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An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,579

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler. He discusses: advice for students wanting to engage in psychology; gaining research experience; being the director of The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential; counterintuitive data; practical life skills; self–actualization and Maslow; and the remaining importance of the research.

Keywords: brain science, Jonathan Schooler, mindfulness, psychology.

An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler: Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara; Director, The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Any advice for students with the intent to target and pursue undergraduate and graduate education in psychology?

Professor Jonathan Schooler: First off, I would say there are a lot of related fields in psychology. Routinely, students misunderstand what psychology is when they think about it first. Much of psychology is scientific in nature, it can be thought of as astronomy or biology, or chemistry, where it involves understanding empirical questions. When people hear psychology, they usually manage that you’re clinically trained and a big portion of what you do is therapy. That is certainly true for many people that call themselves psychologists, but there are many disciplines that do not involved clinical practice. I have absolutely no experience; I am not qualified to assist anybody than anyone else, except as a human being. However, students need to understand what the field of psychology entails, and scientific psychology, and the area, to understand the difference between the science of psychology and the practice of psychology.

If they are interested in the practice of psychology, they should understand there are a lot of other areas besides explicitly psychology, which involves the kinds of things they are really thinking about when they’re thinking about counselling. A lot of school’s of education have a counselling social work. Also, of course, there’s medical school and psychiatry. That is something to consider. In fact, if people want to treat people and are sufficiently talented, I would encourage either to go into psychiatry because it allows people to diagnose and provide drugs, and therapy. it is very helpful and something to consider, going to medical school as well.

If they want to follow along the lines of what I’ve pursued, then they nee to find a mentor, they need to really work tog et to know somebody in the field. They start by graduate students, who they can work with and getting to know a professor. But it is critical to find a mentor, keep your grades up, study hard, and really try to master, as best as you can, the GREs. Another thing is to make sure you are in contact with professors beforehand – make the letter thoughtfully related to their topic area.

It is another possibility. Several students have done this with me: volunteer to work with somebody whose work you find interesting such as moving there, working part-time. If you’re good, they will hire you. I have done this several times.

Jacobsen: What about acquisition of research experience at graduate and undergraduate levels? Much of the research that people will become involved in will tend to start at graduate level, but there are more and more opportunities at the undergraduate level, at more and more institutions. Do you have any advice there?

Schooler: So, people need to take advantage, as undergraduates, of office hours. It amazes me how rarely a student simply comes into the office hours and wants to talk about research, especially research I am doing in an informed and enthusiastic way.

Professors keep office hours. They keep them for those kinds of interactions. I would advise students to read up. I would find a professor who has research that you’re interested in, ask them questions, go in there, and then get excited. Then through that, you can generate ideas and become excited about their ideas.

Through that interaction, you can leverage that into opportunities for research. With respect to graduate students, one big analogy that I think is useful is having a diversified portfolio. I have two somewhat contradictory pieces of advice. I will try to resolve them.

One, you need to end up being the authority on something. You need to find your slice; your end goal; the thing you know the best in a field. That you can make a case of, wherever you’re going. Ideally, you’re going to diversify around that.

It is nice to not just be a one trick pony. You got to have that thing. How do you find that thing? This is where my other piece of advice comes in, which does seem opposite. You need to have a diversified set of interests in projects. Some are not necessarily the ones that will knock it out of the park.

But they are solid and programmatic, reliable, and so you know you’re accumulating progress. You are going to need to have solid experience and then accumulate publications, but then you also need to have the higher risk investments, which may not work.

Most of them won’t. But if one does, it will hit it out of park. Unless, you’re a genius. You can simply figure it out. My hat goes off to you. But my advice and my strategy has been this diversification approach.

Jacobsen: You are the Director for The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential. What tasks and responsibilities come with this?

Schooler: My responsibilities will be evolving as it develops, as it is still developing. Historically, it is based on a series of projects that we have underway involving understanding the nature of mindfulness, exploring the benefits of programs that enhance mindfulness and other aspects of human potential and understanding the factors that underpin those benefits.

My responsibility involves overseeing the research and speaking with potential benefactors about contributing to it. Another very important aspect of our research is being supported by the Institute of Educational Science. It involves examining the benefits of introducing mindfulness practices into school settings and exploring the way they assist teachers and students in maximizing mindfulness.

Schooler: The major counterintuitive thing has been the ease with which we have been able to produce sustained and dramatic improvements in people’s combined wellbeing, cognitive performance, and changes in brain activity.

Jacobsen: What practical life skills can come from this line of research?

Schooler: We think this can be transformational. In that, it helps people to help themselves by appreciating their capacities for mental control and self-actualization. People can direct those skills towards whatever it is that they most want to manifest.

Jacobsen: You mentioned self-actualization. Does this research line to Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy?

Schooler: It does in spirit. We believe that the priorities that were expressed by Maslow and the Human Potential Movement were right on. The approach that we’re taking, however, is more modern and draws on research in mindfulness, mental sets, and the refinement of potential capacities.

Jacobsen: Why does this research center remain important to you?

Schooler: I believe the center is a way to integrate the insights of science and to merge those with the driving goals of a society.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara; Director, The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 15). An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

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In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,395

ISSN 2369-6885

Gordon Guyatt

Abstract

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC. He discusses: practical health tips; most recent research; journalists and medical reporting; medical doctors and researchers making the research more accessible for journalists; being bothered when reading the news; wife as a researcher; collaborations with wife; organ replacement with machines; Metformin and use of substances without a prior condition; David Sackett and evidence-based medicine; genetic therapy for diseases; keeping Canada “competitive”; costs of medicine going up over time; and final feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: Canada, Gordon Guyatt, medicine.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Aside from keeping aware of bad medicine, or knowing the research at large, what are the most practical tips Canadians can take into account for their own health, outside of quitting smoking?

Professor Gordon Guyatt: First, they don’t need to keep track of too many things. What they need to do is when they suffer from health problems, find out something about them and then they go to clinicians to help, asking clinicians about what the evidence is what is being suggested.

They should stop smoke. It would be one major thing people could unequivocally do for their health. Beyond that, there is strikingly little that you can be confident of. So we don’t know the best diets for improving health. We don’t know if particular diets are better than one another. We have a sense that it’s probably a good thing to exercise.

The evidence of the merits of the degree of impact that prevention might have on your health is limited. We have to screen for breast cancers, screening for colon cancer, and it turns out, the gains in terms of improving life span by those inventions are very minimal. You have to be screening hundreds if not thousands of individuals to have a single individual whose life span is prolonged.

So there is a lot of talk about prevention and trying to eat whatever you perceive as a healthy diet, or exercising, can’t be bad, but whether it’s really only going to have major positive health effects is much less certain.

2. Jacobsen: We last talked several months ago. I want to ask an update. What is your most recent research or research that’s ongoing?

Guyatt: I work with a number of people. It’s been a long time since I initiated my own research endeavors. I have much more fun helping other folks to lead theirs. I already mentioned PJ Devereaux who is working on investigation and management to prevent adverse cardiovascular events after noncardiac surgery.

Mohit Bhandari is leading the world in terms of interventions for orthopedic injuries. He’s the one who also is investigating low and middle-income country trauma, epidemiology, and eventually interventions to deal with that. I also have colleagues who work in the intensive care unit conducting clinical trials.

One of those trials in intensive care units is looking at whether treatments that have been around for a while in patients to prevent gastrointestinal bleeding may be doing more harm than good. Another colleague, who happens to be my wife, who is also an intensive care specialist, is looking at how we can improve the outcome of organ transplants by improving the care of organ donors who are in critical care units. So those are ones that come to mind in which I am involved.

3. Jacobsen: I’m going to make a transition to public information. So this is more self-reflective about journalists. We apparently live in an area of “fake news.” There’s a large amount of responsibility in being a journalist and delivering accurate information to the public.

I do not necessarily mean more tabloid magazines but in serious outlets. What are some mistakes that are common among journalists in general, when they report on medicine or new medical discoveries?

Guyatt: I am extremely sympathetic to the problems of journalists reporting health claims; we actually did some work in this area. I worked with journalists and published a paper suggesting guidance with the journalists. It was 15 or 20 years ago. My sympathies are because journalists, from my limited understanding of the journalistic world, are competing for space.

In the competition for space, it will be much more challenging if you report what might be an active, possible new treatment with possible modest effects, versus a new treatment that has bigger effects.  Most of the time our advances are limited and require cautious interpretation and that would possibly be less interesting to the general public and less likely to get an editor’s approval or a publication.

Health journalists have a big challenge that way. They can be involved with treatments that have been shown to be useless, or next to useless, that can legitimately grab their attention, especially when a lot of people use the ‘treatment.’ There are areas where the public has major concerns, so, for instance, we recently produced guidelines about the best way of using opioids for chronic noncancer pain.  This would be an area of major journalistic attention because of the opioid epidemic and its consequences.

But in many cases, it’s a challenge for journalists if they are going to operate at high integrity, follow various rules that we have suggested, knowing some of the basic principles of trustworthy versus less trustworthy evidence.  It’s also a good idea to be extremely attentive to issues of conflict of interest.  A researcher comes up with a new finding of whatever sort, and the researchers, even if they do not have a financial conflict of interest, they typically have an intellectual conflict of interest. Everybody thinks their own research is the best and everybody should pay attention to what they have found and what they have found must be closer to the truth.

As a result, the best people to go to about a research finding would not necessarily be the people who made the finding but other people working in the area who are in the position to take a much more dispassionate approach to what is found with that problem.  They shouldn’t be direct competitors who might want to underplay in general, but rather somebody who does not have either financial or intellectual conflict of interest would be a better way of getting closer to the truth.

4. Jacobsen: How can medical doctors or researchers make the information more accessible for journalists who don’t have, frankly, the expertise?

Guyatt: Gosh. I would say by explaining things, giving explanations that are understandable to the health journalists and teach them about the principles underlying the research. I try to do that all the time. So, for instance, in this conversation, when big data came up, I tried to explain why big data is not particularly trustworthy in terms of telling us about the magnitude of treatment effects.

That’s when talking about world research and other people’s research, an attempt to explain the underlying principles of what makes some evidence more trustworthy than others is what some researchers could do to help journalists.

5. Jacobsen: What is bothering you when you read the news and it’s reporting on medical science?

Guyatt: It is the failure to recognize the limitations. Indeed, it is unfortunate and I’m sympathetic to journalists who feel compelled to present things as more exciting or better than they actually are. There is a failure to attend to the conflict of interest of the sources that are being cited. Sometimes, journalists get missions about what they think is a good idea and what problems are, which is a natural human tendency; we believe in something, and so that is what we see.

People with particular missions can in every way run into trouble with difficulty seeing things.

6. Jacobsen: Your wife is also a researcher.

Guyatt: That’s right. She is a specialist who deals with critical illness in intensive care units and does research work in that area.

7. Jacobsen: Have you done any collaborations with her?

Guyatt: Yes, lots. She’s switched directions in her research career. She, for the first 15 years or so, did academic research looking at people who are critically ill who have breathing tubes in to breathe for them. Her first research was a number of important studies dealing with ventilation of people when you put in a breathing tube and then we breathe for them.

8. Jacobsen: Not only with organ donation, what about the future of, reasonable near future, organ replacement with machines? So as with artificial heart, a pacemaker for people that have Parkinson’s disease for and replacement of function for the damaged portions of their brain.

Guyatt: You are talking about areas beyond my expertise, but I think there is some evidence that warrants optimism in Parkinson’s disease. But probably for a very limited proportion of that population.

Mechanical heart transplants are not and never will be successful soon over the long term.  They may help people through a short period of time while they’re waiting for a human heart, but the mechanical hearts for not for the long term – that requires human hearts. It is, of course, a great priority in making sure that they try to optimize the availability of heart transplants and have the donors managed in such a way that the best outcomes can be possible for people who receive those transplants.

9. Jacobsen: There’s, maybe, 70 million Americans prescribed Metformin, the diabetes drug.

Guyatt: Yes.

10. Jacobsen: Some use this when they don’t even have diabetes. That is when I extrapolate that to people also using substances for “health” reasons when they don’t have a condition for which the substance is meant for, what is a concern for you as someone entrenched in the field?

Guyatt: I have no idea how much this happens. The question, why are people doing this? My concern in that area is what is called too much medicine. So why might people without diabetes take metformin?

One reason they might be doing so is the industry is now doing trials to prevent diabetes, which is extending the definition to lower and lower levels of blood sugar. So, you have people at lower and lower risks taking treatments, so you have people treating pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension.

The problem with those situations is you’re treating lower and lower risk individuals. You are expanding the proportion of the population taking the medication. You may well be doing more harm than good. So I don’t know why people, the people that you were thinking of, are taking medications, but one reason may be that the medical community has hugely expanded its range in intrusion into people’s lives – sometimes, unequivocally doing more good than harm. But as these expand the somewhat questionable range of sick people, almost nobody over 50 is actually healthy anymore.

11. Jacobsen: In our first interview, we talked about evidence-based medicine. Who was David Sackett? What was the importance of him to evidence-based medicine?

Guyatt: David Sackett was a guy who laid the groundwork for evidence-based medicine. Dave was my personal mentor and established the basis of my career. I, of course, learned enormous amounts. He was one of the pioneers with a clear vision about how physicians were not using evidence often to inform their patient care and made major contributions to advancing the science of how to do the best experiments and interpret their results in such a way that would optimize patient care.

He had a major initiative in starting to teach how to understand and interpret the evidence which was not part of medical training at the time. He talked about critical appraisal of the medical literature and then moved towards evidence-based medicine. He articulated many of the fundamental principles that subsequently became evidence-based medicine. Basically, he set the direction for all that we have done in disseminating evidence-based approaches worldwide.

12. Jacobsen: What diseases are given genetic therapy?

Guyatt: If you mean manipulating genes in one way or another for cancer therapy, there’s nothing I do in my clinical practice I would classify as gene therapy. So that it would be very sub-specialized at the moment.

13. Jacobsen: If you take Canada’s medical innovations and its medical research community, what can keep Canada “competitive” in that international market where those that lead in advances will lead in the technology?

Guyatt: This has to do with where you decide to specialize and building up, finding people with talents and leadership skills, and then you can become competitive and a world leader. So, 20 years or 25 years after evidence-based medicine got started, McMaster is one institution in Canada, not a big institution, considered the worldwide leader in continued advances in evidence-based medicine.

Another area in Hamilton and across Canada where a guy named Jack Hersh came, probably 40-50 years ago now, and trained a whole host of people who are still leading the world in a management of thrombosis. He is a world leader and in Canada. I have no doubt PJ Devereaux is leading the world in addressing cardiovascular complications of noncardiac surgery. He is training a whole host of people who is going continue to lead the world in the next generation.

Same with another colleague who is leading the world in orthopedic trauma clinical trials and training folks who will continue to play international leadership roles. So I, of course, am familiar with what goes on in my institution. I’m sure there are many people across Canada, saying, “Here’s an area that our institution is providing international leadership.”

If you find the right people and have the institutional commitment and focus, it’s quite possible for Canadians to take international leadership in a whole host of medical areas.

14. Jacobsen: Do you foresee the costs of medicine going up further over time for Canadians?

Guyatt: Yes, the main drivers of the cost of medicine are technological advances that have improved people’s health. Now, I think there’s a way of controlling things considerably if for example, we extend single payer to drugs, and if we get tough with not letting drug companies charge exorbitantly.

However, it’s a good thing that there’s always going to be a continual upward pressure in terms of cost because we keep discovering new ways to keep people healthy and these technological advances require some resources.

So I think by good management of the system we can limit costs, but the cost pressures are going to continue to the extent that we continue to find important new advances, technological advances, that contribute positively to health. In that sense, the cost pressures are a very good thing.

15. Jacobsen: Any final thoughts? Any thoughts or feelings based on the conversation today?

Guyatt: No, we covered a wide range of areas. One thought I had is you found out about some of my limitations in terms of breadth of knowledge about what’s going on outside of the areas I’m familiar with; I hopefully have offered something within the areas I am familiar with.

16. Jacobsen: Thank you very much for your time, and I hope you have a good day.

Guyatt: Okay, take care, bye-bye.

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  26. Rege, A. (2015, August 5). Why medically unnecessary surgeries still happen. Retrieved from http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/population-health/why-medically-unnecessary-surgeries-still-happen.html.
  27. Science Daily. (2016, October 26). Ultrasound after tibial fracture surgery does not speed up healing or improve function. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161026141643.htm.
  28. Spears, T. (2016, July 7). Agriculture Canada challenged WHO’s cancer warnings on meat: newly-released documents. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/agriculture-canada-challenged-whos-cancer-warnings-on-meat-according-to-newly-released-documents.
  29. Tomsic, M. (2015, February 10). Dying. It’s Tough To Discuss, But Doesn’t Have To Be. Retrieved from http://wfae.org/post/dying-its-tough-discuss-doesnt-have-be.
  30. Webometrics. (2010). 1040 Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles. Retrieved from http://www.webometrics.info/en/node/58.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Distinguished University Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2017, at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc., University of Toronto; M.D., General Internist, McMaster University Medical School; M.Sc., Design, Management, and Evaluation, McMaster University.

[4] Credit: McMaster University.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 8). An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,935

ISSN 2369-6885

Gordon Guyatt

Abstract

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC. He discusses: concerns about bogus medicine; big data and upper limits in health outcomes; coffee and randomized control trials; exciting research and health outcomes; ways the general public can avoid snake oil; possible examples of snake oil; antibiotic resistance; impressive research; vitamin fads; unsolved medical diseases; and cancer in Canada.

Keywords: Canada, coffee, Gordon Guyatt, medicine.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, there are pervasive ideas in Canada, people with a functional healthcare system, a series of just bogus medical science and treatments. What is one of the main concerns with regards to them as a professional, a clinician?

It could be the whole gambit. It could be homeopathy; it could be crystals; it could be fake cancer therapies or private clinics giving stem cell therapies. You name it.

Dr. Gordon Guyatt: My familiarity with the magnitude of all of the things that you mentioned is limited. Some of the interventions are benign and not particularly costly, and of not much concern as a result. The interventions that might have harm associated with them, and would be more costly, would be a greater concern.

It has been speculated that homeopathy and alternative medicine and other interventions of that sort have a benefit because of the way medicine has evolved in terms of much more emphasis on technological aspects, and much less emphasis on caring and listening. I did not know the evidence if anyone has followed seriously over time, the use of alternative medicine.

I suspect the data may not be accurate, and so it is speculative whether their use has increased. Speculative on my part, but in the course of my 40 years in clinical practice, the emphasis on technological aspects has increased, and caring and listening to patients has decreased, and this might contribute to increased use of alternative interventions.

2. Jacobsen: We keep pushing into areas of bigger and bigger data, so we have more information about what the outcomes of certain treatments might be. Is there going to be an upper limit to how far we can take the health span of citizens for instance in Canada based on these advancements?

Guyatt: You’ve linked two things, but I would immediately be inclined to unlink. There is a great deal of excess optimism about what we can learn about treatments from large databases; large databases are essentially big observational studies that are terribly limited in making inferences about treatments because people who get treatment A are typically different than people who get treatment B.

As a result, one can make very easily spurious inferences about the effect of therapy. For an example, people who take antioxidant vitamins have less cancer and less cardiovascular disease than people who do not use antioxidant vitamins. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with antioxidant vitamins.

In randomized trials, there is no difference in cancer or cardiovascular disease in those who do and do not use antioxidant vitamins. The reason people who take antioxidant vitamins do better is that different people take antioxidant vitamins than those who don’t, and those people are destined to do better in terms of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This is the fundamental problem faced by large databases. It can record if people receive treatment or not. What they cannot do is ensure that the people who did and did not use the treatment were similar with respect to their prognosis, and likely outcomes had they not used treatment.

Indeed, the likelihood is that they were different, and that leads to a biased testament effect. So the large databases are going to provide some information, but we are still going to need randomized trials to sort out other treatments. So that’s one thing.

A completely separate issue is life span. Medical treatments have certainly contributed to that, but advances in nutrition and housing and poverty reduction had more influence on extending the life span than having medical treatments.

Once again, speculative as to what the limits of biology are, the life span in advanced industrial society, most advanced industrial societies, particularly those with low-income gradients keep going up, up, and up. I think it’s speculative as to what the limit of that would be.

3. Jacobsen: You have given another common example, which is one that shows up in the news quite often. It’s coffee, and statements about its health effects. Is it possible or has it been extended, the research about antioxidants, for instance, in improving health, in randomized control trial? It doesn’t necessarily show up. Is it the same for coffee?

Guyatt: It would be challenging to do randomized trials of coffee. I don’t know that they’ve been done, but again, any influences about the health effects of coffee are confounded by the fact that there are all sorts of differences between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. So until we have randomized trials, we’re going to have low quality evidence about the impact of coffee on various health outcomes.

4. Jacobsen: If we’re looking at the developments in medical research now, from a personal perspective, what is some of the more exciting research in development? From a professional perspective, what research has the most potential for improving health outcomes, especially for the aforementioned population such as the low income?

Guyatt: The best way to improve the health of low income folks is to decrease income gradients and that would have far more impact than any particular health interventions. If we could get everyone in society to stop smoking that would have a big impact: lifetime smokers have seven years shorter lifetimes than the lifespans of non-smokers, a far bigger gradient that can come from any particular health interventions.

So if we can persuade everyone to stop smoking, that would have an enormous impact on health. While medical innovations have made a big impact on both quality and quantity, there are other things like income gradients, like health habits – in particular, smoking – that have a bigger impact

Medical treatment has made a big impact on various areas, including cardiovascular disease and treatments and cancer. Those were made because those were the biggest sources of morbidity and mortality in society. That is where I see the biggest continuing potential: certainly, within the area of cancer, our understanding biology has advanced enormously.

We will keep seeing new therapies and prevention. Many cancers which were uniformly fatal have now been turned into chronic diseases. I expect that to continue.

5. Jacobsen: As a practical tip, how can the general public avoid snake oil, bogus remedies? Something simple.

Guyatt: What they can do is learn the basic principles of deciding what evidence is trustworthy and what is not.  That should be possible. A colleague of mine by the name of Andy Oxlan has completed a large randomized trial in Africa of teaching school age kids about recognizing, as you put it, snake oil from legitimate health claims.

His randomized trial showed that teaching the kids substantially improved their ability to make those distinctions. As a side effect, their parents’ ability to make those decisions improved. These are very low resource African settings. So there’s plenty of information that is potentially available to consumers about health claims.

Should people decide to educate themselves, they all would be in a position to make judgments themselves. They should certainly be in the position, even with quite limited knowledge, of asking their clinicians to justify what evidence there is to base what is being suggested and to challenge the physician or the clinician in explaining – to be made knowledgeable of the evidence that supports what they’re doing.

6. Jacobsen: Some of these fakes or snake oil sellers are predatory rather than true believers in it. Do any prominent examples come into mind?

Guyatt: I am maybe fortunately or unfortunately quite insulated from exposure to that. If I heard of anything, it would be through newspapers, and your knowledge would be as good as mine.

7. Jacobsen: There have been some international concerns about the effectiveness of antibiotics in the long term.

Guyatt: The concerns are multiple. There are many, many examples of antibiotics becoming ineffective as a result of bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotics. So that is a very real issue. It raises legitimate concern and suggestions that we should make sure that we’re only using the antibiotics when they are really warranted.

Efforts are ongoing to try and limit the use of unnecessary or inappropriate antibiotics; to the extent that we can limit their inappropriate use we can limit the emergence of resistance.

8. Jacobsen: Who is someone that’s combating or doing research to combat upcoming diseases that seem to be growing issues that really impresses you?

Guyatt: Oh gosh. I’m influenced by what I see immediately around me. So, efforts at, in terms of prevention, in low and middle-income countries reducing the increasing rates of motor vehicle accidents. As low and middle-income countries become higher income, it becomes a big problem in terms of motor vehicle accidents.

The efforts that can be made in terms of travel safety.  We have an emerging epidemic of motor vehicle accidents and the efforts to deal with that so far have not been made. There has been better medical management that the people have undergone, but the much bigger impact could be made in improving the safety of vehicular traffic.

That’s one major emerging threat where efforts to prevent it from growing would be public health, and regulatory efforts rather than simply medical interventions.

9. Jacobsen: In the past, vitamin E was a health fad. A more modern one, an ongoing one, is vitamin D. What is the research? What does it say?

Guyatt: The research does not support major health benefits for vitamin D for most people. Maybe for at least some sub-populations, there is a modest reduction in fractures. And perhaps in the elderly, a reduction in falls.  Very rarely, you have people who actually have serious vitamin d deficiency and they obviously need treatment, but those are few and far between. So that cancer prevention, for instance, evidence suggests that they do not have cancer preventing benefits and most of the other putative benefits that I have countered have not be substantiated. So maybe in subpopulations, at least a reduction in fractures and falls and that is really about all that’s been established.

10. Jacobsen: If you take into account instead of medical diseases around, and if you were to take into account your own personal fascination with one that’s unsolved, what is it and what are its characteristics?

Guyatt: So, one that occurs to me is an area investigation that one of the folks I work with by the name of PJ Devereaux is investigating is cardiovascular events after noncardiac surgery. Over the last 50 years, there’s been a huge increase in people undergoing noncardiac surgery – for conditions that we didn’t use to be able to treat surgically, e.g. joint replacements.

Associated with the increased number of people undergoing surgery, we’re operating on older and older people, and as the technology improves, we get to do that. The benefits are great, but it means that millions and millions of more people are undergoing noncardiac surgery. We have a substantial public health problem in terms of heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular events following noncardiac surgery.

This has been a hugely under investigated area. Dr. Devereaux has been, as I said, leading the world in terms of starting to look at the magnitude of the problem, find out who is at risk, and start working towards developing strategies that would limit the heart attacks and deaths after noncardiac surgery.

11. Jacobsen: What is the general rate of cancer in the Canadian population?

Guyatt: I am a clinical epidemiologist in terms of investigating treatments and diagnosis and not somebody who follows the major Epidemiology trends.

The limited amount that I do know focuses on something I mentioned earlier in this conversation, which is lung cancer deaths decreasing as smoking has decreased but there could still be a greater reduction because many more Canadians continue to smoke than should. As long as that happens, lung cancer and some other cancers will continue to be a big problem.

References

  1. Bennett, K. (2014, October 31). New hospital funding model ‘a shot in the dark,’ McMaster study says. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/new-hospital-funding-model-a-shot-in-the-dark-mcmaster-study-says-1.2817321.
  2. Blackwell, T. (2015, February 1). World Health Organization’s advice based on weak evidence, Canadian-led study says. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/health/world-health-organizations-advice-extremely-untrustworthy-and-not-evidence-based-study.
  3. Branswell, H. (2014, January 30). You should be avoiding these products on drug-store shelves. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/you-should-be-avoiding-these-products-on-drug-store-shelves/article16606013/?page=all.
  4. Canadian News Wire. (2015, October 8). The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame announces 2016 inductees. Retrieved from http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/the-canadian-medical-hall-of-fame-announces-2016-inductees-531287111.html.
  5. Cassar, V. & Bezzina, F. (2015, March 25). The evidence is clear. Retrieved from http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150325/life-features/The-evidence-is-clear.561338.
  6. Clarity Research. (2016). Clinical Advances Through Research and Information Translation. Retrieved from http://www.clarityresearch.ca/gordon-guyatt/.
  7. Craggs, S. (2015, July 21). We can actually win this one, Tom Mulcair tells Hamilton crowd. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/we-can-actually-win-this-one-tom-mulcair-tells-hamilton-crowd-1.3162688.
  8. Escott, S. (2013, December 2). Mac professor named top health researcher. Retrieved from http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4249292-mac-professor-named-top-health-researcher/.
  9. Feise, R. & Cooperstein, R. (2014, February 1). Putting the Patient First. Retrieved from http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56855.
  10. Frketich, J. (2016, July 8). 63 McMaster University investigators say health research funding is flawed. Retrieved from http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6759872-63-mcmaster-university-investigators-say-health-research-funding-is-flawed/.
  11. Helsingin yliopisto. (2017, March 23). Clot or bleeding? Anticoagulants walk the line between two risks. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323083909.htm.
  12. Hopper, T. (2012, August 24). You’re pregnant, now sign this petition: Group slams Ontario doctors’ ‘coercive’ tactics to fight cutbacks. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/youre-pregnant-now-sign-this-petition-group-criticizes-doctors-who-encourage-patients-to-sign-anti-cutbacks-letter.
  13. Kerr, T. (2011, May 30). Thomas Kerr: Insite has science on its side. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/thomas-kerr-vancouvers-insite-clinic-has-been-a-resounding-success.
  14. Kirkey, S. (2015, October 29). WHO gets it wrong again: As with SARS and H1N1, its processed-meat edict went too far. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/health/is-whos-smackdown-of-processed-meat-a-considerable-overcall-or-just-informing-the-public-of-health-risks.
  15. Kolata, G. (2016, August 3). Why ‘Useless’ Surgery Is Still Popular. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/upshot/the-right-to-know-that-an-operation-is-next-to-useless.html?_r=0.
  16. Maxmen, A. (2011, July 6). Nutrition advice: The vitamin D-lemma. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110706/full/475023a.html.
  17. McKee, M. (2014, October 2). The Power of Single-Person Medical Experiments. Retrieved from http://discovermagazine.com/2014/nov/17-singled-out.
  18. McMaster University. (2016). Gordon Guyatt. Retrieved from http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_guyatt.htm.
  19. Neale, T. (2009, December 12). Doctor’s Orders: Practicing Evidence-Based Medicine Is a Challenge. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/practicemanagement/practicemanagement/17486.
  20. Nolan, D. (2011, December 31). Mac’s Dr. Guyatt to enter Order of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.thespec.com/news-story/2227923-mac-s-dr-guyatt-to-enter-order-of-canada/.
  21. O’Dowd, A. (2016, July 21). Exercise could be as effective as surgery for knee damage. Retrieved from https://www.onmedica.com/newsArticle.aspx?id=e13a0a94-5e96-43b9-86b7-7de237630beb.
  22. Palmer, K. & Guyatt, G. (2014, December 16). New funding model a leap of faith for Canadian hospitals. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/why-new-funding-model-a-leap-of-faith-for-canadian-hospitals/article22100796/.
  23. Park, A. (2012, February 7). No Clots in Coach? Debunking ‘Economy Class Syndrome’. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/07/no-clots-in-coach-debunking-economy-class-syndrome/.
  24. Picard, A. (2015, May 25). David Sackett: The father of evidence-based medicine. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/david-sackett-the-father-of-evidence-based-medicine/article24607930/.
  25. Priest, L. (2012, June 17). What you should know about doctors and self-referral fees. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/what-you-should-know-about-doctors-and-self-referral-fees/article4267688/.
  26. Rege, A. (2015, August 5). Why medically unnecessary surgeries still happen. Retrieved from http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/population-health/why-medically-unnecessary-surgeries-still-happen.html.
  27. Science Daily. (2016, October 26). Ultrasound after tibial fracture surgery does not speed up healing or improve function. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161026141643.htm.
  28. Spears, T. (2016, July 7). Agriculture Canada challenged WHO’s cancer warnings on meat: newly-released documents. Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/agriculture-canada-challenged-whos-cancer-warnings-on-meat-according-to-newly-released-documents.
  29. Tomsic, M. (2015, February 10). Dying. It’s Tough To Discuss, But Doesn’t Have To Be. Retrieved from http://wfae.org/post/dying-its-tough-discuss-doesnt-have-be.
  30. Webometrics. (2010). 1040 Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles. Retrieved from http://www.webometrics.info/en/node/58.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Distinguished University Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 1, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc., University of Toronto; M.D., General Internist, McMaster University Medical School; M.Sc., Design, Management, and Evaluation, McMaster University.

[4] Credit: McMaster University.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 1). An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: July 22, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,087

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with Grand Master Scott Robb. He discusses: clarification on the Satanic Laws; the most crucial Satanic Laws and ethics; ideals; worship and ritualism; Satanic demographics; covert and overt theocracies; striving, to a degree, to be like Satan; geography of the Darkside International Ministry; Electronic Frontier Canada’s Blue Ribbon Campaign; violation of rights; and the Black Ribbon Campaign.

Keywords: Darkside International Ministry, grand master, religion, Scott Robb.

An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*I had more questions.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We discussed Satanic ethics with the implications of the “sins.” Also, there are Satanic Laws or Lex Satanicus, namely:

  1. Do not share your troubles, or give opinions or advice, unless you are sure that others want to hear them. Complaining is the refuge of those who have no self-reliance.
  2. When in another’s dwelling, show them respect or else do not go there. Or, if a guest in your dwelling annoys you, treat them cruelly.
  3. Do not steal that which does not belong to you.
  4. Do not make sexual advances unless the other individual is willing and of, or over, the age of consent.
  5. Do not harm young children under any circumstances.
  6. Do not kill non-human animals unless in defense or for food.
  7. Do not deceive yourself with absurd exaggerations of who, or what, you are.
  8. Fear not men, nor fates, nor gods, nor laughter of folk folly, nor any other power.
  9. When in neutral territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they do not, use whatever force is necessary to defend yourself.
  10. If you have used magic successfully to obtain your desires, acknowledge its power.
  11. Otherwise, do what you will.

My hope and trust remains most people adhere to these in some form or other, even if not cognizant of it. However, I realize the reality. Many imply the Harm Principle and Utilitarian ethics, with something interesting.

An active form of the Utilitarian ethic through practical recommendations: if something is harmful, even mildly, then this or that can help solve the problem. It is like anesthesia for the purpose of surgery – minor pain for eventual good.

These recommendations range from personal complaints to sex, and to realistic self-perceptions and to stop feeling fear. Does this seem correct to you? Also, for number 11, what is the standard misinterpretation of it – as often happens with the variation from Crowley?

Grand Master Scott Robb: Ya, I would say you are correct in seeing our Laws as ranging from personal complaints to sex and to realistic self-perceptions and prevent fear. I think the standard misinterpretation of “do what you will” is that it must mean do whatever you want. Like most laws of the land, there are always some who perceive written laws contrary to how they were intended. Similar to Americans who misunderstand the second amendment, as a guarantee for anyone to carry a gun, without acknowledging the first part of the amendment requiring a “well-regulated militia”. In reality, it means that one can exercise what has become known as “human rights”, what one puts their mind to and does not bother or harm others.

2. Jacobsen: Of these Lex Satanicus and the Satanic ethics, what ones seem most crucial to you, especially in functional utility in daily life – as in the most often used in day-to-day activities and interactions?

Robb: I think an essence of the whole is used in day-to-day activities, that being to live one’s own life without interfering with anyone else’s. I think that is a common theme with our Laws and Sins to be as self-reliant and independent as possible.

3. Jacobsen: Christians aim to become in the likeness and image of God through Jesus Christ. They want to become Christ-like. Muslims want to become more Mohammed-like. These represent ideals for about half of the world’s population in Christianity and Islam, respectively, as you know. Any words on these purported ideal figures or the attempts to become like them?

Robb: Similar to Buddhists who believe that when one dies they become part of the transcendental spirit, or enlightened being, they call “the Buddha”. It is definitely a common theme among most of the world’s religions to become more like their perfected-spirit, or God. As Satanists we look at this in a slightly different way. We accept that we are not perfect beings, and that we never will be, but we exist to be the best we can. Through constant research and acquiring as much knowledge as we can, and passing that knowledge on to future generations. That is how we create our legacy, to make sure that we are remembered after we die. As Anton LaVey has even said, as long as we are remembered, even if remembered by only one person in each future generation, we will never die. The important part is controlling what we are remembered for.

4. Jacobsen: Does the worship and ritualism in the mainstream, dominant religions in the world seem primarily passive rather than active? What benefits come from the mainline religions if any?

Robb: Most mainstream religions are largely passive, until they want converts or anyone stands up to oppose them (see the reaction of Christians in America towards Atheists or to the Satanic Temple) at which time Christians, like the various Muslim denominations, become either almost or literally militant. I think that all of the world’s religions have some benefits for those who subscribe to the respective beliefs, but I don’t think that every individual can benefit from the same point of view all the time. In fact, there are millions of people raised in, and other times forced in, to religions they do not actually subscribe to. At some point they will revolt and leave whatever religion it may be. The result is increasingly militant, and often religiously misinformed, atheists who try to force all religions into the same box as Christianity (which is ridiculous because some religions have one God, some have two or more Gods, and others have no Gods), which benefits no one.

But, those who do subscribe to their religion of their own free will benefit from the level guidance, either directly from the text of their religion or from the clergy/scholars who lead in their churches or in some cases even the other members of their congregation/community, which they need at that point in their life.

5. Jacobsen: Who tends to be drawn to the Satanic message – demographics?

Robb: In my personal experience over the last 22 years, going back to when I started studying the Occult and Satanism back in 1995 (at the age of 16), I have observed that the demographic of people interested in Satanism is relatively equal among males and females and range in age from 13 years of age up to about 80-ish (I have heard from elderly people who seemed genuinely interested in learning more about Satanism and its beliefs/activities).

6. Jacobsen: As seems like the case to me, and likely to you, too, governments tend to promote religion, especially forms that keep the population at a low cultural and intellectual level. One recent example, the stoppage of the educational curricula devoted to evolution in the nation of Turkey. One, does this seem true to you? Two, if so, how is this done? Three, why is this done? Four, what can combat it? Five, is it worth it?

Robb: Some nations are run as covert, or in some cases overt, theocracies. Turkey, like all Middle Eastern nations, is very much overt theocracies that promote Islam as their state religions. Other nations, like America and Russia, for the most part at least, are run as covert theocracies. My own observation has been that it’s predominately rightwing and far-right governments, and sometimes far-left governments, that push religion more then more centre/centre-left governments. Take Canada, as an example, which was influenced by Protestant England, and was created to be a very Christian nation is now credited as one of the most (if not thee most) secular nations in the world, thanks to the 150 year history of mostly Liberal influence that has made Canada the all-inclusive nation it is today.

I think Karl Marx had it right when he wrote, “Religion is the opium of the people”. Whatever the dominant religion is in any given country, the government uses it to manipulate the people to view things in a specific way. Trump, for example, is a very chauvinist, xenophobic, homophobic, far-right Christian. He has used such views to manipulate the American citizenry who share those views and cause them to rise up and attack minorities, while at the same time colluding with an enemy state in violation of the US Constitution (which clearly states that the US cannot be influenced by foreign powers). Like Trump, Hitler, and many other leaders who use this technique, they simply take the religious views of the populous and manipulate it to fit whatever agenda they happen to have. In Hitler’s case he took a very Catholic populous in Germany and manipulated the people into believing that Jews were the murderers of Christ and, to use the actual words from some of Hitler’s own speeches, likened Jews to the “serpents” and “vipers” who needed to be exterminated, this gained Hitler the support needed to start rounding up Jews, first for deportation, but when all other nations rejected the Jews Hitler resorted to his “final solution” of extermination. Trump, today, is doing the exact same thing with Muslims. Making unsubstantiated and unwarranted claims against Muslims in his speeches. If not for other nations accepting Muslims, and other minorities, from America, it is a distinct possibility that Trump would have lined up a similar solution as Hitler. Perhaps not executions, but very likely internments of some sort.

7. Jacobsen: Satan is the bringer of light and enlightenment in Satanism. This image becomes the ideal for Satanists. Does becoming more like the image of the Devil equate to the ultimate purpose of Satanism?

Robb: First of all, “Lucifer” that is the Light Bearer (in fact, the word “Lucifer” is Latin for “light bearer”). “Satan” is Hebrew for “Accuser, Opposer, & Adversary”.

To an extent, yes, the symbol of Lucifer was chosen specifically as a symbol of Enlightenment, a pinnacle aspect of what Satanists strive for in life.

8. Jacobsen: You divide the areas for Darkside International Ministry into the Organization of the American States, European Union, African Union, Asia, and Australia. Why these divisions?

For example, the Organization of the American States includes Canada, and the Latin American and South American countries – with America – as one bloc. What efficiency, or benefit, comes from this organizational map for operations?

Robb: To make an International Religious Organization I know early on that I, as the international leader, could not possibly over see everything in every region. I knew that I would have to divide regions and create reasonable regional zones that could more easily organize our Ministry. I first researched different regions and found that internationally there are such regional organizations. The Organization of American States, European Union, and African Union actually exist (in fact, below the map of the regions the flags are actually the flags of those regional organizations). It just made logical sense, to me, to have Asia and Australia as additional regions.

As for efficiency, it means having 5 “Lord Templars” (senior council members) to meet with for our meetings, and they have their “High Templars” (council members) to assist them in their region and can take their place in meetings if necessary. They each meet within their own regions as is required for the jurisdiction in the countries of their region (should be at least once per year, some jurisdictions require meetings at least once a month).

9. Jacobsen: You support Electronic Frontier Canada’s Blue Ribbon Campaign. It is for freedom of expression. As the site notes, “This right is protected by law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 2), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 19), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 19).”

Why is freedom of expression for clear and open communication – also for the polity? How can people become involved and support it, even without explicit inclusion of the Blue Ribbon Campaign?

Robb: We only support the Blue Ribbon Campaign’s anti-censorship and freedom of speech/expression views. We simply followed the instructions on their website to get involved and support them. By contacting them to register as a supporter and to add the HTML code they supply to our website to show that we support their cause.

10. Jacobsen: Who tends to violate these rights? What can prevent them from the violation of the rights? What seems like their motivation?

Robb: Some governments, as I mentioned earlier the far-right, rightwing, and far left try to push their views while trying to crush all opposition, this is what the Satanic Temple contends with in their campaigns and political actions (of which we also support, but at present are not officially associated with). But, more often it is the rest of society. Specifically, other religious groups (most specifically Christian denominations) and, to some extent, atheists.

I am inclined to believe that the motivation of denying our rights is because we effectively represent their opposition, responsibility and enlightenment.

11. Jacobsen: Also, Darkside International Ministry is part of the Black Ribbon Campaign (for Occult Education). I note this powerful quote, from you, where you said or typed:

FBI Special Agent Kenneth V. Lanning felt this first-hand when he pointed out that Satanists are not criminals and, as a result, was accused of being a Satanist. The Black Ribbon is an important way to raise awareness of the occult, and the true practices of occultists, in order to allow the Occultists to practice there beliefs and practices in peace and not have to defend themselves from others who accuse and attack Occultists on one side and have racists, killers, child molesters, and other criminals attempting to get out of prison time by claiming a connection to Occult organizations.

I understand the situation more from reading this. At root, it’s unfair scapegoating, of the occult and occultists, with the extreme cases listed in the quotation.

As a further introduction to the Black Ribbon Campaign, through information not necessarily in the webpage, what is it? How can people help out in its dissemination? What are the barriers to its dissemination? What have been some of its honest failures and successes, if any?

Robb: The Black Ribbon Campaign is a campaign I started, as a side project, to educate the general public and to raise awareness of the Occult and what it actually is. Mainly what is known as the metaphysical realm (also known as “the hidden sciences”). Which, aside from Satanism, also includes many other aspects that fall into the category of Parapsychology (for example, use of correct use of Witchboards which is sold to the public under the name Ouija boards which everyone seems to mispronounce, theory and practice of magic, meditation, astral-projection, lucid dreaming, psychic ability, paranormal activity, and ufology). After I completed seminary and received my “Reverend” title from the Universal Life Church Seminary in 2000/01, I received an honorary degree in Metaphysics for my work as a scholar and educator of the Occult.

People can help be showing support with the display of our Black Ribbon Campaign logo on their websites, to wear Black Ribbons and inform others of the campaign, and to donate what they can using the PayPal donation link at the bottom of the Black Ribbon Campaign page.

The barrier thus far is the fact we only had a small show of support for the Black Ribbon Campaign. The success of the Black Ribbon Campaign has been that we have reached a few interested people over the years. The most obvious failure, as I said, is we have not had enough exposure to be more successful in the Campaign.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Grand Master, High Priest, Founder, and President, Reverend Scott Robb, Darkside International Ministry.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 22, 2017, at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three) [Online].July 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, July 22). An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, July. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (July 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):July. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Three) [Internet]. (2017, July; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,760

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists.  They discuss: the general perspective of the irreligious by the religious; main forms of bias, bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice experienced by atheists in Edmonton; allies within the community for the nonbelieving community; premier events provided by the Edmonton Society of Atheists; main attraction for atheists in the area to come to the events of the Society of Edmonton Atheists; consistent messages from atheist thought leaders; central reasons for people to become atheists; examples of prejudice; and some of the future goals of the social group in terms of outreach, growth, and providing more for the social group, present and future. 

Keywords: atheists, Edmonton, Society of Edmonton Atheists.

An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

The Society of Edmonton Atheists is a community of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and skeptics. It is purposed for constructive activism, open discussion, and non-believing education and philanthropy. It was a Meetup group, became a non-profit in 2008, and focuses on the building of an atheist community, public awareness of atheism, and volunteer activities. I reached out to the Edmonton Society of Atheists to learn about the situation for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and skeptics in Edmonton, and the broader Alberta culture. The current president, Karen Lumley Kerr, agreed with the idea of an educational series on building a nonbelieving community, especially looking at the national and international communities’ ways of potentially helping grow provincial and local atheist communities. Here is the result of our conversations.

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With the framework set for this educational series, we know about 70-80% of the Canadian population adheres to some faith or spiritual tradition. In Alberta, and especially Edmonton, the stereotype is a, not necessarily the most religious by numbers but, a hyper-religious set of congregations across the religious spectrum, especially the Christian denominations. To start, what is the general perspective of the irreligious on the part of the religious in Edmonton, in Alberta?

Society of Edmonton Atheists: Generally speaking we are welcome in the bigger cities like Edmonton and Calgary, where the demographic of nonbelievers is higher, and diversity bigger. Interfaith dialogue and discussions happen often in the bigger cities. Atheists in Alberta are more at risk of discrimination in smaller rural towns.

2. Jacobsen: What are the main forms of bias, bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice experienced by atheists in Edmonton, as reported by members of the Edmonton Society for Atheists?

Edmonton Atheists: When we attend interfaith events some people have told us that they felt compelled to avoid our group, I’ve watched people walk past and around our booths at various events before.

The worst cases are when we are trying to remove The Lord’s Prayer (which is protected here) in public schools /before council meetings etc and when members of our group fought for a public school board in Morinville a number of years ago.  Many of those families were ostracized and moved out of the town because of the attitudes of others.

3. Jacobsen: Who tend to be allies within the community for the nonbelieving community? Those able to provide support, community, conversation, and so on.

Edmonton Atheists: In the past, the Unitarian church and sometimes the United churches have shared speakers and events with us. We are going to be embarking on a secular refugee sponsorship with a United Church in the next few weeks (still waiting on government paperwork).

We also belong to the Edmonton Interfaith Center for Education and have spoken at events hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslims.

There are secular religious people who work alongside atheists in groups such as Alberta Pro-choice or APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning).  These alliances are more one to one individual type of relationships rather than community groups.

4. Jacobsen: What are some of the premier events provided by the Edmonton Society of Atheists at the moment?

Edmonton Atheists: We hold a variety of events each month, from coffee nights, roundtable discussions, book club, breakfasts and pub nights, to counter-apologetics evenings.  There is usually something for everyone.  Two of our larger events coming up soon are marching in Pride Parade (June 10th) and a potluck bbq for Summer Solstice (June 17th).

We try to have big name speakers a few times a year.  We’ve hosted speakers such as Aron Ra, Richard Carrier, Justin Scheiber, and David Silverman in the past.  Through the AB Secular Conference, which we are founding sponsors of, have brought Ali Rizvi, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist (just to name a few), to our province.

5. Jacobsen: As the Society of Edmonton Atheists, as a local social group, what is the main attraction for atheists in the area to come to the events of the Society of Edmonton Atheists?

Edmonton Atheists: Generally we find that people have recently left their church or religious group and are looking for like-minded friends.  Others join in order to get involved in some of our secular activism.

6. Jacobsen: With bringing some of the prominent names in the atheist community including Ali Rizvi, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, Aron Ra, Richard Carrier, Justin Scheiber, David Silverman, and so on, what have been the consistent messages from them, from their presentations?

Edmonton Atheists: That we have the freedom to speak up, so we shouldn’t take that for granted.  There are atheists around the world who can’t speak up without fear of repercussions, jail time or even death.

7. Jacobsen: In an interaction with the small community of atheists in Edmonton, what have been the central reasons for people to become atheists? Noting, of course, the largest single group, regarding religion, in the city of Edmonton are those without religious affiliation. 

Edmonton Atheists: Most lose their faith over a few years, very few can pinpoint exactly when they became an atheist.  The story is generally the same, asking questions that were not answered by their religious leaders and then researching on their own.   Logically the stories they were taught start to crumble, and they lose their faith little by little.

We also have some members who were raised secularly, so didn’t have to untangle from religion at all.  These types usually come to us more to be active in our outreach and activism.

8. Jacobsen: Even though those in other countries can have their fundamental belief in – ahem – non-belief have them executed, imprisoned, or considered even terrorists as in Saudi Arabia, there are more subtle forms of prejudice and discrimination against irreligious people in Edmonton, in Alberta, and in Canada. You touched on some aspects of having a booth be avoided, or controversy surrounding the Lord’s Prayer, which amounts to forms of tacit social privileges for the faithful, especially the Christian (Catholic and Protestant, mostly, in this country). What about stories or narratives from members of the social group? How does this discrimination play out in their lives? Any stark examples?

Edmonton Atheists: I think the main examples were those that the families in Mornville faced after trying to get a secular school set up there (there was only a Catholic option up until that point). I know a lot of those families had to leave the city due to being ostracized.

9. Jacobsen: Any books popular within the group? Why those texts?

Edmonton Atheists: I don’t think there are any specific books that are more popular than others. We do run a book club each month and try to rotate through various themes, different sciences, even apologetics books. We’ve also added in the odd fiction book now and again if it’s somehow related, we read A Handmaid’s Tale at the beginning of the year for example.

10. Jacobsen: What are some of the future goals of the social group in terms of outreach, growth, and providing more for the social group, present and future?

Edmonton Atheists: We are pretty busy in so much as we have an event on every week, but I’d really like to get more outreach going. Ideas that have been tossed around are speaking at churches to try to squash some of the stereotypes, holding Atheism 101 events every now and again that are open to the public, and I am also now involved with the Edmonton Interfaith group, so want to start nurturing that relationship. I’ll be speaking in September at a conference that includes non-theists, progressive Christians, and humanists, alongside Minister Gretta Vosper, so I’m very much looking forward to that: http://everwonderconference.ca/.

Appendix I: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists [Online].July 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, July 15). An Interview with the Society of Edmonton AtheistsRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, July. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (July 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with the Society of Edmonton AtheistsIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with the Society of Edmonton AtheistsIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):July. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with the Society of Edmonton Atheists [Internet]. (2017, July; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-the-society-of-edmonton-atheists.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,076

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with Grand Master Scott Robb. He discusses: foundational categories of Satanic worship; these rituals within the Darkside International Ministry; the significance of ritual tools; the highest date in the Satanic religion, as well as other important dates; Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley; core principle under Satanic ethics; Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, the Marquis de Sade, George Bernard Shaw, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dr. John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Ragnar Redbeard as inspirations for Satanic thought, others, and why; hysterical reactions to Satanism; political leanings of the Darkside International Ministry; Gnostic Order of the Cathars and the Darkside International Ministry; evidence for the traditions going back to the Neolithic period (10,000 B.C.E.); the lowest and highest form of magic with examples; and the reactions of the dominant religions to Satanism.

Keywords: Darkside International Ministry, grand master, religion, Scott Robb.

An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*I had more questions.*

15. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Satanic worship comprises three foundational kinds: “sexual, to fulfill a desire; compassionate, to help either another or oneself; and destructive, used to productively vent anger or hate.” What may be involved in each type of basic ritual?

Grand Master Scott Robb: In general terms, these three rituals require one thing, an emotional release. It is also for this reason that Satanic Rituals are extremely private to each individual practitioner (or Satanist). The particular emotion released would be different depending on which ritual is being performed, for example, in a Lust Rite (sexual) the practitioner must orgasm (which obviously mean some form of autoerotica involving fantasizing about whomever the individual lusts for). The Compassion Rite involves sadness, the more real the tears for the person’s condition/situation the more likely the desired effect will occur). In a Curse Rite (destructive) the practitioner expresses anger in a constructive, yet safe, manner (usually in a dramatic form of destruction).

16. Jacobsen: How would these rituals through Darkside International Ministry differ, in some basic ways, from other organizations engaged in alternate ritualism from the dominant religions/ways of life?

Robb: Satanic Rituals are very individualistic, there are specific components that will vary by the practitioner, regardless of organizational ties they may have. As long as they follow the basic rules of Satanism, like never harming children, not harming animals unless for food or in defense, not to make sexual advances unless the other individual(s) consent, and not harming others unless in defense.

17. Jacobsen: What is the significance of “black robe, an altar, the Scapegoat (symbol displayed above the altar), candles, a chalice, elixir (any drink most pleasing to the palate), a sword, and parchment (can be regular paper or animal hid)” for the ritual – piece-by-piece, please?

Robb: First off, none of these listed items are required in EVERY ritual. Many practitioners don’t have everything listed and can still perform rituals with success. For the most part, the items are used to set the mood, as I alluded to in the question about the three basic rituals, Satanic Rituals are all about expressing/venting emotions. Specifically, the Altar is used as a focal point on which the practitioner(s) focus their emotions. The black robes, chalice, Scapegoat, elixir, and candles simply add to the emotional ambiance. The candles also serve another purpose as well, in rituals that most often use all of these listed items will usually have one black candle (for Lust and Compassion desires, which are previously written on the parchment to be burned in) and one white candle (to burn the curse desires, which are also previously written on the parchment) placed on the altar, this is meant to symbolically elevate the desires into the ether (what is used as parchment is up to the practitioner and what they are able to acquire easily). The Sword is used for only two things, 1) to use as a pointer to point to the 4 cardinal compass points (North, East, South, and West), and 2) to hold the parchment in the flame of the appropriate candle on the altar.

18. Jacobsen: Even though the highest date in a Satanic religion is one’s own birth date, what years and dates, on the mainstream Gregorian calendar, have significance over others – outside of Halloween, and solstices and equinoxes?

Robb: As you said, the date of one’s own birth is the highest holiday for Satanists, the highest mass holiday celebrated by Satanists is Walpurgistnach Day, which falls on May 1st every year. Halloween (October 31st) is the next in line of importance for Satanic Holidays. After that, the Vernal Equinox in March (around the 20th or 21st) is the Satanic/Pagan New Year, the Hibernal Solstice in December (around the 20th or 21st) and Estival Solstice in June (around the 20th or 21st) and the Autumnal Equinox in September (around the 20th or 21st) mark the changes in seasons that are also of great importance to all pagan religions.

19. Jacobsen: Timothy Leary stated that he considered himself carrying on the work of Aleister Crowley. Who else seems to be carrying on the work of either Leary or Crowley – those more known and less known?

Robb: No doubt it is Timothy Leary’s view that drugs play a role in opening up the mind to altered states of perception. There are not many Satanists, save for young dabblers, who see any link to drugs and rituals. Crowley’s reputation with various drugs (Cocaine and Heroin specifically from my own research, though I have suspected Crowley likely also used LSD) is well known, and likely the reason that many outside of Satanism believe there is a required component of drug use. There really is not. Leary obviously is not much of a Satanist, even if he claims he is.

20. Jacobsen: What is the core principle undergirding Satanic ethics?

Robb: The ethics of Satanism (Stupidity, Pretentiousness, Egotism, Self-Deceit, Herd-Conformity, Lack Perspective, Forgetting Past Orthodoxies Counterproductive Pride, and Lack Of Perspective), coupled with the Satanic Laws, simply are meant to keep the individual in line, like any ethical code. I’ve always found them to speak for themselves.

21. Jacobsen: Why are “Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, the Marquis de Sade, George Bernard Shaw, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dr. John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Ragnar Redbeard” and others the inspiration for Satanic thought? Anyone living?

Robb: Each of these men contributed certain perspectives of Satanic Philosophies in their lifetimes. I cannot specifically name any living persons, those who are Satanists are due to their rights to privacy until such time as they decide to make it known publically (and most never do). Really most philosophers, realists, rationalists, even many scientists, have contributed perspectives to Satanic Philosophies, most of them are Satanists, and often non-Satanists still agree with the Satanic Philosophies without actually realizing it. It is part of the reason why it is our view that Satanists are similar to Jews in the sense that we are almost a race, we are all born with certain views that either develop into our personal beliefs later in life or are suppressed. This is why there are so many in the world who do not admit to being Satanists but still follow, or display characteristics of, Satanic philosophies or views.

22. Jacobsen: What are some of the more hysterical reactions you have witnessed, or learned about, regarding Satanism from the wider Canadian, and global, culture?

Robb: The most hysterical reactions are the insistence of many in the general public who think that Satanists worship a devil or are possessed by demons. The whole idea of such things is absurd Christianisations of things far older than Christianity. Satanism is at least 12000 years old, which makes it at least 10000 years older than Christianity, so the view that Satanism must believe in the Christian Devil is outright ridiculous

Possessions, if you look at those who actually believe in them, are always either Christian or some link to Christianity (for example Voodoo which is African folk magic merged with Catholicism, Santarianism which is Mexican folk magic merged with Catholicism, and so on). But, to my knowledge, there are not any Pagan religions that believe in possessions. The Wiccans I have talked to have no stories at all of the possessions.

The basic fact that the word “Satan” comes from the HEBREW word for Accuser or Opposer, and was used as a Jewish title for what is now known as Prosecuting Attorney. The Philosophies of Satanism and all its beliefs are very distinctly Pagan and have a lot in common with Wicca (as I have mentioned before, Wicca and Satanism share a common ancestry, much like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam also share a common ancestry).

And lastly, I think the hysteria that the very Christian extreme right-wing NAZI movement of Germany between the late 1920s through to the 1940s (and their white supremacist contemporaries) having any claim of interest in the Occult is also just as ridiculous as the claims of possessions and devils/demons actually existing.

23. Jacobsen: Satanism, in its principles and values, and so implied politics, how does this influence the political positions of the Darkside International Ministry, e.g. not being Right-wing and even being against Right-wing politics?

Robb: If we were to apply the political spectrum to politics, Satanism would be a left-leaning centrist, with the three Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to the far right, with Buddhism/Hinduism, and other Pagan religions are the right-leaning centrists. On the farther left would be Atheists, who are a little too far on the extreme end, but do have some overlap with Satanism.

I would place them on this spectrum this way because of the fact that Satanism is a very individualistic religion that believes in rights, especially of women, children, abortion, minorities, and the LGBTQ community, while the far right views are against all of these views.

24. Jacobsen: What is the Gnostic Order of the Cathars? How are they similar to the Darkside International Ministry? How are they different?

Robb: Based on what I know of the Cathars, I would have to say the similarities end with the Christian persecutions. Satanism has always been persecuted by Christians, the Cathars, as I understand it, were also persecuted throughout their existence

Satanists are not generally baptized, as the Cathars were, the Satanic Baptism ritual is more of a cleansing of previous baptisms that are performed on request by individuals who chose to leave Christianity (or other religions) that baptize children against their will. As I understand it Cathars believed they were elevated to the level of “perfect” after baptism, whereas Satanists know we are flawed but know those flaws are part of what makes us the human animal.

Satanists are also not dualistic, we view good and evil as opinions, some that are shared by others, other opinions that may not be. For example, Christians believe that one should never kill, but they still send people off to war to essentially kill others, and they constantly attempt to justify killing in certain cases, but never to the satisfaction of their own 10 Commandments that pretty clearly say DO NOT KILL. Satanists, on the other hand, know that it may be required to accept things like killing. There are situations in which someone attacks us, and in the course of defending ourselves will result in the death of our attacker, there is also the concept of war in which society has to defend itself and most definitely results in death, or even the necessary death of animals for our food so that we can survive. Therefore, things like killing can be both good and bad, depending on the context.

25. Jacobsen: What is the evidence in support of the claim that traditions run back to the Neolithic period at 10,000 B.C.E.? How are the rituals and symbolisms similar between 10,000 B.C.E. and in Satanic ritual practitioner methodologies now?

Robb: In the late 1990s, in Southern France, an Anthropologist was vacationing with his family and, while exploring a cave, found what he confirmed to be cave paintings from the Neolithic Era that depicted scenes of human bodies with the heads of dual-horned animals (bison, cows, antelope, goats, etc) that, he admitted, were not consistent with tribal hunts. I heard him in an interview on CBC radio explaining that it looked like humans involved in an animalistic ritual scene. This description is identical to what Satanic Rituals have looked like from today, from the Crowleyan period in the late 19th and early 20th century, and going back to depictions recorded of the Templar in the 12th to 14th centuries. It also is strikingly similar to older renditions of Baphomet, like the image of Pazuzu (see the inserted image below). There are also depictions and other records that seem to definitively describe Satanic imagery and practices, not to mention Satanic Philosophies going back to classical pagan societies like the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Romans, and Ancient Greeks. When all the evidence is looked at individually the connection may not be quite as obvious as when you look at all the evidence in the bigger picture.

The image of the dual-horned animal in Satanism is still very much as prominent in Satanism today as it was going back 12000 years. From Pan to Faunus to Ammon, Hathoor, Osiris to Pazuzu to Cernunnos to Baphomet, etc. It has been one of the remaining constants, despite the name of Satanism changing several times over its 12000-year long history.

 

26. Jacobsen: From your view, what is the lowest form of magic and ritual? What is the highest form? What are examples of this? Why is this distinction important?

Robb: In short, Greater Magic is more ritualistic, as LaVey described it: Greater Magic is a form of ritual practice that is meant as a psychodrama to focus one’s emotional energy for the desired purpose (see the three basic types of rituals in your above question). While Lesser Magic is more of a manipulation of others using applied psychology.

Aleister Crowley used to mention an anecdote of his own use of Lesser Magic on one of his trips in New York. According to Crowley’s anecdote, he saw a well-dressed, wealthy man with a quite distinctive stride. According to Crowley, he went up behind the man and imitated the man’s stride, then pretended to stumble. The wealthy well-dressed man then fell without coming into contact with anyone or anything. This anecdote is probably the best example of the successful use of Lesser Magic.

27. Jacobsen: With a basic reading of the dominant world religions – Roman Catholic Christianity, Sunni Islam, Hinduism, Chinese traditional religion, Buddhism, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity – and from personal observations, how may practitioners of those religions react to Satanism, respectively?

Robb: I don’t believe any of your listed dominate world religions react to Satanism respectively. As I have said earlier, Christians (in all their denominations, including the Eastern Orthodoxies) have always persecuted Satanists and other Pagans for at least the last 700 years. Islam and Chinese Traditional religion have also looked down on more Pagan views. However, I think Buddhism, with its philosophical view of the world and everything in it, I think Buddhists are much more likely to engage in respectful discussions with Satanists. Hinduism is a bit difficult to judge, as Buddha was a Hindu Prince, and I have a very basic knowledge of their beliefs, they could be similar to Buddhism to the willingness to engage in respectful discussions, as a prominent Occultist, HP Blavatsky, did play a role in returning India’s indigenous religion (Hinduism) after the British ended their occupation.

Just a personal side note, my paternal side (father and his family) were all raised Catholic, but most of them left the Catholic Church. My maternal side (mother and her family) were raised Buddhist and for the most part still are Buddhist. Whereas I was raised an atheist and studied Satanism for about 2 years before coming out as a Satanist at the age of 17 (21 years ago as of a few months ago).

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Grand Master, High Priest, Founder, and President, Reverend Scott Robb, Darkside International Ministry.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 8, 2017, at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two) [Online].July 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, July 1). An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, July. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (July 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):July. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, July; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry-part-two.

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An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: July 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,027

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with Grand Master Scott Robb. He discusses: content and purpose of Darkside International Ministries; demographics of the organization; tasks and responsibilities that come with the position of founder, grand master, high priest, reverend, and president; formalized ranking system; purpose of the priesthood, the council, and the individual priests, and the look of a wedding, baptism, funeral, and ordination through the rituals of the Darkside International Ministry; source and reason for hysteria around magic; worshiping the metaphoric representation of Satan as the “bearer of light, the spirit of the air, and the personification of enlightenment”; the self as the “highest embodiment of human life”; rational self-interest; perennial threats to the free practice of the ministry; future initiatives and areas for growth; ways to shop or donate the Darkside International Ministry, which is a registered religious charity; and final feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: Darkside International Ministry, grand master, Satan, Scott Robb, self.

An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: The historical roots of the Darkside Collective Ministry are from the Hermetic Order of the Knights Templar in the 14th century in France, the Hell-Fire Club of Sir Francis Dashwood in the 18th century, and, of course, Aleister Crowley’s ritual magic of the 19th and 20th centuries, among others.

Another, more modern, individual can be seen with Anton LaVey. With this eclectic history, and noble arc of black figures and orders, what is the coda statement on the content and purpose of the Darkside International Ministry (formed late March, 1999)?

Grand Master Scott Robb: The content is no different then the philosophies and practices of our pagan ancestors. The purpose, simply, is that certain circumstances over the last 60+ years have taken away from the essence of our pagan origins. Specifically, Anton LaVey turned out to be a greedy attention seeker who only formed the Church of Satan to sell ministerial degrees and ordinations to the highest bidders with no regard to the knowledge or accomplishments one has in the philosophies and practices of Satanism.

This is the reason that Church of Satan co-founding minister, Michael Aquino, left the Church of Satan to form the Temple of Set in 1975. Knowing that, at the time, the public where not ready to accept the philosophies and rituals of Satanism, Aquino opted to keep the workings of the Temple of Set secret and only known by members and supporters. I was only made aware of these facts in private dialogue I personally had years ago with Michael Aquino.

Lucien Greaves, and his Satanic Temple, however, should be praised for their taking the core beliefs and philosophies of Satanism to a higher, social justice level. He, and his groups’ members, have shown that the youth of the world are now ready for a more prosperous future for all.

2. Jacobsen: You are based in Edmonton, Alberta. Some view this area of Canada as its ‘Bible Belt’, which tends to be a title reserved for the American South. Even though you’re spread throughout “Canada, America, Australia, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa,” why headquarter with the Central Church there – irony? More seriously, what are the demographics of the Darkside International Ministry?

Robb: Heh, well, our ministry started after a conversation I had with a friend of mine from Tel Aviv, Israel back in 1998. We decided that Satanism needed to get back to its pagan roots, and that the Church of Satan’s management since LaVey’s 1997 death was getting much worse under Peter H Gilmore and Peggy Nadimira, so we decided to create our own Ministry. Since she was about to come of age for her mandatory service with the Israeli Defence Force, It was decided that Israel probably wasn’t the best place to headquarter our ministry, both because of the religious conflict already present and her service in the IDF which would have caused her undue stress. In fact, she requested that her involvement in our ministry remain a secret, so I will not mention her name here.

Barely a year after starting these discussions, in 1998, I moved to Edmonton, and by the start of 1999 we had settled on starting our ministry and the rest is, as they say, history.

3. Jacobsen: As the founder, grand master, high priest, reverend, and president for Darkside International Ministry, what tasks and responsibilities come with the position(s)?

Robb: Well, so far, I have been overseeing the administrative requirements of the ministry; with the council I oversee the application process in accepting members and elevating existing members to higher ranks when awarded. I have also been the principal spokesperson for our ministry as well, though we have had a few others speak for our ministry as well.

4. Jacobsen: There is a formalized ranking system:

Grand Master ­ International Leader (only one in the Ministry)

Lord Templar ­ Senior Council members (along with the Grand Master, the Lord Templar make up the ruling body of the Darkside Collective Ministry)

High Templar ­ Council Members (determined regionally; Lord Templars nominate Senior Templars in their region, nominees must be approved by Grand Master)

Senior Templar ­ Highest general membership (there may be an unlimited number of members in this level)

Templar ­ Member for nine years or more (there may be an unlimited number of members in this level)

Squire ­ Member for three years or more (there may be an unlimited number of members in this level)

Initiate ­ Member for less then three years (there may be an unlimited number of members in this level)

Does this structure mirror another organizational hierarchy such as the freemasons? Also, why this structure? Why these titles?

Robb: Again, we chose a throwback structure to our pagan ancestry, the Hermetic Order of the Knights Templar, until they were nearly eradicated in 1307, were among the last above-ground pagan (and in all likelihood, Satanic) order. They performed rituals, some of which were similar to the Freemasons of today, were performed under a statue of the Baphomet (statue descriptions were recorded in Catholic records before they were destroyed, Eliphas Levi’s famous sketch of Baphomet was based on those descriptions). Satanists since the end of the 19th Century have also used the Baphomet in some orientation or other. Many unknowingly think that the Church of Satan started the use of the Sigil of Baphomet in Satanic Rituals, but the Sigil of Baphomet had been used long enough before that it was published in a French publication in 1961, and later translated into English in 1963, the book is entitled “Magic and the Supernatural” by Maurice Bessy.

I have a copy of the book myself, there are images throughout that depict the Baphomet figure, not just the Sigil of Baphomet, some are strikingly similar to the Eliphas Levi sketch, all of which relates the images to Satanism, according to the book.

The similarities with Freemasonry are simply because the origin of Freemasonry, according to their own members, is from Ancient Egypt, another well-known pagan civilization.

I wouldn’t doubt that there are many other pagan religions out there that have similar organizational hierarchy. I don’t know about the organizational structure, but Wicca is also very similar to Satanism, as well as other pagan religions, because we all have a common ancestor in Ancient Human History.

5. Jacobsen: With the priesthood, the council, and the individual priests, what is the purpose of each? What does a wedding, baptism, funeral, and ordination look like through the rituals of the Darkside International Ministry?

Robb: The Priesthood and Council serve as the core administration of the ministry that makes the final decisions on choosing members out of all the applications we receive as well as choosing which members are elevated and when. The individual priests can serve as spokespersons as the ministry whenever the need requires it. They also can sponsor or refer people to wish to join our ministry.

As for our rituals, that is something we prefer to keep secret. Intrusion of videos/photos being taken can deflect from the concentration of emotion on the focal point of our altars, which would takeaway from the effectiveness of the rituals. I can, however, assure you that animals and minors are never present in any of our rituals at any time. Everyone present during our rituals are always present by their own free will. In most cases, we suggest our members to perform rituals completely alone in a private room whenever possible in order to ensure their concentration of emotions on their altars.

In the case of Weddings, the only real difference between a Satanic Wedding and any other religions weddings is that the couple being married is urged to write their own ceremony, not just their own vows. Funeral rituals are really up to the surviving members of the family of the deceased, usually a remembrance of their life and a send-off of the remains to their final resting place. Generally speaking, Satanists believe that the dead will live on as memories in those of us who continue on living, immortality then only can occur if the person’s memory will live on forever, regardless of what it is they will be remembered for.

6. Jacobsen: I suppose ritual magic comes more naturally to people than science. It has been around longer. People have conducted rituals for far longer than science. Crowley defined magic as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” In general, in Canada, there can be, presently and historically, a hysteria (as with elsewhere) around magic. What seems like the source and reason for the hysteria?

Robb: The source and origin of the hysteria regarding magic is simply the lack of understanding of magic. What we call “sympathetic magic”, the most commonly used by Satanists and some Wiccans (and likely most other pagan religions) is simply using emotion to influence actions/behaviours. After my many years of studying psychology, I have found it best to describe magic as the application of basic psychology. Making science very much real magic.

The general public hears terms like “magic”, “Satanic Ritual”, etc. and seem to automatically think of the movie portrayals of these things, which are very inaccurate at best. The fact our rituals are largely secretive will obviously play up to the Christianized interpretations of what these words mean, but that’s not really our problem.

Unlike other religions, we don’t force our views, philosophies, beliefs, etc. on to others. If they wish to live in fear of things they know nothing about, that’s their choice. Most Satanists are willing to teach others about us, but only if 1) people actually want to know, and 2) they actually listen and try to comprehend the facts. There is nothing more annoying to the Satanists who are willing to teach these people then the people forcing circular arguments without any attempt to learn something.

7. Jacobsen: As worshippers of the metaphoric representation of Satan, or the Roman god Lucifer, who is the “bearer of light, the spirit of the air, and the personification of enlightenment,” what makes this metaphor the best representation of the Darkside International Ministry’s ideals? What other philosophical and ethical worldviews most parallel its own views and central metaphor?

Robb: Satan, being the Hebrew word for “Adversary, Accuser, and Opposer” and the legends of the Satan character representing the downtrodden who make themselves, in a sense, a king in their own lives, or as Milton put it in “inferno”, “it’s better to rule in Hell then to serve in Heaven”. Satan becomes the ultimate archetype for the average person to rise up and be leaders, making it the best icon for social justice causes.

Lucifer is the Latin word for “light bearer” and “enlightenment”, a beacon for enhancing knowledge, both personal and human knowledge. If anything else it is an icon for all the sciences to rally behind in understanding all things.

8. Jacobsen: With the self as the central or the “highest embodiment of human life” and as “sacred,” does this make collectivists natural enemies with the individualists of the Darkside International Ministry?

Robb: I wouldn’t say that, no. The self is not literally only one person against the world. Like in society as a whole, those closest to us, as individuals, are often taken on as part of ourselves. As such the individual being the highest embodiment of human life includes those what are an integral part in that individual life. I think anyone who is a parent can relate with the fact that your child is part of your life, such an important part, in fact, that the parent is willing to kill/die for his or her child.

The same concept is found among close friends, recall cases of a brotherhood of soldiers in a platoon, a grenade is thrown into the group and a member of the platoon instinctively sacrifices themself to save his friends, it is not a lack of one going against their sacred individuality, it is them exercising it! Furthermore, by doing so they ensure that they will be remembered forever, not just by his friends he saved, but also because of the act being recognized by military superiors and your nations government for bravery and valour.

9. Jacobsen: What differentiates the rational self-interest of the Darkside International Ministry from general selfishness or non-rational self-interest?

Robb: I think the simple answer is in the question. Our self-interest is rational.

Our self-interest, being rational, understands that there is a time and place for everything, including a concern for others. As I responded in the last question, an individual is not always literally the individual. There will always be a rational reason to consider others on occasion, but benefits to the individual will always be paramount.

One who is generally selfish, the non-rational self-interest, cannot bring themselves to do anything that does not benefit themselves alone.

10. Jacobsen: What are perennial threats to the free practices of the ministry?

Robb: General ignorance of the public is really the only threat to the free practice of our ministry. This is why we believe strongly in attempting to educate anyone who shows any interest in learning about us. Most Satanic organizations are not openly willing to do this.

11. Jacobsen: What are some future initiatives and areas for growth of the ministry?

Robb: I think we are planning to become a little more involved in social justice areas, we have been proposing partnerships with Lucien Greaves’s Satanic Temple, and we’ve also been discussing our own social justice endeavours as well.

12. Jacobsen: People can shop, even donate. Also, the Darkside International Ministry is a registered religious charity. How else can individuals become involved with the ministry?

Robb: We accept members who are knowledgeable of the philosophies and practices of our religion, the more knowledgeable and active they are the higher they will rise in our ministry. We also accept supporters of our philosophies and practices who do not want to be attached to any organizations. Suggestions of social justice causes, or even events, from supporters as well as members are considered.

13. Jacobsen: Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Robb: I hope more interviews like this and the discussions they will inevitably spark about Satanism and the Occult will eventually lead to an understanding not seen in centuries. Things are definitely improving since the discussions started nearly 70 years ago. But we, as a civilization, have a long way to go before we will understand each other to the point we can all peacefully co-exist as a result of our differences, instead in spite of those differences.

14. Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Scott.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Grand Master, High Priest, Founder, and President, Reverend Scott Robb, Darkside International Ministry.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 1, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One) [Online].July 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, July 1). An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, July. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (July 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):July. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Grand Master Scott Robb: Founder, Darkside International Ministry (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, July; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-grand-master-scott-robb-founder-darkside-international-ministry.

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