Talk:Avatar Course

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Untitled[edit]

I dont think a lot of stuff was blanked out to hide anything but some of it doesnt make sense to me why it should be gone. I agree with some of the changes and will work with Ringness or whoever to cite things better and get rid of stuff that doesnt belong. But lets have a dialogue please.

Among a few little things i cleaned up the so-called advertising links for Star's Edge but cant beleive we should get rid of it. Sure their whole website is one big advertisement and nothing more but it IS the official website for the subject matter no matter how lame it may be. And other language versions belong on those WP sites i would think.

For the other citations i think we should leave the discussion boards because they let people see all the things good and bad people are saying and people from Harry Palmers camp post there not just critics and fans. it really tells the story of how they deal with critics and that is really important to the controversey of them being a cult. its not a factual source of raw information but a factual source of what things are being discussed and said on all sides.

Much of what people have concrete documented facts has not appeared in most news sources YET but the sites link to documents and other proof. And why are we getting rid of primary source court document links? Please lets discuss this before we go tearing it apart. Venus Copernicus (talk) 02:26, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Suggested Accurate Titles[edit]

Palmer labeled an author is quite misleading -- he is only self-published with no known following outside his group, and authorship is questionable in most or all of the works, belonging to his company or written around his persona as creator of the subject matter. What about changing the article to "Harry Palmer (Avatar Course)" or "Harry Palmer (Star's Edge)" or even rework it into a non-bio article such as "Star's Edge (Avatar Course)" or "Star's Edge (Harry Palmer)? What do you think? I've also pondered the idea of having one for the company / courses and one for his bio, but I don't think the level of noteworthiness calls for it, and honestly, they are inseparable, as the company and courses are synonymous with him as final authority in every aspect, dogmatically and financially. Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 03:08, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

"Biography of a living person" and "neutrality" issues[edit]

According to Wikipedia policy relating to biographies of living persons WP:LIVE, editors are held to a 'higher' standard of what constitutes a "good" reference when providing supporting material in an article, in my opinion, this article fails the test. I fully realize that this subject is obscure and it's difficult to obtain a great number of secondary sources, but it's because of that relative obscurity that individual editors have to take particular care when asserting positions in the article. Wikipedia policy, rightfully in my opinion, specifically steers editors (except under particular circumstances) away from personal interpretations only supported by primary sources which they themselves have chosen. That's not only fairly close to a solid definition of "original research" right there, I can't imagine how anyone could claim to be able to maintain "neutrality" under those circumstances, especially in an article as potentially controversial as the topic of "religion". cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 05:43, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Well they go to great lengths to not call themselves a religion and maybe they aren't and maybe they are. Whatever. But i see your point. The problem isn't just obscurity and little press coverage though that is changing. Its there are no NPOV sources to balance out the fact-finding that puts them in a bad light. I think some editors here tried to be impartial but non-critcal sources that arent blatant advertsiing just arent out there. so I guess we could use some help for specific things we could clean up. What sources do you think are the weakest and which are the best? Mind you a lot of the primary sources and OR have been found in a few news sources. But one of them seems to have used the article here as a major source. I'm not sure circular referencing is what we strive for. Should we use the German TV segment and recent Dutch articles out there, and rely more on the Elmira articles? Should we stop using his books to cover major points, such as the UFO connection? I almost feel if we got rid of direct references, the subject would be portrayed here totally inadequate and inaccurate (imbalanced the other way) HELP!Venus Copernicus (talk) 21:45, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
    • My first suggestion would be to cull out all the direct links to websites being used as sources that are openly biased against the subject, the fact that the links are in there at all in my opinion, constitutes a flagrant violation of core policies regarding neutrality and verifiability. That doesn't mean that the existing bibliographical information that they contain should go as well, in fact provided that editors are willing to engage in 'good faith' when literally quoting material, it's possible to utilize them for supporting claims. Of course, that's provided the document itself is an acceptable source in Wiki and proper secondary sources are offered to establish the claims being made in the first place. As I mentioned above, my reading of policy specifically spells out that editors are forbidden to establish their own theoretical position and then solely reach into primary material to "prove" their claim, either a claim already exists in secondary sources which is quoted or tightly paraphrased and then backed up by primary (or other reliable secondary materials) or it can be justifiably excluded from the encyclopedia. In my experience, a lot of times, these sorts of articles seem to end up being a mishmash of improperly sourced material, coming from both sides of the equation in the same article. In my opinion, regardless of their motivations, neither of these "sides" should be allowed to control the contensts of articles, if that means stripping it down to contain *only* properly sourced stuff, then so be it; I believe that policy backs me up on that approach as well, especially in bios of living persons. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 23:06, 8 March 2009 (UTC)
      • A big thank you to those who have fought for ensuring that the truth about Scientology and Avatar/Harry Palmer continue to be shown in Wikipedia. After attending a 1 day workshop, alarm bells were ringing. It looked, sounded and felt like a cult. Wikipedia's discussions, links and other info have allowed me to research and make up my own mind. Keep up the good work fellow Editors and others! --Negotiations (talk) 04:19, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Is neutrality still in dispute? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Venus Copernicus (talkcontribs) 23:47, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

It's still contested by me as an editor. In my opinion, once you get below the section discussing his alleged academic credentials, it seems to me that the article basically consists of a constructed thesis that contends a tight correlation of beliefs between this organization and Scientology. The problem in my mind in terms of neutrality is that this is brought about by taking the reader by the hand and guiding them exclusively through a mixture of editor selected copies of primary documents (which are then interpreted for the reader) and self published websites with openly unabashed biases. Has this whole Wikipedia/Scientology "thing" really reduced us to the point where as editors, we're seriously lifting citations from articles posited on self published websites with titles like "Is Avatar a (psycho) cult?" and with a straight face utilizing them as a "reliable source" in the encyclopedia? I remain convinced, that if we *can* do no better than that, then articles should be stripped to what can be responsibly and reliably referenced (especially in BLP situations) and left at that point until actual sources become available. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 02:05, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

  • I respect your position and don't really disagree. I wish better documentation was avilable as well, but the connection to Scientology is obvious from court documents and the Elmira news article series, so the rest are more citing examples from their own texts rather than leading by the hand IMO. And now that I think of it, there are other sources out there I know of but have not seen referenced, namely news articles in France and the Netherlands, and more recently in Britain. Maybe we can dig these up. But the biggest problem is that they are almost without notoriety in terms of size and impact on their field, and because the little press they've ever gotten has been negative or factually incriminating, it's hard not to look NPOV just by reporting available sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Venus Copernicus (talkcontribs) 03:50, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Courant des années 80-90, les personnes en recherche de plus d'authenticité ont certainement (tout comme moi il y a 25 ans) adhéré le temps d'un séminaire ou d'une formation à pas mal de nouvelles idées... Ce qu'il ressort du Créativisme Avatar : Une nouvelle manière de raisonner et de redevenir responsable face à nos expériences (qui ne sont que le résultat de nos croyances)... Donc pas de dépendance, seulement un fabuleux outil d'évolution personnelle en toute liberté ! Depuis toutes ces années, je dois constater que c'est LA formation qui m'a apporté la plus grande "confiance en soi"... Une amélioration évidente dans le relationnel et dans la créativité... C'est un outil que l'on est en mesure d'utiliser quand bon nous semble sans que personne ne vienne nous imposer quoi que ce soit ! je souhaite à chaque critique qui s'exprime dans ces pages d'en faire l'expérience une fois dans sa vie... C'est extrêmement libérateur ! Diana —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.200.164.14 (talk) 06:10, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Diana: Vos expériences personnelles n'ont rien à voir avec l'article, et ce n'est pas le lieu pour un tel débat. Cette page est pour discuter des honnêtes, des améliorations scolaires, ou des problèmes de qualité débat, pas d'accord ou de désaccord. S'il vous plaît d'explorer plus à Wikipedia comprendre comment il fonctionne. Venus Copernicus (talk) 14:44, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

"Among a few little things i cleaned up the so-called advertising links for Star's Edge but cant beleive we should get rid of it. Sure their whole website is one big advertisement and nothing more but it IS the official website for the subject matter no matter how lame it may be." Venus Copernicus (talk) 02:26, 23 November 2007 (UTC)" --- Wow. Aren't you supposed to be a neutral moderator? ALL of the opinion sections on Palmer's wiki page are cited from one website, which has questionable sources to say the least. If I create a questionably sourced third-party pro-Avatar website, can I then quote it on Wikipedia and place biased judgements and opinions, as has been done with the Harry Palmer page? Regarding your questioning of what an "Author" is, why don't you try Wikipedia's definition: Author "An author (sometimes, in reference to a woman author, authoress) is defined both as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. The second entry goes on to clarify that, when using the term "author," the "anything" which is created is most usually associated with written work." I think that qualifies Harry Palmer as an author, unless you're challenging that he wrote his own books. Who do you suggest did, Sir Francis Bacon? Additionally, Avatar is not a religion, it is a system to remove limiting beliefs such that students can be more effective in life. Avatar uses examples from religions to explain belief systems, how they're employed, and so forth, not because it is a religion. What religion have you ever heard of that quotes a variety of other religions? Since you have spent a considerable time defending your "neutral" view of a non-neutral opinion page (in my opinion) why don't you go to the AvatarEPC website, and actually find out what it is? There's a free book, Living Deliberately and free videos. That would show INTEGRITY (in the English meaning, not the Scientology meaning, whatever that is). Oh, and if you delete me for my criticism, or delete the criticism itself, then you will have validated everything I just wrote. Thanks! Jbailyn (talk) 18:51, 19 April 2010 (UTC)jbailyn

First, I have no interest in deleting other peoples words without reason. Do you assume that to reassure your own "rightness"? You are welcome to believe whatever you want, and I'm welcome to believe you have some inability in that area with rteagards to Avatar.

Second, reading their books and courses is irrelevant to documented facts. If I don't "know" what you "know" you think I'm unqualified to understand. Most of Avatar's critics are ex-members, and there are plenty of pre-made cult-think excuses to reject anything they say. I don't need to be an addict to be an expert in narcotics, and I don't need to drink the kool-aid to be an editor for this article. In fact, it's better that I have not.

Third, I know my bias and been forthright about it. Know yours. If we both play by the rules, the bias can be minimized to the required objectivity.

Fourth, Harry had his books written by his staff, but that isn't documented, so I wont assert it on the page. My question of calling him an author isn't that he doesn't have stuff withn his name on it, but that his books all all self-published. he is nNOT recognized as an author, new age leader, lecturer, environmentalist, educational psuychologist, or anything else outside his own flock.

Fifth, most new age groups / religions talk about their "roots" in all sorts of known religions. I have no reason to argue if it is a religion, except that it is listed among other NRMs and LGATs.

Sixth, Palmer redefines integrity, so no, you are not using the real use of the word and you aren't even remotely aware of it.

Any other questions? Direct them to a mirror instead of solving your issues by attacking me.Venus Copernicus (talk) 19:35, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Venus Copernicus, Thanks for addressing my concerns. I'll respond to your six points in order:

FIRST My "rightness" is not the issue but rather the false statements without substantiation. Below is a list of false statements you have not allowed me to strike from the website. Please address each item:

  • INTRODUCTION*

The second paragraph of the introduction, begins with "Palmer's "Avatar" material is significantly based on Scientology." This is untrue, and there is no citation supporting that claim. Please delete it.

  • EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALS*

The first paragraph references the "Avatar Journal Palmer's company's literature." In fact, the referenced journal and website are NOT Palmer's company literature, but rather that of a third party website [1] owned by a private individual in California. It is not company literature. That citation is used as justification of the entire paragraph. Please delete the paragraph.

Paragraph 2, Sentence 1) The second paragraph begins with a claim that Florida investigated Palmer. The citation, however, links to a lawsuit with Palmer as Plaintiff, and it has no mention of such claims. Please delete this sentence or substantiate it. Paragraph 2, Sentence 2) See my comments above regarding this third-party website. It is not "associated" with Star's Edge and makes no claim to be. Please delete sentence 2 or substantiate it. Paragraph 2, Sentence 3) 'The state hasn't decided to investigate Palmer at this time.' That's true, howver, the state hasn't decided to investigate most of its 14 million residents. Your statement insinuates wrongdoing by Palmer with no substantiation. Please delete this misleading and defamatory statement.

Paragragh 3 - The page contests that he's a lifelong educator. The definition of an educator is a teacher. He teaches the Avatar Course and has for the last 25 years. He has 60,000 students. The argument makes no sense. Please delete it.

Paragraph 7 - "have caused European news articles to refer to Palmer's Avatar Courses as "Scientology-Lite", picking up a term originally coined by Texas columnist Roahn Wynar.[11]" I can't find any European news articles referring to Avatar as Scientology-Lite, and you've listed none. Please delete this unsubstantiated claim. Additionally, Roahn Wynar isn't a published columnist, except by the student paper (that doesn't count by any standards of credibility that I'm aware. If so, I'm a columnist, too, which I'm not). He wrote a few articles for the student newspaper at Univ. of Texas in the late 1990s, as well as submitted a few articles to skeptic websites, credentialed as a (clearly self-titled) "Atomic and Molecular Experimental Physics Columnist" and "Texan Columnist" and "physics graduate" depending on the article. He is one of four authors on his 2000 PhD paper. There is no further evidence of his literary or scientific contributions after that point, except his speaking at an Atheist convention. The current description of what he used to do is "blog." You are giving false agency to his opinion, which was not derived from taking the course but by speculation. Please modify or delete it.

  • SCIENTOLOGY BACKGROUND*

"Though Palmer downplays his involvement in Scientology, saying (for example) that it related to a brief time of research for a program for the school district he taught in." He openly discusses his involvement in Scientology in his book, Living Deliberately, pages 6 and 7. This statement is incorrect. Either mention that he directly acknowledges his involvement in Scientology, and provide substantiation of your contrary claim, or delete this language.

  • GALACTIC CONFEDERACY*

Paragraph 1, last sentence - "The introduction and end-comments indicate that Palmer does not regard the story as symbolic, but as a representation of fact." This is an opinion, and it is incorrect. More importantly, the transcript from the speech is not credible. It comes from a skeptic website. Considering that the AvatarEPC website has 21 half-hour videos free to download [2] and considering that they sell the old speeches on DVD (or formerly VHS), you should be able to find a real source for this claim. If not, please delete it, because I'm not aware of its existence.

Paragraph 2, last sentence, "his claim to have read firsthand the equivalent of the "Prime Directive" of Star Trek.[14]" The citation goes to a broken link, and the quotation next to the reference says "And, if four or five centuries from now, you find yourself on a planet across the galaxy—like I did — you’re going to have a pretty good idea of how to get Avatar started." This has nothing to do with the sentence you're referencing, and there's no real reference. Since, there's no substantiation of the "Star Trek" claim, please delete it.

SECOND

You compare his books to your "documented facts." It turns out that almost all of your documented facts are, in fact, undocumented. Please explain.

You then state that most of its critics are ex-members. That's an interesting statement, since none of them are quoted on this Wiki page. All of your quotes are from non-members. From where, then, are you generating your opinion?

You then compare the analysis to Avatar to cults and drug addiction. Explain the neutrality of that statement. If you are operating through severe bias, (as well as using falseley referenced sources), you are not acting in accord with Wikipedia's core policy NPOV:

"Neutral point of view (NPOV) is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia. All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. This is non-negotiable and expected of all articles and all editors. "Neutral point of view" is one of Wikipedia's three core content policies, along with "Verifiability" and "No original research.""

THIRD

Though I am biased, I'm not inserting any bias in my contributions or deletions. What I contributed from Star's Edge, I cited as such, properly. What I'm asking to be deleted is improperly cited or totally unsubstantiated.

FOURTH

If he had his books written by his staff, why isn't that being asserted by his staff. Either they're cool with it, or it's not true. How are you substantiating that claim? His books are sold by general booksellers, with ISBN numbers. [3] How are you defining his flock? People who bought the $15 book? So, is anyone who bought a Stephen King novel part of a "flock"? I don't understand your logic. Please explain retract the claim that he isn't an author.

FIFTH

Listed as a new religious movement by whom? Give some references. i don't know what you're referring to.

SIXTH

INTEGRITY, as defined by Merriam-Webster, [4] 1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility, 2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness, 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided

INTEGRITY, as defined by Avatar, from the Personal Integrity Course, Page 4, [5] impaired condition, wholeness, entireness, purity, completeness

Please explain how Avatar redefined Integrity. They look the same to me.

Any other questions? I apologize if you felt I was attacking you. It wasn't my intention to upset you, but only to have my point heard after many repeated deletions of my contributions, which I believe were in the Wikipedia guidelines. Thanks for your attention to this matter. 65.2.40.133 (talk) 21:57, 20 April 2010 (UTC)jbailyn


Apology accepted. Yes we disagree on the facts behind the artcile, but that is not why I (and an unbiased moderator)stepped in. Your additions were all over the place outside the guidelines, but you have some good points that I agree should be addressed. Some of them could be cleaned up and usable, and some of my edits I admit could be vastly improved. I'm not an expert editory, which is why I am glad DeconstructThis is here. So I'll let others handle most of this, but I'll address this in brief:

(1) You are right on some accounts, not others, but you are perhaps confusing facts with opinions. Some of the statements can be taken as opinions, EXCEPT that they are founded with the references adn examples that follow.

Remember, what you (or me) consider true is not fact, and that is not the point of Wikipedia. The point is to provide referenced information pertinent to a topic. If a source says something is ture, it is at least true that the source said it. This allows for multiple viewpoints, as contradicting sources are WELCOME. I challenge you to find them rather than nullify the ones you disagree with.

(a) As for Palmer denying his Scientology involvement, this is not either/or as his propaganda pushes. He admits he "studied" it and implies it was a casual, unimportant footnote, when the entire Avatar system was developed by and at the Elmira Scientology Mission, of which he personally ran for a decade. You can debate the interpretation of this statement, but nowhere in his literature does he mention his EXTENSIVE VOCATIONAL INVOLVEMENT versus doing it as a brief hobby or interest. The Elmira articles and court cases are compelling, strong citations to this fact, as are rteferences to his own downplayed "version" in LD, etc.

(b) As for the Florida of health investigation, anyone can contact them to verify it or order a copy. This is like the Galactic speech and other references -- the original reference is acceptable, but are only available ONLINE through sites that by themselves would not ordinarily be appropriate. But I have to ask: Are you using the rules to knit-pick? That is your right, but I would ask another moderator to make the call on these. But for the record, I own a copy of the whole investigation file, which I received directly from the Florida Board of Health. Would you be so inclined to use a technicality to hide a fact when you could easily verify it yourself? Back to the real meaning of integrity, which is acting like you mean what you say, instead of "aligning" yourself so that you totally eradicate any doubt or action that contradicts to an EPC(TM), Star's Edge(TM) and Harry Palmer. In cult research it's called "loading the language" and instead of arguing it here, I just gave you the term to research for yourself and argue with the experts if you like, since that is out of the scope of this article.

(c) As for the Galactic Confederacy, check the references again. It is cited in a published book by an expert author. Why are you boasting about his PUBLISHED lectures? It is a most illogical conclusion that "not hiding" those lectures means there are not others he did or will not publish. But you're right ... it's a conlcuion on my part, so let's quote the introduction and ending of his lecture I am specifically referring to verbatim. Would you like to add it or shall I?

(d) The Avatar Overdrive site is an archive of actual articles. The exact article is referenced, and avialable on other sites. Just because there isn't an official copy available doesn't mean it can't be referneced.

(e) "Scientology-Lite" - I belive it is mentioned in other citations, such as "A Cult in the Company" from France. If the reference isn't already there, I'll add it when I get a chance. I have so much research materials in my files, I forget what I posted and did not, and I'm not the only editor for this article. In fact, there are news articles around the world over the years about Avatar, but adding them all would IMO be spending way too much time on negative things. I have always challeneged people to find POSITIVE things about Avatar and Palmer to balance the article more, but apart from advertising copy, no one has brought any to the table, including yourself. There must be SOME good press about Avatar not written by his staff or network, right? Find some and I will welcome it here.

(f) He is not an educator. He gives a speech a few times a year to some crowds who bought his course. Did he EVER deliver his own course? Calling him a teacher is subjective, and can apply to anyone, so does not apply. What does apply is that he taught in a school for literally a COUPLE YEARS, ran a Scientology mission from an upstairs office, then started a company that "teaches" a course he wrote. If "Educator" means a verifiable, credentialed teacher in an accredited institution, which is an objective, different-from-every-other-harry term, which it should be here, then Palmer is NOT. Yes you could argue Al Gore is a teacher by flimsy criteria, too, but given his backgroung as a real teacher, then a merely self-proclaimed one ...


(2) Please read what you said and realize the it is neither factual nor logical: "You then state that most of its critics are ex-members. That's an interesting statement, since none of them are quoted on this Wiki page. All of your quotes are from non-members."

It is not logical because the existence of ex-member critics does not determine how often of it they are used as citations in the article. It is not factual because some of the citations ARE from ex-members. I was trying not to be biased by listing the hundreds of testimonies here, or linking to them because in spite of huge circumstantial volume, i did not consider them up to WP standards.

Same here: "You then compare the analysis to Avatar to cults and drug addiction. Explain the neutrality of that statement." That statement does not appear in the artcile. It appears HERE, where we are free to express our opinions without reference. As to where I get MY opinion, experience, research, interviews, etc., but that is irrelevant since the job of the editor is NOT research, but documentation of OTHER people's research. If it were not for the OR (Original research) restriction, I assure you this article would have ten times as much information as it does now. But my own research made it easy to find and document credible references.

(3) I agree. We're on the same page, and should work together to evaluate each one. Maybe DeconstructThis has more time. So let's start a new discussion, one section at a time, please.

(4) The staff not currently employed by him admits they wrote LD, making up most of it, which is used as a marketing tool or primer more than anything. Ther rest are course manuals and a collection of his sayings. These books aren't in bookstores, not even discount stores, and are only available through the company or in places that deal in used books. Only a handful of them exist in the entire US library system. We're just talking disagreement of opinion here, but that's hardly what you expect from someone you think of as an "author", when "spiritual leader" or "personal development comapny owner" is more accurate. But for WP purposes, it's acceptable, just misleading IMO. It's like calling himself a speaker, when there's no record of anyone having him speak anywhere - just his own courses.

(5) Please do your own research on this. Avatar is on some lists, not others, but falls in the same classigication with Landmark (est), Ramtha, Scientology, and countless others. If it can't be documented well enough to have the designation on WP, I wont lose any sleep over it. But if you want to learn waht "New Religious Movement" means, there's a WP article on it, and I suspect it's not what you think it is.

(6) If you can't see the difference, that's really sad. One is objective, the other subjective. The real term is about consistency and is hard to twist, where Palmer's complete other defintiion (and where did he quote it from?) allows one to judge "integrity" against what one believes is "purity" or are coddled into thinking is good. If you are brainwashed this way, you think being against Avatar is naturally without integrity, which again is absolutely not how the word is used by other people. That is the way Palmer uses this and other words to divide those "in alignment" with him versus those who are not. The ways the "integrity" exercises are written proves exactly my point. The whole integrity concept and how Avatar handles it is borrowed from Scientology's "Integrity Course" and similarly leads people step by step to using "integrity" to explain away doubt or disagreement with the "putiy" of Avatar, the company, or its owner.


Again, for the record, I did not delete ANYTHING of yours on the grounds of disagreement, and in fact, didn't actually delete hardly any of it -- another editor saw fit to. I don't have all the time in the world, but I think if you address one section at a time, I will do my best to work with you, but would rather less interested third parties make the calls, just to be fair to both of us. Any comments, DeconstructThis or others? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Venus Copernicus (talkcontribs) 20:05, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

The person currently using Venus's account asked me to take a look-see. I think less debate over background details and more direct discussion of individual points and their references will be most helpful. Jbailyn, you are on the right track in some of your above statements here, and I hope they are fairly addressed, but you don't know how to edit them properly yourself yet. It is partially a matter of formatting and using tags to generate things like {citation needed}. Please do not enter comments about editing or references in the article itself -- that is what this page is for only. You may also want to explore editing other articles and getting feedback from more experienced editors, who are often eager and willing to help, since this one is controvercial. They are everywhere. However. people who come to Wikipedia and alter a single controvercial article or subject raise the eyebrows. Other editors here sometimes have bias -- myself included -- but you run the risk of looking like that's the only reason you're here (even if that may not be the case).
And Venus Copernicus, I would ask that you assume good faith. It is not so much for you to discern or not for yourself, as it is to communicate and act under the assumtpion whether you hold it true or not.--Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 22:57, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Educational Credentials[edit]

Looking at a recent edit, an editor here contends the information is from a Dutch website. The citation is confusing in that it lumps together this Dutch (ex-member / critic) site with credible sources. Accusations of libel aside, I'm thinking this should be cleaned up, using the individual credible references separately, such as the Avatar journal articles, Living Deliberately (subject's autobiography of sorts) and college registrars. Any agreement on this? Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 01:58, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for having a look at this Ken. I have to admit a certain amount of wariness in dealing with articles that can be viewed as potentially this controversial; however, I think I've made myself clear in the past on this talk page that I have some serious issues with several aspects of this article's neutrality and sourcing. My first suggestion is to pull "www.AvatarCult.Info" as a citation in support of material; I can't see any reason for accepting it as a "reliable source" according to the way we define that term and unless that can be established, even the practice of utilizing it for "courtesy quotes" seems like a dubious endeavour in my opinion. Where it it is possible to cite specific original documents in support of claims being made, why not simply do so? Although, as I've mentioned in the past, this practice seems to me to be suspiciously "investigatory" in nature and in my opinion closely resembles "original research". Unless reliable secondary sources can be found that are making exactly the same claims that are being made here, in what sense are the claims appearing here not "original research"? Making the argument that Palmer and this organization haven't been written about enough yet to generate the necessary reliable sources seems specious to me; especially in the context of of a biography of a living person, policy seems fairly clear to me, if the reliable sources just aren't there, we shouldn't be using the material in the first place. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 16:06, 23 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with what you are saying much more than not. However, I do not think suggesting a lack of reliable secondary sources is specious. From what I have scoured from wherever I could find information, if it weren't for the websites of his company and their "masters", Harry Palmer and Avatar would be truly are "off the radar", almost to the point where I wonder why there is an article at all. Over 25 years an average of only 10,000 people each year worldwide have even taken a course. The only reason I would deem him noteworthy is that I have found that people inquire about the subject, and have literally nowhere else to go to find an overview that isn't blatantly a sales pitch or a warning. That is where Wikipedia is invaluable.
I have been able to find only a smattering of random information related to this topic. Putting these sparse strands of documented information together into anything that is cohesive will of course border on -- or at least appear to be -- OR. And detailing the scandals and accusations of cultism as reported by accepted news sources in various countries would potentially topple any hope at (perceived) NPOV, even though the citations taken individually would be sterling.
Maybe we should be lenient in both directions to achieve better NPOV, including claims and counter-claims, since pro-Palmer statements have as little or no backing as some of the less credible negative sources contend. You'd have to get rid of almost everything except court cases and scandal articles if you apply tighter standards all around. Then again, for living persons, there is admittedly a higher standard. If I have time, I will try to tighten up whatever I can, but I fear it will stray toward the appearance of picking stray facts to overdraw a conclusion, again, due to the lack of good sources about even basic details.--Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 19:46, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Thematic and Neutrality Issues[edit]

Thank you all for responding to my comments and continuing the dialog. My intention is to present a fair and accurate description of what Avatar is, as someone who has taken some courses, not as a spokesman for Star's Edge or Harry Palmer, which I am not. I believe that the page is written from a bias that originates from skeptic-style accusations that Avatar is secretive, a religion, or a cult.

Regarding the secrecy, the courses are taught in major hotels, and the doors are open. All of the videos shown in the course are freely available on the company website, The book describing the beliefs of the the course, Living Deliberately, as well as the mini-courses, which are used throughout the real courses, are freely available, and many of the books, except the course books for the large courses and available on Amazon.com. Anyone can Facebook Harry Palmer, where he posts his latest insights. The alleged elements of secrecy are not there. Regarding the religious aspects, Avatar is about belief management, not pushing beliefs. Like any dynamic speaker, Palmer uses allegories from a wide variety of sources in his speeches, religious and philosophical, eastern and western, to elucidate his points, for abstraction and comparison. I have no idea what his personal religious beliefs are, and they don't know what mine are or have asked. The course allows you to examine whatever beliefs you want, and but it doesn't push any that aren't universal except taking personal responsibility for your life, that your beliefs create your experience, and other themes that are fairly universal in any type of self-improvement course. They also do not ask you to share anything you don't want to share. It's all up to the student.

What Avatar offers that is special is a system that allows the student to first discern the difference betwen indoctrinated and self-elected beliefs, and then to remove and create beliefs as desired. This seems like a common 'New Age' claim, but the teachers hand-hold you through the process and make sure you can effectively perform each step before moving you on. It's incredibly effective, from my experience and from friends and family who have taken the course. There are obviously other methods to get to that place, but from what I've studied, they require a lot of time and effort and are commonly tied to a belief system or religion. This doesn't and isn't. You fill in the beliefs with whatever you want. It's consciousness exploration filtered down in the truest sense, it lets you go where you want with it, and it's done in a way that is fun and light.

It takes roughly 9 days, for 10 or so class-hours a day, it costs $2295 total for all three sections (as of 4/28/10), and it's fully refundable until you begin the third section. That's the ins and outs of it. There are four more large format classes, all 9 days each, and they have varying prices, and they are all as optional as the first course. They offer different things, that are further into subject of consciousness exploration. After you pay once, you can take the courses again for little to no charge endlessly, depending on availability and the course. The charges of it being "expensive" are comparing it to a religion. It's not a religion, it's a business that offers self-improvement classes with substantial one-on-one attention, and at that price, it appears competitive to me.

What is problematic is that it is difficult to recommend this course to friends that then Wiki it, and have such a differing experience from the Wiki page than from most students' descriptions, and from Star's Edge description, that they assume all the students are somehow brainwashed. It's a reasonable assumption, I suppose, because there aren't really independent reviews that aren't from heavily anti-biased websites, but that's not a fair presentation. So after seeing Avatar as a "scam" and "cult" here, especially now that the Avatar movie dominates an "Avatar" google, and since "Harry Palmer" is a common name, the next step is to google "Avatar scam" or "Avatar cult," which produces anti-Avatar material. As an experiment, I googled "Albert Einstein" "Benjamin Franklin" "Mother Theresa" and "James Randi" followed by the words "scam" and "hoax." They all produce convincing articles in the top of the results, that, if I knew nothing of the subjects, and had no academic rigor, I would find convincing. Further exploration of the articles and the respective websites show substantial bias, and I wouldn't build or even include any of them in a Wiki Page (or personal judgement).

My suggestion is to fully delete and start from scratch on this page. The bias is so strong and the citations so poor, it doesn't justify modification. We can restart with commonly known information (i.e. CEO of Star's Edge International which produces the Avatar EPC courses and materials). Anything beyond that needs to have proper citations and supporting documents. Almost nothing on this page does. Palmer clearly isn't stressing about his web presence (yet) because if he were, we'd see some positive PR on him produced by a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company, to salt the results, and there's nothing. The court cases, in the context of this artcle, were only used to further an idea that somehow there's something dirty or untruthful about the organization. And why are they not directly linked? I want to see the cease-and-desist on the "educational psychologist" case, but I click on the reference [3] I get taken to the (psycho)cult site, and then the referring article from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=11th&navby=docket&no=0114511opn which shows the filing against Eldon Braun that Palmer won, and shows no cease-and-desist. It's like if Einstein's Wiki page took me to a claim that Einstein was convicted of plagiarism, and had me go through the Nazi Party website to get there, and then showed a link on the Nazi site going to a legitimate legal website claiming to have this proof, (at this point many would get distracted by other Nazi claims about Einstein but assume you don't), open a document that looks appropriate, but is in fact Einstein suing someone else for plagiarism. Dragging someone through a biased website against the subject to get to a source document is absurd and in bad taste, it's even worse when the referred to document isn't even the right one. (I'm only using the Nazi thing for an extreme comparison, not to suggest anything of the like). Court cases in Florida (where I live and work) are published on the web due to prevailing sunshine laws. If you want to make a claim that requires a case of legal files, then directly link through to them on the web. Most of this kind of thing is public record, or, if not, and you feel that strongly, publish them yourself.

I'm not a Wiki expert by any means, but I do feel strongly on this subject, since I believe Avatar to be extremely helpful, and I'd like its Wiki page to be balanced. Can we agree on a methodology to begin? I propose deletion and starting anew, or at least surgical line by line deletion as I proposed in my earlier post. Thoughts?

Palmer did in fact try to shut down this WP article when it first came out. Please look at the early history of this discussion. Also, your personal experiences and those of people you know of course differ from others who tell very different tales. This is to be expected, since -- for better or worse -- such a course seems to be based on subjectivity in every respect. As for Palmer's beliefs, his own literature lists "doctrines", and the accusations of critics are that beliefs are imposed with regards to anything realted to Avatar, Palmer, and Star's Edge, such as the morality of their business model and infallibility of the "tools". Even if that is not objectively true, I have seen this sort of rigid thinking many, many times in people who have taken the courses, and it is consistent with his own literature I ahve read in depth. However, I agree that subjective experiences as "fact" don't belong in the article any more than repeating Palmer's own claims, without being clear they are just that -- claims. Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 21:32, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Not to argue any of this, but I do not belive you are being truthfully accurate about secrecy. The contract people are required to sign to take the course includes a $10,000 "fine" for revealing the course materials; they are not open to the public and only certain materials and speeches are made available by Star's Edge -- as teasers to promote the courses. There were also various legal attempts to suppress the release of various materials, as documented on ChillingEffects (http://www.chillingeffects.org/keyword.cgi?KeywordID=54) and elsewhere. And my understanding is that the controversey about "secret teachings" refers most obviously to the Wizard's level course, which people are not supposed to talk about accept in the most general terms as you yourself have. This secrecy model is actually no secret (pardon the pun), since it is used by most LGATS, and like many of Star's Edge practices, parralels Scientology's use of a similar policy with an identical fine clause. I'm not making this a criticism, but a clarification from someone on the oustside able to see clearly the comparisons and contrasts with such groups, having no vested interest in any of them, and I suspect others here agree after reviewing available facts.Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 22:03, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

65.2.40.133 (talk) 18:29, 28 April 2010 (UTC)jbailyn

Before any drastic editing takes place, I'd like to try and give other editors an idea of what my own personal biases are, and I'd like to make a proposal. I believe that from what meagre information that is available, Avatar does appear to be easily categorized as a "New Age" spiritual system; at least to the extent that it falls within the parameters of how the term is utilized by mainstream scholars of new religious movements. I came across a reference in a refereed legal journal that appears to use Avatar as a straightforward example of what's being termed a "proprietary spirituality in the "New Age" marketplace".[6] When I ran the subject on Google books, the vast majority of the returns centred on either material published by the organization itself, or its affiliates, and claims found within publications that are easily categorized as being in the "New Age" genre. Unless I'm shown strong evidence to the contrary, my inclination is to place it in a "religious" or at least "new age spiritual" category for our purposes.
I continue to hold to the notion that the article in its present version is a violation of both the spirit and letter of WP:BLP, in particular WP:BLPSTYLE and WP:GRAPEVINE. I'm having a particularly difficult time viewing the current version as having been edited "conservatively" in the sense that it appears to be used in our policies regarding biographies of living persons. It seems to me that the article itself is less a BLP of Harry Palmer than an "exposé" of sorts of his organization. I'd like to propose that the name of the article itself (and thus its subject) be changed to something that reflected the name of this organization, rather than its creator and that "Harry Palmer (author)" be redirected to it. I believe that by doing so, we can address the present serious BLP policy problem and make a start toward addressing issues that have been raised by a number of editors. I want to make it very clear that I am not adverse at all to a separate properly sourced and weighted "criticism" or "controversy" section within the context of the article. Failing consensus on this, I'd like to propose that other opinions be sought on WT:BLP/N. Perhaps that should be done regardless. In closing I'd like to gently remind other editors, that while "objective descriptions" of products and services are fine; couching them in positive personal descriptors might be viewed by other editors as an attempt at promotion.WP:NOTADVERTISING This policy includes talk pages as well as articles. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 21:13, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
DeconstructThis -- I agree whole-heartedly on many points, in particualr the following: refocusing the article on "Star's Edge (The Avatar Course)" with a detailed subsection on Harry Palmer since he is central to every aspect of it; a more organized "Criticism and Controversy" section with better references; listing accurately in association with LGATs, NRMs, and the New Age movement (though Palmer discourages being labeled in any respect, ironically similar to other groups in those categories).

Quick question, though ... I tried to add a listing of his books a while back and was edited out. Also, I added links to specific pro-Avatar sites solely for the purpose of attempting balance, not all of them being pure advertising, but references helpful to those exploring Avatar in a positive way. How would you feel about revisiting these two issues? Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 21:44, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Avatar course stub[edit]

I've tried to extract minimum amounts of "avatar is" statements from this discussion to put near the top of the article. I also tried to shift a paragraph that might be interpreted as a negative view further down to fit in with the scientology section. Regarding disclosure as per Scientology sanctions, I am in contact with someone who is an instructor at Avatar courses, but have never taken these courses, nor talked with them in detail about the course or their beliefs. Please let me know if you need more clarification. gringer (talk) 18:05, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

I believe this is the correct place to post comments about the public page. If not, I apologize for the intrusion.

I had several years of association with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) before it was dismantled by the Church of Scientology. I lost my wife to a religious cult and believe it's vital to infiltrate suspected cult organizations to find out what's really going on.

For background information I followed the negative references on this page and visited several web sites managed by Palmer's organization or those closely aligned with it. I spoke on the phone with people with various levels of experience with the organization. I read their marketing materials, some of Palmer's books and watched some of his videos. I participated in a weekend seminar and worked through some of their exercises.

Here's what I found.

Palmer's organization does not fit the basic definition of a religious cult - the exchange of self-determination for salvation. Several of the exercises I explored were designed to increase personal will power, which is the opposite of any cult I've investigated. I found no religious or spiritual tone with the people I contacted. I could find no reference to churches, priests, rituals, holy services or other trappings of religious cults. Palmer references teachings from various eastern religions but he also references Jim Rohn, a business philosopher. Legal documentation shows that the organization is a for-profit corporation and has no tax-free status accorded to churches or non-profits.

The organization has no dues, no membership, and no regular meetings. They neither ask for nor take donations. They publish the rates and schedules of their training courses which are held in hotel ballrooms. The one I visited was operating with the doors open and I saw no special security. The teachers and the students wore regular clothes and were using printed workbooks. Regular hotel staff serviced the event like any conference or training.

The teachers are not actually teaching. They would more rightly be called coaches. My interactions with them were coaching-style feedback on my ability to perform an exercise. There was no attempt to offer therapy, suggestions for personal improvement, or insights into my "consciousness".

My research showed that Palmer licenses teachers to use his materials. Most training organizations using this strategy charge license fees and royalties to licensees. Speaking from personal experience, this strategy has led Palmer's organization to be aggressive in their sales tactics but less so than most internet marketers that I know. I only received a couple of follow up phone calls. There has been no further contact from the organization.

My research on the secret materials showed that Palmer had defended his copyright and won his case in court. As the copyrighted materials are important to his income it would have been strange if he didn't sue.

I was able to download the information that apparently spawned the lawsuit. Even though there is no way to judge the authenticity of these documents, there were no secret rituals in those that I read. Perhaps Palmer, like many others, believes that the hint of secret teachings is good marketing.

From my perspective, the most unusual aspect of Palmer's association with Scientology is that he left, they sued him, he won and they left him alone.

It's been my experience that Scientology rarely loses lawsuits. And they do not leave people alone if there is the slightest hint that their legal rights have been breached. Since this legal action was closed over two decades ago in Palmer's favor it seems that claims of a connection between Palmer's materials and Scientology are inaccurate.

I concluded that this is a legitimate personal development training course.

Palmers teachings are in line with people such as Echkart Tolle, Tony Robbins, T. Harv Eker, Hale Dwoskin, Joe Vitale, and Bob Proctor. All of these people promote beliefs in personal responsibility as a path to a better life. They all have organizations that sell books, videos, seminars and classes to teach you their methods. And, while they all promise to provide the key to lasting happiness, success and peace, they are not religious cults. While Palmer's training methods may not be mainstream, they are closer to the Sedona Method than to Scientology.

The notice at the top of the public page says "The neutrality of this article is disputed." The first notice at the top of this page reads, "This article must adhere to the policy on biographies of living persons. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous." Further notices at the top of the page provide instructions regarding legitimate second accounts and advocacy.

As noted by others commenting here, this page is neither unbiased nor sourced according to Wiki guidelines. Based on my reading of the history of the page, it was started by someone with an ax to grind. While Palmer has no doubt made mistakes in his life, his training is at least moderately effective or I would have found hundreds of unsatisfied customers clamoring on web sites for retribution. Instead I found most of the allegations coming from a small group led by Eldon Braun, the loser of the copyright lawsuit.

I have spent a good bit of my life dealing with the after effects in families whose loved ones have been seduced by religious cults. I believe it's wise to err on the side of caution. I also believe that those who take the position of watch-dogs have a responsibility greater than making sensational claims by crying "cult!"

I appreciate your willingness to volunteer time and energy to this effort to provide accurate public information. And I hope you find my report helpful. I ask that you do your job of editing according to the rules of your organization. It will be more useful to everyone in the long run. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Diogeneswasright (talkcontribs) 16:18, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, but I don't think you're paying attention, and many of your facts are wrong, such as Palmer winning the case against Scientology. And if you don't see that Avatar is structured like Scientology, is run in many ways like it, is more like it than any religion or philosophy out there except Ramtha, has many similar exercises, the list goes on and on you are either unfamiliar with Scientology or lying. Why did you downplay his entire CAREER in Scientiology? If you deny the secret teachings like exorcising astral entities aren't unusual, then ditto for that too.

No one said Avatar was a religious cult by your highly limited definition. Cults love to use the dictionary shortcut to dismiss them as excluded and pioint the finger at everyone else. Palmer does this all the time, but you know that having read his stuff right? Just because he uses a course structure to manipulate people and create a planetary "ashram" sales force which is Palmers religious words not mine, doesn't make it any less a cult. The millions of dollars in his pocket every year is a plain motive and yet he has no credibility or respect outside his little group except in the minds of his followers hes famous and revolutionary? They even lie about his book being a best seller.

They are a new age psycho-cult that pushes "empowerment" and "thinking for yourself" like many other cults these days. They have religious adoration while speaking out against such things. Palmer is worshipped the same way as Hubbard and theres a reason they object against him seeming like that in all their literature. You bought into it. You saw what they wanted you to see and didn't know where to look. If you really did your homework youd find hundreds or thousands of people who had lives ruined, life savings lost and in debt, broken marriages and people just plain insane. They are taught to belive anything they want UNLESS ITS ABOUT AVATAR, STARS EDGE, AND HARRY PALMER. Then there is no doubt, no criticism, no question allowed. And they are reprogrammed on how to belive what they are told versus what they dont want to belive no matter how true using guilt and self-blame galore. That's called brainwashing. THAT is what makes a cult.

It doesn't matter who started the article. It's backed up with news articles, court judgments, and a book by an author with better credentials than anyone here. Its been said many times that if ANYONE can give real citations for facts that dont make Avatar look like a cult scam whatever, it would be welcome here. Too bad all we get are more opinions and people advertising the course. How about critics stick to the facts and so do you even if it makes Avatar less than squeaky clean? Venus Copernicus (talk) 17:25, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

SUDDEN BARRAGE OF INCREMENTAL BLANKING[edit]

After rare changes over the last year, all in a day's time this article was systematically dismantled by three editors. What is gone? what is probably the most noteworthy information in the article. There are some not best citations but this should be discussed as the information is common knowledge instead of taking out bits and then throwing out the rest. I question good faith. I may have an opinion and want people to know the truth but as an editor I agree to do it fairly. Venus Copernicus (talk) 18:06, 12 December 2010 (UTC) btw, here's the reason I question good faith. Griswaldo got rid of COURT CASE REFERENCES and then according to his talk page asked Crit to step in and get rid of the section because there was no reference. What the hell people? Venus Copernicus (talk) 18:30, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Verification, Neutrality, & Weight[edit]

Since these tags were recently added to the article, an explanation a discussion would be most welcome.

Regarding POV and undue weight, my opinion is that this is a natural result of the only information with sources of any credibility being for facts and reporting not favorable or neutral to the subject. Every effort has been made to find and include positive information and sources (or contrary citations regarding negative reporting), but sadly, there appear to be few if any outside of blatant marketing materials. If the article was weighted to be "balanced" in terms of pros and cons, it would have to be unduly weighted in favor of citations that don't pass standards muster or the elimination of citations that do down to less than a stub. In other words, it is what it is, until and unless there is more credible information to be added.

As for verification, I can find only one sentence tagged. I agree, but that hardly justified the additional tag on the page itself. If there are other issues, again, I would ask they be enumerated clearly.

In absence of clarification and discussion, I will move to remove both the offending sentence and the warning templates. But I'd prefer not to do such unilaterally as it may be perceived as some personal bias.

Ken JP Stuczynski (talk) 22:31, 4 December 2014 (UTC)