A book Review

     Gottlieb, Larry (2021). Hoodwinked. Uncovering our Fundamental Superstitions. 210 pages

 Ozodi Osuji

Larry Gottlieb:

     Is this a self-published book, for there is no information on the publisher and his location? I saw your book, Hoodwinked, advertised at Facebook. All through last week, whenever I go to Facebook, your book is in my face. I decided to check it out. So, I read the blob that you had about it.

     On Friday, November 12, I ordered it from Amazon.com. I had expected it to take, at least, five days before I received it. In their confirmation of order letter sent to my email, Amazon said that the book would be delivered at my address on November 14, that is, only two days. I thought that must be a typographical error and did not think about it.

     On Sunday, November 14, I checked my email and Amazon had written that the book would be a day late. No kidding, this must be serious.

     On Monday, November 15, the book was in my mailbox. I picked it up and said that I will get to it as soon as I was done reading another book, one that I ordered from eBay that came to my address a few days ago (Howard W. French, 2021, Born In Blackness…it dwells on the crucial role that Africa played in the discovery of the new world and wonders why Africa is ignored in world politics…it is 500 pages long and written by a professor of Journalism and history at Columbia University, New York, the language is professorial, hence boring).

      Because Professor French’s book is scholarly and makes for slow reading, I decided that I should put it aside and look at your book. Moreover, Amazon called attention to your book, yesterday, by emailing me to the effect that because the book was one day late in arriving at my address that they were going to refund the $5.95 they had charged me for shipping, apply it to my next order of books from them. Interesting, I did not know that Jeff Bezos is an honest businessperson!

      Last night I cracked open your book. I did not put it down until a few minutes ago, that is, I spent over ten hours reading it.

      The subject matter you dwelled on is the kind of subject that interests me. I understand the physics on which you built your thesis, so I speed read the book.

     Upon getting to the end, I decided to write to you, to summarize what you wrote, as I understand it, and since you gave your email in the book, to send it to you.

     From what you wrote, you had your undergraduate education at MIT and your graduate education at the University of California, Berkely. Both colleges are the world’s best two universities when it comes to physics (Caltech is the best college in the world). Therefore, I reasoned that you must have had a sound education in physics, and I had better listen to what this physicist had to say.

      You began your book by talking about an experience you had in 1974 (the year I began my undergraduate education at the University of Oregon). You were in the San Francisco, Bay area and decided to go to Colorado. You did not have much money and you nevertheless decided to drive to your destination. You filled your car up with gas, wondering how far it would take you; you were filled with anxiety as to whether you would run out of gas and money and get stranded in the California and Nevada desert. You drove on, for hope overcame your fear.

     Several hours later, when you believed that you ought to have used up half of your gas, so you looked at the gas gauge on your car’s dashboard and noticed that the needle had not moved one bit. Interesting, may be the gauge is broken? So, is this another issue with which you must deal. When it rains it pours; when troubles come, they come in battalions not in single files.

     Apprehensive, you drove on. Hours later, you saw a gas station and pulled in to get some gas and opened the gas tank and looked in and the tank was still almost full, so the gas gauge was not deceiving you, after all. Nevertheless, you added some gas into the car, just to make sure. You drove on wondering about the deal going on with your car.

     At that point you heard an inner voice tell you that it would all be okay and for you not to worry.

     Like most of us who understand some psychology, you were told that to hear voice is to be psychotic. Thus, you naturally considered the voice you heard in your head auditory hallucination, but somehow you trusted that all would be well, as the voice said.

     You safely got to your destination and thought about what had happened. Was that hallucination or what was it? Whatever it was, the experience, you said, profoundly changed your life. You began trying to understand the universe more than the physics you had been studying. What exactly is the human self, the epiphenomenal throw up of the dances of atoms in our heads or spiritual?

     You took foray into spirituality, looking for answers as to who you and other human beings are.

       Your book is an exercise in trying to understand whether the universe is only as physicists tell us or whether there is more to us than physics (nature) tell us. In the process you evaluated what is now called classical physics (the study of mechanics, heat, light, electricity, and sound, studies that were completed in the nineth century) and new physics.

     New physics began in the last decade of the nineteenth century, with Henri Becquerel, J. J Thomson, Pierre and Marie Curie, and segued into the first decades of the twentieth century.

      Max Plank, Albert Einstein, especially with Ernest Rutherford’s discovery of the proton in 1911 (Thompson had discovered the electron in 1897 and James Chadwick discovered the neutron in 1932).

     Niels Bohr, Louis Broglie, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, Lise Meitner and the other bunch established Quantum mechanics by the 1930s.

     Whereas classical physics studied the large universe, Quantum physics is the study of the smallest parts of the universe, subatomic particles.

     Quantum mechanics blew aside our notion of common sense. Heisenberg’s notion that you cannot know where the electron is inside the atom and at the same time know its velocity, the uncertainty principle, that you either know one or the other but not both at the same time, is just a beginning of our foray into the magical aspect of matter.

     Schrodinger, who provided the definitive mathematics for quantum mechanics, in his cat experiment, tells us that you cannot know whether the cat is alive or dead until you look. Point, the observer affects what he sees.

      George Berkeley’s solipsism, his notion that the world may not be external to us but is the product of our thinking begins to seem possible. The world is, as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in wonderland said that it is, a magical show. What exactly is real?

      The observer perceives what he wants to see, what his presuppositions and preconceptions, his beliefs about the nature of reality, dispose him to believe is there.

      Perception is projection, Professor Helen Schucman of Columbia University, writes in her book, A course in miracles. No kidding.

      The lady psychologist said that the seeming solid and objective universe we think that we see is not there but is the product of our thinking. We think in images and project our thoughts out and see them in the apparent objective world we see, as space, time and matter, stars, galaxies, planets and the whole shebang that most of us were taught to see as objectively apart from us.

     Is the world apart from the observer, you wanted to know. You seem to conclude that the observer does affect what he observes but did not go as far as to say that the world is not there.

     Traditional physicists like Albert Einstein believe that the world is independent of our perception and whereas our perception is faulty but with effort we shall improve it; that is, we shall, eventually, see the external world as it is.

     You built on Hugh Everett’s PhD dissertation at Princeton University in 1957. He gave the Big Bang explosion a different interpretation. He suggests that the big bang did not produce just our present universe but produced infinite universes, all available for us to see but that we see the one we want to see. John Wheeler, the Noble Prized Physicist, signed off on Everett’s dissertation, so it must be true?

     We see the universe that our beliefs predispose us to see. When we see our present universe of space, time and matter, where are the others? Good question.

     They all exist in the same place, in us, and we see whichever one we choose to see. Everett and later David Deutsch of Oxford University say that all answers to any question we may ask are already answered in a universe.

     What is this? The answer is already in a universe. All we must do is try to access that other universe and access the answer we seek (those we call geniuses do not study any harder than the rest of us; they seem to tune into other universes and extract their answers that seem profound to us).

     For our present purposes, all answers are in presupposition, already there in other universes and the answer we want to focus on we see, and think is the only answer there is.

      There are infinite possibilities, and they all already exist.

       Quantum mechanics opened a pandora’s box. Consider the now accepted idea that a particle is in more than one place, in fact, is everywhere. The same particle of light that I see in front of me (has any one really seen a particle of light, or do we infer its existence from the double slit experiments?) is also elsewhere, everywhere.

      The studies in nonlocality of entangled particles, beginning with Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen’s 1936 thought experiment, dubbed spooky action at a distance, and John Bell’s 1962 equations for it,  and Alain Aspect’s 1982 experiments that prove it,  tells us that if you entangle two particles and then separate them and place them at the opposite ends of the universe, trillions of miles apart, and touch one and it reacts that the other reacts as if it is also touched and does so instantaneously, not recognizing space and time.

      That then raises doubt over locality and what we tended to believe as objects’    reality, that objects exist out there in space and time and exist regardless of whether we exist or not.

     Is there something called objects, space and time?

      All things seem to be in one thing, or, as religionists say, all things are one, are in each other and there is no separation and distance between things. That is, separation, which most of us believe, according to you, is a superstition. The truth is that all things are in each other and are one thing.

     If I am not separated from you and you are not separated from me, and the space and time I see between us is not real then you and I share oneself. Is that not what Hinduism and Buddhism teach?

      In effect, the idea that each of us has a separate self, the ego, separated selves that are pursuing their separated interests hence clash, and go to wars and kill each other is an illusion.

      What seems our separated selves fighting each other may merely be taking place in a dream of separation whereas in truth we remain one shared self!

       Real or not, if we see ourselves as separated from each other, we see a world at war with itself. Mystics somehow have experiences that convince them that all people are one and they know that what they do to other people they did to themselves. Evelyn Underhill’s book, Mysticism, is useful here.

      Love seeming other people and you love you; hate other seeming separated people and you hate you. What you give to other people you give to you, for there are no other people; you are all people. This is what Helen Schucman, the greatest mystic of all times, teaches.

      Occasionally, someone experiences another universe. As you did when you heard a voice reassure you that all will be well.

     Until one has had such an unusual experience it sounds insane to one. We are told that only psychotics (schizophrenics and Manic Depressives, bipolar affectively disordered persons) hear voices and, as such, are insane.

     I used to work in the mental health setting and have related to hundreds of mentally ill people and they tell me about their visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and other hallucinations. Interesting, I told me. How do they do it?

      Then, I separated from my wife but could not make up my mind to divorce her or not. I began attending a Hindu temple and practiced meditation. One evening, I was meditating and attained inner silence, calm and a voice inside me said, “Go right ahead and divorce her; two of you have done what you got married to do, and must now go live separated lives; you, Ozodi, is here to do metaphysical work and do not need to be in your marriage to do it.”

     Wow, so people really do hear voices. I was shocked when I heard that voice. Like you, it had profound impact on me. It led me to reevaluate what I had assumed is sanity, not hearing voices that are not mine (the voice that I heard is my voice, but a calm authoritative one).

     Over time I learned that there are many universes where we see our present universe and that we can tune into some of them because they are all in us. The universe and universes are not outside us.

     The various universes are in our consciousness; we experience the one we focus on. Where is heaven, where is the world of light forms, where is the universe of dense matter?

    They are in my mind, in your mind, in our joined minds (mind is simultaneous with consciousness and thinking).

     One experiences the universe one wants to experience and behave according to its parameters, parameters that one made.

    If you believe that you are one with all people and love all, you experience the peace and joy of heaven (heaven is not outside you, is in you).

     If you see other people as not part of you and hate them, screw them, you experience planet earth, a place of conflict and war.

      Be in between total oneness and separateness and you are in the world where all things are in purified state, light forms.

       The concept of multiverse is real, but we cannot see all the infinitude of universes at the same time; to see one is to focus on its parameters and ignore others and their conditions for experiencing them.

     Your book reviewed quantum mechanics; I will not dwell on the specifics of that subject, for those who do not understand it will not understand it even if I stood on my head and tried to   explain it to them.

     The last few chapters of your book reviewed what is now called New Age Religion’s belief system, such as the idea of oneness, the idea that separation is an illusion, the nature of the universal ego and universal opposite of the ego, love (Christ self). You made your argument concisely and well.

     You ended your book by telling us that there are infinitude of possibilities (worlds) and answers and that we see and experience the ones we focus on.

      Human beings are choice making part of the universe; we have freedom to choose what we want to focus on and experience, out of the infinitude of possibilities; we currently focus on the belief that we are separated and competitive hence the world at war we live in, capitalist America is the egos world per excellence.

      We can understand that there are other universes, such as Castaneda’s Don Juan talked about. Sorcerers, shamans do in fact tune into other systems of so-called reality (reality is what we collectively say it is but is not permanent).

        I speed read your book. In the next few days, I will go back and read it slowly and cogitate more deeply on what you said.

     The above notes are what I garnered from cursory reading of your book, hoodwinked. You believe that we all have been hoodwinked, deceived into believing that the horrible world we see and live in is the only world there is. Your goal seems to be to help us discard our superstitions and become open to experiencing other realities, whatever those are.

      I will call you and talk about your book. I do author similar books but from a psychological, physical and spiritual perspectives. As we speak, editors are editing my one thousand pages magnus opus, “Joined lives” for publication next year. Its thesis is that we are one shared self.

Postscript:

     Our country, the USA, is the epitome of the egos thought system. We were all taught that we have separated selves and that the most rational economy is where each of us seeks his self-interests at the expense of other people’s interests. We were told that competition is the best way to generate new wealth. Our economists tell us that capitalism is the best political economy in the world. Conflict and wars, they say, make for progress.

     What they did not foresee is what is now happening in the USA. Republicans and Democrats have taken the idea of separation too far. Each stick to his idea of reality and sees the other as wrong.

     The ego always believe that it is right and that all other persons are wrong. Such belief, we know, leads to war.

     The USA is inching to civil war, as Republicans and Democrats no longer make the necessary compromises that are the art of politics. Now, it is either Republicans impose their ideas of reality, no abortion, no same sex marriages, treating black folks as subhuman beings, on all of us, or Democrats impose their ideas that same sex marriage is good for all of us and that abortion on demand is fine, thus cheapening human life, it is all or nothing situation, a zero-sum game where one party wins and the other loses.

    The amoral, narcissistic sociopath, Donald Trump, manipulates the present US political impasse. He lost an election but feels that he needed to tell his Republican base who hate Democrats that the election was stolen from him, hence he told them lies and the mob stormed Congress on January 6, 2021, trying to prevent the certification of Joseph Biden as the president.

     January 6 was a mere dress rehearsal. In the next few election cycles, if results do not favor Republicans, many of them will pick up arms and start killing Liberals, especially killing non-white folks, the object of their intense hatred.

     Egos like wars, for at conflict and wars egos live fully but refuse to live in the peace that love gives us. The ego philosophy that Americans choose to live under is plodding its way to war.

      Such wars lead to the demise of empires and the emergence of others. China is already an economic superpower; it may also become a political and military superpower.

      One ego-based empire collapses and others rise, and the world continues its merry dream of separation.

     Some of us remember that we are one and work for each other’s welfare (in a social-democratic, mixed capitalist and socialist polity).

     The choice is ours to make, peace or war? Our belief systems produce what choice we make and what world we live in.

      You did an excellent job, my friend, Larry Gottlieb.

Ozodi Osuji, PhD (University of California)

November 18, 2021

(907) 310-8176

ozodiosuji@gmail.com

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