Friday, 29 November 2013

New Age Sceptic Kevin RD Shepherd

Stanislav Grof

In 2008, Gerald Joe Moreno duplicated some contents of his aggressive website (saisathyasai) on blogspot, producing a blog cycle pitched against me. The blog feature bore his pseudonym of Equalizer, with Moreno being deceptively referred to in the third person. Of course, Moreno really had nothing to do with the hostility; he was merely mentioned in this troll exercise. At least, that is what some uninformed surfers assumed. 
 
The header title of this fresh attack comprised the words: 
“Exposing the vanity self-publisher, pseudo-intellectual, Findhorn Foundation and Stanislav Grof critic, new age sceptic and pseudo-philosopher Kevin Shepherd.” 
Equalizer (Moreno) was here demonstrating the aggressive nature of trolling. This manifestation of zealous “guru defender” campaign did not convince all observers as to the propriety of blog graffiti. 
 
Equalizer evidently believed that he could not have been a pseudo-intellectual, or indeed pseudo in any way; he was promoting the authentic cause of Pro-Sai activism. He emphasises his point by repeating the accusatory word pseudo. My books included 4,000 (four thousand) annotations, which is not the sign of a vanity publisher, as the book trade knows very well. 
 
The category of new age sceptic is not stigmatised outside cult circles. To be a critic of the Findhorn Foundation and Stanislav Grof  is not necessarily any proof of dire error. In my case, this disposition can  be viewed as a symptom of resistance to new age capitalist pursuits such as Grof Transpersonal Training Inc., which had a presence at Esalen and the Findhorn Foundation. The Grof activity has notably included LSD "psychotherapy," which is not one of the conventionally accepted enterprises. 
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
 
ENTRY no. 12 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Missing Image of Gerald Joe Moreno

An ex-devotee version of the forbidden Moreno image

In the normal way, I would supply an image of my subject. Unfortunately, in the case of Gerald Joe Moreno (alias Equalizer), this has proved very difficult. There is only one known image of Moreno that has ever been reproduced online. This originally appeared on one of his sites, and was subsequently preserved by ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba. 
 
The image of Moreno reveals a handsome man, apparently in his early thirties, with neatly groomed hair in conventional style. There is no “hippy” look or anything else suspicious. However, when I reproduced this image on my first website in 2007, the subject reacted strongly, even sending me an email demanding that I withdraw his image.

Some time elapsed before I could fathom what was going on. I consulted my web host, who commented that there was nothing wrong, according to British standards, about reproducing an image, providing that the image was not tampered with in any way. So I retained the image of Moreno, especially as there was no other form of visual identification for names like SSS108 and Equalizer. 
 
I also consulted ex-devotees of Sathya Sai Baba on this matter, a contingent from whom the image was derived. I was informed that there had been much acrimony about images between Moreno and ex-devotees. Some of the latter had suffered distorted images at the hands of Moreno. I was shocked by this revelation, and was supplied with proof that appeared on the web.

Reinier van der Sandt with an imposed large nose. Courtesy Gerald Joe Moreno.

Sathya Sai critic Reinier van der Sandt and ex-devotee Sanjay Dadlani are now well known victims of image distortion. Moreno embellished their respective images with a big nose and exaggerated breasts. Robert Priddy also received extremist treatment in a notorious depiction.
 
One rumour circulated that Moreno feared exposure of his image in case anyone disfigured this, as he himself had done with the images of ex-devotees. Another interpretation is that he was simply averse to being recognised in his private life, and during his travels in India to the Puttaparthi ashram of Sathya Sai. Whatever the precise reason, he continually aggravated against my use of his sole image. He declared that this image was copyrighted and must not be used by anyone.

Eventually Moreno contacted my web host, and proved so insistent that this agent now advised me to remove the image. I did so forthwith, and deleted the Moreno image from all three sites where this was showing. That development occurred in April 2010. Certain other parties were rebellious against the prohibition by Moreno, and continued to show his image
 
Many people noticed that, despite my polite gesture of removing the contested image, Moreno (Equalizer) continued to display three of my images in a derogatory context of blog defamation. The “triple image” of myself was displayed on both his major attack site and his blogspot extension.
 
Critics say that, by refusing to concede the need for standard procedures of visual identity, Moreno justified his classification in the category of trolls, who are adversely noted for their visual anonymity. 
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd 
 
ENTRY no. 11 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Troll Boast, No Image

Wikipedia manager Jimmy Wales in 2006 at a Wikimania conference discussing the identification and elimination of trolls.

The activity of internet trolls has recently become a major issue, with new measures in process and in debate. A well known Wikipedia article refers to different applications of the term troll. Standard advice is to ignore rather than to engage with a troll. Wikipedia is strongly associated with trolling. Larry Sanger of Citizendium explicitly referred to trolls in his acute dissatisfaction with the "anyone can edit" policy on Wikipedia, which has granted a general license to the use of pseudonyms. 
 
At large, the pseudonymous phenomenon of trolling varies from militant teenage aggression to more sustained and menacing attack by seasoned cyber agitators. Some critics say that all web users must be registered with their real name, and that all websites in defiance of this precaution should be eliminated from the web. Until such a development  occurs, the internet is uncivilised.
 
Gerald Joe Moreno, alias Equalizer, was not a typical troll, being known by his real name at his website. However, many of his blogs exhibit a pseudonym, and in this respect he can be considered a type of troll. Many readers of Equalizer blogs did not understand that Moreno was the author. An increasingly general public impression of the troll phenomenon  (certainly in Britain) is that of a miscreant who attacks and slurs while concealing personal identity. 

A basic problem in the case of Moreno (Equalizer) is the aggressive and defamatory verbal style demonstrated by the role of “guru defender.” He was also accused by ex-devotees of being a cyberstalker, which is a very undesirable category.
 
Moreno (SSS108, Equalizer) assumed that he was victorious in his 2007 online repudiation of myself. Using the pseudonym of Joe108, he posted a brief item of a few lines on digg.com, a popular American site. He asserted:
“Attempting to portray himself as a serious researcher into the Sai Controversy, Kevin Shepherd wrote a rambling diatribe against Joe Moreno. Moreno responded to Shepherd and exposed him as a shabby and biased researcher.” 
Troll boasts are notorious for a deceptive sense of inflation. The so-called “diatribe” was my complaint arising from Moreno’s censorious Wikipedia User page (dated 2006) against my publishing venture. Some observers say that the complaint did not ramble, but made a point, as indicated by the acute reaction of the web militant. I did not claim to be a researcher into the “Sai Controversy,” which is an apologist phrase, but instead referred to some relevant data in relation to my own case (the updated version is at Wikipedia Issues).
 
I responded to the overbearing gestures with a detailed refutation of the supposed victory. My lengthy Response to Moreno (2007) was conveniently ignored by the contested entity, in preference for the five line frivolity posted on digg.com.

Improvised triple image of Kevin R. D. Shepherd displayed on Equalizer blogs. 

Another factor that emerged was the aversion of Moreno to any presentation of his image. I had included the sole known image of him in my original article of protest. I was berated for this disclosure of his appearance, and threatened with legal consequences if I included his image in any book (which was not my intention). Moreno was so opposed to the employment of his image that eventually I deleted this from my sites in April 2010. He failed to respond in due measure, and retained all three of the images he displayed of myself so frequently and abusively (along with five of my mother).
 
The fact emerges that my image was reproduced over eighty times on the Equalizer blog cycle of 2008-9. Yet the image of Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) was conveniently prohibited by the subject. The "guru defender" version of the troll code may be considered questionable.
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 10
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Conspiracy and Michael Goldstein

Dr. Michael Goldstein in The Secret Swami documentary

In 2007, the pro-sectarian blogger Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer) made the accusation that “he [Kevin R. D. Shepherd] is a thoroughly biased conspiracy theorist incapable of formulating a sober argument, let alone conducting any semblance of adequate or impartial research.” This charming PR exercise was accompanied by another doubtful compliment, via an assertion that the material in my books (unread by him) “is controversial, convoluted and conspiratorial.” 
 
As if to prove his vehement point, Moreno placed three images of myself directly above these statements, an action which has struck many readers as an excessive gesture. The observer may deduce that three photographs mean guilty of conspiracy, whereas only one image might have permitted a loophole for a more rational argument than is afforded at saisathyasai.com (which gained the repute of an “inquisition” site). 
 
Cultist campaigners often use words like conspiracy. They frequently see themselves as following an all-encompassing cause, which can brook no objections or resistance. The objector is therefore a conspirator or a biased critic who must be maligned. 
 
Ex-devotees complained that Moreno never revised his extreme statements and numerous errors. He viewed his sweeping judgments as being authoritative, and endorsed by his role as defender of the guru Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011). 
 
Some of the ex-devotee victims believed that Moreno was financed in his web campaign by the wealthy Dr. Michael Goldstein, the key American devotee and international leader of the Sathya Sai Organisation. Moreno obviously spent a great deal of time at his vengeful keyboard; his output was prolific.

Goldstein is not popular on ex-devotee sites. “He let down every abused young person by an assiduous cover-up of all questions of sex abuse by US [American] and other devotees or their families, and ceased to reply to letters to him as head of the [Sathya Sai] Organisation.” Quote from Dr. Michael Goldstein, International Chairman of the SSO
 
This leading and influential devotee was notably one of the entities appearing in the BBC documentary Secret Swami (2004). However, Goldstein was very evasive on the subject of allegations about sexual abuse, with the consequence that a hidden camera technique was the BBC resort
 
In this manner, Goldstein was filmed at his home in California, where he was questioned about the allegations. His rather heated response was considered intimidating by some viewers. Goldstein  dismissed the allegations, and claimed that as a physician, he could judge by appearance as to whether anyone had been abused. Goldstein had been a devotee since the 1970s. He has been described as a ranter in this confrontation with the BBC reporter Tanya Datta. An ex-devotee version comments
“Thinking he was in private he [Goldstein] was most offensive to the young lady interviewer, Tanya Datta, and – as his aggressive body language shows – he was very far from being a model devotee who always replies obligingly, speaks sweetly, and so on.” 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 9

Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

BBC Secret Swami Documentary

BBC reporter Tanya Datta

In his attack on myself at saisathyasai.com in 2007, Gerald Joe Moreno blacklisted the BBC Secret Swami documentary of 2004. The title of the G. J. Moreno blog proclaimed accusingly: "Kevin (R. D.) Shepherd referenced the BBC Secret Swami Documentary." This BBC programme has become so well known and applauded that his reservation may be considered an apologist feat.
 
The BBC investigated Sathya Sai Baba, and contributed some provocative insights, detailing both sides of the controversy about that guru. Yet Moreno (Equalizer) presented me as being in error for referring with approval to this documentary. He also misrepresented a court case occurring in California, which he associated with the BBC programme via the American ex-devotee Alaya Rahm, who testified to sexual abuse. According to Moreno, Alaya Rahm resorted to street drugs and alcohol, and therefore his testimony was invalid.
 
The one hour documentary featured the BBC reporter Tanya Datta,  who conducted varied interviews. The schedule covered basic components of the allegations made against Sathya Sai Baba, i.e., fake miracles, sexual abuse, and the bedroom murders.
 
An interview with the Rahm family (Alaya Rahm and his parents) was accompanied by clips of the guru at the Shiva-ratri festival, and performing a supposed miracle. The major Indian critic Basava Premanand was interviewed, and described how he had been investigating the guru since 1968. He and his colleagues were shown explaining how “miracles” could easily be performed in a deceptive manner, e.g., the materialisation of ash (vibhuti) and the ejection of a lingam (sacred object) from the guru’s mouth. The lingam could easily be concealed in a towel, and the ash could appear via sleight of hand.
 
A contrasting interview with the wealthy American devotee Isaac Tigrett disclosed his belief that the allegations of sexual abuse were probably true. "I believe there is truth to the rumours." Yet Tigrett also said condoningly: “He [Sathya Sai Baba] could go out out and murder someone tomorrow, as I said, it's not going to change my evolution.”
 
An American ex-devotee named Mark Roche was also filmed. He relayed the attempt of Sathya Sai to engage him in oral sex during the year 1976. The Rahm family (in America) referred to similar experiences (and there were many such testimonies from other victims).
 
In relation to the notorious murders of 1993, occurring at Puttaparthi ashram, the BBC interviewed the ex-Home Secretary for Andhra Pradesh, Veluyudhan P. B. Nair, who was in charge of the state police. He early discovered that the official police report of the controversial event was “riddled with lies and inconsistencies.” This commentator disputed the official version that police officers shot the four intruders in self-defence, and urged a verdict of “cold-blooded murder.” A cover-up is strongly implied.

According to Nair, “the killing of the boys [or young devotees] was only to buy silence.” Basava Premanand insisted that the central government stopped an investigation of the murders to prevent “economic offences, sex offences” emerging into the light of day.
 
Such factors were not welcome to the polemical campaign of Gerald Joe Moreno (Equalizer), who strenuously denied all the negative reports as being an error of the “Anti-Sai” contingent.
 
See further the BBC Transcript. See also BBC Documentary and A Reflection
 
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
 
ENTRY no. 8 
 
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.