Everything is Fine & Other Lies Principians Tell Each Other

I recently typed up a seven page post about how Principia failed to meet and recognize the needs to students, then I had a conversation with a close friend who asked, rather pointedly, how Principia was supposed to know anything was wrong and I’m sharing this instead.

In Christian Science we are to correct our thought, if we perceive something is amiss, we are to correct our thought. If CS are perceived to be behaving in any way that is less than Perfect, it is a Failing on our part and we must work to correct it.

This applies to mental issues as well as physical ones. I’d like to think some of the issues Prin failed at would be obvious in a different school, the physical ones, the reasons people went to Cox Cottage. The reasons people snuck off campus for medical care (yes, that happened).

Mental and emotional issues are a bit harder, most of the people were “working on the situation with Science” which gave them a free pass to ignore it, or stress-read the works of MBE late into the night.

Let’s be honest, most CS are pretty good at putting on a good show. Unless something was truly horribly wrong, they showed up for classes, meals, etc. and even if they didn’t, we were all so busy with our own lives we wouldn’t have noticed unless they were our roommate, and even then, with some extreme exceptions, there were no “red flags” — and even the ones we did see we didn’t know how to act on.

If the problem was really truly bad, they’d be disappeared in the night. Disappearances during the academic term are jarring, the ones that happen between breaks are more subtle. Some people just don’t come back after Spring Break, are they on an Abroad, were they asked to leave, is it Academic Probation, did they run out of funds, did they transfer out, is it some combination of all of these?

Eventually the missing fade into the background while you try and cope with the grueling quarter system (apparently this has since been changed) and stresses of trying to maintain a good GPA so you don’t loose your sources of funding. Really, there isn’t much time for speculation.

You (quite falsely) assume everyone is a good CS and everyone is getting their stuff done, and no one is having any problems. You’re too busy working at masking your own to notice anyone else’s anyway.

Given all that, I’m almost willing to give Principia a pass, but Prin heavily emphasizes community, and morals. Principia is the sort of community where people comment if you’re not in Sunday School or you miss a House Meeting. If people can notice you’re not attending Hymn Sing, they should be able to notice if you are struggling. Or should they?

Advertisements

Five Questions – Principia Edition – Kat’s Answers


This post is being done in collaboration with my fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Emerging Gently. We have also posed these same questions to other ex-Christian Scientists. Their answers appear in a series of posts on The Ex-Christian Scientist*.


1) Why did you attend Principia?

I had to get away from the toxic culture perpetuated by my high school, there were over 4000 students, and I wanted/needed a change. I had been brutally bullied through middle, felt largely overlooked (but not in a good way) in high school, and wanted a fresh start. No one else from my high school had ever gone to Principia so it seemed unlikely there would be anyone I knew, no preconceived notions about who I was, etc.

Principia was the only college I applied to, and I was fortunate to get really good funding from a variety of sources (not just loans from the college), in exchange for maintaining a 2.5-3.0 (or higher) GPA, and a yearly thank-you note.

2) Did your experiences at Principia impact/influence your views of CS?

Yes! The spectrum of what qualifies as “practicing” “Christian Science” varies wildly. The way Christian Science is put to work at Principia makes me particularly uncomfortable (see my negative experience below).

3) If you had a do-over would you attend Principia again? Why/why not? 

This is a hard one, I met my future husband at Prin — I was not looking for one, in fact I was pretty convinced I was never going to marry a “good little CS boy.” I’m happily married, and I’m unlikely to have met him another way. Would I go advise my 18-year-old self not to apply? No. I like where my life ended up, even if the path to get here was a bit trying at times.

4) Would you recommend Principia to a young CS?

No. Why not? See “related reading” at the bottom

5) Please share one positive experience and one negative experience about your time at the school/college

Positive – I made some truly wonderful friends, I enjoyed the (false) sense of security knowing I was in (what I thought was) a like-minded community, I had travel experiences I would not have had otherwise, and I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad).

Negative – this has been shared as part of a longer post before, but I will excerpt the key portion here:
Continue reading

Does Quantum Physics Validate Christian Science? 

The following post is by guest contributor realscience

This is the first of two posts critiquing a lecture at Principia College by Laurance Doyle, Ph.D., entitled, “The Metaphysics of Quantum Physics.” Doyle’s talk makes two basic claims: (1) quantum physics validates Christian Science; and (2) Mary Baker Eddy anticipated the findings of 20th century physics. This post tackles the first claim; I will address the second in a later post.


Fifteen years ago physicist and former Christian Scientist, Robert L. Miller, published an article in the journal Skeptic entitled, “Christian Science and the Perversion of Quantum Physics.” Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist and Christian Scientist, had been proclaiming a metaphysical interpretation of quantum physics that was at odds with generally accepted interpretations and wrong on the physics to boot. Well, Doyle is still at it, perverting theory and experiment to evangelize lay Christian Scientists with the notion that quantum physics validates their religion and that Mary Baker Eddy had a prescient understanding of scientific reality.

Doyle gave a lecture last April at Principia College where he is director of the oxymoronic “Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics”) on “The Metaphysics of Quantum Physics.” I suppose a talk of that flavor to a community of believers is to be expected, but it is clear from the expressionless faces in the audience that the physics he presented was far over-the-heads of most. I don’t believe anyone in Cox Auditorium that day had sufficient knowledge to question anything Doyle said. Indeed, I suspect the Christian Science community as a whole reveres Dr. Doyle as an unassailable authority on quantum physics.

In fact, however, Doyle is far out of the mainstream of physics consensus. Anyone who has attended a scientific conference knows how participants will challenge others’ hypotheses and interpretations of experimental results, all for the advancement of understanding–but this won’t happen at Principia College. If Doyle were to give this same presentation to a group of his peers at a physics symposium (even stripped of its references to Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science) he would be interrupted and challenged on nearly every slide.

1. The experimenter is not separable from his experiment.

Doyle repeatedly misstates the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics promulgated by Niels Bohr by declaring that “the experimenter is not separable from the experiment” (referring to the famous double-slit experiment). Doyle believes that the experimenter’s mind affects quantum behavior: “What you can know about the experiment turns out to be what’s important.” But Bohr was explicit that it is the measuring apparatus (rather than the mind of the experimenter) that is inseparable from the behavior of the particles: The experiment “implies the impossibility of any sharp separation between the behaviour of atomic objects and the interaction with the measuring instruments which serve to define the conditions under which the phenomena appear.”1

Doyle is incorrect when he declares, “Particles do not exist until they are observed” (i.e., by a human experimenter). Science writer Eliot Hawkins explains his error:

This is where people sometimes get confused and misinterpretations occur. . . . To us regular folks, “observation” means looking at something, seeing something happen. That’s not even close to what it means to quantum physicists. To them, it means measuring. . . . These vastly different definitions left us regular joe’s thinking that reality is unresolved until we look at it and that quantum states didn’t resolve until the information had managed to filter through our human minds.2

2. An underlying immediate connectedness exists between all elementary particles that make up all things.

Doyle bases this assertion on the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, in which particles of common origin and shared properties appear to be “aware” of each other’s states when separated (and theoretically the separation distance is unlimited). Although it defies our common sense, the phenomenon is reliably observable in experiments. Doyle believes that experiments to test Bell’s Theorem prove that entangled particles “communicate” their status via a mechanism that operates faster than the speed of light. But he faces a formidable hurdle with that inference because it conflicts with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which has been exhaustively validated experimentally. Most physicists reject the notion that superluminal communication is what’s happening in the Bell’s Inequality experiments, and recent experiments continue to demonstrate that faster-than-light transmission is impossible.

Entanglement can be produced in the laboratory, but it is a fragile condition that is instantly destroyed when particles are disturbed by interactions from outside their closed system. Consequently, the random and chaotic nature of the universe ensures that any sort of underlying entanglement or awareness among all particles in the cosmos is impossible.

3. “History” can be changed.

As strange as it seems, experiments with individual particles have shown that at the quantum level time can run backwards. Doyle suggests that this phenomenon raises the interesting possibility of reversing time at macroscopic levels (“changing history”).

Time, like position and momentum, is a probabilistic phenomenon. At the level of individual particles the probability of time going either direction can be high. But at scales greater than small numbers of particles the probability of time reversal increasingly approaches zero. Consequently, at the macroscopic scale in which we live time is an irreversible forward arrow hurtling in the direction of greater entropy, as the second law of thermodynamics requires. Zoran Pazameta explains:

In Einstein’s physics causality holds in all domains of the natural world, but quantum theory allows for violation of microcausality at the (microscopic) quantum level. In our macroscopic world, however, causality holds absolutely. This is one important reason why time travel is impossible; to go backwards in time means reversing every cause-and-effect event in the entire universe between then and now.3

Dr. Doyle’s central argument that modern physics validates Christian Science is a willful misinterpretation of the science. If physics actually validated his three assertions then we could plausibly believe that human thought determines what is real; that every particle of the universe is united under one mind; and that mental force can change the history of human experience (including, I suppose, raising the dead). But Doyle’s assertions are not validated by physics: they are all incorrect. No, Dr. Doyle, quantum physics does not validate Christian Science.

It should be a matter of concern that Dr. Doyle misrepresents physical science to an audience of students in order to promote a metaphysical system. It is unfortunate that students at Principia College will not be exposed to other perspectives on the implications of modern physics, which are indeed fascinating. Principia College remains an intellectually closed community on matters that may challenge Christian Science theology. These students deserve better. Continue reading

PATIENT #5

The following guest post is a first hand account of the 1985 measles outbreak at Principia College


PROLOGUE

I look back at my days during the 1980’s at Principia college with a lot of mixed feelings. Though initially the place captivated me by the nature of the area and the intelligence of the teachers, the college and its religious principles quickly shaped a lot of my core beliefs on what NOT to do in life.

Nothing would help plant and then solidify a wide range of negative feelings about Principia and the CS religion then when the campus was overtaken by the measles back in 1985.

THE BEGINNING

One thing I discovered when living at Principia College was that important facts and stories were often regulated to rumors – and the beginning spread of the measles epidemic on the campus in 1985 was a vague topic at best.

I heard a few inklings from various people – a mention here and there with lots of missing facts. First there was talk of one person who got a case of measles and disappeared from class…then I heard about a person who might have left to get treatment at a local hospital and died or did they? No one really knew for sure. And then I heard of another person who I knew by name only who mysteriously disappeared but was then rumored to be at the infamous Cox Cottage C.S. treatment area.

But how did this all happen? Just what was the measles anyway? At the time I couldn’t remember what vaccination shots I got for back in my early days. Was I vaccinated for measles? Maybe I got a shot for something – I remember getting some sort of needle prick when I was 4 or 5. But then, I was never told anything – ever. In my early years when the subject did come up with school administrators there was just a lot of hushed talk and paperwork. So was I protected? Or did the C.S. faith protect me? – Did I have anything to be concerned about? How should I deal with a possible outbreak that seemed to be occuring? – ignore it? Pray about it?

Then one Saturday, about a week after the mumblings around campus, I found myself busily working away on a project and suddenly loosing energy. Thinking I had just overworked myself I put it off and just got to bed a little earlier than usual – but come Sunday I definitely felt like things had really amped up. A heavy, foggy sensation seemed to grip me and I became deeply concerned. Then some friends convinced me it might be a good idea to check in at Cox Cottage the Christian Science hospital on campus to just get back on track. Reluctantly, I went off to the somewhat mysterious environment of Christian Science care.

Cox Cottage felt like a combination reading room and some sort inn your grandmother might stay at – didn’t really seem much like a health oriented place. I was put in a room and told to rest. The next day I woke up and much to my surprise there was a top college administrator looking down at me.

“Are you ok? How are you feeling? Have you looked in a mirror? Did you notice any sort of red marks on your face? We think it’s a good idea that you stay here for a couple days.” Sometime during the next day I was moved to another much larger room on a side wing…and then my situation started to become much worse. My body was reacting to something and huge waves of heat and discomfort would flood me for hours on end. Was it a day or two or three that went by?…I hadn’t left the room except to occasionally struggle to the toilet down the hall.

Horribly uncomfortable and fed up one night, I got up and walked into the small, dark lobby that was within a few feet from my room. It must have been 3 or 4 in the morning and I sat reading one of the magazines when one of the nurses came in and completely freaked out – frantically asking me to get back to my room immediately. It was then that I was informed that I was quarantined. I came to the conclusion that I must have gotten the measles. How did that happen? What should I do now? What’s the way to get better? No one would answer these questions or even talk with me about what was happening.

As I lay on a bed struggling with the disturbing sensations of an illness running its course my own ability to do much of anything was regulated to a sort of zombie, living dead like existence. I could barely move – just taking a shower was a harsh adventure in pain. After only a few days new patients were showing up in vast numbers – before I knew it there was another bed moved into my room, then another and another. At all hours of the day people were groaning in pain, throwing up – yelling out various bible versus or just quietly reading the lesson while suffering in pain. But still, no one in authority said anything about what was happening or how to best deal with it. I had no idea that getting measles in your adult years in particular was a really dangerous thing that ultimately could be life threatening.

After about a week I got my parents on the phone. I remember pleading with them to do something but was met with a quiet resignation to just do as I was told – informing me that the best they could do was get a practitioner on the case. At various points during the ordeal I had visitors who could only speak from outside through the window – they would tell me that the campus was under siege with sick people everywhere, students were not allowed to leave at all and one of the houses was going to be converted into a mass quarantine zone with CS nurses flying in from all over the US to deal with the huge numbers that were contracting the illness. The story of Principia’s ordeal was on the national news with an interview with the school’s president too.

Then one night a top school administrator/teacher came by the room to visit one of his students – I remember hearing their discussions about what was happening with a lot of bible chapters and Science and Health versus thrown in by the administrator. Then he said something I’ll never forget – directly blaming the entire outbreak of the disease on the student body themselves claiming we had, “not been praying hard enough.” According to him we had brought the disease on ourselves. Even in my disturbed state I remember feeling an intense anger to him…a complete disbelief that someone could say such a thing.

Finally, after many weeks of pain and redness the disease disappeared in its appearance from my body and I was let go from the care of Cox cottage. Apparently I was “well enough” to be let back in to the college….but “well enough” was a questionable term. I felt like I was still a zombie – barely able to navigate walking and missing a number of abilities like taste, smell, and any sort of long term or short term memory. And there was some issue with my hearing too. But at least I was out of that Cox Cottage prison of C.S. ramblings and hushed talk. The coming weeks I tried to function but it was clear I wasn’t up to it. I’d sit in classes and not be able to remember anything at all. My hair started falling out and later when it grew back in it had changed color and was curly – and remains so decades later.

It would end up taking several months before my senses completely returned. I was most concerned about my hearing, which due to that experience had changed in one of my ears. I went back to Cox cottage and they said not to worry about it, pray – and everything would be fine. It wasn’t. And a few weeks later I forced my parents to get me into an ear doctor who found the problem (which the measles had caused), fixed it, and claimed if I hadn’t dealt with it when I did I probably would have lost all my hearing.

Eventually it was revealed that some of the early “patients” were let out “a little too early.” The days after I struggled to come back – spending a lot of time just slowly moving from class to class and getting a lot of sleep. I remember returning briefly to Cox Cottage to try and cheer up a friend who also was swept up in the epidemic many weeks after I was – he looked terrible but felt like he was doing better. Several days later he died. For spring break many were given the option of either taking a vaccination shot or staying on the campus until the quarantine was over – many took the shot.

THE END

I can’t remember the tally of just how many people got the disease – two people died and it seemed from the inside that it had affected hundreds. I attended the wake of my friend that passed and I wondered what more could have been done to save him – to me nothing was done. The entire plan from the schools perspective seemed to be all about praying and praying – but in the end it was all about letting things run it’s course. The results speak for themselves.

As my years went on at the college I would meet this “you’re not praying hard enough” belief system over and over again. In time, like many others I knew who attended the college, the Principia experience served as the catalyst for a complete and total abandoning of the religion – in fact, all religions.

Now over 30 years later, I look back on the experience in a new light. As students caught up in this epidemic we were not given the information needed to make any sort of decisions on our own and we were left to play a sort of Russian roulette in a backwards faith game. The people in charge and their belief system caused students to be horribly tortured and a couple students left to die. And thus, at its most fundamental, basic level the college, staff and most important the religion completely FAILED revealing its arrogance, ignorance and utter stupidity. I cannot forgive or forget what they did – to do so would be to comply with the same criminal behavior they engaged in. No, I remember….


About Patient #5

Patient #5 spent over 20 years involved with the Christian Science faith out of default.  From the first remembered experience at a local Sunday School at around the age of 4 Patient #5 had strong internal feelings of not being able to relate to the religion on any level but parental pressures forced a course of continued involvement.  This path persisted throughout early life as experiences included forced weekly church attendance, Cedars Camp, and finally Principia College. After graduating from the college in the 1980’s Patient #5 had experienced enough and completely abandoned the religion and any of its affiliations. 30 years later, Patient #5 has come to the strong conclusion that Christian Science has many disturbing cult like tendencies that keep its members from having open minds or the logic to deal with important physical issues.  Although Patient #5 ultimately chose a course of abandoning all organized religion, certain religious concepts have been retained – one in particular from the Buddhist faith is the law of Karma.  Looking now at Christian Science’s countless empty, closed or closing churches and continued failed member replacement it appears quite clear to Patient #5 that the law of Karma is fully engaged.

measles at Prin 1989 (follow-up)

From my e-mail, a follow-up corroboration of measles at Prin 1989:

That is about how I remember it, though I don’t remember a whole lot. This a really good account.
.
When I was first transferred to the middle school wing, I remember they tricked me and said I’d only be there for a night. Then they didn’t let me leave and shortly afterward they decided that no one was allowed to leave their rooms there – maybe because they were mixing people with colds with people with measles and were hoping to avoid cross-contamination? It didn’t last.
.
I also remember that damn clapper on the TV and how every time someone coughed it would turn off.
.
Also the milkshakes. They went through the trash to see who wasn’t drinking theirs. If you didn’t have the appetite for a milkshake you were getting sicker and went to campus house.
.
I remember very little about campus house. Except I can corroborate the no baths thing. I must have worn the same underwear for days. Gross.
.
Oh, and remember how kids could get vaccinated so they could leave campus? Except I swear they vaccinated kids who had been in the quarantine wing and had clearly been exposed. I want to say [students name redacted] got double measles from it.

And an additional note from the original guest poster:
I suspect I only had a cold and they put me in the the measles area. Because I was fine for a long time before I got really sick… Though I could also have been in denial.

Additional information about measles and the dangers of not vaccinating

Additional information about the Principia Measles outbreaks (both 1985 and 1989)

Additional information about Christian Science and measles

Debunking this article from the Christian Science Monitor

From Lucia Greenhouse, shared with permission.


Debunking this article from the Christian Science Monitor:
“Why do some parents choose not to vaccinate? (From the Christian Science Monitor (Feb 3, 2015) By Amanda Paulson, Staff writer FEBRUARY 3, 2015

It’s a question that’s being asked with increased intensity and often hostility in the wake of a measles outbreak at Disneyland. Parents who decide not to vaccinate their children are often well educated and cite complex reasons….”

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0203/Measles-outbreak-Why-do-some-parents-choose-not-to-vaccinate

Full disclosure: I probably–no, definitely, fall into the “hostility” camp for reasons that I make plain in my memoir “fathermothergod.” (Crown Publishers, 2011.) In the days to come I will be delving more deeply into the Christian Science Church’s response to the measles outbreaks (or lack thereof) , and the Christian Science Monitor’s curious coverage of the recent and very newsworthy Measles/vaccine exemption debate–but my knee-jerk reaction to today’s piece in the Christian Science Monitor is this: in 1800 words , Christian Science gets a mere ten, buried almost half-way down the piece. This is it:
“(Many Christian Science families also seek religious exemptions from vaccines.)”

The Christian Science Church has been–until relatively recently, anyway– a strong advocate–and a powerful one too boot– for religious exemptions to states’ vaccination laws. Why? The Christian Science Church’s most devout members practice radical reliance on prayer over medicine. And they do this because for over a hundred and twenty-five years, radical reliance has been the linchpin of religious observance in the practice of Christian Science. But what is noticeably absent from the Monitor’s story today: Christian Science affiliated institutions have been ground zero for well-documented, vaccine-preventable outbreaks: in 1985 an outbreak of measles at The Principia College (for Christian Scientists), resulting in three deaths and over 120 confirmed or suspected cases. In 1985, and again in 1989, there were measles outbreaks at Christian Science summer camps (the first in Colorado, the second in Missouri) which subsequently spread to the campers’ home-states; In 1994, an outbreak, again at the Principia schools, that spread beyond the two campuses and led to a significant public health problem, infecting 241 people. (Keep in mind, too, that Christian Science doctrine refutes the “theory” of contagion.”)*

PS: the byline. Amanda Paulson. Ring a bell? Think: Christian Science, Politics, Finance, Clout.  Father is Hank Paulson, Christian Scientist, former CEO Goldman Sachs, former Treasury Secretary circa 2008. Amanda: where do you stand on vaccines and religious exemptions?

*http://childrenshealthcare.org