Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer | Francis Galton, 1872

Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer

Francis Galton
Fortnightly Review vol. 12, pp. 125-35, 1872

Lifted from, with great respect and appreciation, so, go there for other stuff. 

An eminent authority has recently published a challenge to test the efficacy of prayer by actual experiment. I have been induced, through reading this, to prepare the following memoir for publication, nearly the whole of which I wrote and laid by many years ago, after completing a large collection of data, which I had undertaken for the satisfaction of my own conscience.

The efficacy of prayer seems to me a simple, as it is a perfectly appropriate and legitimate subject of scientific inquiry. Whether prayer is efficacious or not, in any given sense, is a matter of fact on which each man must form an opinion for himself. His decision will be based upon data more or less justly handled, according to his education and habits. An unscientific reasoner will be guided by a confused recollection of crude experience. A scientific reasoner will scrutinize each separate experience before he admits it as evidence, and will compare all the cases he has selected on a methodical system.

The doctrine commonly preached by the clergy is well expressed in the most recent, and by far the most temperate and learned of theological encyclopaedias, namely, Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible. The article on ‘Prayer,’ written by the Rev. Dr. Barry, states as follows: ‘Its real objective efficacy.., is both implied and expressed (in Scripture) in the plainest terms …. We are encouraged to ask special blessings, both spiritual and temporal, in hopes that thus, and thus only, we may obtain them …. It would seem the intention of Holy Scripture to encourage all prayer, more especially intercession, in all relations and for all righteous objects.’ Dr. Hook, the present Dean of Chichester, states in his Church Dictionary, under ‘Prayer,’ that ‘the general providence of God acts through what are called the laws of nature. By this particular providence God interferes with those laws, and he has promised to interfere in behalf of those who pray in the name of Jesus …. We may take it as a general role that we may pray for that for which we may lawfully labour, and for that only.’

The phrases of our Church service amply countenance this view; and if we look to the practice of the opposed sections of the religious world, we find them consistent in maintaining it. The so-called ‘Low Church’ notoriously places absolute belief in special providences accorded to pious prayer. This is testified by the biographies of its members, the journals of its missionaries, and the ‘united prayer meetings’ of the present day. The Roman Catholics offer religious vows to avert danger; they make pilgrimages to shrines; they hang votive offerings and pictorial representations, sometimes by thousands, in their churches, of fatal accidents averted by the manifest interference of a solicited saint.

A prima facie argument in favour of the efficacy of prayer is therefore to be drawn from the very general use of it. The greater part of mankind, during all the historic ages, have been accustomed to pray for temporal advantages. How vain, it may be urged, must be the reasoning that ventures to oppose this mighty consensus of belief! Not so. The argument of universality either proves too much, or else it is suicidal. It either compels us to admit that the prayers of Pagans, of Fetish worshippers, and of Buddhists who turn praying wheels, are recompensed in the same way as those of orthodox believers; or else the general consensus proves that it has no better foundation than the universal tendency of man to gross credulity.

The collapse of the argument of universality leaves us solely concerned with a simple statistical question – are prayers answered, or are they not? There are two lines of research, by either of which we may pursue this inquiry. The one that promises the most trustworthy results is to examine large classes of cases, and to be guided by broad averages; the other, which I will not employ in these pages, is to deal with isolated instances. An author who made much use of the latter method might reasonably suspect his own judgment – he would certainly run the risk of being suspected by others – in choosing one-sided examples.

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A Different Darwin Day – Leonard Darwin

Yesterday, for Darwin Day, I posted a number of quotes from Charles Darwin’s son, Leonard Darwin. Specifically quotes from his book “What is Eugenics”.
Wiki’s bried top of the page bio reads:
“Major Leonard Darwin (15 January 1850 – 26 March 1943), a son of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, was variously a soldier, politician, economist, eugenicist and mentor of the statistician and evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher.”

Part of the reason was to test the queuing function on tweetdeck, setting them up to post every other hour. I figured today I’d collect them here:

“If you inspect any good (cattle farm) you will find that the animals are well housed; that they are fed with suitable food in quantities neither too small nor too great; and that they are carefully guarded against infection. Should not we be glad if the same could be said about our slums?”

‎”The misery, pauperism, crime, resulting from over-crowded houses could be lessened by forethought as to the size of the family.”

“THOSE who marry any one with any serious defect of body, mind, or character are apt to bring trouble on both themselves and their children. This is because such failings are not only immediately harmful, but may be passed on to succeeding generations by natural inheritance or by example.”

“THERE are three things which make a person likely to commit a crime. These are, in the first place, a bad home; in the second place, subsequent temptation; and, lastly, bad natural qualities. We are bound to mitigate all these causes to the best of our abilities.”

“If mothers of feeble-minded girls would picture to themselves all the shame and suffering which would be felt if an illegitimate grandchild were to be born in their home, they might begin to look on sterilization in a new hght.”

“It has been said on good authority that the son of a criminal is ten times as likely to commit a crime as is the son of honest parents. (W)e cannot… say that so much is due to bad early environment, so much to meeting the devil in the path of life, and so much to bad inborn predispositions. We may conclude… from such facts as this that if criminals had fewer children there would be less crime…”

“The inferior include in their ranks the stupid, the careless, the inefficient, the intractable, the idle, the habitual drunkard, as well as those too feeble in body or in health to do a good day’s work. The inferior add to public expenditure in the same ways as do the unfit…”

“Every time any one receives his wages, or buys anything whatever… he comes off worse than he would have done if there had been no unfit or inferior… If all men could realize how much better and happier all classes would become if the number of these unfortunates were to be reduced, then eugenics would come into its own.”

“Good jobs are, it is true, often obtained by favouritism. Much good work is ill paid. And men often fail from want of training or opportunity. These are all evils against which we must fight, and they are evils which will diminish with any real advance in civilization.”

“A Eugenics Catechism”, American Eugenics Society, Inc.. 1926

 In my reading recently, I’ve seen two references to A Eugenics Catechism and was able to find an OCRed version online, but not the scans of the original. I was curious to read the work in its entirety, so this is certainly good enough. I’ve reset the type from the source to that it’s more readable.

The document was published by the American Eugenics Society

Wikipedia: “The founders included Madison Grant, Harry H. Laughlin, Irving Fisher, Henry Fairfield Osborn, andHenry Crampton. The organization started by promoting racial betterment, eugenic health, and genetic education through public lectures, exhibits at county fairs ea., but under the direction ofFrederick Osborn, started to place greater focus on issues of population control, genetics, and, later, medical genetics.”

One source states that it was the Committee on Cooperation with Clergymen that “distributed thousands of copies of A Eugenics Catechism to ministers and college professors”.

What I find odd and frustrating is that an excerpt given in the book I’m reading differs significantly from the same answer below.

In “Defending the Master Race” the author provides the following Q & A:

Q. What makes slums?
A. People. Slums have been cleaned up and the people move on and make other slums.

But the University of Vermont’s website where I pulled the text below from states it as:

Q. What makes slums?
A. Inferior people in inferior places. To do away with slums requires improvement of both.

The most obvious answer is that there were at least two editions, with significant revisions. This is highly plausible, but frustrating nonetheless.



Q. What is eugenics?
A. Eugenics is the study of those agencies under social control which may improve or impair the inborn qualities of future generations of man either physically or mentally.


Q. Is eugenics sex hygiene?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics birth control?
A. No, not in the sense in which the term is commonly used. The conception of fewer inferiors is eugenic, but such birth control as reduces the conception of superiors is opposed to eugenics.
Q. Is eugenics prenatal culture?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics public health?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics free love?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics trial marriage?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics a vice campaign?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics government‐made marriage?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics physical culture?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics Spartan infanticide?
A. No.
Q. Is eugenics a plan for producing genius to order?
A. No, but it is a plan to increase the number of geniuses and to raise the general average.
Q. Is eugenics a plan for making supermen?
A. No, it is a plan to raise the general average.
Q. Is eugenics scientific love making?
A. No, but it fosters more selective love making.
Q. Is eugenics equivalent to breeding human beings like animals?
A. No.
Q. Does eugenics mean less love in marriage?
A. No, more.
Q. Does eugenics contradict the Bible?
A. The Bible has much to say for eugenics. It tells us that men do not gather grapes from thorns and figs from thistles.
Q. Is eugenics antagonistic to the Bible?
A. No. The aim of eugenics is to insure the totality of human welfare in the long run.
Q. Does eugenics mean less sympathy for the unfortunate?
A. It means a much better understanding of them, and a more concerted attempt to alleviate their suffering, by seeing to it that everything possible is done to have fewer hereditary defectives.
Eugenics does not mean less sympathy for the unfortunate; it does mean fewer unavoidable unfortunates with which to divide a sympathy which should be more fully and effectively expended on the inevitable unfortunates. At the same time that sympathy and remedial treatment are being extended, something effective should be done to prevent a recurrence of such cases where heredity is to blame. This is a true kindness, both to the victims and to society.
Q. Must one who believes in eugenics believe in evolution?
A .Yes, that evolution is a present and a continuing process. It is not necessary to believe that the original or ancestral man evolved from apes. All admit that there has been an evolution in the differentiation of the races, and from fossil man to modern man. Should we not want more of such evolution?


Q. Who is called “The father of eugenics”?
A. Sir Francis Galton, who invented the word and was the first outstanding student of the subject proper.
Q. What is the history of eugenics in brief?
A. Common sense has recognized that traits are inherited from very early times. Chinese, Greek, Roman and Jewish histories abound with eugenic references. Some landmarks in the modern history of eugenics, however, are as follows: In 1858 Darwin gave to the world the theory of natural selection.
In 1865 Mendel framed his theory of alternative inheritance.
In 1869 Galton gave to the world his idea of eugenics, although he did not propose the name until later.
Q. Who was Gregor Mendel?
A. A Moravian monk who lived at Bruun, Moravia.
Q. What did he discover?
A. That pea vines were not just pea vines, but bundles of innumerable units shown in such characters as color of seed, height, etc. In each plant two ancestral factors or determinants unite to determine each unit. Where the two corresponding determinants are different, one, which he called dominant is apparent to the observer, and one, which he called recessive, gives way to the other so that it is not apparent, but may appear in the next generation. These determinants are not influenced ordinarily by their association with their partners, but reappear unchanged in future generations. The frequency with which they appear is governed by the law of chances as was shown by Mendel. Since then this relatively simple plan is found to be more complicated than he supposed.


Q.Does everyone believe in the inheritance of physical characteristics ?
A. Everyone who has investigated the subject.
Q. Does everyone believe in the inheritance of mental or moral characteristics ?
A. Most students of biology conclude that structure of the nervous system accounts in a large part for the way one thinks, and influences the results of that training which in part determines what we do. Special abilities result from the training of special capacities. Special training is of little value for those who have not the special capacity that it is sought to train.
Q. What chance of having a son listed in Who’s Who have thefamilies of men of the following occupations?
A. Unskilled laborers 1 in 48,000 Skilled laborers 1 in 1,600 Farmers 1 in 680 Engineers 1 in 161 Physicians 1 in 105 Business men 1 in 80 Lawyers 1 in 52 Professional men with the exception of clergymen (including teachers, literary men, etc.) 1 in 46 Clergymen (all denominations) 1 in 20
Q. Are acquired characters inherited?
A. Nearly all students of heredity believe that acquired somatic (bodily) variations, due to exertion on the part of the parents or due to outside influences such as sunburn, etc., are not inherited as such.
Q. Is there anything to the old theories of pre‐natal influence?
A. Probably nothing. So far, there has been nothing to prove that there are any prenatal influences on such things as temperament, specific physical defects and the like. Nevertheless, certain conditions such as proper food, absence of poisons, and a happy disposition or environment during pregnancy in order to avoid harmful substances in the blood supplied the embryo and hence impair its growth or health, are undoubtedly desirable.
Q. What is there to the old birth mark theory?
A. No proof, to date, to substantiate it.
Q. Can the germ cells be affected by any outside influence?
A. Poisons such as alcohol can weaken or kill some of the germ cells. The capacity of the germ cells to resist modification is necessarily very great. Efforts to accomplish change by selection where the trait is already variable are, therefore, far more worthwhile. Even where the germ cells are apparently modified, the change is often only temporary, and not in the direction desired.


Q. Which counts for more, heredity or environment?
A. They are interdependent. This question is almost the equivalent of “Which is more important, the seed or the soil ?“ We may well call it “a 50‐50 proposition.”
Q. What makes slums?
A. Inferior people in inferior places. To do away with slums requires improvement of both.
Q. Do eugenics and social work disagree?
A. They stress different things; one, heredity, and the other environment. Improving environment will help some, but the same environment cannot in the same way help all of diverse mankind. Heredity gives potentialities. It does not determine, willy nilly, the course of development. A good environment affords a great opportunity for those who can take advantage of it.
Q. How much has been spent within the last few years by 23 of the most generous philanthropists for the environmental improvement of the human race?
A. $1,385,220,000.
Q. How much for hereditary improvement?
A. Scarcely anything.
Q. How much does the government spend annually on the genetical improvement of domestic animals?
A. Over $300,000 outside of poultry. The separate states also spend great sums.


Q.In what way is crime a concern of eugenics?
A. The elements of personality‐‐ e.g. lack of strong social instincts or lack of self‐control‐‐which lie at the bottom of many crimes have an hereditary element. To understand the recidivist it is important to know his constitution as it may be inferred from a study of his family as a whole.
Q. Are the crimes against person and property the acts of a normal individual?
A. Frequently not. A person with strong social instincts and self‐control is rarely given to repeated antisocial acts. The recidivist generally has a constitutional make‐up which is not readily moulded by ordinary training.
Q. How many persons are in penal institutions in the United States?
A. 109,075. Jan. 1, 1923. (World Almanac for 1926).
Q. How many paupers are there in the United States?
A. 78,090 in almshouses, Jan. 1, 1923. (World Almanac for 1926).
Q. How many commitments to jail in the United States per year?
A. Over 650,000.
Q. How many insane are in institutions in the United States?
A. 290,456 in hospitals for mental diseases, and many more in psychopathic wards in general hospitals.
Q. How many are so feebleminded that they need institutional care?
A. Estimates vary from 300,000 to over 1,000,000. There recently were 43,349 in state institutions for feebleminded.


Q. How can the object of eugenics be obtained?
A. This has been answered in many ways. Some believe that eugenics can be legislated into usefulness, others, that education is the only thing. No doubt the last is most important, especially the education of children to realize that there is such a thing as inheritance. It is very difficult to break up a match after the boy and the girl have fallen in love. Many dysgenic (harmful to the race) matches can be prevented by the teaching of eugenics to children. Education can also influence the number of children in families of good and of bad stock. The Eugenics Society has answered this question in this way:
1. By the promotion of eugenic research
2. By the promotion of eugenic education
3. By the promotion of conservative eugenic legislation
4. By the promotion of eugenic administration


Q. What is meant by negative eugenics?
A. This deals with the elimination of the dysgenic elements from society. Sterilization, immigration, legislation, laws preventing the fertile unfit from marrying, etc., come under this head.


Q. Why sterilize?
A. To rid the race of those likely to transmit the dysgenic tendencies to which they are subject. To decrease the need for charity of a certain form. To reduce taxes. To help alleviate misery and suffering. To do what Nature would do under natural conditions, but more humanely. Sterilization is not a punitive measure. It is strictly protective.
Q. Who should be sterilized?
A. Such criminals, paupers, insane, feebleminded, epileptics, rapists, and other defectives who can be proved to have inherited such defects as make them incapable of leading ordinarily normal lives, and who, unless sterilized, are likely to transmit their defects to their children.
Q. How is sterilization accomplished?
A. In males by vasectomy: namely, by severing the tiny tube which carries the sperm from the seminal gland. In females, by an abdominal operation, closing the Fallopian tubes (the tubes which carry the ova to the uterus.) Also by a method of searing the tubes where they enter the uterus so that the contracting scar will close the opening, thus preventing the ova from reaching the uterus and preventing the sperm from entering the Fallopian tubes. This method is as yet difficult and less frequently used.
Q. Is vasectomy a serious operation?
A. No, very slight, about like pulling a tooth.
Q. Is the closing of the Fallopian tubes a serious operation?
A. Yes, about equivalent to an operation for appendicitis.
Q. Is the sealing of the tubes by searing serious?
A. Much less than closing the Fallopian tube by tying as the abdomen is not opened.
Q. Do any of the above operations interfere with the normal life of the individual in any way?
A. No. They do not even interfere with his or her sex activity. They merely make it impossible for the persons to reproduce.
Q. How does sterilization affect sex immorality?
A. It decreases the number of illegitimate children.
Q. Is voluntary sterilization likely to become a menace to America?
A. It may, but that does not interfere with its value as applied to the cases considered.
Q. Who decides the question of legally sterilizing any given person?
A. A committee of experts, board of trustees of the institution in which the patient is confined, State Board of Charities and Corrections, State Board of Eugenics or similar body. A State Eugenist whose duty is to investigate and then bring the matter before a court is recommended. An appeal to the courts is always possible.
Q. How many states have sterilization laws?
A. Twenty‐three states have at one time or another enacted sterilization laws, but repeal or court action has reduced the number of states where it is in operation.
Q. Are all of these laws effective?
A. No, but they are rapidly being replaced by new laws, which are effective.
Q. In what states are they most successful?
A. California, where about 5,000 persons have been sterilized since 1909; Kansas, 335 since 1913; Nebraska, 260 since 1917; Oregon, 313 since 1917; Wisconsin, 144 since 1913. For further information, send for H. H. Laughlin’s booklet “Eugenical Sterilization: 1926,” (price 50 cents) published by the American Eugenics Society, Inc.


Q. What is another method of protecting society against the socially inadequate?
A. Segregation.
Q. How much does segregation cost?
A. It has been estimated that to have segregated the original “Jukes” for life would have cost the State of New York about $25,000.
Q. Is that a real saving?
A. Yes. It has been estimated that the State of New York, up to 1916 spent over $2,000,000 on the descendants of these people.
Q. How much would it have cost to sterilize the original Jukes pair?
A. Less than $150.
Q. What are segregation farms good for?
A. These farms have been recommended instead of jails for persons actively or potentially a menace to society and not requiring unusual restraint. Many of these people need custodial care for their own benefit as well as for that of the state by preventing their reproduction and other damage to society.


Q. Is immigration an economic consideration?
A. It should be first of all considered a long time investment in family stocks.
Q. How may immigration regulation be used to improve our stock?
A. By a rigid exclusion of all idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons, persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority, and similar groups, and by admitting only those who are shown by tests to be superior to the American average.


Q. What is meant by positive eugenics?
A. This deals with the forces which tend upward, or with the furtherance of human evolution. Encouraging the best endowed to produce four or more children per family, encouraging the study of eugenics by all, etc., are positive eugenics.
Q. How can we most quickly raise the hereditary level of the United States?
A. By encouraging reproduction among the superior, and discouraging reproduction among the inferior. By eliminating immigrants who are not above the average American standard. Tests must be developed to determine which are the superior and which the inferior.
Q. Why is eugenics interested in birth control?
A. The control of births is the principal means of improving the stock. The term, “Birth Control,” has of late been taken by some to mean the limitation of birth on an economic and war prevention basis, or an anti‐baby strike. Sterilization of defectives or segregation is in one sense a form of birth control. Conception of children whenever the couple wants them is birth control. The movement in question should really be called “conception control.” Control after conception is a medical, not a eugenic problem. Abortion except on strict medical grounds is murder and eugenists do not advocate it except to save the life or serious injury of the mother.
Q. How do the different churches stand on the question of birth control?
A. The Protestant and Jewish Churches have taken no definite position. The Roman Catholic Church tolerates birth control accomplished by marital continence, or the use of the “safe period,” but opposes the use of contraceptives.
Q. What is the most precious thing in the world?
A. The human germ plasm.
Q. How may one’s germ plasm become immortal?
A. Only by perpetuation through children.
Q. What is a person’s eugenical duty to civilization?
A. To see that his own good qualities are passed on to future generations provided they exceed his bad qualities. If he has, on the whole, an excess of dysgenic qualities, they should be eliminated by letting the germ plasm die out with the individual.
Q. How many children must a family bear on the average in order to perpetuate the race, that is, just balance itself between life and death?
A. The latest figures for the registration area of the United States is between three and four. In other words, three children will not suffice and four will increase the “line.”
Q. How may my children know all they now are able to about their own pedigree?
A. If the parents have filed as complete a family pedigree as possible at the Eugenics Record Office, Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, the children may have the information at any time by applying there for it.
Q. How much does it cost to file a family pedigree?
A. Not a cent except the postage. Even the blanks are furnished free of charge.
Q. Is the pedigree then open to the public?
A. Absolutely no. It is held confidential.
Q. What may I do to spread eugenical information?
A. Learn, speak and write. The American Eugenics Society will be glad to help by sending you suggestions on reading, lists of speakers, and a leaflet, “Suggested Program for Clubs.”
Q. What are the Fitter Families Competitions which are conducted by the Eugenics Society?
A. These competitions are held at fairs, and will be extended to other appropriate places. Whole families compete for the trophies offered, on the basis of heredity, physique and mentality. The idea is to inculcate in those interested in taking the examinations, and in those who hear about it, the idea that heredity is the important thing, and that proper attention to the laws of heredity and hygiene will be decidedly worth while.
Q. How may I bring one of these competitions to my town?
A. Write to the American Eugenics Society, which has now standardized the contests and simplified them so that a few doctors and a supervisor can easily handle them. The American Eugenics Society is anxious to extend the competitions to all who are interested.
Q. Where may I get information on what to read in eugenics, without having to go through the library, and then not find just what I want?
A. Ask the American Eugenics Society for their condensed bibliography on eugenics.


Quotes from “Studies in Pessimism” by Arthur Schopenhauer

Below are just a few quotes that I had highlighted on my Kindle when reading portions of “Studies in Pessimism”. I haven’t finished the book, but thought I’d share these quotes:


“Hatred and contempt are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. There are even not a few cases where hatred of a person is rooted in nothing but forced esteem for his qualities. And besides, if a man sets out to hate all the miserable creatures he meets, he will not have much energy left for anything else ; whereas he can despise them, one and all, with the greatest ease. True, genuine contempt is just the reverse of true, genuine pride; it keeps quite quiet and gives no sign of its existence. For if a man shows that he despises you, he signifies at least this much regard for you, that he wants to let you know how little he appreciates you; and his wish is dictated by hatred, which cannot exist with real contempt. On the contrary, if it is genuine, it is simply the conviction that the object of it is a man of no value at all. Contempt is not incompatible with indulgent and kindly treatment, and for the sake of one’s own peace and safety this should not be omitted; it will prevent irritation ; and there is no one who cannot do harm if he is roused to it. But if this pure, cold, sincere contempt ever shows itself, it will be met with the most truculent hatred; for the despised person is not in a position to fight contempt with its own weapons.”


“Why is it that common is an expression of contempt ? and that uncommon, extraordinary, distinguished, denote approbation ? Why is everything that is common contemptible ? Common in its original meaning denotes that which is peculiar to all men. i.e., shared equally by the whole species, and therefore an inherent part of its nature. Accordingly, if an individual possesses no qualities beyond those which attach to mankind in general, he is a common man.”


“What value can a creature have that is not a whit different from millions of its kind ? Millions, do I say ? nay, an infinitude of creatures which, century after century, in never-ending flow, Nature sends bubbling up from her inexhaustible springs; as generous with them as the smith with the useless sparks that fly around his anvil.”


“I have argued that whilst a lower animal possesses nothing more than the generic character of its species man is the only being which can lay claim to possess an individual character. But in most men this individual character comes to very little in reality; and they may be almost all ranged under certain classes: ce sont des especes. Their thoughts and desires, like their faces, are those of the species, or, at any rate, those of the class to which they belong; and accordingly they are of a trivial, every-day, common character, and exist by the thousand. You can usually tell beforehand what they are likely to do and say. They have no special stamp or mark to distinguish them ; they are like manufactured goods, all of a piece.”


Also, I kinda dig this quote from Oswald Spengler:

For I confess that I have never had anything but contempt for ‘philosophy for its own sake.’ To my way of thinking there is nothing more tedious than pure logic, scientific psychology, general ethics and esthetics. Life is not made up of science and generalities. Every line that is not written in the service of active living seems to me superfluous. At the risk of being taken too literally, I would say that my way of looking at the world is related to the ‘systematic’ way as the memoirs of a statesman are related to the ideal state of a Utopian. The former writes down what he has lived through; the latter records what he has dreamed up.

Satanism as Weltanschauung, a lecture in 9 parts (plus Q&A bonus)

I’m pleased to release the video of a lecture given on March 1st of this year when I was invited to speak on the topic of Satanism for a class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Filmed in HD and edited to include quite a few graphics not presented in the original lecture, I’m pleased with the outcome and hope that for those already familiar with Satanism there is enough to still keep you interested and possibly entertained.

Embedded below is a playlist of all 9 videos, to play without interruption.

Below are two parts of the Q&A session that followed:

If you enjoyed the lecture and would like to make a voluntary monetary donation, please do so below:

Satanism as Weltanschauung

Ch. 1 “Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself…”

Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter introduces himself and gives a short biographical background to establish his long-held interest in Satanism explicitly, but also the occult or hidden aspects of culture.

Ch. 2 “A Brief Overview of Satanism”

Rev. Slaughter gives a very brief overview of Satanism, what a Satanist is, and how it is viewed by society.

Ch. 3 “The Satanic Bible”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the first High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Bible”. He reads “The Nine Satanic Statements” and other pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 4 “The Satanic Scriptures”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the current High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Scriptures”. He reads pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 5 “Egalité vs. Hierarchy”

The natural world is stratified, the weak, slow and stupid tend to be worse for wear. The smart, quick and strong tend to have a better time of it. In the animal kingdom, the world that we exist in, it is eat or be eaten.

Rev. Slaughter makes reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, and reads an excerpt from Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom”.

Ch. 6 “Lex Satanicus”

Satanism takes few overtly political positions, and there is absolutely no affiliation between the Church any political party. The Satanic philosophy positions itself as a third side, rejecting the simplistic dichotomies of good vs. evil, republican vs. democrat, liberal and conservative. The one position most clearly associated with politics is Lex Talionis.

Ch. 7 “Magic”

Magic, in the Satanic sense, is not about shooting fireballs or riding on broomsticks, we do not have “spells” that guarantee sex or death – the two things people always seem to want a spell for. When the Satanist performs greater magic, it is an emotional psychodrama, intended to charge the participant with a specific feeling or to put him in a specific emotional state. It’s made clear in the writings that Greater Magic is an emotional working as opposed to intellectual. Like the power of a masterfully written book or piece of music has, this productive fiction is useful and possibly necessary to the human animal.

Ch. 8 “A Few Unkind Words…”

In this part of the lecture Kevin discusses Christian Child Abuse, a blog that collects stories about pedophile priests. He discusses religiously motivated atrocities committed by Islam and Judaism in the name of their religion and accepted by their communities.

The website is found at

Ch. 9 “Love”

Satanism isn’t merely a reactionary stance, it is about knowing ones self and building real relationships with worthy people. Rev. Slaughter recites a poem titled “Love” that was written by freethinker Robert Greene Ingersoll, to illustrate this and other points in the Satanic worldview.

Kevin has participated in two oratory contests where contestants read their choice of Ingersoll’s work, and won first place in 2010. The video can be seen here:

Rev. Slaughter is an official representative of the Church of Satan. More information can be found on the website

Filmed and edited by Kevin I. Slaughter for Underworld Amusements:

Music composed and performed by Michaelanthony Mitchell

God’s Idiots – a selection from Havelock Ellis’ The Task of Social Hygiene (updated)

From The Task of Social Hygiene by Havelock Ellis
The first result of reform at this point was that procreation became a deliberate act. Up till then the method of propagating the race was the same as that which savages have carried on during thousands of years, the chief difference being that whereas savages have frequently sought to compensate their recklessness by destroying their inferior offspring, we had accepted all the offspring, good, bad, and indifferent, produced by our indiscriminate recklessness, shielding ourselves by a false theology. Children “came,” and their parents disclaimed all responsibility for their coming. The children were “sent by God,” and if they all turned out to be idiots, the responsibility was God’s. But when it became generally realized that it was possible to limit offspring without interfering with conjugal life a step of immense importance was achieved. It became clear to all that the Divine force works through us, and that we are not entitled to cast the burden of our evil actions on any Higher Power. Marriage no longer fatally involved an endless procession of children who, in so far as they survived at all, were in a large number of cases doomed to disease, neglect, misery, and ignorance. The new Social Hygiene was for the first time rendered possible.
And updating with a few more quotes:
When at the end of the seventeenth century, Muralt, a highly intelligent Swiss gentleman, visited England, and wrote his by no means unsympathetic Lettres sur les Anglais, he was struck by a curious contradiction in the English character. They are a good-natured people, he observed, very rich, so well-nourished that sometimes they die of obesity, and they detest cruelty so much that by royal proclamation it is ordained that the fish and the ducks of the ponds should be duly and properly fed. Yet he found that this good-natured, rich, cruelty-hating nation systematically allowed the prisoners in their gaols to die of starvation. “The great cruelty of the English,” Muralt remarks, “lies in permitting evil rather than in doing it.” [1] The root of the apparent contradiction lay clearly in a somewhat excessive independence and devotion to liberty. We give a man full liberty, they seem to have said, to work, to become rich, to grow fat. But if he will not work, let him starve. In that point of view there were involved certain fallacies, which became clearer during the course of social evolution.
Whenever human beings breed in reckless and unrestrained profusion—as is the case under some conditions before a free and self-conscious civilization is attained—there is an immense infantile mortality. It is claimed, on the one hand, that this is beneficial, and need not be interfered with. The weak are killed off, it is said, and the strong survive; there is a process of natural survival of the fittest. That is true. But it is equally true, as has also been clearly seen on the other hand, that though the relatively strongest survive, their relative strength has been impaired by the very influences which have proved altogether fatal to their weaker brethren.
The duty of purifying, ordering, and consolidating the banks of the stream must still remain. [8] But when we are able to control the stream at its source we are able to some extent to prevent the contamination of that stream by filth, and ensure that its muddy floods shall not sweep away the results of our laborious work on the banks. Our sense of social responsibility is developing into a sense of racial responsibility, and that development is expressed in the nature of the tasks of Social Hygiene which now lie before us.
“Increase and multiply” was the legendary injunction uttered on the threshold of an empty world. It is singularly out of place in an age in which the earth and the sea, if not indeed the very air, swarm with countless myriads of undistinguished and indistinguishable human creatures, until the beauty of the world is befouled and the glory of the Heavens bedimmed. To stem back that tide is the task now imposed on our heroism, to elevate and purify and refine the race, to introduce the ideal of quality in place of the ideal of quantity which has run riot so long, with the results we see. “As the Northern Saga tells that Odin must sacrifice his eye to attain the higher wisdom,” concludes Fahlbeck, “so Man also, in order to win the treasures of culture and refinement, must give not only his eye but his life, if not his own life that of his posterity.”
The compulsory presentation of certificates of health and good breeding as a preliminary to marriage forms no part of Eugenics, nor is compulsory sterilization a demand made by any reasonable eugenist. Certainly the custom of securing certificates of health and ability is excellent, not only as a preliminary to marriage, but as a general custom. Certainly, also, there are cases in which sterilization is desirable, if voluntarily accepted. [25] But neither certification nor sterilization should be compulsory. They only have their value if they are intelligent and deliberate, springing out of a widened and enlightened sense of personal responsibility to society and to the race.
A problem which is often and justly cited as one to be settled by Eugenics is that presented by the existence among us of the large class of the feeble-minded. No doubt there are some who would regret the disappearance of the feeble-minded from our midst. The philosophies of the Bergsonian type, which to-day prevail so widely, place intuition above reason, and the “pure fool” has sometimes been enshrined and idolized. But we may remember that Eugenics can never prevent absolutely the occurrence of feeble-minded persons, even in the extreme degree of the imbecile and the idiot. [26] They come within the range of variation, by the same right as genius so comes. We cannot, it may be, prevent the occurrence of such persons, but we can prevent them from being the founders of families tending to resemble themselves.
It is not only in themselves that the feeble-minded are a burden on the present generation and a menace to future generations. In large measure they form the reservoir from which the predatory classes are recruited. This is, for instance, the case as regards prostitutes. Feeble-minded girls, of fairly high grade, may often be said to be predestined to prostitution if left to themselves, not because they are vicious, but because they are weak and have little power of resistance. They cannot properly weigh their actions against the results of their actions, and even if they are intelligent enough to do that, they are still too weak to regulate their actions accordingly. Moreover, even when, as often happens among the high-grade feeble-minded, they are quite able and willing to work, after they have lost their “respectability” by having a child, the opportunities for work become more restricted, and they drift into prostitution. It has been found that of nearly 15,000 women who passed through Magdalen Homes in England, over 2500, or more than sixteen per cent—and this is probably an under-estimate—were definitely feeble-minded. The women belonging to this feeble-minded group were known to have added 1000 illegitimate children to the population. In Germany Bonhoeffer found among 190 prostitutes who passed through a prison that 102 were hereditarily degenerate and 53 feeble-minded. This would be an over-estimate as regards average prostitutes, though the offences were no doubt usually trivial, but in any case the association between prostitution and feeble-mindedness is intimate. Everywhere, there can be no doubt, the ranks of prostitution contain a considerable proportion of women who were, at the very outset, in some slight degree feeble-minded, mentally and morally a little blunted through some taint of inheritance.
These classes, with their tendency to weak-mindedness, their inborn laziness, lack of vitality, and unfitness for organized activity, contain the people who complain that they are starving for want of work, though they will never perform any work that is given them. Feeble-mindedness is an absolute dead-weight on the race. It is an evil that is unmitigated. The heavy and complicated social burdens and injuries it inflicts on the present generation are without compensation, while the unquestionable fact that in any degree it is highly inheritable renders it a deteriorating poison to the race; it depreciates the quality of a people. The task of Social Hygiene which lies before us cannot be attempted by this feeble folk. Not only can they not share it, but they impede it; their clumsy hands are for ever becoming entangled in the delicate mechanism of our modern civilization. Their very existence is itself an impediment. Apart altogether from the gross and obvious burden in money and social machinery which the protection they need, and the protection we need against them, casts upon the community, [38] they dilute the spiritual quality of the community to a degree which makes it an inapt medium for any high achievement.

HL Mencken on the first great evolution trial…

I’ve spent a LOT of time putting together a series of 13 podcast episodes of HL Mencken’s Baltimore Evening Sun reports on the Scopes trial from Dayton, Tenn. I’m releasing them in somewhat “real time”, according to the dates they were published 85 years ago. I’d like my visitors to this blog to hear them, and if you enjoy it, please pass a link along to others.

First, a list of the episodes and dates they’ll be released, I’ll link them up as they come out:

June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* - Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.

The full text of the report at the end of the blog!

As frequent readers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of Mencken’s writing. He’s got a viewpoint that is hardly expressed anymore – a no-bullshit commentator on the follies of his day. Moreso, much of what he criticised then has only gone downhill, and his mockery and scathing verbiage is a balm for the mind appalled by the utter stupidity of the modern scene. The only man I’ve read that was able to mix his best elements together with style was Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey introduced me to Mencken, as well as any number of authors, philosophers, artists and ideas. LaVey is indeed the proverbial gateway drug. It is the opposite of the religions of “the book”, his was a religion “of the world”. When Adversary Recordings rereleased his “Satan Takes a Holiday” CD, and I was tasked with writing promotional copy, this is the tail end:

“…as with most of the work that Anton LaVey has done, it’s a small door to a sometimes unseemly and Satanic world. Applying the true definition of “occult” to these songs is probably most appropriate, as they are hidden wonders.”

A few of the folks who didn’t get turned onto LaVey get real tripped up on the S-word. I’m not going to go into apologetics here, but I think I will be doing an episode on the topic. Let me assure you that you are nowhere near the first person, if you’re like many, to ask “But why not just call yourself ______?”


I’m not a writer. There are a few things that I’ve pecked out on the keyboard that I’m proud of, but I hold no illusion that they could even serve as an introduction to Mencken’s own words. Though mecken has penned a few pithy quotable lines, there has been one that I’ve found most reflects my own lifelong work, and I’ve used it many times. It is, in fact, the very first quote on my quotes page:

“I hope I need not confess that a large part of my stock in trade consists of platitudes rescued from the cobwebbed shelves of yesterday… This borrowing and refurbishing of shop-worn goods, as a matter of fact, is the invariable habit of traders in ideas, at all times and everywhere. It is not, however, that all the conceivable human notions have been thought out; it is simply, to be quite honest, that the sort of men who volunteer to think out new ones seldom, if ever, have wind enough for a full day’s work.”

-H.L. Menken, from “In Defense of Women”


July 6th was my 35th birthday and the 2nd anniversary of Underworld Amusements (I made a public announcement in October of ’08, but July was the time I started working on it seriously… well, as seriously as I’ve had spare time for). I’ve done quite a bit in the last two years under the banner of UA, but I’m reevaluating it as one should do everything. The podcast started in

The past month and a half I’ve been running ads on Facebook. It’s as cheap or expensive as you want to make it, so I made it cheap and tried to target the people I think would be most interested. It’s brought traffic to the site, but the idea of paying .15 to .50 cents for someone to merely visit the site is hard for me to do. UA is a no-budget operation, more or less. The meager profits from books just go to spending money on website hosting and whatever expenses come along.

This isn’t a wind-up to hitting you up for donations, though it probably sounds like it. No, this is a wind-up to ask anyone who has enjoyed a podcast or book released under the Underworld Amusements banner to occasionally, or at least once, post a link on facebook, write a review on itunes, or do some simple free task to promote what I’m doing. After 14 podcasts, including a number of interviews (from Oscar winner HR Giger, to one-time “worlds worst person” John Derbyshire, to Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, among others), I’ve received exactly one review on iTunes, and that I hounded a friend for.

A few folks have been very supportive, and I’ve done my best to reciprocate. That’s how I roll. I’ve done my best to avoid SPAMMY behavior. I haven’t trolled social network sites begging for folks to “friend” me. I rarely do it on my personal profile and just as rarely do it on my “business” pages. I promote other projects and publishers directly on the UA site and moreso on my personal site. This respectable method isn’t working. Paying for clicks is, but it’s also spending the little money I make that could be spent on new projects or making ongoing projects better.


I’ve tried thinking of ways to organize some sort of project that would assist others who are working on projects or have blogs or books to promote to do so easily. Something either a little more targeted than “facebook”, but not a whole separate system that competes with the established sites. I don’t want to build a social network for misfits, but I would like something like an Instapundit for misanthropes. Something that’s compelling enough to bring returning visitors, but not so involved that people have to set up identities, and something that can push that same info out to folks.

I’m not sure what form it’ll take, but it has a name and a url, though I’m not letting that on right now, as it could radically change or not happen. It’d be like telling you my sons name while still a virgin (well, technically, after I had the first two kids aborted, and was planing on making another kid).

When skepticism isn’t allowed…

I’m really bothered with the term “denialist”. It seems akin to racist or communist, intended to shut down discussion on all levels. We’re right, you’re an ideological brute who cannot see the truth that we, the elect, have. It pushes what could be sincere and scientific inquiry into the realm of conspiracy theories, and it’s done with calculating and malicious intent.

The first denialists, the lowest socially, are the “Holocaust Deniers”. The new denialists on the blocks are the “Global Warming Deniers”. Richard Dawkins, in his new “The Greatest Show On Earth” is floating “History Deniers” for people who don’t believe in evolution. This is in the first few pages of the book, and honestly, when I got through this, I ended up putting the book down and not picking it back up again. I accept that evolution is real, I have no problem in name calling in a manifesto, but that’s not what I was wanting in “The Greatest Show”, a book that is more of a work of Apologetics more than Polemics. Even the Vatican endorses evolution.

It seems obvious this is creating a dichotomy and a gross reduction of viewpoints. This, from scientists and historians who should know how difficult the subjects are, and how both historians and scientists have been very wrong about theories they’ve held to be quite unassailable at one point in time.

This said, I was quite pleased to see this more nuanced taxonomy…


[STEWART BRAND:] Climate talks have been going on in Copenhagen for a week now, and it appears to be a two-sided debate between alarmists and skeptics. But there are actually four different views of global warming. A taxonomy of the four:

DENIALISTS They are loud, sure and political. Their view is that climatologists and their fellow travelers are engaged in a vast conspiracy to panic the public into following an agenda that is political and pernicious. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and the columnist George Will wave the banner for the hoax-callers.

“The claim that global warming is caused by manmade emissions is simply untrue and not based on sound science,” Mr. Inhofe declared in a 2003 speech to the Senate about the Kyoto accord that remains emblematic of his position. “CO2 does not cause catastrophic disasters — actually it would be beneficial to our environment and our economy …. The motives for Kyoto are economic, not environmental — that is, proponents favor handicapping the American economy through carbon taxes and more regulations.”

SKEPTICS This group is most interested in the limitations of climate science so far: they like to examine in detail the contradictions and shortcomings in climate data and models, and they are wary about any “consensus” in science. To the skeptics’ discomfort, their arguments are frequently quoted by the denialists.

In this mode, Roger Pielke, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado, argues that the scenarios presented by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are overstated and underpredictive. Another prominent skeptic is the physicist Freeman Dyson, who wrote in 2007: “I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models …. I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests.”

WARNERS These are the climatologists who see the trends in climate headed toward planetary disaster, and they blame human production of greenhouse gases as the primary culprit. Leaders in this category are the scientists James Hansen, Stephen Schneider and James Lovelock. (This is the group that most persuades me and whose views I promote.)

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted,” Mr. Hansen wrote as the lead author of an influential 2008 paper, then the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would have to be reduced from 395 parts per million to “at most 350 p.p.m.”

CALAMATISTS There are many environmentalists who believe that industrial civilization has committed crimes against nature, and retribution is coming. They quote the warners in apocalyptic terms, and they view denialists as deeply evil. The technology critic Jeremy Rifkin speaks in this manner, and the writer-turned-activist Bill McKibben is a (fairly gentle) leader in this category.

In his 2006 introduction for “The End of Nature,” his famed 1989 book, Mr. McKibben wrote of climate change in religious terms: “We are no longer able to think of ourselves as a species tossed about by larger forces — now we are those larger forces. Hurricanes and thunderstorms and tornadoes become not acts of God but acts of man. That was what I meant by the ‘end of nature.'”

The calamatists and denialists are primarily political figures, with firm ideological loyalties, whereas the warners and skeptics are primarily scientists, guided by ever-changing evidence. That distinction between ideology and science not only helps clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the four stances, it can also be used to predict how they might respond to future climate developments.

If climate change were to suddenly reverse itself (because of some yet undiscovered mechanism of balance in our climate system), my guess is that the denialists would be triumphant, the skeptics would be skeptical this time of the apparent good news, the warners would be relieved, and the calamatists would seek out some other doom to proclaim.

If climate change keeps getting worse then I would expect denialists to grasp at stranger straws, many skeptics to become warners, the warners to start pushing geoengineering schemes like sulfur dust in the stratosphere, and the calamatists to push liberal political agendas — just as the denialists said they would.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: First published as an OpEd article in The New York Times on December 15, 2009]