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Jul 31, 2008


The Show Notes

Interview with Michael Mark

...high school friend of Geo, lifecoach, wellness coach, and the guy who inspired Minoishe Interroberg.

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Michael Mark's web presence: Ask Sustenance Q&A; Sustenance website; Further Thoughts on Sustenance blog.

Score something from the Geologic Universe! Check out the available Geologic shirts at Flickr. Get George's music at CD Baby and iTunes, and Non-Coloring Book at Lulu, both as download and print editions.

Join Geo's Facebook site. Many thanks to friend of the Geologic, Richard Murray, who started the site and handed it off to us.

Have a comment on the show, a Religious Moron tip, or a question for Ask George? Drop George a line and write to Geo's Mom, too!

Ms. Information says: When I met Michael years ago, I thought he had a Robert Downey, Jr. charisma with a Kevin Smith sensibility. However, Michael Mark is an extraordinary original and I'm honored to know him.


the.true.samiam
over four years ago

IAI: You thought you were late to the party? I am just listening to back episodes to get caught up. I have not skipped any, but I can't even get 20 minutes into this one. This guy is brutal. IAI, your comments seem right on even though I didn't finish listening. Geo, shame on you for not calling him on his woo-woo, friend or not. How you interact outside the limelight is one thing, but once he agreed to come on the podcast, he had to expect some kind of socratic interrogation a la Peter Boghossian.

IAI
almost six years ago

I'm TRULY late to the party here, but I felt the need to comment on this episode. Personally, the only difference between "you're going to HELL for saying this" and your friend's brand of "you might be right" is the hostility. They're just as much of a showstopper - a person who believes the former will stop their learning and growth in adapting their beliefs through that conversation just as well as well as the one who believes the latter. In fact, the "you're going to hell" crowd is probably less insulting, seeing as this self-centered "you might be right - I really don't think you are but I don't give half a shit about you and what you believe so I don't feel like discussing it, but hey, technically you might be right *snicker*. In the meantime, I'll just go on preaching my correct (for me, but it's not like anyone else matters) beliefs to the people who want to listen" is honestly rather horrible. You can't let form blind you here - "you might be right" is really a noble sentiment... if it's followed by "...so let's have a look". Here, it's used just as bludgeon to crush any sort of intellectual arguments while smugly implying you're superior for doing it. Something like this, it could get a grudging pass at best (because what are you going to do about it, it's another one of these mental cages with locks on the inside people willingly trap themselves in), but it should not be praised.

Your friend is essentially a plant. He's only interested in sitting in place and looking at the sun, and doesn't give a crap about anything. He won't threaten anyone, which is good - but as a plant he'll not actually move anywhere and talking to a plant will neither make it move nor get YOU anywhere (in fact, you'll just be there in one area uselessly if you do it... especially if you develop a desire to be like that plant). This is not to say he's useless, but his uses are those of a plant. Not on that list of uses:
- get life insights from talking with

Being a plant is not to be glorified. If we were all plants like him, we would never have reached the point we are in where we can all talk to each other no matter where we are on the planet, or do one of the other amazing things we've been able to do thanks to our pursuit of truth building the foundations.

-----------
tl;dr
Your friend's take on "you might be right" is insulting and he himself is in so many ways like a plant in his beliefs.

Mrs. Schaarschmidt
ten and a half years ago

This was a particularly fascinating conversation for me to listen to. Michael got most of the \\\"higher power\\\" philosophy from a 12 step program. I\\\'ve been there and done that myself. I totally understand where he is coming from. The difference for me is that I became a skeptic after I got my life together. I know I couldn\\\'t go from the mess that I was to someone who was capable of rational thought without going through that same process. The \\\"higher power\\\" doesn\\\'t necessarily have to be a god (God, goddess, whatever) but it is VERY necessary to rely on a power outside of yourself to get through the 12 step process.

I can say that once I became a sober and sane member of society, I could grow to where skepticism and agnogsticism make sense to me. However, it would never have worked the opposite way, where I would have been able to reason my way to sobriety.

My point is that I understand his beliefs and they were once a very necessary part of my life. Although I no longer hold the same beliefs, I totally relate to where he is and why he is there.

Gail
ten and a half years ago

Although I desperately require sleep, I half lstened to this episode and had to stop. I will finish it, I promise. But much of what has been said here on this forum really resonates with me, and I agree with the sentiments expressed here (on the whole).

However, this whole \"universe\" thing, the \"spirit\" as michael perceives it, I suspect is a byproduct of sentience. Unlike michael, I want to know WHY we feel these things. HOW do we generate these perceptions that, to us, we cant tell are real or not. Meditations on first philosphy over 400 years ago talked about it (gogo Descartes)! Our brains are amazing and wonderful things, and understanding them should not detract from the AWESOMENESS that we are.

I direct you to a fascinating TED talk - by a cognitive scientist who had a stroke. I think you will find much of what she has to say very familiar with the sentiments you hear Michael parrot. He simply has become able to get better in touch with the left side of his brain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU

I recommend watching the TED talks on you tube - the are awesome. Particularly the dude talking about fungus. He is cool and SUPER smart.

I can do much of what Michael says he can do, done the same process Michael seems to have done to come out of a dark place. I have MS and have been through some pretty serious brain shifts; from \"soul searching\" to come to grips with diagnosis, getting over PLOMS (Poor Little Old Me Syndrome) and from attacks which physically change my personality to side effects from drugs. But I attribute it all to me, and not to someone/thing else. I chose my own destiny, I take responsibility or my own actions, I live for now because who knows what tomorrow brings (hell I dont know if I will be able to walk to the CAR in 5 minutes time, let alone pay the mortgage in 3 years...). I chase my dreams, but I dream realistically. In short I have everything Michael has, but I have something more than he can ever have until he realises that living in com

Eran Segev
ten and a half years ago

What a self-centred areshole. I know he is your friend, but that\'s just testament to how accommodating you are, not to anything positive about him.
\"All I want to do is have some fun, and screw everyone else including my wife and kids (let alone knowledge)\"
That someone so ignorant thinks his personal experiences can help others is frightening.

You know what, Michael: you don\'t get it. That you had had a difficult life and managed to turn it around is great but doesn\'t qualify you to anything. You don\'t even understand your own life, how can you pretend to understand others? Do you think that my difficulties are the same as yours? How do you know - because your spirit told you?

What an annoying fool, yet thanks Geo for bringing him on, though I wish you\'d been less easy on him - tougher questions were due rather than admiration for his attitude.

Flib
ten and a half years ago

Apropo of nothing in this thread: what is the correct way to submit a question for \"Ask George\"?

Ms. Information
ten and a half years ago

Flib-

Please email your question to the Maestro at:
geo@geologicrecords.net

cheers,
Ms. Information

Zach
ten and a half years ago

I have to disagree with him on something, as a psych student. Cognitive Therapy, the most widely used psychotherapy, is most certainly NOT about focusing on the past it is about dealing with irrational thought processes in the NOW. Also, you get homework with it to. So my question would then be wtf does he do different then a psychologist? other then maybe throw the new agey crap in (which he hasn\\\'t studied to see how well it works like cognitive therapy has!) .

Chuck D. (yeah, him)
ten and a half years ago

Check out Penn & Teller\\\'s Life Coaching episode on their series \\\"Bullshit!\\\" This is good for a quick larf: http://www.sho.com/site/video/brightcove/series/title.do?bcpid=1305032885&bclid=1318882516

Of course, Dr. G. thinks the government should not educate children at all and we should close all public schools. (Thank you Soccergirl, Inc)

TFY (Think For Yourself) There, I just made up a new bit of chat lingo! Not bad for a middle-aged minivan driver!

Flib
ten and a half years ago

If I had to sum up the episode in one sentence, this would be it: George is a truth seeker, Michael isn\'t. This became explicit when George asked Michael if he would rather learn an unpleasant truth, or remain happily ignorant of it, and Michael said he\'d prefer the second option.

I guess this is an aesthetic choice, and as such, one position is not objectively \"better\" than the other. Perhaps as a recovering addict, Michael needed to pull the wool over his own eyes, so that was the best choice for him. But there\'s also something to be said for the fact that George is much less likely to find himself, at some point in the future, bouncing on a mattress and thinking that he\'s levitating.

Marci
ten and a half years ago

That was a great discussion. Of course I am biased - I listen to George\\\'s show because I find him interesting, I learn things, and I agree with him on most things - so I tended to agree with George\\\'s perspective on the conversation. I have great respect for Michael for having turned his life around, and it\\\'s great that he figured out what works for him, but I\\\'m definitely not on the same page with him on many things. I know that he ended up rephrasing what he said about agnostism=apathy, but I think ultimately what he said about how you can seek truth but never really find it, IS a form of agnostism. I\\\'m pretty much an atheist, but I\\\'d actually call myself an agnostic, because I think so much is unknowable.

I have never been able to feel like I was turning something over to a higher power, and I don\\\'t find that a comforting thought. I do think the Buddhist idea of acceptance can work though. That\\\'s not to say that you just accept everything and don\\\'t ever try to improve or change things, but that you can make the best of situations that you\\\'re not in the position to change. For example, several years ago, I had to undergo chemo for an aggressive form of cancer. I didn\\\'t know if it would work or not, but I decided that if it was going to be the final chapter for me, I wanted to make it the best experience I could. Instead of feeling helpless or angry, I did my research, I stayed active, I got the best doctors and medicine I could (thank you, science), and I got into a mindset that this was an interesting and unique experience. Instead of dreading the chemo or struggling against the idea, I looked forward to it, because it was my best shot at staying alive. I don\\\'t know if my attitude directly affected my health, but it helped me deal with the situation, and I did get better. I\\\'m a happier person now, because I understand, much more than I had before, that life is fragile and I\\\'m lucky to be here, and I also believe that this life is all I\\\'m ever going to get, so that

Chuck D. (yeah, him)
ten and a half years ago

Geo,

How the hell can you let the statement \\\"self love\\\" and \\\"know thyself\\\" go without any masturbatory references at all (interrobang) You bucking for a spot on NPR? You were a pretty soft touch, very decent towards an old friend. You coulda\\\' bodyslammed this charlatan by the third round, but instead pursued an interview instead of an argument.

As a coach, his statement of \\\"I don\\\'t know that what I do will work for you\\\" reveals a lack of method, which is not... repeat... NOT coaching! If a coach or teacher doesn\\\'t understand their own process and how it can apply to the coached, then the coach is just spitballing.

Feeling good about yourself as a life goal? Talk about an ego! \\\"I\\\'m not interested in someone telling my way is wrong\\\" (interrobang) A real coach, a real teacher would want to know the shortcomings of their method so they may improve their teachings and better serve their students. This is not coaching or teaching. This guy reverses himself so often he must have a split personality. Feh!

Amy Kollar Anderson
ten and a half years ago

I just wanted to say that episode #76 is one of the best conversations I have listened to about finding your own path to happiness. I am still figuring out what works for me, but I have definitely found more peace of mind in science and the skeptical/natural world. I like Michael\\\'s attitude and wish more people were like him in their approach to spiritual and non-spiritual aspects of life. I especially like the idea of losing the need to \\\"win\\\" a conversation from either angle.

This was my second Geologic podcast, and I am looking forward to more!

Ms. Information
ten and a half years ago

Amy-

Welcome to the party! If you want a quick primer on recent podcasts, you might try listening to this Best Of episode. Thanks for posting!\\

cheers,
Ms. Information

JHGRedekop
ten and a half years ago

Re: winning the conversation -- I like to say, \\\"one should argue to learn, not to win\\\". This podcast\\\'s a great example of that.

Icepick
ten and a half years ago

To me, it seemed very much like people who swear by Homeopathy or something. Michael, clearly, took a very difficult road to turn his life around and because \\\'spirituality\\\' seemed to be part of it, it gets the credit. Even if it is more a case of coincidence, instead of causality.

I know I\\\'m jaded and cynical, but in my mind he could just as easily have been saying \\\'Lucky rabbit\\\'s foot\\\' as well as spirituality.

He seemed like a genuinely decent guy and he probably is very good at helping others. I just don\\\'t understand why it is so bad to take credit for your strengths and successes, along with the blame for failures and weaknesses.


aster1man
ten and a half years ago

This is why I listen to Geo. You can make me laugh, and you can make me think. After \\\'time for a shot\\\' you can make me question what is real. The discussions with Michael were real (I hope !?)


In the podcast the question came up about needing to know as much as possible, and how this relates to happiness. Mathematical Physics tells us there is a lot we can not know. Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Chaos Theory and Goedel\\\'s theorem are all examples of setting limits on what we can ever know. I find this comforting. Not only are there things that I can not know because I (or really us as a species) am not smart enough to work it out, but there are things the universe will prevent anyone (however smart) from knowing. Its the search for knowledge that makes me happy, the journey (even with the Filipino singer) not the destination.

JHGRedekop
ten and a half years ago

Great interview -- I haven\\\'t finished listening yet, but it\\\'s been very interesting. Being the rationalist sort, there\\\'ve been several places where I\\\'ve wanted to jump in.

I agree with Ken that (and obviously you think this too, Geo) that Michael ought to be giving himself more credit for turning his life around -- it wasn\\\'t some cosmic energy, it was his decision to try to do something to turn his life around which infused him with the energy he needed to change. Attributing it to the specific gimmick he tried is simply post hoc ergo propter hoc. Which isn\\\'t to say he hasn\\\'t gotten results -- he obviously has. But by crediting this outside influence, he\\\'s short-changed himself.

I find it interesting that he labels agnosticism apathetic, though, when his approach seems awfully fatalistic. I\\\'m up to the bit where you\\\'re talking about the fear of losing his wife & kids, and I have a hard time with his, \\\"well, if they die in a car crash, so be it\\\" approach. It suggests a degree of self-centredness and lack of empathy which bothers me. Obviously, though, you know him far better than I do! I\\\'m not trying to accuse him of anything -- it\\\'s just how it struck me. His constant reiteration of \\\"it works for me\\\" kind of reinforced that, as if his attribute of his success to this cosmic energy is sufficient to conjure it into being.

I was also unclear on just what this energy was supposed to be; he suggested that he didn\\\'t believe in a personal god, but then phrases like \\\"thy will\\\", \\\"meant to be\\\", \\\"designed to be\\\" all imply a conscious mind behind whatever it is.

Personally, I can\\\'t imagine why the power behind the universe would have any \\\"will\\\" concerning my personal finances... :)

Richard
ten and a half years ago

I\\\'ve only just started listening to the episode... Life coaching though... I\\\'ll take your word on it that he\\\'s a nice guy and such, but I tend to equate \\\"life coach\\\" with \\\"new age twat\\\"...

Ken Larson
ten and a half years ago

I found today\\\'s podcast really interesting.

I find it kind-of sad that your friend has turned his own life around (which is an amazing thing) but doesn\\\'t seem to want to take credit for his own success.

I wonder why he feels the need to look outside himself for the strength that he obviously has, and to give credit to an external source. (god/universal energy/etc.)

I\\\'m baffled