29 December 2013

A cruel pretence

There is a cruel pretence that the outcast professor (me) is not suffering from being deprived of an institutional (i.e. hotel) environment and social recognition as a leading intellectual, that is to say as a person with a salaried and prestigious professorship.

When I was thrown out fifty years ago I accepted that there was a brick wall in front of me and that all I could do was scrape at it, trying to make a tunnel through it. Everyone promoted the fiction that I was being ‘free to follow my interests’. This was the worst possible slander of someone in my terrible position, because it represented me as not needing help in the form of money and people, or needing support for my attempts to get such help.

How do you suppose it feels, after fifty years of totally unrewarding toil in bad circumstances, trying to work towards an institutional (hotel) environment and an Oxbridge professorship, to be told by a philosopher at Somerville College that, if I got back onto a salaried career track which could lead to a professorship, I would be ‘less free’! It feels like the most violent possible rejection of all that constitutes one’s individuality. The worst insult possible, to add to grievous injury. And she (the philosopher), and many others at Somerville, have slandered and even libelled me in this terrible way.

There should be recognition of this as a criminal act with a legal penalty. Suitable redress would be that she should be condemned to come and work in my incipient and downtrodden independent university, doing whatever she can most usefully do, probably helping with the domestic and menial necessities which arise from the lack of staff from which I am always suffering grievously. Also she should forfeit her assets to contribute towards the funding that I need to build up the capital endowment of my university, which is still too painfully squeezed for me to be able to make use of my ability to do anything.

In fact, of course, the negative consequences to her and the other dons at Somerville from slandering and libelling me in this way are nil. Instead, they are able to go on enjoying their advantages, and no doubt talk about helping the ‘underprivileged’ – while doing nothing to alleviate the bad condition of someone for whose downfall they were in part responsible.

This is an edited version of the text of a letter to an academic, first posted in 2007.

’People of any age are invited to come to Cuddesdon, near Oxford, initially as voluntary workers. They are expected to have enough money of their own to pay for accommodation near here, but would be able to use our canteen facilities. While here, they could gain information about topics and points of view suppressed in the modern world, as well as giving badly needed help to our organisation. From this initial association a permanent, full- or part-time career could develop.’ Celia Green, DPhil

‘We hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department. We make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

09 December 2013

The dubious value of ‘education’

Recent statements by Michael Gove (the Education Secretary) and Andrew Hamilton (Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University), among others, seem to accept the usual assumption that assessments and appointments made by agents of the collective at all levels of the ‘educational’ system are meaningful and objective, and that working for a qualification within the system is a positive advantage to all who are allowed to do so – so that receiving a grant (for example) is automatically of value to the individual receiving it.

Referring to the special type of tuition offered by Oxford, Professor Hamilton says that
Excellence in most walks of life does not come cheap ... unless we can offer the best we can’t expect to get the best.
implying that more attention from teachers (via the tutorial system) is bound to mean a better product for recipients.

Yet having to have work assessed by tutors in a one-to-one interaction is not necessarily something which recipients are going to benefit from, let alone enjoy.

Michael Gove is highly critical of some recent negative comments made by Simon Cowell about the supposed pointlessness of school. Gove claims the future belongs to
... those who work hard, enjoy the best education and pursue the most rigorous qualifications.
The truthfulness of this statement may be limited to the fact that the future belongs to those who are able to avoid being subjected to state education.

Actually, Simon Cowell makes a perfectly good point by implying that for some, school is largely an irrelevance, and they would be better off leaving it as soon as possible, to get on with what they really want to do. Unfortunately, recent legislation – which Mr Gove allowed to pass unchallenged – means non-academic types like Mr Cowell are no longer able to leave school at the age of 16, but must endure a further two years (or otherwise go on an approved ‘training’ course), by which time a vital part of their youthful energy and optimism may have been exhausted.

* * *

In any individual case, working for an examination under the auspices of an official institution may well be less efficient than working alone, and may indeed lead to a negative outcome.

What is referred to loosely as ‘education’ is not simply the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills, but usually involves the acceptance of a power-relation in which you give other people the right to make judgements and decisions about you. If you are lucky, these people may choose not to act against your interests – this is obviously more likely if there is a financial incentive, i.e. you (or your parents) are paying them, or their employer, directly.

If you are not so lucky, their actions may undermine or annul your own efforts, so that the package labelled as ‘education’ ends up being a net negative as far as you are concerned.

Yet discussions of ‘education’ invariably proceed as if any resources devoted to something falling under that heading automatically lead to an increase in benefit for would-be learners.

* * *

In my own case, accepting a grammar school scholarship meant that I would spend many years having my life run by people who had no reason to wish me well and who, in retrospect, may be supposed to have been motivated by wishing to prevent my ability from expressing itself in any way that would lead me into the sort of university career to which I was highly suited, and which I badly needed to have.

Apart from any more subjective adverse effects, one very significant negative factor was in my being pressured for years to take a degree in mathematics. There were many subjects in which, working on my own, I could have obtained a first class result easily, but if I had been working on my own, I would never have considered maths as a possible degree subject. As a result, I was thrown out at the end of the ruined education with no usable qualification at all.

When I was ten or eleven, my father had my IQ tested by an educational psychologist who was employed by a local educational authority. He said that he had never tested a child like it before and never expected to do so again. In this he was expressing the previous ideology according to which people could be more or less exceptional, and the likelihood of their being good at anything academic was predominantly determined by a general factor in their IQ (Spearman’s g factor). There was also an idea that their IQ determined their suitability for various occupations. This psychologist told my father, with evident satisfaction, that his own (the psychologist’s) IQ was 140 and that in those days this was regarded as ‘a professor’s IQ’.

It was general knowledge at the time, and for at least a decade afterwards, that in a population of 50 million, there would be about 500 people with IQs over 180, as mine was said to be.

* * *

I have still not regained an acceptable social position. The egalitarian ideology which dominated my years at school and university was in force, and increasingly so, throughout the society within which I had to attempt to make my way, both within and outside of the university system.

I am still appealing for moral and financial support from associates of every kind, to enable me to become functional as soon as possible.

03 December 2013

To potential supporters, and Dr Charles McCreery’s family

A property has just come on the market in Cuddesdon which would be suitable for us.

I have previously suggested that buying a house in the name of Dr McCreery would indicate a wish on the part of his family to start making reparation to him for the damage to his prospects that was done, and continues to be done, by slander and disinheritance. (Further information about this situation can be found at Charles McCreery and his family.)

There is also the possibility that a supporter might wish to buy such a house and allow us the use of it, as a way of allowing us to expand our operations to a more adequate level.

29 November 2013

A need for unbiased research

Recently, both Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have raised the question of innate IQ, breaking the usual taboo on the topic.

Mr Johnson has caused controversy by saying that ‘it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130.’ In a speech given on Wednesday, he suggested that tackling economic inequality may be ‘futile’ because some people’s IQ is too low for them to compete.

We regularly appeal for sympathisers to provide us with the support that would enable us to be productive academic researchers. If Michael Gove, Boris Johnson or others wished to see the debate on IQ (and other topics) go beyond the current sterile nods to ideological correctness, would it not make sense for them to do something practical to get us set up as a fully fledged institution – which, with their contacts, they easily could?

Here is something I wrote last year about the distribution of intelligence, pointing out that a slight shift downward in the average IQ of the population can have dramatic effects on the sizes of both the high-IQ and low-IQ sections of the population:


11 November 2013

More about the sea change

Further to my post about the Hibbert Journal, one sign of the sea change that came over everybody’s outlook is provided by the fact that all the people who could be said to have supported me were at least about forty years older than I was. And all the expressions of recognition of my ability had an open-ended quality, implying that I was qualitatively different from other people in a way that suggested that I might do something a bit unprecedented, and that this made it appropriate to give me opportunity; whereas those who opposed me were generally characterised by sounding as if they had everything taped.

Nearly all of my supporters were men, and more or less upper-class. Unfortunately, not all of my acquaintances more than forty years older than me were supporters. For example, my worst anti-supporter was a woman, also upper-class and more than forty years older than me. She was not supposedly expert in any area and had no academic qualifications, but could infallibly influence those who had these things. None of the support which Rosalind Heywood got for various people other than me could be said to be motivated by interest in the area of work that was to be done. It was a case of her fishing around to find something that could be done by a statusful person, hence blocking any support for research that might otherwise have reached me. So you could say that the ‘interest’ that was being supported was an interest in blocking me from doing research.

Perhaps the support which I have sometimes got could be said to be motivated by the opposite; an interest in letting me do something which other people would not have thought of doing, and because I was exceptional. Cecil King more or less expressed this by saying to Sir George Joy that he ‘backed people, not projects’.

Seeing that interest in the work which is to be done is apparently irrelevant, and that preventing my doing anything is an effective motive, what motive would there, on the other hand, have to be for supporting my doing of anything? Apparently this would depend entirely on somebody being perceptive enough to see that I could do ground-breaking research which nobody else would think of doing. Such a person would have to be generous enough to wish to support my research, and to wish me to live in decent conditions while I was doing it.

In fact, some such motive was often implied by my supporters when I had any. I have already mentioned Cecil King. Another such person was the Reverend Mother of the convent school who said when I was thirteen that I was ‘more than merely talented: I was certain to contribute to the intellectual life of my time’. She tried to give me a chance by arranging to let me take the School Certificate exam when I was thirteen.

‘Celia Green is a person of exceptional gifts. She should be given the funding to work on the many topics she has been prevented for decades from developing. I make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to exceptional individuals.’
Charles McCreery, DPhil

08 November 2013

The Hibbert Journal

My colleague Dr Charles McCreery recently mentioned to me something interesting about the Hibbert Journal (a philosophy journal), which he had read, including back numbers, soon after finishing his first degree.

He said that he noticed a sea change in the contents round about 1946-47 – they became more vacuous, less meaningful. It is not that the contributors started to clearly say things that he found he disagreed with, or that it was obvious that they were promoting a point of view that he found claustrophobic. It was more subtle than that, but the change was definitely there.

Charles said it was strange that a philosophical journal could in any way be affected by the socialist ideas that became dominant with the end of World War II, but this indeed seems to have been the case.

I myself noticed a marked change in the attitudes of my teachers at about this time (i.e. around 1946-7). In my schools, and in other organisations, the ‘old guard’, who were more likely to be sympathetic, and in some cases even positively helpful to me, were retiring and being replaced by those who espoused the now dominant socialist, egalitarian ideology.

text of a letter to a senior academic by Christine Fulcher, Research Officer at Oxford Forum

I am writing to say that I think you have a duty to put pressure on your academic colleagues and contacts to give financial support to Celia Green.
Of course, I also think you have a duty to give Celia financial support yourself, as someone who knows her and has a clear picture of her situation; to help enable her to set up the university department with residential college which would provide her with the hotel environment and scope to do research that she needs, to relieve her frustration.
The constriction of our situation affects all of us, Celia in particular, as she is the person with the greatest need for intellectual activity and for an expanding situation. Charles and Fabian also ought have professorial appointments as heads of departments, and no doubt all three of my colleagues would be well-known and well-financed professors if the University of Oxford and the academic world in general were not so hostile to real ability.
The fact that Celia had to try to set up her own university department on being thrown out of Oxford University fifty years ago is an indictment of the standards and motivation of the University. The fact that after all this time our academic organisation is still supported solely by us is a clear indication that the standards and motivation of the academic world (as exemplified by Oxford) are still deplorable.

27 October 2013

Michael Gove, Robert Plomin and heredity

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, appears to be paying some attention to the possibility of heredity as a factor in intelligence. He has been having talks with Professor Robert Plomin, who has done research on the heritability of intelligence, and who is said to believe that ‘genetics, not teaching, plays a major part in the intelligence of schoolchildren.’

One may wonder why it is of any interest to attempt to evaluate the relative importance of heredity and environmental factors on functionality. It only becomes of interest, surely, when opportunity of various kinds is not paid for directly by the individual, or his parents or guardian, but supplied by the state.

At present, many people, or at least many among the most influential, seem to wish to believe that there is no such thing as innate ability, and that there should be equality of opportunity (and hence equality of outcome). But what are we to understand by equality of opportunity? In practice, this is taken to mean that resources should be applied lavishly to those whose performance is below the average. Thus children with ‘special needs’, for example, are to be sent in taxis, accompanied by social workers, to special schools. And, although this is less explicitly advocated, those who are far ahead should be held back.

Most current discussion of educational issues, such as the distribution of above-average ability in different sectors of the population, is wildly fictitious. The online comments on educational articles in the Guardian, for example, show a persistent belief in the inferior average intelligence of middle-class children, and the superior average intelligence of working-class children, who are supposedly prevented by bad circumstances from showing their ability.

It has become fashionable among certain sectors of society to be very aware of the possibility of working-class children with high IQs getting no opportunity of using their intelligence to attain the academic and career success of their middle-class peers. Arguably, these sectors of society should also be aware of the possibility of high-IQ adults whose educations were ruined and who have had (and still have) no opportunity to enter high-status academic careers, which they need to have, so as to be in a position to use their abilities to the full. In practice, however, people claiming to be concerned for the plight of the unfortunate do not show any sympathy for those whose education has been ruined in this way.

When I was growing up in East London, my parents and their friends, being teachers working in schools where their undoubted hard work was rewarded with substandard results in the achievements of their pupils, never appeared to be concerned that the pupils were being unfairly deprived of opportunity. It seems quite possible that this did not reflect ideologically unsound attitudes on their part, but a genuine awareness of underlying abilities and the limits of what education can do.

In classical Greece, the belief in hereditary ability seems to have been much as it was in this country seventy years ago.
Much education would have taken place in an aristocracy informally through institutions like the symposium ... backed up by the old assumption that the aristocracy possessed inherited, not instructed, excellence.*
Now the concept of hereditary ability is described as old-fashioned, implying that it has been dismissed from consideration; or is even regarded as taboo. And indeed, most ‘research’ in education and related areas now simply assumes that ability is not inherited, without even bothering to state the assumption.

* ‘Education, Greek’, Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2003, p.506

Message to the Education Secretary from Andrew Legge, Research Officer at Oxford Forum:
‘We strongly recommend that you appoint Dr Celia Green as your chief educational advisor, either in a consultancy role or as the head of an independent education department. Her experiences of both state and private education, combined with her unique psychological observations, would provide you with a source of incisive pedagogical insight distinct from any others that are available.
If you are sincere in your efforts to understand the true causes underlying Britain’s deteriorating education system, then arguably you have a duty to support us. No one else is going to penetrate to the realities of the situation in a way that is free from ideological baggage.’

18 October 2013

Collectivism and old-fashioned morality

[The Home Secretary] Theresa May last night called on a chief constable to apologise after an explosive report suggested senior officers had lied to blacken the name of former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.

In a devastating judgment, the Independent Police Complaints Commission indicated that an inquiry by West Mercia Police which cleared [the three senior officers] of misconduct was a whitewash.

Mrs May called for disciplinary action against the officers, who are accused of giving a false account of a private meeting with Mr Mitchell as part of a ‘wider agenda’ to heap pressure on him to resign. (Daily Mail, 15 October 2013)
Many primitive and communist countries are said to have corrupt and persecutory police forces.

I am reminded of many incidents in my life and those of my associates which demonstrate the same indifference to objective reality, and to the rights of the individual to use his own judgement within the area of legality.

Examples: 1) persecution of my father by the local authority, to prevent him from allowing me to take the School Certificate exam, when there was no need for the local authority to have any opinion about this; 2) Charles McCreery’s father (General Sir Richard McCreery), and senior academics, slandering him when he had done nothing to justify this.

It appears that once there is a concept of responsibility to the collective, previous standards of individual morality, and respect for the individuality of others, lapse, even in the case of highly respectable individuals who might not be expected to be particularly identified with the collectivist ideology.

Over the past fifty years, a new area of quasi-crimininality seems to have been created, in which it has become an offence (punishable by extra-legal means) to attempt to do something that does not receive the approval of collectivist society. Opposition to those now regarded as quasi-criminal seems to involve abandoning respect for old-fashioned morality. Yet there is apparently universal acceptance of this state of affairs, or at least no murmur of opposition.

Thus it is apparently acceptable for respectable middle-class families to slander and disinherit offspring who had done nothing illegal, and nothing even a trifle wild or demoralised, but were supporting the setting up of an independent organisation for academic research and publishing, but without having been appointed to do so by officially recognised agents of the collective.

This would not previously have happened. If it had, people would have been shocked if they had been told about it.

It appears to be the case that as socialist or communist ideology becomes dominant, previous standards of individual morality are abandoned even by the formerly respectable; and new standards of individual morality are accepted, which make it acceptable to oppose individuals whose IQs are very much above the average or who show signs of independence and initiative.

This is what underlies both the taboo against complaining of being badly treated by the educational system, and the demands for a ‘level playing field’ in the educational system.

'There are many other examples of abandonment of principles which could be subjected to critical analysis if Oxford Forum were provided with adequate funding, We appeal for such funding to enable us to write and publish analyses of issues which are currently being ignored in favour of the usual pro-collectivist arguments.' Charles McCreery, DPhil

10 October 2013

Chicken research versus significant progress

Further to my post No need to be ‘committed’, there is much more that should be said about the impossibility of getting a supporter for:
(a) research in general
(b) research by those trying to regain access to a university career (I do not use the expression ‘academic career’ because people are liable to say, ‘Oh but you are doing academic research,’ regardless of the fact that we do not have the living conditions which a university career might, at least to some extent, provide.)
(c) research done by people with high IQs
(d) research taking into account factors which are habitually omitted from consideration.

What is the motivation underlying research that is provided with funding which is often lavish? For example, £2 million is reportedly to be devoted to investigating the historical development of the relationship between humans and chickens. Meanwhile, individuals who could be making significant advances in understanding of key topics are kept out in the cold.

Apart from the fact that all academics should feel a responsibility for taking an interest in, and supporting, academics or potential academics struggling in conditions far worse than their own, they should also feel a sense of responsibility for finding out about the circumstances of modern life for people in disadvantaged positions. As it is, there is sometimes an interest taken in the difficulties of the disadvantaged low-IQ population, but not of the disadvantaged high-IQ population.

It is of the utmost importance to us to gain ground financially as we continue to work towards the capital endowment necessary to set up even the smallest independent research department with dining hall facilities and domestic and administrative staff. At the same time we are, and always have been, determined never to get into debt.

In the past, when we still went in for making grant applications on normal terms, we used to be told that we might get a modicum of finance for capital equipment or specific research expenses, but we would not get our living expenses paid. This, of course, is ludicrous. You cannot do research unless you are paid a salary for doing research.

Some attitudes to doing research demonstrate a degree of unrealism even more extreme than this. According to some people, it ought to be possible to do ‘research’ without any money at all, just by living on the breadline and thinking profound thoughts. Some of these people, I suppose, even imagine that they themselves are actually doing research under such conditions.

However, if you look at actual results, a clear correlation emerges which contradicts this. The most significant of the research that gets done (though even that, these days, is usually not very significant) tends to be associated with the largest sums of money spent. And in those cases, nobody bothers to inconvenience themselves with the assumption that the bulk of the money should go to anything other than salaries for researchers and research assistants, and basic background property and other administrative expenses; in other words, things that would have to be paid regardless of whether or not anything that looks to outsiders like research actually takes place. Moreover, those leading the research are liable to be living comfortable, well set-up lives, with infrastructure and administration being taken care of by others, and with the equivalent of a hotel environment in terms of domestic support within a college.

At least, that is the case in the sciences, which is the only area in which I have any serious desire to do research. Other people may like to describe me as a philosopher, but I actually have little interest in the questions that are normally considered under that heading. My interest in lucid dreams and out-of-the-body experiences is purely in terms of the progress that could be made by studying these phenomena in the context of a sophisticated electrophysiological laboratory.

I cannot of course prove that I am more likely to make important progress, given a high-grade research and college environment, than someone with a conventionally illustrious CV; without actually being given funding to provide such an environment. However, a wealthy individual who wanted to make progress happen should consider the factors mentioned above, namely:

- that a high IQ and a high degree of motivation may count for more, in certain contexts, than any amount of experience or prestige;

- that a relatively high level of progress is likely to be made by taking factors into account which are usually omitted from consideration;

- that someone desperately trying to regain access to a university career after having had their education ruined by a hostile state education system should be supported.

30 September 2013

Dr Charles McCreery meets HM The Queen

Below are some notes by my colleague Charles McCreery on the official photograph of the Reunion for Pages and Gold Staff Officers at which he met the Queen.

On 14th June I had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty the Queen at the Reunion Luncheon for Pages and former Gold Staff Officers who had taken part in the Coronation Ceremony in 1953.
Photograph © Tim Hodges Photography
e-mail: thp@timhodges.co.uk

This was strictly speaking the first time I had met the Queen. In 1953 I had been a few paces in front of the Queen in the procession out of Westminster Abbey at the end of the Coronation Service, but I cannot be said to have met the Queen on that occasion in the sense of having spoken to her and been spoken to.

The recent Luncheon, organized by Lord Remnant and sponsored by Lord Eccles, took place in the Attlee Room in the House of Lords. The accompanying photograph was taken before the Luncheon by the official photographer for the occasion, Mr Tim Hodges.

A key to the photograph is given below. Three of those present were known to me from my time at Eton: the actor Jeremy Clyde (fifth on the left, back row), Ben Harford (fourth from the right, back row) and Nicholas Ullswater (seated, one from the right). Next but one on my right in the back row is Brian Alexander, whose father, Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis, was one of my godparents.

Sir Henry Keswick, who was a page to Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke along with myself, and who is the subject of a separate post, is immediately to Jeremy Clyde’s right in the back row.

Key to the photograph:
Back row, left to right: Hon. Dominic Elliott, Michael Anson, Thomas Lindsay, Sir Henry Keswick, Jeremy Clyde, Hon. Richard Stanley, Julian James, Col. Charles Dawnay, W.R.A. Birch Reynardson CBE, Robin Herbert CBE DL, James Dawnay, Hon. Brian Alexander, Hon. Bruce Hacking, Dr Charles McCreery, Brigadier Andrew Parker-Bowles OBE, Sir Adrian Swire DL, Ben Harford, Edward Elwes, Sir John Aird, Hon. James Drummond.
Centre row, left to right: Rt. Hon. Robert Boscawen MC, Earl of Erne, Earl of Waldegrave, Earl of Home CVO CBE, Lord Gladwyn, Lord Remnant CVO, Earl of Eglinton and Winton, Lord Cranworth, Lord Wardington, Lord Blakenham.
Front row, left to right: Hon. Gerard Noel, Earl of Dudley, Earl of Portarlington, Viscount Eccles CBE, HM The Queen, Duke of Devonshire KCVO CBE DL, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Viscount Ullswater, John Stourton.

We appeal for funding of £1m to staff and equip a laboratory to enable Dr McCreery to continue and extend his Oxford doctoral research into hallucinatory experiences in normal people, which would have practical and theoretical implications for both the fields of psychopathology and for the philosophy of perception.

23 September 2013

No need to be ‘committed’

Below is an extract from a letter to someone who said, in connection with our need to obtain a senior supporter, that it would have to be someone
‘who was committed to your political libertarianism, or who was similarly committed to supporting your work on the psychological questions you have written about’
In fact, neither qualification is necessary. It is not necessarily true of those who provide financial support to other academic institutions that they are ‘committed’ to the subject matters or possible viewpoints of the researchers in those institutions. Nor is it necessary in our case. What we do need is a supporter who recognises our ability and thinks it should not be deprived of opportunity necessary to enable it to contribute to culture and scientific understanding.

If you do not subscribe to the modern ideology, people seem to ascribe to you a definite belief system asserting something radical, when in fact one is only critical of some unexamined assumptions underlying their belief system.

So when I picked out OBEs, from the wide field of experiences allegedly associated with psychical research, as what could most easily lead to advances in understanding of neurophysiology etc. I was branded with being a spiritualist because (in the popular view) only spiritualists would believe that people had such experiences.

I have to say that nobody here regards themselves as a ‘political libertarian’. None of us would want to do research on libertarianism even if financed to do so.

People who become aware of our need for support of all kinds, instead of providing some themselves, often suggest we apply to some organisation specialised in some area.

Also people often appear to regard things on my blog as indicative of what my ‘interests’ are, and what I would be writing about if financed to do philosophy or psychology in an academic career.

Actually the blog is very censored and most of the areas which I would research on if I could are too loaded to refer to briefly.

If there are any pieces about bad side-effects of intervention in the modern world, it is only because the interventionist developments in modern society have had very bad effects on people in our position as outcasts.

Attacks by me or anyone else here on what is being done and on the assumptions implicitly made may appear strong, but that is largely a reflection of the monolithic consensus that exists. You say there are already academics arguing for positions such as mine (and hence no need for me to do so) but I have not come across more than one or two who are at best lukewarm in their rejection of the prevailing ideology.

The fact that my suggestion that the ‘child protection’ industry should be dismantled (for example) is seen as radically libertarian shows how far the consensus has moved and how inflexible it has become. Before the war, the idea of imposing the level of interference we now have would have been regarded as extreme and unacceptable.

What we can put on the blogs is minimal. If financed to do so, any of us would make far more extensive analyses than any that we (or any salaried philosopher) have so far made.

13 September 2013

Families against their best

Socialism has always regarded the support which might be given by a family to an exceptional individual as a potential threat. This has been expressed in the ideas of ‘pushy’ parents and ‘privileged’ schools. These ideas are still commonplace, but what is not advertised is the risk of support that might be given by families to individuals whose education, whether privately paid for or other, had left them in a position in society in which no career to which they were suited was available to them. Then they would have to try to create a career for themselves, perhaps by setting up an independent organisation. In such circumstances, it would seem that the support of friends and, most probably, relatives would be of crucial importance to them.

In fact it is the case that parents have a strong tendency to wish to ally themselves with social influences where these are perceived to be at odds with the interests of their offspring. Therefore it may well be the case that they make no attempt to prevent the damage that is being done to an exceptional offspring by the social hostility of its schools and universities.

When the worst comes to the worst, and the offspring has to attempt to make its own way in an ‘egalitarian’ society, the parents may well wish to assert their belief that the outcome of the ‘educational’ process was meaningful, since properly appointed agents of the collective can never be in the wrong, or even inefficient or mistaken.

Therefore the family withholds support from the potential high achiever of the family, who now needs it most, and gives it only to those members of the family who are doing normal, fairly pointless jobs, and contributing to the growth of the population, by following the lives of least resistance under social influence.

It has been surprising to observe the universality with which people who became associated with us have been treated as criminals and outcasts, when they had actually done nothing to justify such treatment.

The family of such an individual can rely on an interpretation biased in their favour, and against the individual, being placed upon the situation. Having driven someone into a reprobate position by unfounded accusations, they are then liable to proceed as if they were wishing that the outcast should engage in social interactions with them, complaining that the outcast appears to be strangely cut off from the ‘friendly’ family.

Some reference to the activities of Dr Charles McCreery’s family is already on my blog. The following incident is an illustration of the same phenomenon in connection with another of my associates.

Some years ago a party took place in the garden of my associate’s parents. During the party, two male relatives of my associate confronted one of my colleagues in an aggressive manner and more or less accused us of having, decades ago, kidnapped her (my associate) and having forced her to write letters to her grandmother asking for money. This had, according to them, been a causal factor in the death of her grandmother about four years later.

The whole thing was, of course, pure fabrication except for the fact that my associate had indeed written to her grandmother asking, in the mildest terms, if she would consider contributing something to our efforts. This she (the grandmother) would not do.

The invented story about kidnapping was no doubt passed on to the grandmother, and in due course she excluded my associate from the financial distributions which she made to all her other grandchildren.

The kidnapping story was obviously useful to those responsible for spreading it, since it resulted in their receiving a larger share of the subsequent inheritances.

The family of my associate should make reparation for the harm they caused by spreading slanderous stories about us, including the damage done to her financial position. The asymmetry in the capital distributions made by her parents and grandparents, between her and her siblings, should be reversed.

06 September 2013

Secret courts

A father has been jailed at a secret court hearing for sending a Facebook message to his grown-up son on his 21st birthday.

Garry Johnson, 46, breached a draconian gagging order which stops him publicly naming his son, Sam, whom he has brought up and who still lives with him. […]

Normally, a gagging order imposed by a family court judge on a parent expires at the same time as a care order on the child. This one did not.

Mr Johnson was imprisoned at the height of the Mail’s campaign against jailings by this country’s network of secret courts. […]

However, it is estimated by campaigners and MPs that up to 200 parents a year are imprisoned for contempt by the family courts. Because of the controversial secrecy rules, some have been sent to jail for discussing their case with MPs or charity workers advising them. (Daily Mail 1 June 2013)
From time to time the Daily Mail publishes items which focus attention on the harm done by secret courts, apparently suggesting that if they were not secret, this would be a safeguard against harm being done. In fact this would only make the process of taking someone to such courts even more consuming of time and money, without improving the outcome for the parties involved.

There is no reason to think that the public at large is less imbued with the modern ideology than those who contribute to the decisions made in these courts. My own observation of people’s reactions to what I would regard as oppressive decisions suggests only that people are strongly motivated to justify decisions made by socially authorised agents of the collective.

Once you have social interference in people’s lives, the situation cannot be remedied by tweaking some particular element of the interference. Improvement can only be effected by abolishing the interference altogether. Prior to 1945, family courts, secret or otherwise, were unheard of. Respect for individual autonomy, supported by capitalism, was swept aside by the Labour landslide of 1945, which brought in the Welfare State, or the Oppressive State, as it might more accurately be called.

Very early on in the days of the Oppressive State, my life and the lives of my parents were irrevocably ruined by slanders against me and against my father for allegedly pushing me. Whenever I have given any account of this situation over the subsequent decades, this arouses no indignation against the system which did the damage.
William Alfred Green,
father of Celia Green, aged 22

In fact the local population acted as a form of secret court, making decisions about my life behind my back, which affected me and my parents to our detriment. This secret court operated via the local schools, the local educational authorities, my relatives, and later (during and after my attending Somerville College) via the academic world.

The secret court is still operating in my life and those of my colleagues, spreading slanders and making our lives much more frustrating and restricted than necessary.

If anyone expresses surprise at my lack of social position and lack of financial or moral support, and my continued inability to get into a suitable academic position, people are likely to say: ‘There must be something wrong with her’, not even considering the possibility that the academic world may be biased against me on irrational grounds.

If I say that my life, and those of my parents, were badly affected by assumptions that my father was pushing me, there is usually no response, and later the person continues to blithely talk as if my father must have been pushing me.

My unfunded independent university, which could be publishing analyses of the complex issues involved in the area of legal policy, has been effectively censored and suppressed for decades. Meanwhile, misleading and tendentious material on the topic continues to pour out from socially recognised sources.

Originally posted on June 7th 2013. Reposted in the light of yesterday’s ruling on family court secrecy by the president of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir James Munby.

02 September 2013

Out-of-the-body experiences: distorting and misleading ‘research’

edited text of a letter to an academic

There has recently been some more interest in near-death experiences, including a large number of hits on the posts about them on my blog. This is always very irritating, as there is no sign of response to our appeals for funding.

A number of areas of research, on which quite a lot of money is being spent throughout the world, were initiated by us. In some of the cases it could be claimed that the research now being done might have developed independently of our drawing attention to it, as the information was there, although ignored (e.g. the development of distorted interpretations of early forms of Gnostic Christianity).

However, there was no concept of near-death experiences until it arose out of nominal research on out-of-the-body experiences (OBEs). This in turn had developed (with some delay) following the publication of our first book [1] on OBEs, which made these appear as a type of experience that had sufficiently consistent characteristics to justify academic recognition. Our work provided much less justification for relating OBEs to the question of ‘proving’ survival than did the previous associations with spiritualistic beliefs.

The new and spurious category of near-death experiences arose from there being some cases reported of OBEs in hospitals. Eventually the concept of near-death experiences replaced that of OBEs in popular attention, so that the question of ‘proving’ survival or otherwise once again became the issue predominantly associated with such experiences.

However, the resulting association of OBE-type experiences with the idea of extreme states is likely to be highly misleading. In one study conducted by Professor Ian Stevenson [2] of the University of Virginia, for example, it appeared that only about half of the subjects of supposed near-death experiences were in any sense near to death.

My colleague Charles McCreery carried out an experiment, as part of his doctoral research at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford, in which subjects attempted to induce OBEs in the laboratory. He found that two of his subjects reported subjective phenomena similar to those of so-called near-death experiences. Both subjects referred to ‘tunnels’, and one of them also described having the impression of ‘being on elastic going towards a tiny white light in [the] distance’. Neither of these subjects showed any sign of being near death. The one who reported the white light in the distance was a young female graduate student aged twenty-six. [3]

1. Green, C. (1968). Out-of-the-body Experiences. Institute of Psychophysical Research.
2. Stevenson, I. (1987). Personal communication to Charles McCreery.
3. McCreery, C. and Claridge, G. (1996). ‘A study of hallucination in normal subjects – I. Self-report data’. Personality and Individual Differences, Vol 21, no. 5, pp. 739-747.

Whenever we initiate a new field of research, not only are we prevented from continuing to develop it, but others proceed to do nominal research in it in distorting and misleading ways. We are not even able to publish criticism of the misleading work being done.
Our position could be transformed, and we could be being far more productive, if we were provided with even one tenth of the money spent in connection with the nominal research done by other people in the relevant areas. We ought to be given such funding.

more about modern ‘research’

27 August 2013

Biased and unbiased psychology

Recently I wrote about Charles McCreery’s ability to pick out which reports of ostensibly religious experiences had been written by someone who had previously been diagnosed as psychotic, and that he was the only person at the Department of Experimental Psychology at that time who was found to be able to do this. I also said that by that time he had discussed psychological ideas with me quite extensively, but I would not want to give the impression that his ability in this direction was dependent on his awareness of my ideas. Actually he had taken a great deal of interest in psychology and psychiatry before I knew him, as he was trying to work out what he thought of what was going on and how best he might make a career in it.

Charles McCreery outside the
SheldonianTheatre, Oxford, 
after receiving his doctorate, 1993
Probably he could have picked out cases with a psychiatric background before he knew me, since he had taken a vacation job in a mental hospital in Oxford in order to observe what was going on, and he had listened to the patients recounting their experiences.

What was going on was horrific; patients being knocked out with Largactil (the liquid cosh, as it was known) and carted off by force to be subjected to ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). ‘Psychiatry’ had become dominant very quickly at the onset of the Welfare State; I am sure it is even more obviously appalling now, fifty years on. Neither Charles nor I have any confidence in the methods of diagnosis and treatment employed by qualified psychiatrists; and a large part of what happens, in depriving people of their liberty, including the right to refuse medication, is downright immoral.

Charles was also unimpressed by the ‘psychology’ being purveyed at the Department when he was an undergraduate, and this certainly contributed to his difficulties in deciding whether to pursue a career as an Oxford academic or to go to the Tavistock Clinic in London to be associated with the goings-on in ‘psychiatry’ as a clinical psychologist.

In fact he regarded the research which we might do, if we could get our Institute set up, as far more genuinely in line with academic standards, taking ‘academic’ as implying ‘realistic’, ‘objective’ or ‘unbiased’. So it would make his future career more meaningful if it was providing support to work which was indubitably of high quality, whereas he regarded the activities of both the Department of Experimental Psychology and of the Tavistock Clinic as reductionist and circumscribed in the case of the Department, and dubious to say the least in the case of the Tavistock.

However, either of them might be a way of gaining status and salary, both of which would contribute to our war effort in expanding the work of the Institute, and there would be more point in working for increasing academic status and salary if it was to the advantage of the Institute, which would be doing something meaningful, if it was able to do anything at all.
Unfortunately, Charles, like others who became associated with me, found his way into a suitable academic career blocked and hindered by the widespread hostility which we aroused. So none of those who are here now have academic appointments and salaries, although they should have, and they apply for Professorships as often as the shortage of manpower permits.

Also we are very badly in need of an active senior supporter, without which no application for funding has any hope of success. Therefore we are still urgently in need of help of all sorts and appeal for people to come and spend holidays in Cuddesdon or Wheatley as a way of gaining information about our needs for financial support and workers. This information they could at least pass on to other people if they do not want to provide help themselves.

originally posted 18 April 2011; reposted with image added

21 August 2013

My beloved newspaper

Celia Green at 18 months
I do not think anyone should think my parents were very wicked in letting me learn to read young. Once I had conceived the idea of learning to read, no power on earth could have stopped me, unless my mother had been forbidden to move her finger along the lines when she read to me, and my parents had been forbidden to answer my persistent questions about the sounds which the different letters represented. But the permissive society proceeds apace, in fact faster than I can keep up with, and perhaps by now it is accepted doctrine that any child who asks questions about letters of the alphabet before the socially approved age should be slapped down pretty sharply; and certainly not answered.

But the initiative was entirely mine. I can assure you that I was surrounded by toys of every description and even with social interaction. My mother was always bringing home children for me to play with – a few sizes larger than I was, usually, but I took little notice of that. It was simply that I found the printed word more interesting than anything else.

My investigations centred on the newspaper, which I found an object of the utmost charm. When my father read it, so would I. My first finding was that the same letters recurred. Then I would ask what sound a given letter was, and go down the page picking it out. I found out about capitals when they told me that a letter meant the same sound they had already told me for a different letter. (They were surprised I remembered). ‘Is that two letters with the same sound?’ I said. ‘It’s the same letter,’ they said, ‘but it’s a different shape if it’s big or if it’s small.’ I considered that very carefully. There was the headline with big letters all right, and the smaller print down below. But then I found one of the headline letters among the small print at the start of a sentence. ‘But that's the same shape,’ I said, ‘but it's big there and small there.’ ‘Well, it’s bigger than the others in the same line,’ they said. ‘And it comes at the beginning.’

So I knew there were two sets of letters to learn. How far I got in teaching myself to read before I was formally taught I don’t know, but it seems to me I probably could, very nearly, read before they got round to teaching me. I had a rag book to which I paid great attention, containing as it did fascinating and useful information such as ‘A for Ape. B for Bear’ - and so on. I was always asking questions about letters, and when my mother read to me I followed her finger along the lines with avidly attentive eyes.

Now I am sure you need not think my parents gave in too easily. They were very thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that children should never and on no account be ‘pushed’. But at last, my father’s ability to notice the obvious, combined with a certain natural generosity of disposition, overcame indoctrination, and he produced the really brilliant observation: ‘That child wants to learn to read.’

And so, about the time of my second birthday, an elementary reading primer was procured, and my mother set about giving me lessons, reading some each day with me. Now whether I am right that I had really by this time learnt most of the letters and picked up a good deal about reading, I don’t know, but I believe that I remember reading certain things before I was two, and in particular I think I read over my comic when my mother had once read it to me.

At any rate, the speed with which I now learnt supports the idea that this systematic practice of all the various letters and combinations was all that was needed to put the finishing touch. My mother says I went through the primer very fast; the lessons lasted only a matter of days. I never finished the primer though, as I she found me reading a book before I had reached the end of it.

The book she found me reading was The Story of Peter Pan. ‘What are you doing?’ she enquired. ‘Reading,’ I said. ‘You can’t read that,’ she said. ‘Yes I can,’ I said. By this time, she says, she was very curious. ‘If you can read it ,’ she said, ‘read it out to me then.’

This, of course, I did. Still sceptical, my mother thought I might have learnt it by heart as she had read it to me more than once, so she gave me another book which she had not read to me, and I read that out too.

When my father came home, she told him, and he gave me my beloved newspaper and asked me to read him that. My mother says it was quite surprising how I rattled off the long words.

My mother, of course, had taught many children to read, but said she never knew one who leapt at it as I did, nor one who learnt with so complete an absence of transitional stages. Many children sound the letters aloud to themselves for a time; I never did this, but read silently to myself from the start.

For the next couple of years my reading matter consisted of Chick’s Own, Sunny Stories, and – the newspaper.

‘Celia Green is a person of exceptional gifts, as the above piece demonstrates.She should be given the funding to develop the many research ideas she has been prevented for decades from developing. I make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to exceptional individuals.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

myths about early development

16 August 2013

The near-death red herring, yet again

One regularly sees articles in the newspapers to the effect that so-called near-death experiences (NDEs) have an explanation that does not involve references to the supernatural. This has been the case now for decades. However many times it is supposed to have been ‘proved’, there always seems to be another research team willing to undertake a research project to prove it again. Each time the papers triumphantly report: NDEs (or whatever other experience they are talking about) are ‘all in the mind’.

The latest such article (Daily Mail, 13th August) refers to a University of Michigan study which looked at the brain activity of rats before and after their hearts were stopped.

Apart from the dubious ethics involved, this research in itself tells one nothing about NDEs, or about any other quasi-perceptual experience. Even if, as the researchers claim, the rat’s brain shows activity after clinical death, this does not get you very far in understanding the hows and whys of the kinds of experience people report in analogous circumstances.

The key issue raised by hallucinatory and quasi-perceptual experiences – whether they occur in sleep, near death, under normal conditions or otherwise – is the question of what they tell us about the way the brain, or mind, generates representations of its environment from external and internal data. This is a fundamental issue in psychology, and therefore ought to be of the greatest interest to psychologists, philosophers and neurophysiologists. However, it has been ignored in favour of whether or not there is an afterlife, ever since I established these phenomena as suitable subjects for scientific study over 40 years ago.

Having placed the phenomenon of out-of-the-body experiences (OBEs) on a scientific footing, we should have been provided with finance to take the work further, leading to the possibility of important advances in our understanding of conscious experience and its relation to brain physiology. As we did not have an institutional environment with residential and laboratory facilities, we need funding to set this up in the first instance. Such funding should still be provided now, even more urgently, to prevent the continuing waste of our abilities which could and should be being used in making significant advances. This would be true even if people other than ourselves had shown any sign of adopting a sufficiently analytical and open-minded approach. In fact they have not. The resistance to the possibilities suggested by the phenomena, which had prevented their being recognised by academia before our book on them was published, continues to restrict and distort the work carried out, and leads to the unsatisfactory conclusions drawn from it.

more on out-of-the-body experiences

05 August 2013

Sir Henry Keswick

edited text of a letter to an academic

Dear ...

Herewith a copy of a letter from Charles to Sir Henry Keswick, who was page with him to Lord Alanbrooke at the Coronation.

There have been some dos in London celebrating the 60th anniversary, to which former pages were invited. We wondered whether someone would try to get at Charles on behalf of his family, as people in the modern world like to think that if a person interacts socially with a given person or group, he is supposed to have written off the need for reparation for any wrongs done to him, no matter how serious.

In fact this Keswick did attempt to strike up conversation with Charles, but in a way which seemed very artificial as he had never had anything to do with him throughout the intervening years. Charles asked him for financial support and he refused. It may be pointed out that he is quite rich enough to relieve our position significantly without his noticing it. According to the Sunday Times, the Keswick family has a £2.3 billion stake in Jardine Matheson.

In common with many other people related to or known to Charles’s family, Henry Keswick could no doubt change our position significantly overnight. This in part explains Charles’s family’s motivation for slandering Charles and making him into an outcast, because if he had been allowed to remain a normal member of his social class, financial support from all quarters would have been more or less automatic.

Sir Henry Keswick is said to be a major donor to the Conservative Party. He should therefore be particularly interested in giving financial support to a research organisation which, while not being politically affiliated, does not subscribe to the leftist ideology that prevails in academia.
text of a letter from Dr Charles McCreery to Sir Henry Keswick

Dear Henry,

I am withdrawing any invitation I may have given you, implicitly or explicitly, to visit me here in Cuddesdon.

I was very aware, before our recent meeting at the lunch for the Queen, of the fact that I had written to you a number of years ago and invited you to support my research, and that you had declined, in very much the same terms as you did in person following the lunch.

I do not find it possible to have normal social relations with people who I know are in a position to support my work but who have chosen – in your case, not once, but twice – to reject my request.

I also consider that you should put pressure on my family to reverse the financial effects of their slanders and disinheriting over the last 50 years. I was obliged to describe some of their disgusting behaviour in a series of letters to a recent biographer of my father, and I have published them here:


They are grouped under the heading ‘Charles McCreery and his family’ (see ‘Topics’, some way down the column on the right of the page).

My brothers and sister were all complicit in the slanders, and in at least one case actively promoted them, and they have all benefited directly (and in the case of their children indirectly) from the disinheriting.

Yours sincerely,
‘We hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department. We make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

* first published 28 June 2013; republished, with illustration added, 6 August 2013

26 July 2013

Oxford’s Professorship of Science and Religion

A year ago I applied for the University of Oxford’s recently created Professorship of Science and Religion. This was set up to investigate
questions raised for Theology by the natural and human and social sciences (including moral and social questions), and on the impact of Theology on the natural, human and social sciences.
I was not shortlisted for this post, even though I have plenty of ideas about how aspects of what is called ‘religious’ thought might have implications for science, and vice versa.

I think – and my colleagues at Oxford Forum agree – that if Oxford was genuinely interested in making interdisciplinary progress on the overlap between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ then the individuals responsible for filling this post should at least have wanted to meet me to find out what ideas I have for research and what I might do if offered the position.

In fact of course, it is doubtful that such motivation exists in modern academia, at a level capable of having an impact on such decisions.

Far more important is that mechanical rules are observed. For example, the candidate should have at least so many publications under their belt, they should have at least x years’ ‘experience’ at other institutions. This regardless of whether they have actually contributed anything significant to the advancement of knowledge, or are likely to be capable of doing so in the future.
The successful applicant will be an outstanding scholar, with an international reputation and distinguished research profile in Science and Religion ...
said the advertisement for the post. I suspect that the ‘research’ carried out by the candidates whom they did interview has made negligible contribution to the understanding of anything of significance, though no doubt it satisfied appearances. Something was written which seemed to have at least a nominal connection with religion and may have looked vaguely clever. That anything ground-breaking was said, however, is highly unlikely.

If opportunity is to depend on previous publications, and on ‘experience’ within the system, then those who have been rejected (and implicitly repeatedly rejected, as all their efforts to gain reinstatement have been ignored or opposed) are condemned to permanent exclusion. This has been my position. The difficulties of supporting myself and an independent academic institution, without status or funding, has effectively prevented any but the most minimal expression of my views.

The present attitudes to science and religion are determined by the most fundamental unexamined assumptions in modern philosophy and psychology, and realistic analysis of these assumptions is taboo.

The area covered by the professorship is probably particularly prone to the principle that nothing genuinely progressive should get done. In subjects such as physics it is necessary to pretend that progress is aimed at. The desire that the status quo be maintained has to be kept at a subconscious level. In ‘science & religion’, by contrast, the goal of keeping things safe and unthreatening may well be openly espoused by those in charge.

10 July 2013

Needing to expand

text of a letter

I think that Christine has mentioned to you in the past our interest in renting rooms or houses in the vicinity. We would like you to know that this is an ongoing need, as you might hear of something.

We are freelance academics, in effect a residential college, although living in separate houses for the time being. Eventually we are aiming to expand to a larger campus with a dining facility and live-in staff, but at present it is convenient if we expand in separate houses within Cuddesdon, and we do not want to tie up capital in house property at the moment.

The reason we are outside the University is that we are not in tune with the modern ideology, and it is difficult to get university appointments without being left-wing, apart from any other considerations. As the ideology gains ground, it has become even more difficult for us to expand our operations, as our main source of funding is from investment, not from jobs or pensions, and one of the aspects of the ideology is that it extols the norm and makes no room for exceptions. Nevertheless, we are respectable in an old fashioned middle-class way.

In fact we are experienced and sophisticated investors, as I started trying to make money to compensate for the loss of a university career over fifty years ago. I started with no capital but over the years, as my present associates joined me, we have become well-informed about investment newsletters, to the best of which we still subscribe. On the other hand we regard ‘normal, sensible’ investment, as advised by banks and accountants, as risky and vulnerable – as many have found to their detriment of recent years as the government has assailed building society deposits and pension funds.

At best, managed funds are usually pedestrian, and a good deal of the benefit is eaten up in management fees.

It was the change of social outlook which led to the credit crunch, started by the sub-prime lending crisis in America.

We not only need to expand our operations, but also to accommodate visitors who might become permanent associates. Since we have been in Cuddesdon, we have had three, from America, Sweden and Slovenia, and although none have become permanent, we are likely to go on getting such visitors.

Our having visitors from a variety of countries arises from the fact that the books we have published are widely read throughout the world, although they are suppressed and censored in this country and we are no longer invited to express our views on broadcasts. If we could get more apartments or houses with spare rooms, it would be easier for us to have more visitors who might stay longer.

Anyway, if you ever do hear of a room or house going vacant nearby, we would be very glad to know about it.

Modern society is becoming increasingly hostile to those who have been able to keep themselves alive and healthy into later life without the aid of the state. People may like to consider the idea of moving to Cuddesdon, or nearby, well in advance of retirement age. They could do some voluntary work for us and perhaps join in on some of the smaller business projects, in anticipation of more full-scale involvement at a later stage.

19 June 2013

Why reparation is due to Charles McCreery

Throughout my life I have often seemed to be in a ‘secret court’ situation in which everyone knew that I had been condemned in some way, but without my being able to find out what it was. The same thing sometimes happened to people who became, or might have become, associates in my enterprise. As an illustration of this, the following is an extract from a letter which I wrote to the biographer of Charles McCreery’s father, General Sir Richard McCreery, about events that took place in 1965. (Some of this material was previously blogged in 2010.)

It is probable that widespread slanders had been spread about me and my incipient research institute from the time I was thrown out in 1957, but one seldom had direct evidence.

However, it happened that one of our Consultants, Graham Weddell, a physiology lecturer at Oxford, rang me a year or more after Charles McCreery had graduated in 1964, at which time he (Charles) had called a temporary halt to communication with his family so as to recover from the run-down state he had got into as a result of his mother’s constant pestering.
Invitation to Dr Charles McCreery to attend the 
Service to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 
Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Dr Weddell sometimes seemed a somewhat tactless person, who revealed inside information, perhaps to gain the confidence of the person to whom he was talking. On this occasion, he said, ‘They are making an awful lot of fuss about your research assistant.’

I was nonplussed and thought of various part-time workers we had employed whom I had not known very well, and wondered what any of them might have done.

‘Can’t I at least know who it is you are talking about?’

Weddell seemed to hesitate. ‘Well, he has a very important father and his father is beside himself about his drug-taking.’

‘You mean Charles McCreery, son of General McCreery?’ I said, surprised. ‘There is no question of his having ever taken drugs.’

After a bit more reiteration of this, Weddell seemed to accept it and said that it must have arisen from the association of ideas between parapsychology and drug-taking.

I had reservations about this, because when some really damaging slander or piece of hostility against us was revealed, and we gave our side of it, people always found it easy to brush it aside with, ‘Oh, it’s just the subject’ (‘the subject’ being parapsychology). Actually I thought that was a rationalisation, and the reasons for the hostility were more profound. But I went along with the idea on this occasion, partly to show that we did not regard ourselves as part of some ‘parapsychological’ population.

‘I suppose it has not helped that Steve Abrams [an American parapsychologist who had a research organisation in Oxford] has been in the papers recently,’ I said. ‘He has been going to the Home Office to tell them that marijuana ought to be legalised since he claims it is an aid to creativity for writers.’

I asked who had been saying these things about Charles, and Weddell gave me the names of three people whom Charles subsequently proceeded to tax with it by phone: Oliver Van Oss (headmaster of Charterhouse), John Butterworth (Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University) and Sir Folliott Sandford (Registrar of Oxford University).

Having had experience of such situations in the past, I advised Charles to immediately ring the people whose names I had obtained, before Weddell had time to warn them. Charles did so, and had conversations with the three people [see Charles's account of the conversations here], and finally with his father, General McCreery. Charles told his father of what he had gathered from his conversations and asked the General to account for his alleged part in the goings-on. Charles told me that, after a silence, his father answered that he refused to confirm or deny anything.

* * *

No attempt has been made by Charles’s family to reverse the financial effects of their slanders and disinheriting over the last 50 years. His brothers and sister did nothing to stop the slanders although they must have known perfectly well that they were baseless. They, and their children, have all benefited from the disinheriting.

When we heard that General McCreery’s biographer was about to start writing a book about him, we hoped that this would make Charles’s family think that they should set their house in order before attention was drawn to the General’s life, but they did not do this. Instead, both his brothers approached Charles with disingenuous attempts to embark on social interaction as if nothing had gone wrong in the past that needed to be set right.

I have suggested to the McCreerys that buying a house advertised at £500K, in the name of Charles, would indicate a wish on the part of his family to start making reparation to him for the damage to his prospects that was done, and continues to be done, by slander and disinheritance. This amount is almost certainly far less than the present value of the Chelsea flat which Charles’s mother, Lady McCreery, left to his sister in her will; a will from which Charles was excluded. Our current enquiries show that the value of such a flat at Cranmer Court in Chelsea is not less, and probably more, than £800K, this being the current market value of a one-bedroom flat there. In fact, the flat which was left to his sister appears to have had at least two bedrooms.

It should not be overlooked that, deprived of financial support as we are, the gift of a house would need to be accompanied by a gift of money which could be invested to provide for the running costs, insurance and expenses of the house. £500K in cash could be added to bring the total up to £1m. This would indicate a serious intention to start making reparation to Charles, but would still be a small fraction of the benefits which would have accrued to him over the years by investment of the inheritances of which he was unjustly deprived.

27 May 2013

An eyewitness account of the Coronation

This was originally posted 19 August 2010 under the title ‘Genes, prep schools and Eton’. It has been re-posted ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Coronation.

In connection with the absurd claims by Alan Ryan (former Warden of New College, Oxford) that it is 'crazy' to look for a genetic element in determining intellectual ability, I may comment that I have never known, or known about, a family in which the innate variations in IQ and other aptitudes between the various members were not very definitely recognised by both parents and siblings. My colleague Charles McCreery was decidedly the most precocious of his family, although some of the others had IQs well above average, and his precocity aroused hostility and obstruction even within his own family.

Photograph of Charles McCreery
taken by Hay Wrightson, London,
at the time of the Coronation, 1953.
Below is an article by Charles (written when he was 11) which was published in the magazine* of his preparatory school after he had been a page at the Coronation. It aroused agitated reactions, and mockery of the vocabulary he had used, perhaps partly because it was accidentally published with no adult editing or alterations, so that it was unmistakable evidence of Charles’s precocity.

His form master was agitated to find that Charles had handed it in to the headmaster – ‘Oh, but you were supposed to show it to me first’ – and the headmaster, perhaps assuming that it had already been edited, published it in the magazine with no alterations at all. (The spelling, as well as the vocabulary, was all Charles’s own.)

On seeing the article, his mother also became agitated and asked him repeatedly if he had written it entirely without help. Was he sure he had? Really sure? She reverted to this issue so often that Charles started to feel guilty, as if he must have done something wrong.

At about this time his mother was colluding with his headmaster, who was also hostile to him, to prevent him from taking the scholarship exam for Eton, as it had always been assumed that he would. This was allegedly to spare him ‘stress’, but actually ensured that he would get nothing positive out of his time at Eton.

Scholars at Eton were in a different position from the others. Although a bit looked down upon socially, as they included some boys whose parents could not have afforded to pay the fees, they were the only ones in whose case it was regarded as socially acceptable to work; so it was really a necessary position for someone like Charles who had strong academic inclinations. Everyone who was not a scholar at Eton was expected to manifest indifference and to be interested only in sporting activities.


Acting as page to Lord Alanbrooke at the Coronation was a wonderful experience for me as it is a thing I will remember all my life and I will be able to tell my children when I grow up.

I met a lot of very famous people such as Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister and the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal, whom I thought was wonderful in the way he managed everything alone and yet remained calm and impassive. I was also greatly struck by the demeanour of our Queen who too remained cheerful yet dignified.

The music was very moving and impressive, with a choir of 400, an orchestra of sixty and a large organ. The service began with the Psalm "I was glad when they said unto me", some of the verses of which I learnt during Scripture.

I got to the Abbey on Coronation Day at 6 a.m. in the morning, and had to wait, in the specially built annexe, about four hours with nothing to do but watch and wait, in rather uncomfortable clothes, for the arrival of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. At last the Queen arrived, amid cheers from the people, and, after about ten minutes interlude, took up her place in the already formed procession for the entering of the Abbey. I myself did not carry a coronet because Lord Alanbrooke, being Lord High Constable, and the Earl Marshal, have two pages and my partner, being older than me, carried it instead. Beside me were four other pages, all but one carrying coronets and not far behind them the Queen herself with her six maids of honour carrying her train. On either side of the nave, west of the screen, were tiers of specially constructed seats. Although these people had a wonderful view of the procession in and out of the Abbey they saw nothing of what went on in the Theatre. My parents however were lucky and had seats on the top right of the peers who are on the right of the dais in the centre of the Theatre, on which is the real throne, and saw practically everything. When my row of pages reached the dais four of us turned to the left and one to the right; I turned to the left and proceeded up a gangway between the lovely blue velvet chairs in which the peeresses were seated. About half way through the ceremony, at a signal given by our "Goldstick", all the pages walked back down the gangway, carrying their coronets, and delivered them with a bow, to their respective peers and returned to the steps where they had been sitting. I, however, did not have to do this as my partner went by himself while I remained seated. At the historic moment when the Archbishop, Dr. Fisher, placed the crown on our beautiful Queen's head, all the peers and peeresses put on their coronets, (some of which were so small that they had to be kept on with hair combs, elastic etc.), to the sound of a fanfare of trumpets and great guns being fired from the Tower of London.

At the end of the service, all the pages walked to their peers and formed up for the procession out, to the triumphant music of the National Anthem.

C.A.S. McCreery, (aged 11).

* Cothill House Magazine, Vol. LXIX, September 1953, pp.17-18.

Statement by Charles McCreery: ‘With regard to Dr Green’s piece introducing my contemporaneous account of the Coronation service, and which describes my mother’s reaction to my essay, I can vouch for its accuracy since it is based on accounts I have given Dr Green over the years concerning this episode, and I read over her account before she published it.’

We appeal for funding to enable Dr Charles McCreery to continue and extend his Oxford doctoral research into hallucinatory experiences in normal people, which would have practical and theoretical implications both for the fields of psychopathology and for the philosophy of perception.

23 May 2013

Mother Joseph of the Ursulines

text of a letter about the headmistress of my convent school, the Ursuline High School in Ilford, who later became head of the Ursuline order in England

Mother Joseph Powell
Thank you very much for the photograph of Reverend Mother Joseph Powell. I certainly remember her with very much that expression on her face.

She was sufficiently exceptional (and old-fashioned) to come near to giving me the chance in life which I needed to have; but not exceptional enough to stand by me against the opposition which was aroused.

My father was often blamed for wanting me to have a chance in life, but in fact it was not he, but the Reverend Mother, who proposed that I should take the School Certificate exam at the last chance before the age limit came into force.

Being prevented from taking the School Certificate exam left me in a terrible position from which I have never been able to recover, although my position now is less bad than it might be. But the harm done to the lives of my parents was never remedied, although I was always trying to improve my position by building up capital sufficiently to allow me to do so.

Potential supporters or associates could come to live nearby, perhaps by buying a holiday home in the first instance. Cuddesdon is a pleasant hilltop village with clean air and good views of countryside, accessible to Oxford and the main road to London.

Many thanks again for the photograph.

12 May 2013

Margaret Thatcher and the BBC

Where she [Margaret Thatcher] did not think she was among friends … she scarcely made the effort to convert anyone. Most Leaders of the Opposition take great pains to woo the BBC: not so Mrs Thatcher. In her demonology, the BBC was the very heart of the pinko-liberal conspiracy which was dragging Britain down. The Director-General, Ian Trethowan – a good friend of Ted Heath – insists that the broadcasters were not ill-disposed towards her. But she certainly believed she was venturing into hostile territory: ‘the lady arrived with all guns firing, she showed scant interest in, let alone tolerance of, the editors’ problems and berated them on their failings over a wide area, particularly their coverage of Northern Ireland.’ Mrs Thatcher came into office in May 1979 already determined to bring the BBC to heel. (John Campbell, Margaret Thatcher: The Grocer’s Daughter, Jonathan Cape, 2000, p.408)
Margaret Thatcher
John Campbell seems to suggest that Margaret Thatcher was mistaken in her attitude to the BBC. Actually she was right in identifying it as a central element in the ‘pinko-liberal’ movement that was ‘dragging Britain down’. The use of the word ‘conspiracy’ is unhelpful, as it deflects attention from what was clearly going on, to insoluble questions about who originated these tendencies, who said what explicitly to whom, and so on.

Communists knew that in taking over a country it was important to infiltrate its centres of influence. Marxist ideas were in evidence when Margaret Thatcher was at Oxford in the 1940s; and active exponents of them at the BBC interacted with like-minded Oxford academics.

Dame Janet Vaughan was already Principal of Somerville College, and Mary Adams was Head of Television Talks at the BBC, both of them committed Fellow Travellers, as communist sympathisers were then called.

A decade later, when I was at Somerville, the ideological revolution had progressed; the Labour landslide and Education Act of 1945 signalled the onset of the Welfare State.

From the start, the forces of collectivism and egalitarianism scarcely even hinted at their real objectives. One needed extensive experience of what results were being brought about in practice to see that a far more extreme and well worked out agenda was being acted upon, overriding previous principles of respect for factual objectivity, for an individual’s right to make decisions about his own affairs, or for individual differences in ability, and so on. This, however, happened without the previously accepted set of principles having been explicitly rejected.

Mary Adams
Mary Adams of the BBC was the mother of a friend of mine at Somerville, so that I often visited her house. On one such occasion, hearing my father's voice on the telephone when he came to pick me up, Mary Adams said dismissively, ‘He sounds very common’. She did not invite him in to hear his interesting views on education in East London, of which as headmaster of a primary school he had direct experience. The only times she spoke to people with accents as common (or commoner) than my father's was when they were members of the Labour Cabinet and hence freely welcome at her tea parties.

Of course, the people I have described as ‘communists’ were usually careful not to identify themselves as such. Like the Fabians, radical socialists in sympathy with communist ideology had to proceed slowly and cautiously. They might agree with every element of the Marxist perspective, but being described as a communist has typically been controversial, and was therefore to be avoided. Rejecting innate ability, inheritance, private capital, inequality of outcome (at least for others), and the idea of anyone having servants, people such as Mary Adams nevertheless had to call themselves ‘socialists’ and wait patiently until the things they believed in came to be regarded as harmless and normal, indeed barely ‘socialist’ at all – which they duly did.