Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘James Randi’

Anonymous Poster Responds to Monica Pignotti Statement of Support with More Lies

The anonymous poster has now responded to the Statement of Support for Monica Pignotti.

In this statement, thus far as of May 17, 2011, signed by 47 psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals, reasonable requests were made, that:

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose the cowardly and unethical behaviors of the internet posters, and strongly affirm Dr. Pignotti’s right to raise legitimate criticisms of their therapeutic practices without fear of false and defamatory attacks. Criticism of therapeutic practices that lack empirical support and may be harmful is vital for the profession and we are deeply concerned that smear campaigns could discourage others from engaging in public scrutiny of these and other practices. We call on the internet posters to stop such practices immediately. We further call on the posters to publicly identify themselves and to voice their criticisms in the form of clear descriptions of their concerns, using recognized venues such as peer-reviewed articles rather than in the form of baseless personal attacks.  Additionally, we ask that any prospective employers of Dr. Pignotti not allow the actions of these posters and the fact she has chosen not to remain silent, to impact their hiring decisions.

The response was all too predictable, although it will be interesting to see whether the individual, if he does decide to harass the universities of the people who signed, will have the courage to put his own name to this or will try to do the harassment anonymously.

[Update: Since this response was received and I passed it along to those who already signed and those who I asked to sign since then, my support is only growing stronger and some of the new signers have provided me with the complete contact info for their affiliation and no one has withdrawn their support, in spite of the fact I fully informed them of this threatening response. Obviously these are people who are not going to allow bullies to intimidate them by threats to tattle to their institutions when they have done nothing wrong.]

I post the response, in full, to demonstrate how malicious this smear campaign has become [my responses are noted in blue].  Nomen Nescio, Latin for “name unknown” is a generic name of an e-mail address that renders the sender anonymous. It hides their IP address, making such e-mails or postings very difficult to trace. Other common generic names under which the smear campaigners have posted include George Orwell and Anne Onime.

From: Nomen Nescio <nob…>
Date: May 8, 11:01 am
Subject: Monica Pignotti: EPIC FAIL
To: alt.religion.scientology

Monica Pignotti has sealed her fate.

There will be NO compliance with the “demands” in the statement on her website.

[Interesting, since what was called for (the word “demand” was not used in the statement) was quite reasonable: For the anonymous posters to identify themselves and rather than attack me, clearly state their actual concerns in recognized venues. Instead, they choose to continue their current smear campaign consisting of red herrings, personal attacks and outright fabrications. The response is that there will be “NO compliance” with our request that they conduct themselves as decent human beings. This says more about them than it does about me or those who signed.]

Many of the signatories to her strident manifesto, such as Bruce Thyer, have vested interests in concealing the truth about her. Efforts to disseminate the TRUTH about her will continue, unabated.

[No “TRUTH” has been concealed about me. I have been more than open about my past, far more than most people are about their activities of their youth and most of what has been posted about me are lies that, if the poster put his name to them (e.g. saying I was fired from FSU when I was not), would likely be actionable in a court of law.]

In addition, the institutions whose faculty members have been foolish enough to sign this document will be contacted and retractions will be demanded. If these people wish to speak out, let them speak on their own.

[It will be interesting to see if this harassment is also conducted anonymously and if so, how universities would respond to “demands” and threats anonymous individuals who are upset because they are being asked to conduct themselves as decent, honest human beings. Whether or not the complainers identify themselves, they are in no position to “demand” anything.]

Some facts about Monica Pignotti:

1) She dropped out of college to join Scientology. She spent years in this crazy cult, and rose to the highest levels, containing scientifically unsound beliefs about alien warlords and the atom bombing of volcanos. While in Scientology, Monica Pignotti became romantically involved with Quentin Hubbard, one of the children of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

[It is no secret that I was involved in Scientology, although I was never “romantically involved” with Quentin although he was an adult when I knew him. What this neglects to mention is that this is ancient history. I left and repudiated Scientology in 1976, 35 years ago, returned to and completed college and eventually went to graduate school and got an MSW and an PhD]

[2) After leaving Scientology, Monica Pignotti became a devotee of Roger Callahan and his bizarre therapies, Thought Field Therapy and Energy Therapy. These systems claim to heal by tapping the body and at the most advanced levels, diagnosis is performed over the phone. Pignotti stopped practicing energy therapy and used her inside knowledge to criticize it.

[That was 20 years after leaving Scientology. Again, this is no secret that I practiced TFT, although the “diagnosis” is not mental health or medical diagnosis. TFT is simply tapping on acupressure points on the body (like acupuncture without the needles — hardly considered “bizarre” and actually acupuncture is accepted in many mainstream hospitals although I have my own criticisms of it). I did not practice “Energy Therapy” and have no idea what it is, nor does Callahan have any therapy by that name. Perhaps the misinformed person is thinking of Energy Psychology, also not Callahan’s but an offshoot of TFT that I never practiced). As for TFT, I stopped practicing it over 7 years ago and many of the people who signed this statement have been aware of this since I left and have given me great support. This will hardly come as news to them.]

3) Pignotti entered academia. She was dismissed from a teaching position at Florida State University (FSU) for several reasons. First, she made obscene sexual propositions to faculty members. Second, many students complained that she wasted classroom time with anecdotes about time travel, Scientology, Roger Callahan, being single, and her dislike of geology.

[This is a libelous statement. If the poster put his name to it, this would be actionable in a court of law, possibly even as libel per se. I was not fired from FSU, nor did I engage in any of the activities mentioned, although I have on a number of occasions been invited to guest lecture classes on the topic of  Roger Callahan’s Thought Field Therapy and pseudoscience and also on discrimination against single people. Those lectures, where I presented my research on TFT and reviewed research on single people, were well received and legitimate and no complaints were made about them and lecturing on those topics certainly would not be grounds for dismissal. I have no idea where the reference to “geology” came from since this is not my area of expertise and have never said I “disliked” it. Anecdotes to illustrate a point are an acceptable and highly encouraged aspect of good teaching. I obtained my PhD from FSU and left only because I graduated and FSU does not hire their own graduates in tenure-track positions. My teaching at FSU was not as a faculty member, but as a PhD candidate to fulfill a yearly stipend I and all PhD students and candidates received the first three years in the program and possibly beyond, but cease upon graduation.]

[4) Monica Pignotti spent several years aligned with a fringe medical group. The head of this group, Larry W. Sarner of Loveland, CO, has bachelor’s degrees in political science and mathematics, and is unqualified to evaluate psychological interventions. Sarner bilked lenders and investors out of several million dollars on a scheme to develop and deploy voting machines. Even though Pignotti, for whatever reason, has parted company with Sarner, she continues to insist that his voting machines worked.

Red herring alert!

[This is a huge distortion and the voting machine part is a red herring. Larry Sarner is Executive Director of a non-profit advocacy organization I was involved with called Advocates for Children in Therapy. I served on their informal professional advisory board for four years. It is not a “medical group” and it would seem that the only people who have taunted the word “fringe” to describe it are proponents of the practices it has exposed (on the contrary the APA-endorsed APSAC Task Force Report cited publications from people in ACT while they advised against the practices ACT criticizes). The impetus for this smear campaign against several people involved in ACT is because we dared to criticize and expose potentially harmful “attachment”, coercive restraint and other similar therapies for children. I have “continued to insist” nothing about voting machines (I made one statement two years ago on a Randi forum which is taken out of context, where I also called them on this red herring, irrelevant to the practices of the therapist we were criticizing). I couldn’t care less about whether they worked or not and I had no involvement in the Sarner voting machine case whatsoever (it was concluded a decade before I even met Mr. Sarner), although based on court documents and docket sheets I have examined, these statements are false, as the cases were all civil, not criminal cases and he was never charged with fraud. The “voting machine” matter is a huge red herring.]

5) Pignotti applied for a position at New York University (NYU). She did not get it. She concocted a fantastic story about how her personal information was compromised, and she demanded that NYU conduct a full investigation.

[I did not “concoct” any fantastic stories. The fact is that although I did not discuss publicly my application for a faculty position, someone, somehow, by some unknown means found out about what should have been kept confidential and posted several times that I applied and then, that I did not get the position, before I received such notification. Lies have been posted about this matter when, in fact, I was considered a qualified applicant and simply did not get it because they decided someone else was a better fit for the position than I was. I have never challenged their decision, which I completely accept,  nor do I intend to. My concerns of how information was leaked, resulting in the obscene postings is a legitimate concern. It is reasonable that applications for faculty positions ought to expect that they will not have the information of their having applied, be publicly posted accompanied by lies about the reasons they did not get the position.]

NYU refused, and has stated, publicly, that they are glad they did not hire her.

[NYU has made no such public statements that I am aware of. If NYU had made any public statements about me of that nature, surely the anonymous posters would have been delighted to link to them or produced documentation, which they have failed to do. Instead, as usual, what we have are unsubstantiated, bald assertions.]

6) Pignotti considered applying for a position at Brigham Young University (BYU) which would have required adherence to the BYU honor code. Pignotti wrote a scathing blog post denouncing the Mormon faith.

[I have not “denounced the Mormon faith”. In fact, since the age of 14, I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I have consistently defended the Mormon faith, even while inactive. Some cult experts such as Steven Hassan consider it a cult and I have defended it as not being a cult and have praised them for their open disclosure of their Honor Code.]

7) Pignotti associates with violent criminals. As an example, Robert Clark, who uses the pseudonym “henri” who has been convicted of making bomb threats against both churches and weather stations.

[I have no association with “violent criminals”. This statement is false on two counts 1) Rob Clark has never been charged with or convicted of any such criminal activity. If he had been, surely the Scientologists would have included documents on their Religious Freedom watch but not even the Scientologists make that claim about him. As I understand it, Clark has since become an attorney and 2) I have no association with Rob Clark whatsoever. The fact that he has been involved in some internet discussions on a public forum I was also on, does not mean I am associated with him. In fact, although he has at times defended me, on several occasions he attacked me.]

So there you have it, folks. The response is brazen as ever. Since no names were even mentioned other than mine in the statement of support and it clearly stated that the posters were unknown, it will be interesting to see what kind of threats the anonymous individuals will make if they do decide to harass those who signed. Will “Nomen Nescio” threaten to sue us all? That would be an interesting case. While “John Does” have been named as defendants, it is difficult to imagine how a “John Doe” or a “Nomen Nescio” could be a plaintiff in a defamation case, which would likely be laughed out of the courtroom.

The anonymous cyber smearers can repeat the lies about me until they are blue in the face but they will still remain lies, no matter how often they are repeated.

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