that didn’t happen: some as common as being lost in a mall, others as extreme as seeing someone possessed by a demon.”
What Kate says about Molyneux’s influence is completely true. Memories can be altered and a therapist wouldn’t know it, especially if they’re not looking for it in the first place. I wonder how many members of FDR disclose the full details of FDR and its leader’s therapeutic activities to their therapists?
I would again like to reiterate that something being possible is not an evidence of it actually being done, especially deliberately, by Molyneux.
Even according to this particular quote presented by the author, creation of memory of events that never happened requires some time of repeated incremental changes or lab testing. I am no expert, but it may also be worth pointing out the possible distinction between memories and emotions. Even if emotions affect strengths of memories, emotions themselves may be less susceptible to such faking and more deeply imprinted into the subconscious. It is thus possible that even when memories lie about their content, emotion’s do not lie about theirs and may still react to stimuli matching authentic past experiences.
In any case, it doesn’t seem reasonable to base final conclusions about that on a single quote especially as an exact descriptor of what someone like Molyneux might be doing.
As far as anyone’s ability to through conversation modify what one remembers is concerned, it only underscores the issue of trust in which case the issue boils down to whom exactly can we find trustworthy not to be deliberately manipulative, and the whole point of this series so far is to build a case against the accusations of sinister manipulation on Molyneux’ part.
The problem with this “analysis”, much like the article reviewed previously from the same site, is that it relies heavily on conjecturing, storytelling, framing, false dichotomies or baseless assumptions, but most of all on a profound lack of understanding of such concepts as consistent application of one’s individual principles or the definition and nature of love.
An even bigger problem, however, is the fact that the author seems inclined to claim that my deference to these concepts and critique against his understanding of them is just another swath of Molyneuxian propaganda that I have personally assimilated as means of blinding myself to what he may claim is the obvious truth.
But such assertions effectively come down to saying that “if you disagree, you’re just blind”. They leave practically no room for rational argumentation. Whatever I say will just be dismissed under the pretense of being brainwashed by Molyneux.
So either I truly am brainwashed or the author is in disagreement over fundamental concepts behind relationships, personal freedom, consistency and integrity and love.
Or this FDRLiberated article is simply another piece of biased anti-FDR slander.
You may be the final judge of that for yourself.
Addendum: At the time of writing this I foolishly forgot to refer to a very crucial piece of evidence that by itself blows many of the FDRLiberated assertions out of the water: Interview with Tom Whipple of The Times – Jan 6 2009 in which Tom (Barbara’s son) expresses a rather detailed account of the situation, saying he did try to work things out with his mother to no avail, expressing his feelings about the Guardian article as very one sided and even disgusting and so on. Anyone interested in the truth behind this story must listen to this interview before making any accusations and inferences!