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Jami Lin found the critique of her article and sent off a howl of protest. The subject line in her email reads Cate Bramble, publish this!
What She Says Reality Check
Cate —
I too am a loyal student of GrandMaster YCH. Do you remember a few years back when one student disrespectfully said something ugly about another student? I don’t remember the details nor am I interested except that Joey, in a community forum, denounced the ugly student because the YCH community honors and values respectfulness for each other as well as for other schools.
Also knowing Master Raymond, I wonder if he would be happy that you are reflecting poorly on him too because of your ugliness to almost everyone in the FS community.

Straw Man

I was a “member” of the Yap Cheng Hai Centre of Excellence: a member is someone who paid money and attended classes. I’m also a (graduated, advanced) student of the American Feng Shui Institute. I haven’t studied with “Master Raymond [Lo],” but he reads FSUR.

I do not embrace the patronizing (and patriarchial) idea of students “reflecting poorly” on instructors. Imagine how this blinkered conformity would play in the real world: Upbraiding President Bush II for his shortcomings by saying it reflects badly on Yale University. Lecturing former President Clinton that his marital infidelity while President was a poor reflection on his Rhodes Scholarship.

Sounds silly, and it is silly.

Lin also engineers a leap from my use of member to the notion that we’re both “loyal students” (a term with a meaning only she knows). She later refers to me as an “admitted student” — again the inference is unclear. Admitted to what — classes? If you showed up with money they let you in!

Red Herring

The vague story she claims not to remember has great power and value for Lin. What is important is that

  1. She assumes I share her interest.
  2. She assumes it has as much value and meaning for me as it does for her.
  3. She assumes that I will react in some predictable way.

Lin apparently believes that I will adjust my behavior to meet her expectations simply by mentioning this incident and linking it to my analysis and critique.

Like “Oh look! There goes the Pope!” this story has nothing to do with the analysis and critique.

The always-witty Margaret Cho on her blog (27 January 2004) says

Ugly. Is irrelevant. It is an immeasurable insult to a woman, and then supposedly the worst crime you can commit as a woman. But ugly, as beautiful, is an illusion. (emphasis added)

Throughout her tirade, Lin uses the subjective judgment ugly as a control word — that is, a word she uses in situations where she wants to retain or regain social control. Social groupings define their own: in rap, it’s bitch and ho. Often for Muslims the control words describe the antithesis of female purity.

In Lin’s experience, ugly usually works on women. Perhaps they know Lin’s use of the term identifies her esthetic judgment of someone’s looks (as in her use of “the ugly student”) and that equates with her judgment of their character.

That Lin intersects these two uses of ugly suggests that she views the world with the Cartesian cut: peopled by the beautiful who are capable only of good things, and the esthetically unappealing who do unappealing things (as in this case, where an ugly student says something ugly) or anything that she disagrees with.

This idea that beauty=good, ugly=evil was conventional wisdom in the Middle Ages! One would hope by now we’d have moved on to more realistic (and less sexist) appraisals.

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
—Alexander Hamilton

The laissez-faire attitude that Ms Lin would prefer to be called “respectfulness for each other as well as for other schools” keeps the feng shui community from reining in the excesses of the quacks, crackpots, cranks, and crooks.

Con guys have a tendency to stick together. There’s a lot of money in the games, You make a damned good living and you don’t work very hard. So I went into it and I made a damned good living and I didn’t work very hard. — Frank Abagnale Jr.

Considering Lin’s penchant for inventing what she sells, she is no doubt concerned that if the feng shui world became less laissez-faire, someone would begin to look closely at her business practices.

I am also reminded of something said by Elie Wiesel:

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

One of FSUR‘s admirers wrote that

Your scruples and morality (as articulated by that nifty quote you have by Edmund Way Teale) are like a breath of fresh feng and a river of sparkling shui through this desert wasteland of California woo-woo, new-age, pseudo-scientific, spiritually bankrupt b-s-.  And you are courageous enough to stand up to it.  I applaud you.

About your authority as you state of your website:

If the author is uncertain whether something is accurate, the material will not be published or any uncertainty will be identified by stating the source of the information and its possible limits and pitfalls.

On what authority can you say that?

Red Herring, Straw Man, False Dilemma

Why is she concerned with a different page on the site when her issue is with my analysis of her article? She would rather change the subject and attack another page than formulate a rebuttal.

The heading on the section she quoted was Labels and Sources so it’s difficult to know what she means by the word authority that she prefers to use.

Moreover, she imputes authority (“authority as you state”) that is not communicated in the article she quotes. Lin doesn’t seem to understand how someone can draw conclusions from an accumulation of facts and render an opinion. (N.B.: The idea for Labels and Sources comes from the now-defunct magazine Brill’s Content.)

I surmise that Ms Lin doesn’t understand how argument analysis and fact-checking work, or how to quote source materials. She seems to be overly concerned with issues of authority — a common occurrence in New Age circles.

You can judge for yourself by the structure of the arguments and the sources I use to debunk Ms Lin whether the arguments are valid or reasonably sound.

I can’t speak in detailed defense of all FS people that you *authoritatively* abuse (but I can speak of the integrity and heart of many, w/o out judgment as to whether I agree w/ their FS) but the few I took the time to address about me, I am absolutely sure of!

Red Herring

This is a textbook example. It’s also painfully incoherent — Cogito ergo non sequiteur.

We are several paragraphs into the email and still no mention of the article.

Jami Lin: she disrespects every culture and spiritual system except Christianity.

Did you know I am a Jew? And, like most every Jew or person having ties to any repeatedly persecuted group, I understand the disrespectfulness, hatefulness (and worse) in the *name of religion,* It is the same ignorance that your hatefulness is made of, *in the name of FS!*

Red Herring and Straw Man

More textbook examples, grammatically garbled.
Remember these comments; the rationale changes when she discovers her tactic didn’t work.

We have finally arrived at the first mention of the article!

It never occurred to Lin that her fellow Jews might be offended by her writing or call attention to its flaws. She is apparently unaware that she created a shaatnez.

It certainly didn’t occur to her that someone might point out her errors or peel away the layers of her writing to reveal the true (and, to many Jews, morally repugnant) sources of her “inspiration.”

Rather than take responsibility for her literary chimera or address the issues I raised, she prefers to concoct another red herring.

She’s reprinted the same article several times since she wrote it, it’s been on her website for years, and she has not corrected the (many) errors or refined her language.

To a reasonable person it would seem the article reflects her beliefs — and they are not Jewish ones.

I am sure there is a powerful link between Feng Shui and Judaism (not historical, but spiritual). After all, Feng Shui is about being in place and one of the ancient names for God in Hebrew is ha Makom,  “the Place.” Finding place and being sync with Place is at the heart of spiritual awakening.
—Rabbi Rami Shapiro (from private correspondence)

Notice that for Lin, Kabbalah is “an alchemical system of universal knowledge” without ties to Judaism.

I never said that Kabbalah didn’t have ties to Judaism (you said that’s what I said).

Logical Fallacy

Look at the article “The Essence of Feng Shui” on her website.

Lin doesn’t understand the difference between quotes and analysis.

Judaism does not appear anywhere in her article; Kabbalah appears and it is linked with feng shui and Hindu culture. She persists in not linking Judaism and Kabbalah. Instead, we read a definition of Kabbalah as “an alchemical system of universal knowledge.”

Remember Rav Tzadok’s assertion that Kabbalah is the secret innermost chamber of the Torah.

Since when is the Bible an “alchemical system”?

Jami apparently cannot bring herself to acknowledge that Kabbalah is esoteric Jewish mysticism. It’s easier to slap on another red herring (“you said that’s what I said”) than mount a response to the challenge in the critique.

Why must she invent a literary Final Solution that identifies Kabbalah as the product of pagans?
Does Jami Lin primarily associate with — and obtain the majority of her income from — people who loathe Jewishness and Jews, to whom the true origins of Kabbalah cannot be revealed?

Or is the issue ignorance?

How about self-loathing?

What if this was all a ruse, designed to achieve capitulation to her demands — and her religion is something else entirely?

Antisemitism explains why Lin puts the roots of Kabbalah “as far back as Babylonia,” which is quite a few kilometers from Israel and many centuries distant from the ancient traditions of Kabbalah. She’s figuratively and literally putting distance between her, Judaism, and Kabbalah.

Lin apparently prefers the mystical racism of Helena Blavatsky, who believed Kabbalah was developed by Aryans in Central Asia.

Babylon is the land of the Exile. Jews were forcibly relocated to Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple. In Tanakh you can read about the prophets who sat by the rivers in Babylon and wept for the loss of their homeland.

Talmud developed in Babylon (at least one school, anyway). Kabbalah does not share that provenance.

She’s just spouting more of her blender-school nonsense. Scarily enough, she repeats (nearly verbatim) the millenarian and messianic yearnings that Norman Cohn revealed in Cosmos, Chaos, and the World To Come (Yale, 1993) and even more disturbingly in The Pursuit of the Millennium (Harper Torchbooks, 1961

Never heard of the books!

Red Herring, Logical Fallacy

Textbook examples.
She believes her comment lets her off the hook. Perhaps in her world it does.
Outside the New Age bubble, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse.

All of what you wrote and published in ‘www.qi-whiz.com/blank.html’ is a disrespectful and hateful assumption. We have never spoken, you do not know me. And why are you so hateful to make such ignorant misrepresentations and tell such lies?

Red Herrings, Loaded Questions, Logical Fallacies, False Dilemmas

Please note that the location she gives for the page has been replaced by this series of pages.
Here we have more textbook examples of faulty arguments.

Lin does not understand the analysis: how someone can look at what she writes, use the simplest of analysis techniques, and find a completely different article than what she thinks she wrote. Yet literary criticism has a long history of (at the very least) solving problems in reading something, in choosing between conflicting readings, and enabling people to form judgments about writing.

What alarms her the most are the conclusions, which are now in the public domain. Never mind that these conclusions were based on the documentary evidence, with corroborating sources — in other words, this wasn’t a fictional encounter with her writing.

In Jami’s world there is no analysis and criticism, no careful scrutiny topped by conclusions and opinions. In her world there is the silence of “respectfulness” — which is a silence of agreement and collusion with charlatans and fraudsters. And a few other people.

According to the logic of the playground, any thoughtful study, especially where it pointed out the contradictions between claims and reality, would be disrespectful and ugly, hateful, assumptions, misrepresentations and lies.

Lin fears for her livelihood and self-image, though she should not be surprised. She has already admitted she can invent products and sell them as “the real thing,” so she is just as likely to perform equally morally-questionable acts to preserve her status quo.

How would she behave if instead of FSUR Penn and Teller had investigated her?

Lin uses projection (a psychological version of a red herring) to deflect any critique of her work. Projection is a defense mechanism in which someone attributes to other people impulses and traits that she herself has but cannot accept; she projects her own unpleasant feelings onto someone else, and blames them for having the thoughts that are actually hers.

Projection is especially likely to occur when a person lacks insight into her own impulses and traits. For example, Hitler in one speech characterized Winston Churchill as “this little man running around Europe stirring up trouble.”
She works very hard in this email to hold FSUR accountable — but refuses to hold herself to the same standards.

On my planet — Earth — people are accountable for what is published. Anything that is published (including websites such as this one and Lin’s) can be critiqued by any number of standards.

If she wants her work before the public she needs to learn to choose her words with care and check her facts, to grow a thicker layer of skin — or, I hope, both.

I am not going to detail any more of the ugliness and misrepresentations that you have published on your website about me. Instead, I’ll thank you for the hot links to my site. She hasn’t “detailed” anything as yet. except how upset she is by being unmasked. We have been treated to a magnificent dramatic display — as Shakespeare wrote,

all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

For the record

There are no “hot links” on this site. I do not advocate eating animal byproducts (be they ever so beautifully spiced).

Notwithstanding your obvious ugliness to most everyone, I hope the public will be smart enough to see for themselves. However, I will take your lead on making assumptions. Can I ASSUME (as you told such blatant lies about me) that the hateful propaganda about so many in the FS community is also malicious misrepresentation based upon your made-up *authority?*
Jami Lin

Red Herrings, Straw Men, Loaded Questions, Logical Fallacies, False Dilemmas

More textbook examples.
Suddenly, quoting Jami and analyzing her writing becomes “blatant lies.” This is harsh condemnation from someone who laughingly admits that she invents what she sells.
Perhaps it’s telling that to date, no email sent to FSUR expresses any sympathy or support for Jami. Actually the opposite is true.

The public is smart! This analysis was requested by readers of FSUR who felt Jami Lin’s material was neglected and overdue for review.

CC: Joey Yap…Hi Joey, with all the time I have spent w/ you and YCH, I have felt your hearts and highest integrity. I CC’ed you because I thought you’d like to know that an admitted (as stated on her website) YCH student may be a poor reflection on you, (as the public may not be aware of the excellence and respectfulness you maintain) as she is disrespectful and hurtful to *almost everyone*in the FS community.
Jami Lin
Fulfilling Your Heart’s Content Feng Shui, Interior Design, and Self-Development bringing YOU home to the Spiritwww.JamiLin.com

Red Herrings, Straw Men, Loaded Questions, Logical Fallacies, False Dilemmas

And still more textbook examples.
As stated previously, I do not embrace the idea of students “reflecting poorly” on instructors; it is more patriarchial authoritarianism than I can tolerate.

If I did follow Jami’s lead in adhering to that archaic idea, her admitted invention of material she sells, her inability to write and to understand literary analysis, her blasphemous syncretism, and her poor grasp of facts would be a very negative reflection on her numerous teachers.

Jami’s need for approval requires her to cc an uninvolved party. Ironically, it turns out to be a well-known figure in the feng shui world who is quite familiar with the contents of FSUR.

She hopes that he will repeat the public chastisement she alluded to at the beginning of her email, only with FSUR as the “ugly” and “admitted” student.

Validation does not seem to have been provided. If it was, FSUR wasn’t copied on the email.
Validation is one thing that Jami needs to prove her worth. When you look at her site you realize she is a name dropper and hopes that by linking her name with household names (Deepak Chopra! Lin Yun!) you will believe she is valid. Just because their names are on her site, or mentioned in her execrable writings, does not mean the material is any good.

Remember, this is a woman who admits she makes up what she sells — and laughs about it.

Which spirits are we coming home to?

The signature that accompanies Jami’s emails is significant: it uses buzzwords and catchphrases shared among New Age circles and fundamentalist Christian churches. However, the phrasing is not exactly new. “Bringing you home to the Spirit” implies the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, part of the Christian Trinity. Perhaps by using this language, Jami is conveying to her clients that she is a Messianic Jew.

The title of a book by Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) heralds the signature that Jami uses: “The application of redemption by the effectual work of the word, and spirit of Christ, for the bringing home of lost sinners to God …” (emphasis added). The book was published in 1656 by Peter Cole in London.

John Flavel (1586-1647) embellished the theme with his “Method of grace, in bringing home the eternal redemption contrived by the Father, and accomplished by the Son through the effectual application of the spirit unto God’s elect …” (emphasis added) The book was published in 1681 by M. White for Francis Tyton.

Here is a book that shows how interior design can incorporate Christian fundamentalism. Notice the title mentions home and spirit.

This is a strong connection with the millennarian mindset, as Norman Cohn explains in his books.
But Jami Lin has never heard of Professor Cohn or his works, so there the matter lies.
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