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An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four)

March 22, 2020

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 22.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eighteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2020

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,393

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Thomas Wolf is a Member of the Giga Society. He discusses: memorable experiences; belief systems, religions, and secret societies; the reason for some of these interests; the most challenging thing that he has ever done; favourite philosophers; favourite scientists; smartest person; and wisest person.

Keywords: games, memorable experiences, smartest person, Thomas Wolf, wisest.

An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person: Member, Giga Society (Part Four)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Original interview conducted between October 21, 2016 and February 29, 2020.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You enjoy live-action role-playing (LARPs) and role-playing such as escape rooms, free-forms, improv theatre, and murder dinners. What are some of the memorable experiences from these activities – either as a creator or participant? 

Thomas Wolf: This ties in with my interest in virtual reality. All these activities are about creating, shaping and experiencing virtual worlds of relatively high complexity. I connect many pleasant memories with them. But perhaps most impressive of all was an experience I had in the early nineties. I had created a fictional fantasy live role-playing game world “Trawonien” with several factions, and a scenario “The King Is Dead” in which those factions competed for the crown. With about 200 players it was not big for today’s standards, but huge at the time, and it introduced the (back then new) concept that the outcome was not dramatically scripted, but that the players’ actions decided who would be the new king and what further base would be given to the game world. At some point in the game, I watched heated diplomatic negotiations followed by a determined battle and a pursuit, all about an artefact important to shift the balance of power. The “artefact” was some cheap prop, but I had managed to create a setting so immersive that the players for a few minutes behaved like the whole future for them and their society depended on their actions. For these minutes, the action seemed to have crossed the border between game and (virtual) reality. It was the first time that I had experienced that, and it felt having successfully created a world. that this is an experience that authors, movie directors, stage actors, game masters and other creatives all crave and that it is deeply rooted in human nature.

2. Jacobsen: Even further, you have interests in belief systems in general, and religions, secret societies (Templars, Thule Society, Skull&Bones, and so on). What belief systems, religions, and secret societies including those mentioned?

Wolf: Unfortunately, few people reach the point of delving deep enough into philosophical thoughts to gain a true understanding of their existence, but almost all at least seek to find a perceived explanation and purpose of it. Which is a belief system, in most cases a religion. As such systems/religions are propagated (I have a hard time calling this “taught”.), they gain incredible power and shape our society, our reality. For religions and other “public” belief systems, this is obvious and mostly well-researched, from the Vatican to ISIS to socialism. For secret societies, this is not so obvious and shrouded in a lot of assumptions and conspiracy theories, but in many cases true nevertheless, especially as they tend to attract or shape power elites. My personal interest is not so much in one or more specific systems, but in the historic development and interconnections of these systems over time, and in the current situation. It requires of time and effort to separate fact and fiction and to assign probabilities to theories, but I found it interesting.

3. Jacobsen: Why them?

Wolf: It is complex and can hardly be condensed to a few sentences, but it all mostly comes down to symbols and their various and changing meanings, as symbols are what is passed down over time. To only touch the probably most important example, take the equilateral cross. This seems to have come up as a central symbol as early as the dawn of mankind. It originally represented two things central even to the most primitive cultures: firstly, as a wheel, the four seasons of the years divided by solstices and equinoxes, which determined everyday lives in a primitive agricultural society – secondly, the male and female dualism of the blade (penis, sun ray, giver, Yang) and the chalice (vagina, fertile earth, receiver, Yin). This one symbol shaped our history and today’s society. For religions, this is obvious: older religions all over the world used this symbol, including the Assyrians, the Celts and early Christianity. But it changed. In later Christianity, for example, it merged with the simplified Chi Rho and the Tau cross to form the Latin cross of alleged crucifixion, in the East it took the form of the Yin Yang symbol by adding the three-dimensional aspects of shadow fall in the course of a year cycle, as well as the dualist shading of black and white. But even more interesting, in the esoteric tradition and in secret societies the symbol gained utmost importance in the form of the crossed bones, with the addition of a skull for spirit (or later the head of one of several important characters). This “Skull and Bones” were adapted by the Templars as their maritime battle flag, and this was a key use and one that makes this order so interesting. Later the symbol was adapted with numerous different intentions, sometimes good, sometimes bad. The pirates used it due to the naval tradition (check out the Jolly Roger version of Edward Thatch / Teach – “Blackbeard” – for the clear blade/chalice connection). The freemasons for their direct Knights Templar connection. The SS (with their esoteric roots in early 1900s nationalist occultism still vastly underestimated) for their ring and uniform caps, designed by Wiliguth and Himmler. The fraternity of “Skull and Bones” in Yale (vastly influential and much more than a fraternity) used it directly as their symbol. Now, all these groups (and many more) are not directly connected, and they pursued different believes and goals, but they do all have the same root symbol. This is something worth researching.

4. Jacobsen: What is the most challenging thing you have ever done? Why it?

Wolf: The most difficult thing I ever did was probably passing the Giga Society admission test. But “challenging” is more than “difficult,” as it implies overcoming not only intellectual but also mental or other obstacles. Therefore I say it was the creation of a computer game “Herzog” between 1993 to 1995. This was at a time when games were already being produced by medium to big studios and teams and with lots of budget, something I wasn’t ready to accept back at that time. So, I wanted to publish a game of professional quality – in this case, a video-sequence based fantasy setting buildup simulation – on my own, and I did pull it off. I programmed the whole game logic and graphics, and created my own video format and player and CD hardware access in optimized assembler. I scripted, organized and filmed the video sequences with friends. I organized the production of the game. Unfortunately, it still was a financial loss for me in the end – I had simply overestimated my marketing skills and underestimated the power of the big players in the market who would not let a new competitor rise. But nevertheless, I was proud to have successfully created something on my own that was on the same level as products created by a big company. I had learned valuable skills to do it.

5. Jacobsen: Who are your favourite philosophers?

Wolf: Without any doubt, René Descartes stands alone as the first man to understand and define idealism and rationalism. Some great thinkers, especially Plato with his cave allegory, came close to this but were still rooted too much in their belief in matter. Descartes was far ahead of his time and the one turning point in the history of philosophy. He was still hindered by his and his time’s unshakeable belief in being created instead of being the creator himself, but apart from that one shortcoming, he simply nailed it. All other philosophers pale in comparison, even the great ones, e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Bostrom.

6. Jacobsen: Who are you favourite scientists?

Wolf: There are so many who would probably deserve to be mentioned, but a few names come to my mind immediately: Eratosthenes, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Donald Knuth. It is probably a subjective (and far too small) selection, but they particularly impressed me by being far ahead of their respective times. I’d also like to add Nikola Tesla, who – although or because of being slightly mad – was perhaps most able to think out of the box.

7. Jacobsen: Who is the smartest person you have ever met? Why them?

Wolf: Quite frankly, I cannot judge who was the smartest person, merely meeting somebody does not provide enough data to be able to do that. But I can at least say who impressed me most in that respect: it was my uncle Bernhard Wolf, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. He was a renowned astrophysicist in his professional life. After retirement, at a relatively high age, when his daughter (my cousin) moved into the scientific field of biochemistry, he taught himself this – totally unrelated! – field himself on an expert level, to be able to understand what she does and to discuss it with her.  In addition, he was a fascinating, witty man with lots of interests and a great sense of humour.

8. Jacobsen: What about the wisest? Why them?

Wolf: To be honest, it is hard to appreciate any other’s wisdom more than one’s own, at least after a certain age. One thinks one carefully selected his opinion from all the opinions heard in one’s lifetime and therefore understood the world better. even if one still learns and accepts something from someone, that someone is only to be wrong in other respects instead. So, who can be wiser than oneself? I have to admit it is hard for me as well to escape from this line of thinking, so again I will rephrase that question as “Who of the persons I met impressed me most regarding wisdom?” After careful thinking, I name a close, dear friend of mine, Krystian Misztela. I am now realizing that he may be such a close friend exactly because of that wisdom. We disagree about some things, and, as he is significantly younger than me, he may, sometimes, be a little bit more impeded by emotional irrationalities and may still have to learn a few things and make a few experiences. But he comes from a significantly less scientifically oriented environment. I strongly doubt that I could have achieved his level of wisdom at his age within those environmental constraints. So, yes, I am impressed by his wisdom.

9. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Thomas.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, Giga Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four) [Online].April 2020; 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, April 15). An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A, April. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 22.A (April 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 22.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 22.A (2020):April. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Thomas Wolf on Games, Religions and Secret Societies, Challenging Things, Favourite Philosophers, Favourite Scientists, Smartest Person, and the Wisest Person (Part Four) [Internet]. (2020, April 22(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/wolf-four.

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