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Dec 31 2011

“Within 10 seconds I saw him shape-shift”

Don't you just want to fuck me?

You never heard such jarring guffaws jangling through the drywall halls of Spinster HQ as when we got hipped to this Braco dude. Laughter rang out like the nightly gunfire at my neighbor’s place.

If you’ve never heard of him — and since you’re a reasonable person with normal inclinations who never, with the notable exception of IBTP, wastes valuable time reading pointless shit on the Internet, why would you have? — here’s the deal with Braco. He’s a messianic New Age con artist from Croatia. Get this:

He “gazes.” That’s it. He just drifts out on stage, looks at the audience for a couple of minutes, then scrams. The end. Fin. Fade to black. Followers flock to him and throw money. Why?

“He only offers a gift to people through his silent gaze, without words or teachings, allowing people’s own reported experiences of transformative changes – in their lives, relationships, careers, finances and health – to define his work.” — Braco’s website

His ‘work’! Do you fully comprehend the awesomeness of this Braco tool? He doesn’t do shit! He doesn’t have to learn English. He doesn’t have to memorize a bunch of polyester New Age platitudes. He doesn’t have to allude to ancient texts. He doesn’t have to do yoga. He doesn’t even have to touch any sick people. He only has to eyeball’em for 5 minutes and then float silently away. Mass hysteria does the rest.

He doesn’t have to pay a bunch of staff, either; his “gazing events” are staffed by, as Tinfoil Hattie calls’em, swooning volunteers. And he seems to hold a lot of these gaze-a-paloozas in Hawaii, so that when he’s done staring down the gullible, he can beat it back to a Mai-Tai under a palapa with an ocean view.

This scam is a work of such extraordinary beauty and criminal genius it brings a tear to my jaundiced eye. Compare it, for instance, to the overly complex, gaudy, and commercialized Osama bin Laden lookalike, Osho®.

Osho® is a popular guru dude in India. According to Osho®’s website, American author Tom Robbins says he is “the most dangerous man since Jesus Christ.” Well, Tom Robbins said it, I believe it, and that settles it!

Whereas Braco’s schtick is elegant and understated, Osho® is the Elvis of the zany cult leaders. He’s got a luxury International Meditation Resort with an olympic pool, a mediation spa, a “Multiversity,” and a buttload of programs, books, theme songs, newsletters, pay-per-view YouTube vids, therapies, horoscopes, and other assorted merch. His overhead must be considerable, so it makes sense that one of his most elite programs consists of “full immersion.” This is where followers actually pay tuition to toil at the resort as menials for 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for a 3-month stretch with no days off and no possibility of parole. They have to pay extra for food, too, at Osho®’s dining rooms and “gourmet café spots.”

Unlike Braco, Osho® never shuts the fuck up. He’s a proponent of “silence shared in words.” The universe, he says, is “certainly made of silence.” To support this claim, he’s got an Internet radio station where he yaks nonstop. When I tuned in he was using his silent words to opine that men are of the sun, women are of the moon, and the sun is aggressive and intellectual, and the moon is receptive and passive. “The woman has to flower in her moon-hood, as the man has to flower in his sun-hood.” Well, knock me over with a feather, some randy old mystic is pronouncing on the essence of women and “sex energy” using elements of the solar system as a metaphor.

I bet old Braco laughs and laughs (quietly) at this Osho® goob and his needlessly strained vocal cords. Braco’s ‘work’ consists of not doing jack, yet his disciples, such as the woman quoted below who is too cheap to take her cat to the vet, report excellent results.

I went to a Braco gazing in NJ recently. The energy that he is channeling is very real. I purchased the DVD entitled the Golden Bridge. It records Braco’s voice which transmits this high frequency energy. My cat rec’d a healing in the fact that she hasn’t vomited in 4 days [...] My cat usually throws up at least once or twice a day.

I mention all of this to complain about the modern habit of confusing “energy” with “pixie dust.” Whenever some dude with long hair starts blabbing about harmonizing your life-energy, or healing your toothache by staring at you, or purging your colon of toxins, and he’s selling tickets, you know it’s time for a Savage Death eye-roll. Energy isn’t an enchanted force field. It doesn’t “flow through” people or cats, can’t be generated by puncturing the epidermis with tiny needles, is not boundless, isn’t “positive” or “negative” with respect to human contentment, cannot be expended mentally, is not “inner,” is not subject to the alignment of stars, does not vibrate your aura, and can’t be channeled, focused, or transmitted by the gaze of mute Croatians or the DVDs of trademarked Indians for the purpose of achieving human happiness. Energy is a measurement of the capacity of a body or system to do work.*

These corny-ass hippie mystics. I ask you. Hey, I know. If you lack vim, I suggest you take a little exercise and eat some goddam kale. If you’re sick, go to a doctor. If you’re unhappy, dump your pig boyfriend. If you crave serenity, take a Xanax. If your life is meaningless, foment revolution. Bitch, pleeze.

___________________
* Dictionary.com says it, I believe it, and that settles it!

Thanks to blamer Tinfoil Hattie for clueing me in to Braco. Thanks also to blamer Keri for trumping him with Baba Dez, “one of the grossest dudes of all time.”

Braco photo from this Howard Stern “video”

Osho® photo from this web page.

95 comments

  1. Lovepug

    Justin Bieber has the same gaze. Explains a lot.

  2. gwyllion

    yikes – baba dez – oi! yuck!

  3. Mortisha

    What the? I just don’t.
    Gawd people can be breathtakingly stupid.
    “extraordinary beauty and criminal genius”
    I think you are right. All these gurus are doing is giving people permission to fall down their own delusional, self absorbed, little rabbit hole.

    I’ve gotta chook that gives better stares that that dude.

  4. Pinko Punko

    Image not loading in Safari, but I think I will be grateful for that.

  5. Pinko Punko

    Oh, and there it comes. Yikes. Wow. Singularity of Creepiness.

  6. ew_nc

    Isn’t Osho dead?

  7. Twisty

    Maybe, but that’s not stopping him.

  8. D.

    I’m beginning to think that an awful lot of people have credulity nodes in their brains.

  9. yttik

    “This scam is a work of such extraordinary beauty and criminal genius it brings a tear to my jaundiced eye”

    It really is brilliant in it’s simplicity, isn’t it? You can’t help but admire the guy for his ingenuity.

    I especially like how he began his spiritual journey by getting a master’s degree in economics.

  10. Judi

    So the criterion for messianic miracularity is “it didn’t make my cat throw up”? Am I supposed to be sending money to everyone who doesn’t my cats throw up?

    How can it be that I sit here all day long, gazing, making my cats not throw up, and nobody’s sending me any money? Apparently I’m doing it wrong. I guess I’m just not as smart as those guys, because of, y’know, the sun, and the moon, and all that.

  11. Soporificat

    Wow, he has achieved the ultimate dude fantasy: being worshiped for absolutely no reason at all–simply for his fabulous ability to exist.

  12. Jezebella

    Braco looks like the younger, hippie brother of the late Louisiana state senator Ken Hollis. Is there really that big a difference between being a for-profit guru and being a politician/insurance salesman? I’m thinking maybe not.

  13. Notorious Ph.D.

    Is Osho the same guy that was going by “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh” in central Oregon back in the 80s? *That* was some messed-up stuff.

  14. Kea

    Apparently, 85 percent of people have a brain that is hard wired to filter out crucial information about reality, in order to fit their favourite delusions. Seriously. No one here, though, I guess.

  15. Keri

    If only we could parlay the piercing gaze of a Blamer into some serious profit or, at least, a trip to Hawaii, or even just a few bucks tossed in basket to get an adult beverage. Something.

  16. Ron Sullivan

    Unlike Braco, Osho® never shuts the fuck up.

    Maybe you’ve stumbled upon Braco’s secret here. Sometimes I swear I’d pay to see a Public Dude who’ll Shut the Fuck Up. Would that more would follow his holy example.

  17. Barn Owl

    If Osho is, as Notorious Ph.D. suggests, the Guru Formerly Known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, he’s been dead (at least by Western scientific standards) since 1990. The zany antics of the Bhagwan and his Rajneeshees were frequently in the Oregon news, back in my early grad school days. He had something like 80 Rolls-Royces, and wore multiple watches (Rolex, I think) on his forearms. Very popular Halloween costume in the university town. The Rajneeshees wore distinctive clothing in sunrise (or maybe it was sunset) colors, and would occasionally appear in town, looking pitifully disoriented and forlorn, after their guru was deported to India for immigration fraud. Some of the Bhagwan’s Rajneeshpuram associates staged a bioterrorism attack, with salmonella food poisoning, on residents of The Dalles – a town that’s as boring as watching cracks form in South Texas dirt, but nevertheless undeserving of bioterrorism.

  18. Hazel Stone

    I used to be married to one of these dudes, albeit an unsuccessful one. Many, MANY people are trying to get into this gig, it is just the charismatic ones that make it. Some of them even believe this stuff 100%.

  19. piratequeen

    Twisty, you gotta get on this gazing bandwagon. Novices can learn the mysteries of casting a jaundiced eye at the patri-verse. Advanced students will learn the Savage Death eye-roll® at marg-and-taco seminars.

    With a dreamy photo of you and testimonials from us, the moolah should start pouring in.

  20. pheeno

    I got news for the cat lady.

    That cat is saving it up.

    One day her entire closet will over flow with proof of the cats utter disgust at the bald monkey servant it lives with for bringing that stupidity into it’s house.

  21. GMM

    These guys are getting really lazy. At least in the old days channelers would put on a real show with floating tamborines, table tipping, automatic writing and ‘ectoplasm’.

    Someone mentioned the Rick Ross Institute website on another thread. It’s a great resource for exposing these types, and also the pick up artist and seduction communities. One of these dudes, Ross Jeffries, is taking a cue from these new age charlatans and adding a touch of Buddhism in with his misogynistic “seduction” techniques. And he is well aware of how people let their guard down when someone claims to be spiritual, I’ve seen him on another anti-cult/scammer site criticizing New Age Guru James Arthur Ray, who was recently charged with negligent homicide of three people in a sweat lodge ceremony. Guess he’s getting lazy, too.

  22. Flamethorn

    What happens when a clear-eyed lesbian gaze meets the mystical newage gaze of this dood? Is it like when Harry and Voldemort’s wands get locked?

  23. Gladiolus

    Watching the video I noticed the majority of people in his audience were white, middle-aged, upper-middle class women. Any thoughts on why this particular “target market” would be susceptible to Braco’s brand of New Age scam?

  24. Barbara P

    You can even watch this guy gaze at you over the internet. Amazing!

    Advice to those prone to credulity (ahem, myself):

    It’s OK and fun to “believe in stuff”. (Like, maybe borrowers DO exist!) Just remember to:

    a) keep your wallet closed
    b) quit at the first sign of harm to yourself or others
    c) patriarchal crap ideas are harmful to yourself and others; eschew beliefs that include them

    This applies to mainstream religion as well as new age stuff.

  25. Twisty

    “It’s OK and fun to “believe in stuff”.”

    Nah.

    Well, maybe it’s possible that there could exist certain contingencies with regard to which delusion would be preferable to reason, but I sure don’t know what they might be.

  26. yttik

    “maybe it’s possible that there could exist certain contingencies with regard to which delusion would be preferable to reason, but I sure don’t know what they might be”

    Excessive margaritas, perhaps?

  27. Jezebella

    Wikipedia confirms that Osho was aka Bagwan Shree Rajneesh, and said dude departed this mortal coil in 1990.

    Gladiolus, middle-aged white ladies of a certain income level are at the age where they’re finally starting to notice that something is missing, I’d imagine, and since they haven’t had their lives ruined by radical feminism yet, they’re looking for someone to give them answers. It’s a sad fact that women in the patriarchy are always looking first to dudes for answers. The dudes’ answers are always the same shit, new day: “gaze upon my glorious manliness and give me your money and your obedience.”

    [As an aside, I have to admit that that Baba Rez dude looks like a hot piece of ass, but the stench of douchebaggery is so strong I caught a whiff of it through the computer screen.]

  28. Treefinger

    Jezebella has beautifully answered why well-to-do white middle-aged women are so easily taken in by New Age nonsense.

    By the way, for every middle-aged blamer on this site with an exasperating funfeminist daughter, there’s a younger blamer with a middle-aged mother who is either entranced by new age woo or entranced by conservative godbagism. I can guarantee it.

  29. VibratingLiz

    I have a confession. Whenever I’m having a particularly bad day I google-image “ugliest dog” and gaze into the wigged-out eyes of various gnarly ancient tongue-lolling Chinese Cresteds until my heart soars with joy. It works every time, and they never even ask for money.

  30. piratequeen

    @Flamethorn: DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!

  31. Barbara P

    It’s OK to suspend belief and enjoy a magic show, or watch a movie where people fly around on broomsticks, or simply imagine a world where people fly around on broomsticks. It makes life fun, to pretend. To imagine that things aren’t really as they appear. The whole “yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” thing. Belief can be very powerful, even more so when an individual can claim it as truly her own flight of fancy, not polluted by others’ agendas.

    Of course, it’s also OK not to be interested or engaged with any of that.

    The only thing that’s really wrong is indoctrination or dogma, or the justification of one’s own assholery based on the way one sees the world.

    By the way, if it so pleases you, I’d be interested to see your take-down of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

  32. Kea

    Heh, today I came across the ultimate in privileged, anonymous internet trolls. After a lifetime of discrimination, harrassment, physical and verbal abuse, ostracism, bullying, starvation etc., he/she tried hard to find a good insult, and he/she called me … wait for it … vulgar. ROFLOL.

  33. Frumious B.

    I like to tell people that unless they can write a Hamiltonian, I don’t want to hear about their energy. It confuses the bejeezus out of them b/c most people don’t know what a Hamiltonian is, anyway (A Hamiltonian is something Physicsy people use to express the capacity to do work for a given system using the language of math). I think I will memorize Jill’s paragraph and regurgitate it after the Hamiltonian discussion.

  34. frances wasserlein

    What was I thinking? I haven’t been reading here for some time.

    The video of the Angus cows and the story about the burros remind me of the wonderful zany funniness of your accounts of life near Rattlesnake TX.

    Your politics remind me that I’m not alone.

    Thank you, Twisty.

  35. Jamila

    The personal growth movement is full of quacks who are looking to get rich (and often succeeding at doing so) off the misery and confusion of people who have too much money onn their hands and no idea what to do with themselves. The advice they give is like the ‘predictions’ you get from a horoscope–too general and vague to pin down.

  36. janicen

    I have gazed at his picture for several minutes and the urge to vomit has not passed. How long does it take?

  37. Notorious Ph.D.

    Depends, Janicen: Are you a cat?

  38. Bushfire

    Watching the video I noticed the majority of people in his audience were white, middle-aged, upper-middle class women. Any thoughts on why this particular “target market” would be susceptible to Braco’s brand of New Age scam?

    My mom drank the New-Age Koolaid a long time ago, and she is white and middle class. (In fact, true story, she is actually certified by two new age organizations to pass out new age Koolaid to new converts). I would say it’s because they are privileged enough that they believe in individual solutions for problems, but not quite privileged enough that they have no problems to solve. Take the New-Age leader Louise Hay, for example. She believes that we all are in charge of creating our own experiences. Now, if you’ve already paid off your house, have a nice job, and no one is abusing you, you can actually spend a lot of your time “thinking positively” and “creating your own experiences with your mind” and this might actually make you feel slightly better. But anyone who’s not in this situation, like, say, people with abusive family members, people who are poor, people in racialized communities, people with disabilities, etc, cannot just “positive-think” their problems away, because they have actual problems. New Age shit doesn’t solve systematic oppression. If it did, I’d be gazing at that dude.

    How does that grab you, Gladiolus?

  39. AlienNumber

    Dudes here, dudes there. Where is the annual copy-and-pasting from S.C.U.M., huh? Who do I need to go gaze at for a bit of Solanas around here?

  40. Boner Killer

    I laughed over and over. Blows my noggin how anyone buys this crap…literally and figuratively. LOLz for “sex energy” us ladiez are one with the moon! our uterus powers for passivity are really sexy moon goddess energies! Yikes!

  41. Notorious Ph.D.

    Day-um. I think Bushfire just hit the nail on the head. Well said.

  42. Saurs

    Seconding Notorious Ph.D. in praise of Bushfire. The only differences between counter-reactionaries (where laziness and inherent inferiority explain institutional inequality) and the positive thinking New Agers is choice of hairstyle and color of robe. And crystals. Can’t forget the crystals.

  43. Eurosabra

    As someone who has run across Ross Jeffries quite extensively in real life, and currently chaste for about two years (and counting) I am seriously thinking about Dworkin’s proposed 24 hour truce in which there is no rape as a point of departure.

  44. Subversive Librarian

    Oh, crap. Why couldn’t I have thought of this? I’m good at staring.

  45. Keri

    My very very lovely mother drank the new age kool-aid big time when I was growing up as well. My brother and I were thereby subjected to: Erhard Seminars Training (EST), Transcendental Mediation (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi), Course in Miracles, Autobiography of a Yogi,Self Realization church of something I can’t remember and so and so on. She even hiked some desert in Peru looking for an “ethereal city” that some channeler told her about. My mom had a Mensa IQ by the way.

    Unfortunately, the kool-aid did not take for me and my brother. Instead, we became some of the best 13 year old new age impressionists around, at least in our opinion. “Hey, I just want to get off it for a minute and really really acknowledge who you are because we need to be here now, this is it. And sorry for those dents on your ceiling. My meditation levitated me a bit higher than expected.”

    Wiener Blowhard (Werner Erhard) of EST had a scam he called “Breakthrough Racing” wherein white people would give him money to drive an amateur race car around because it helped him feel closer to enlightenment. I shit you not. Much harassment was received by my poor mother from us over that one.

  46. Anne

    Hazelstone – “Many, MANY people are trying to get into this gig, it is just the charismatic ones that make it. Some of them even believe this stuff 100%.”

    The level of narcissism required to believe that gracing complete strangers with a mere few minutes of your presence can heal illness and improve lives, I find it difficult to imagine. Everybody probably has little delusions of grandeur every now and then, but one has to have had a helluva lot of sunshine blown up one’s tuchus over the course of one’s life to pull it off as a career.

  47. Denise

    “his name is simply Braco (pronounced Braht-zo).” (from his web page). This pronunciation seems entirely apropriate.

  48. Margaret

    Does “Braco” mean “brother”?

  49. Shelby

    Ha! Reminds me of a Hari Krishna album called Benediction Moon I was kinda forced into purchasing from a street Krishna dude when I was a wee jib tacker. Once put on the stereo all one could hear was the crackle crackle crackle of needle on vinyl. You were supposed to meditate to it. Classic stuff.

  50. GMM

    @Eurosabra
    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had the misfortune of running across that low-life Ross Jeffries in real life. He is on his last leg I think, he’s getting old and desperate. Let’s hope his “buddhist” approach won’t add to his list of little-sociopaths-in-training.

  51. Mooska

    The level of self-regard it must take to be that dude *for a single minute* is breaking my brain. I wonder if he charges himself to look into a mirror?

  52. Helen Huntingdon

    My mom had a Mensa IQ by the way.

    Sadly, in my experience, that means, “Just bright enough to be exceptionally brilliant at rationalization, not rational thinking.”

    I started getting the Mensa invites at around 15. Sure I had the IQ, but I was also more than 10 years away from a fully-developed frontal lobe. There were all kinds of silly things I wanted to believe in because they sounded nice. It wasn’t hard to put the brainz to work coming up with internally-consistent and hard-to-refute systems of argument for just about anything I thought sounded really pleasant. People said this showed how smart I was.

    But it became impossible not to notice that people were using the same kind of smartypants parlor tricks to rationalize really horrible things and/or things that any sensible person would recognize as obviously false. Hmm. “Smart” clearly didn’t mean what people thought it did. Eventually I figured out that rationalization and rational inquiry are entirely different things.

    In my experience, an IQ around the Mensa threshold tends to put people in a weird sort of Dunning-Kruger zone with respect to braininess — smartypants enough to think you’re really smartypants and to have everyone tell you you’re all smartypants, but not smart enough to recognize your limitations as you should. But I should emphasize that is my impression based on personal experience of myself and others, nothing more.

  53. Twisty

    Osho was Baghwan! Holy moly, I had no idea. That guy was a total grifter. In college I knew one of his followers. She always wore the same stanky-ass orange toga.

  54. Kmtberry

    Just have to add that “bald monkey servants” is the best description of my cats’ PUBLIC relationship to us I have read in a while! Thanks feeno!

  55. speedbudget

    Watching the video I noticed the majority of people in his audience were white, middle-aged, upper-middle class women. Any thoughts on why this particular “target market” would be susceptible to Braco’s brand of New Age scam?

    My personal theory on this is that women are universally ignored by men on a fundamental level. Many men regard women as objects and deny their humanity. White, middle-aged, upper-middle-class women have the time and money to spend on having some guy look at them, which probably serves to make them feel human and regarded if only for a moment.

    Personally just looking at the guy’s picture makes me want to slap him. I can just hear him thinking, “Aren’t I hot? Don’t you just want me to bone you? I know you do.” Ugh.

  56. buttercupia

    Hey now, let’s not run down the Mensa members. Some of us are pretty cool.

  57. Helen Huntingdon

    buttercupia, that’s good to hear — does that mean you have a group/chapter/whatever that you like? And if it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t running down Mensa members, just pointing out that having an IQ high enough to trip their boundary doesn’t make a person rational in all their endeavors.

    My experience with Mensa members has all been negative — everyone I’ve met who claims a Mensa membership has turned out to be a dick. I don’t have any objection to the organization in theory, just to those who claim that membership makes them somehow special or better than other people. I’ve developed less and less patience before shutting up such people by making fun of how dim they sound to someone whose IQ is as far above theirs as theirs is above the population mean.

  58. Twisty

    As a criterion for admitting subjects into an exclusive club, the ability to ace a sexist, classist, racist test seems as good as any!

  59. rootlesscosmo

    Jezebella has beautifully answered why well-to-do white middle-aged women are so easily taken in by New Age nonsense.
    There are quacks who prey on poor people, too. I well recall movie footage of a preacher telling a congregation made up mostly of working-class African-American women that they should contribute “Not some little old ten dollars or twenty dollars but that money you’ve been putting aside for something like a new winter coat.” The cruelty and cynicism are breathtaking. (Certainly if there were a Supreme Being that preacher would be a cinder.) Do the quacks divide up the niches they exploit? Do they have a special bar where they get together and drink 50-year-old Scotch and laugh like hell at how easy it is to talk people into handing over their money?

  60. IBlameRonPaul

    I was mildly bummed out the entire month of December. Unemployed, bleak, lots of women-hating in the news, and the Republican primary, blagh.

    Then, a marvelous thought occurred to me: Most humans are profoundly gullible, and this gullibility can provide me with hours of free entertainment if only I look harder. This blog entry has proven my new theory right yet again. Thanks, IBTP!

    (The idiot who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus apparently also considered himself to be something of a transformative change-agent/faith healer/guru/wizard/whatever, causing a horde of people, some down to their last hope, to line up for his “seminars” in the 1990s. Add that to the fact that he has sold a dozen or more books under the same basic title and premise – men are strong, fine beasts in their glorious caves, women are spewing fountains of weepy nonsense emotions to be ignored at all costs – and I would say he’s been the best-selling, most notorious charlatan of the 20th century. And that actually disgusts me and makes me quite sad, not delights me.)

  61. IBlameRonPaul

    Suggested title for the full-length feature article:

    “Cons from Croatia, Charlatans in Your Colon,” coming soon to a blamer blog near you!

  62. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Around the turn of the 20th century, wasn’t there some French guy who charged audiences to see/hear him break wind? (The name Le Petomain comes to mind.)

    I’d give him more credit than these whackadoodles for not trying to pass himself off as being “spiritual”.

  63. Hattie

    The people who fall for this stuff are not stupid. They are mentally ill.

  64. buttercup

    The only thing belonging to Mensa means is that you are better at taking tests than 98% of the population. We have some real dunderheaded doozies in the group, but I’ve also met some of the coolest people I know there. Disproportionate number of libertarians, unfortunately. (goes with the disproportionate number of privileged white d00ds, most likely)

    Twisty, the “culture fair” test is supposed to eliminate the bias. No idea if it does or not. Nigel is a proctor, I’ll have to ask him.

  65. IBlameRonPaul

    We have a friend who belongs to MENSA, and she has never, in any way, taken the membership seriously. I did some graphic designs for a MENSA convention in town (because hey, sometimes money is money) and it turns out that, despite all the MRAs’ blathering about men’s IQs being disproportionately higher than women’s, the reason MENSA membership is disproportionately dudebros is because they have something to prove to other dudebros! It’s the dick-measuring competition of the mind, nothing more. Which is partially why, I suspect, our friend attends the conventions – for the laughs. That, and it’s a great way to market her own business.

    Incidentally, I took some IQ test every year in high school, and tested off the charts, especially in spatial and rotation skills, which are skill-sets said to be solely the province of men. All it did for me, besides shepherd me into a load of time-wasting “GATE” classes (best explanation for that acronym I’ve ever heard: Good Anglo-Saxon Training Experience), was cover up my learning issues, and enable my behavioral problems. Eventually, I devolved into an angsty, nihilistic teen – well, it was the 90s, so I guess I wasn’t alone – who was consistently truant, absent, or ditching school. Gee, it’s really awesome to score well on tests of spatial-rotation, isn’t it? I can’t speak for others, but my life is certainly complete! Guess all that’s left is to take up libertarianism.

    Wait. No. To hell with that.

  66. Helen Huntingdon

    The thing I could never figure out about Mensa from the moment I opened my first invitation what was it was supposed to be for.

    Clearly they’d gotten my name from standardized tests I took. If the letter had something like, “We’re looking for people who show an aptitude for X who might be interested in doing Y,” I could have made some sense of it. But, “Yay, come hang out with other people who scored high on tests like the one you took,” sounded stupid beyond belief to me. Hang out together to do what? It was the first organization that I had heard of that had no actual purpose whatsoever.

    My elder sister tried to explain that the purpose of the organization is being able to brag that you are a member. I said that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of and threw the letter away. Apparently she was right.

  67. Anne

    “the reason MENSA membership is disproportionately dudebros is because they have something to prove to other dudebros! It’s the dick-measuring competition of the mind, nothing more.”

    Ha! That’s a thing super-douchey guys do is slip their “genius-level I.Q.” into any conversation. “Darn it to heck, I have a genius-level I.Q. yet I can’t seem to work this dishwashing machine.” Or my favorite, “Ever had your I.Q. tested? What was your score? … Oh interesting. Mine just happens to be 30 points higher.” They always have to get yours first so they can tack on that 30 points.

  68. Jezebella

    Anne, this is why you have to say “You first, buddy.” I’m one of those people who tests really well and therefore acquired a scholarship to a college my parents couldn’t afford. Outside of that (rather large) benefit, I haven’t seen any significant difference between my “success” and those of people I was in G/T (Gifted/Talented) programs with in Junior High and High School versus those people who were NOT in G/T with us.

    My desire to hang out at a MENSA meeting with a bunch of dudes who are into their IQ scores ranks somewhere around spending my morning with the Republican Ladies sipping tea.

    I learned eons ago in education & curriculum courses that standardized testing companies were working constantly to eliminate the cultural biases built into the earliest standardized tests. Considering I was told this in the late 1980s, you’d think they might have sorted it out by now. As far as I can tell, they haven’t.

  69. Kea

    It was the first organization that I had heard of that had no actual purpose whatsoever.

    I had the same feelings about Mensa when I was a girl and I joined very few organisations, because most organisations seemed to be about empty chest beating. Besides, as far as I could tell, the local members were all crotch scratching misogynists who wanted me to ‘work with them’ on maths competitions.

  70. buttercupia

    We have good parties. I throw one every year in Pittsburgh, Labor Day weekend. My committee works all year to make a great party happen. 150+ people from all over the country, good food, good beer, good conversations, lots of games to play, speakers, crafts, a dance, more food, karaoke, more food, more beer, and interesting people. Our gatherings tend to be about 45% women, at minimum. This year we had a whole track of crafts related programming. I taught spinning. Someone else had a wheat weaving thing. Mead tasting. Origami. Knitting. Building things out of food.

    I joined because I had friends that belonged and it seemed like they were the only people who got my jokes, and I got theirs. It had nothing to do with being able to say I’m a member and we really don’t discuss specific numbers.

    It’s like anything else, a slice of society. There’s assholes. There’s cool folks. If anything they tend to be more intensely whatever they are to begin with. Especially the weirdos.

    Nigel reports that in his (white male educated western) opinion, the culture fair test does what it’s supposed to do.

  71. G

    Antionette-

    Le Pétomane was the stage name of the French flatulist (professional farter) and entertainer Joseph Pujol (June 1, 1857–1945). He was famous for his remarkable control of the abdominal muscles, which enabled him to seem to fart at will. His stage name combines the French verb péter, “to fart” with the -mane, “-maniac” suffix, which translates to “fartomaniac”. The profession is also referred to as “flatulist”, “farteur”, or “fartiste”.

    Some of the highlights of his stage act involved sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing “‘O Sole Mio” and “La Marseillaise” on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus. He could also blow out a candle from several yards away. His audience included Edward, Prince of Wales, King Leopold II of the Belgians and Sigmund Freud.

    (above from Wikipedia)

    King Leopold was so eager to see Pujol’s show that he sneaked across the border into France at a time when France and Belgium were at war. Apparently he enjoyed the show and slipped back over the border without disturbing the course of the war.

    A related word is ‘petard’ which was a small bomb that made a sound like a fart. So “hoist by your own petard” means blown up by your own bomb, or perhaps by your own fart.

    /pedantry

  72. debaser

    Amazing. This guy is a living proof of concept. “Does the Male Gaze exist?” Hah! It has actually gone done and physically manifested in the world, in new age guru form!

    He gives the gift of his “gaze”. Just the thought that you might be able to imagine that you could have been something he was looking at, even for an instant – that’s what its all about, isn’t it? What more could you possibly ask for?

  73. Helen Huntingdon

    It’s like anything else, a slice of society. There’s assholes. There’s cool folks.

    But it’s a slice of society with an IQ test as a gatekeeping mechanism. To me that’s just weird.

    I could almost get it if it were a way of gathering people with truly rare IQs as some sort of social experiment — rare enough that the odds of them finding each other are low. (This would only be interesting if the tests were truly without bias.) But Mensa is pretty broad — it takes what they think is the top 2% of the population in IQ scores. That’s a lot of people unless you live in a very tiny community, and the odds of a person who falls in that group being able to find others without some special society to make it happen is pretty high.

    If it were a gathering of people whose IQs score in the one in a million range, I confess I’d be curious to be there, because I’ve met a couple of people I’m pretty sure would score that high easily, and their mental powers are such that I wind up wondering if I’m even in the same species with them. I’m curious what being around several of them would do to my ego, probably. But I doubt I’d qualify to be there, so it’s a moot point and very likely a silly one anyway.

  74. Saurs

    There’s a fabulous new method I’ve discovered of ferreting out whether, erm, “intelligence” tests are legitimate or no. How do non-affluent non-male non-white folk fare? How do they fare with the little “cultural” rider (upper middling class white men have no pesky culture to speak of) attached?

    The common denominator amongst all IQ test-takers is that they have a desire to take an IQ test, and leisure time with which to do it. Thas about it.

  75. Kea

    Saurs, cultural bias is no doubt a problem, but the tests are normalised so that the bell curve for men and women is identical. Very few men know it is identical, but it is.

  76. Saurs

    Intelligence and the capacity for reasoning and logic is, indeed, identical between men and women, between all people, insofar as man-made constructs like race or gender do not govern the future or have any specific genetic underpinnings. But the concept of a bell curve is inherently problematic, and intelligence tests (indeed, the whole “study” of human intelligence with the aim at proving the inferiority of women and people of color and criminals and any “other” one can think of) arise directly out of and are informed by scientific racism. It’s like the 18th and 19th century version of bad stand-up: saying something scandalously horrible, cruel, mean-spirited, offensive, and factually incorrect but soothing and reassuring to the correct members of the audience, with the wimpy little caveat that one is “just sayin‘.” ‘Cept what they’re saying is bollocks.

  77. Sistertongue

    Let’s just get Mensa clear. It was invented by two dudes in 1946, a lawyer and a guy getting his PhD. (go to mensa website) They made up the test, tested each other, passed their exam, and then invented an organization to test everyone else against their measure of their alleged “intelligence.” It measures only the ability of conventional, patriarchally-defined, left-brained dude concepts and activities. That is all. Because it is born out of such a limited viewpoint, mensa qualification just means patriarchy will find you smartly acceptable. And, I’m not so sure that’s a big huge compliment here, folks.

    Intelligence, however, is an entirely different matter. It requires a much larger network of connection than those found in the synapses of the grey matter in the left brain. Mensa members do not necessarily possess emotional nor social nor artistic abilities or intelligence. Maturity, wisdom and adult relational abilities do not factor into their dude brain tests. The absence of such qualitative value systems in their scheme of smarts should give you a good idea of where these folks are on the overall bell curve of humanity.

  78. debaser

    “This scam is a work of such extraordinary beauty and criminal genius it brings a tear to my jaundiced eye.”

    Seriously. Check out the website – he does not write books – books are written about him. He has a video all about a tour in which “Braco’s story uniquely unfolds, completely told by his visitors without any scripted narration.”

    That lazy fucker makes his adoring fans make their own DVD about him and how awesome he is. He doesn’t even say one single word – not one! But a SINGER (who by singing even one note has contributed more than Braco’s whole career) has dedicated an entire album to Braco, thanking Braco for being Braco.

    Not only does he not have to learn english – its probably smarter for him not to. How perfect is it for a new age messiah in america to hear everything spoken to him by his fans as meaningless, nonsensical gibberish?

  79. Jezebella

    Sistertongue, you are the first person who ever tempted me to join MENSA, mainly because it sounds like they need to be infiltrated by a radical feminist or twelve. Here in South Mississippi, they probably need it DIRELY. I’m putting it on my to-do list for after retirement, along with infiltrating and raising hell in the DAR and the UDC.

  80. Sistertongue

    I do just have to add this statistical information about the Myth of intelligence established by the Mensa boys. You can find this information yourself by googling the phrase “average IQ’s of different professions.”

    Whenever I am attempting to ascertain the awareness level of people I am relating to in any context, I have a term I call “The Bonobo Factor.” If we are going to use the dude IQ idea to measure ourselves, here we go:

    Average IQ of a Bonobo Monkey: 70-90
    ” Human Being: 100
    M.A: 112
    PhD: 112
    MD: 118

    Dude hierarchy requires that we allow ourselves to become intimidated by their defined notion of authority and “rational” superiority. As you can see, however, the point spread between that of the smartest bonobo and that of the average person is a mere 10 points. Bonobos cannot speak, but I think we’d all be a bit nervous if they could.

    Now notice that the average of the professions alleging some idea and certifications of superior intelligence are above the average of humans, but they all fall well below any Mensa qualifications. The patriarchal system is designed to get us to give away our power to those we assume (and assumptions are our downfall) are more intelligent. Dudes and their consorts in the dudesque realms. Back in the ’80′s we called them fembots.

    So, I personally use my system of the Bonobo Factor Evaluation. That is, I actively assess how far above a quadripedal primate any person may be functioning.

    Remember the ape discovering the stick as a weapon scene in “2001 Space Odyssey?” Keep that scene in mind the next time you walk into a doctor/professional office and find yourself about to succumb to the dude illusion of superior knowledge and authority. The truth is that the intelligence level of that bipedal primate strutting their stuff in front of you in that office is more likely to be closer to a chimp with a stick than an Einstein.

  81. Sistertongue

    Jezebella:
    The thing is that infiltration is also a dude military concept and, really, I prefer to spend my time growing, being with and caring for those things NOT about that system. Besides, I’m middle-aged now and far past my abilities and desires to sneak through that forest on my belly. This is clearly a case of, “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me.”

  82. buttercup

    The LePetomaine stuff is interesting. Now I know where Mel Brooks got the name for the Governor in Blazing Saddles.

    Sistertongue, thanks for painting me and a goodly number of my friends with such a broad brush.

  83. Sistertongue

    Buttercup:
    De nada.

    My only hope is we all use those paintbrushes to start painting a broader art piece of humanity. I am very grateful to this website for providing a safe haven to wield and expand my own and to listen to others – a nice shot of oxygen in a barometric pressure machine. Nice antidote to the toxic CO2 environment of the dude brain dead society.

    Take back our power, on all levels. Meanwhile, I’m off to do the twisty butt dance out to my wood pile and back stoking up the home fires.

  84. IBlameRonPaul

    There’s a fabulous new method I’ve discovered of ferreting out whether, erm, “intelligence” tests are legitimate or no. How do non-affluent non-male non-white folk fare? How do they fare with the little “cultural” rider (upper middling class white men have no pesky culture to speak of) attached?

    The common denominator amongst all IQ test-takers is that they have a desire to take an IQ test, and leisure time with which to do it. Thas about it.

    I’ve discovered IQ tests mainly measure specific abilities in verbal recall and spatial rotation. You can have a very high intelligence outside of these areas, but the test won’t show it. That’s why I think IQ tests are such a flawed method of sorting gifted students from non-gifted students.

    Not all IQ test-takers had desire or leisure to take the test, by the way. Some, like me, were FORCED to by our school, with threats of punishment or expulsion if we didn’t comply. Is it any wonder I was absent 1 day out of every 4 and cutting the rest by senior high school?

    SisterTongue’s IQ chart proves perfectly why IQ is meaningless. Mine was said to be around 165 (if I even believe it), but I could never become a doctor (lack the discipline, compassion, and attention to detail), and I definitely cannot get into grad school. Even my attempts to tack on a second bachelor’s degree in my early-mid 20s ended in failure.

  85. IBlameRonPaul

    (And college was horrible enough. Shudder.)

    Buttercup, while I think IQ testing is hooey, your parties sound cool. I am in the same area as you, so our friend might have been at your parties. The MENSA convention I was referring to was the one at the Pittsburgh Convention Center, not the individual celebrations after the grand ordeal.

    Our friend likes all that stuff you promote, so I can see why she’d stick around for the company. Also, people like your party guests are her target audience for her business.

  86. buttercupia

    IBlameRonPaul, the national convention was in Pittsburgh in 2009. I was on that committee but didn’t run it-it was at the Omni Hotel downtown though, not at the convention center.

    I also think IQ testing is hooey, for the most part. Maybe it’s because I’m an asshole, but I tend to find a lot of people I can relate to on some level in nerdy gatherings.

  87. Keri

    Wow, I didn’t mean to start a whole MENSA thang. My mom didn’t actually belong to MENSA, she just had a really high IQ. So, point being, IQ doesn’t necessarily relate to common sense or critical thinking when someone wants so desperately to have some to believe in to try and make sense of the Universe or to think they can actually have an impact on it.

    There are some otherwise very smart people who believe in all kinds of hooey, my mom being one of them. As time goes on, there seems to be a wider variety of hooey choices to please all kinds of folk. At least some of them are worth a chuckle.

    I got a small scholarship from MENSA when I was in graduate school. I am not a member but I was a scholarship whore and all I had to do was write an essay. Thanks MENSA!

  88. IBlameRonPaul

    @buttercupia:

    [I]t was at the Omni Hotel downtown though, not at the convention center.

    Maybe it’s because I’m an asshole, but I tend to find a lot of people I can relate to on some level in nerdy gatherings.

    Ah, yes, it was at the Omni – thanks for correcting. I’m not that familiar with downtown, so I occasionally get confused.

    Personally, I don’t see anything asshole-ish about enjoying nerdly gatherings (the friend I mentioned upthread is into paganism). I just can’t tolerate men’s IQ/SAT score/GPA pissing contests, so if there’s even a slight chance of such a pissing contest occurring, I will avoid a situation. I think it stems from a former friend who graduated from CMU, and couldn’t get through ONE evening or activity without asking everyone else in attendance their SAT score, and sometimes, GPA. Needless to say, we haven’t been in touch in years. I debated applying to CMU myself many years ago, but decided against it, because I’m just not comfortable in an ultra-competitive academic environment. My partner attended CMU, then dropped out halfway through the program about 12 years ago, for the same reason.

    Nerdly things are great, of course. I work in the SaaS portion of the tech sector, which is about as nerdly as it gets. While the people in my sector are generally great, intelligent, dedicated people, it’s the market here that’s not lived up to its hype. Technologies are still stuck in the early 2000s, and there are still way too many 1950s-style management approaches and attitudes toward women here for my comfort. This is another major reason I tend to avoid male-dominated gatherings like MENSA and other nerd hangouts. It’s not you – it’s the dudes, and I guess it is a prejudice I have. I already have had to spend too much time professionally working twice as hard to be considered half as good (including making 25 percent less than a man who was 5 years younger than me and lacked a college degree, and being forced to bankroll my employer’s half of the Social Security and payroll taxes on an illegal 1099 while ALL the men got hired outright), and sometimes, I just want to go to the lesbian bar, kick back with my ladies, and be considered “good enough.”

    Of course, I Blame the Patriarchy – THAT goes without saying!

  89. buttercupia

    IBlameRP, the number conversation never happens at Mensa gatherings, probably because that’s the one place someone is likely to have a higher number than you. But there are those who join for social reasons and there are those who join for bragging rights. Seldom do the twain meet, as it were, fortunately.

    Are you local?

  90. IBlameRonPaul

    Actually, I hail from a family o’ Oberlin alums from Lorain, OH. Sadly, I never did learn to play the bassoon.

  91. Toni Fellowes

    If you thought Braco was genius, check out Alison Armstrong http://understandmen.com/ She sooooo knows men and is willing to sell you the 1950′s script to understanding them.

  92. schadenfreude

    Robin Quivers is an Allison Armstrong convert. Poor Robin.

  93. Randie

    IBlameRonPaul,

    Below is an email I wrote to Oxford University Gender communication professor Deborah Cameron author of the great important book,The Myth Of Mars and Venus Do Men and women Really Speak Different Languages?.

    Dear Deborah,

    I recently read your great important book, The Myth Of Mars & Venus. I read a bad review of the book, The Female Brain on Amazon.com US by psychologist David H.Perterzell he called it junk science.

    I also thought you would want to know that John Gray got his “Ph.D” from Columbia Pacific University which was closed down in March 2001 by the California Attorney General’s Office because he called it a diploma mill and a phony operation offering totally worthless degrees!

    Also there is a Christian gender and psychology scholar and author psychology professor Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leewuen who teaches the psychology and Philosophy of Gender at the Christian College Eastern College here in Pa. She has several online presentations that were done at different colleges from 2005- the present debunking the Mars & Venus myth.

    One is called , Opposite Sexes Or Neighboring Sexes and sometimes adds, Beyond The Mars/Venus Rhetoric in which she explains that all of the large amount of research evidence from the social and behavorial sciences shows that the sexes are very close neighbors and that there are only small average differences between them many of which have gotten even smaller over the last several decades and in her great even longer article that isn’t online anymore called,What Do We Mean By “Male-Female Complentarity”? A Review Of Ronald W.Pierce,Rebecca M.Groothuis,and Gordon D.Fee,eds Discovering Biblical Equality:Complentarity Without Hierarchy, which she says happened after 1973 when gender roles were less rigid and that genetic differences can’t shrink like this and in such a short period of time, and that most large differences that are found are between individual people and that for almost every trait and behavior there is a large overlap between them and she said so it is naive at best and deceptive at worst to make claims about natural sex differences. etc.

    She says he claims Men are From Mars & Women are From Venus with no emperical warrant and that his claim gets virtually no support from the large amount of psychological and behavioral sciences and that in keeping in line with the Christian Ethic and with what a bumper sticker she saw said and evidence from the behavioral and social sciences is , Men Are From,Earth ,Women Are From Earth Get Used To It. Comedian George Carlin said this too.

    She also said that such dichotomous views of the sexes are apparently popular because people like simple answers to complex issues including relationships between men and women. She should have said especially relationships between them.She also said when I spoke wit her in 1998 and 1999 that humanbeings don’t have sex fixed in the brain,she said humanbeings adapt to their environments,and they develop certain characteristics in response to those environments but they are not fixed and unchangeable. Dr.Van Leeuwen also said that I’m correct that the human female and male brain is more alike than different and she said the brain is plastic and easily molded and shaped throughout life by different life experiences and environments.She said humans have a unique highly developed cerebal cortex which animals don’t and this enables people to learn things and make choices that animals can’t.She also said that I’m correct,the human female and male brain are more alike than different.

    Sociologist Dr.Michael Kimmel writes and talks about this also including in his Media Education Foundation educational video. And he explains that all of the evidence from the psychological and behavioral sciences indicates that women and men are far more alike than different.

    Yet Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen says that there are no consistent large psychological sex differences found.

    I have an excellent book from 1979 written by 2 parent child development psychologists Dr. Wendy Schemp Matthews and award winning psychologist from Columbia University, Dr.Jeane Brooks-Gunn, called He & She How Children Develop Their Sex Role Idenity.

    They thoroughly demonstrate with tons of great studies and experiments by parent child psychologists that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike than different with very few differences but they are still perceived and treated systematically very different from the moment of birth on by parents and other adult care givers. They go up to the teen years.

    I once spoke with Dr.Brooks-Gunn in 1994 and I asked her how she could explain all of these great studies that show that girl and boy babies are actually born more alike with few differences but are still perceived and treated so differently anyway, and she said that’s due to socialization and she said there is no question, that socialization plays a very big part.

    I know that many scientists(the good responsible ones) know that the brain is plastic and can be shaped and changed by different life experiences and different

    Also there are 2 great online rebuttals of the Mars & Venus myth by Susan Hamson called, The Rebuttal From Uranus and Out Of The Cave: Exploring Gray’s Anatomy by Kathleen Trigiani.

    Also have you read the excellent book by social psychologist Dr.Gary Wood at The University of Birmingham called, Sex Lies & Stereotypes:Challenging Views Of Women, Men & Relationships? He clearly demonstrates with all of the research studies from psychology what Dr.Mary Stewart Van Leewuen does, and he debunks The Mars & Venus myth and shows that the sexes are biologically and psychologically more alike than different and how gender roles and differences are mostly socially created.

    Anyway, if you could write back when you have a chance I would really appreciate it.

    Thank You

  94. Randie

    Sorry, I just noticed that I made a few typing mistakes. And I didn’t mean to say Yet Dr.Stewart Van Leeuwen says,I meant also.There also shouldn’t be a ? after the title of psychologist Dr.Wood’s book either.And I didn’t mean to repeat what Dr.Stewart Van leeuwen told me that I’m correct that the sexes brains are more alike than different.

    Also I forgot to mention that neuroscientists also have known for a long time about the brain being plastic and easily shaped and changed by different life experiences and different life time environments.

    And also Dr.Michael Kimmel demonstrates all of the research from the behavioral and social sciences that shows the sexes are more alike than different,in his very good book,The Gendered Society and he’s written several longer up dated academic versions of it too.

    And Susan Hamson and Kathleen Trigiani both showed what a total sexist woman-hater John Gray really is,as other men and women have said too. Susan Hamson’s The Rebuttal From Uranus unfortunately isn’t online anymore(Kathleen’s Out Of The Cave still is though) but in it,she had included a 1996 interview John Gray gave to Yahoo! Internet Life where he said such sexist woman-hating things,Susan said she now could call him a real mysogynist!

  95. Randie

    schadenfreude,

    Who cares about Robin Quivers,she worked for years( I don’t know if she still does) as a supportive side kick to the sick,horrible extreme woman-hater Howard Stern!

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