Robert Anton Wilson

“Robert Anton Wilson (born Robert Edward Wilson; January 18, 1932 – January 11, 2007) was an American author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, and self-described agnostic mystic. Recognized as an Episkopos[dead link], Pope, and saint of Discordianism, Wilson helped publicize the group through his writings and interviews.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.

“Is”, “is.” “is”—the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don’t know what anything “is”; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.

— Robert Anton Wilson, The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, as spoken by Sigismundo Celine.
Born Robert Edward Wilson in Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, he spent his first years in Flatbush, and moved with his family to lower middle class Gerritsen Beach around the age of four or five, where they stayed until relocating to the steadfastly middle-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge when Wilson was thirteen. He suffered from polio as a child, and found generally effective treatment with the Kenny Method (created by Elizabeth Kenny) which the American Medical Association repudiated at that time. Polio’s effects remained with Wilson throughout his life, usually manifesting as minor muscle spasms causing him to use a cane occasionally until 2000, when he experienced a major bout with post-polio syndrome that would continue until his death.

Wilson attended Catholic grammar school, likely the school associated with Gerritsen Beach’s Resurrection Church[citation needed], and attended Brooklyn Technical High School (a selective public institution) to remove himself from the Catholic influence; at “Brooklyn Tech,” Wilson was influenced by literary modernism (particularly Ezra Pound and James Joyce), the Western philosophical tradition, then-innovative historians such as Charles A. Beard, science fiction (including the works of Olaf Stapledon, Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon) and Alfred Korzybski’s interdisciplinary theory of general semantics. He would later recall that the family was “living so well… compared to the Depression” during this period “that I imagined we were lace-curtain Irish at last.”

Following his graduation in 1950, Wilson was employed in a succession of jobs (including ambulance driver, engineering aide, salesman and medical orderly) and absorbed various philosophers & cultural practices (including bebop, psychoanalysis, Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Leon Trotsky and Ayn Rand, whom he later repudiated) while writing in his spare time. He also studied electrical engineering and mathematics at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute from 1952 to 1957 and English education at New York University from 1957 to 1958 without getting a degree from either institution.

After smoking marijuana for nearly a decade, he first experimented with mescaline in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 28, 1961. Wilson began to work as a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter in the late 1950s. He adopted his maternal grandfather’s name, Anton, for his writings, telling himself that he would save the “Edward” for when he wrote the Great American Novel and later finding that “Robert Anton Wilson” had become an established identity.

He assumed co-editorship of the School for Living’s Brookville, Ohio-based Balanced Living magazine in 1962 and briefly returned to New York as associate editor of Ralph Ginzburg’s quarterly fact: before leaving for Playboy, where he served as an associate editor from 1965 to 1971. According to Wilson, Playboy “paid me a higher salary than any other magazine at which I had worked and never expected me to become a conformist or sell my soul in return. I enjoyed my years in the Bunny Empire. I only resigned when I reached 40 and felt I could not live with myself if I didn’t make an effort to write full-time at last.” Along with frequent collaborator Robert Shea, Wilson edited the magazine’s Playboy Forum advice column. During this period, he covered Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s Millbrook, New York-based Castalia Foundation at the instigation of Alan Watts in The Realist, cultivated important friendships with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and lectured at the Free University of New York on ‘Anarchist and Synergetic Politics’ in 1965.

He received a B.A., M.A. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) in psychology from Paideia University, an unaccredited institution that has since closed. Wilson reworked his dissertation, and it found publication in 1983 as Prometheus Rising.

Wilson married freelance writer and poet Arlen Riley in 1958.[11] They had four children, including Christiana Wilson Pearson and Patricia Luna Wilson. Luna was beaten to death in an apparent robbery in the store where she worked in 1976 at the age of 15, and became the first person to have her brain preserved by the Bay Area Cryonics Society. Arlen Riley Wilson died in 1999 following a series of strokes.” (Wikipedia)

Christopher Langan

“Christopher Michael Langan (born March 25, 1952) is an American whose IQ was reportedly believed to be “between 190 and 210”. In Morris 2001, Langan relates that he took what was billed as “the world’s most difficult IQ test” in Omni magazine, and he gives his IQ as “somewhere between 190 and 210”. He has been described as “the smartest man in America” as well as “the smartest man in the world” by some journalists. Langan has developed a “theory of the relationship between mind and reality” which he calls the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” (CTMU)

Langan was born in San Francisco, California, in 1952. He spent most of his early life in Montana, with his mother and three brothers. His mother was the daughter of a wealthy shipping executive but was cut off from her family’s fortune. Christopher did not grow up with his biological father, as the man died or disappeared before Christopher was born. Because Christopher’s father was absent, the family struggled to escape poverty.

During elementary school, Langan was repeatedly skipped ahead and was tormented by his peers. Langan claims he was brutally beaten by his stepfather, Jack Langan. Jack Langan denies this claim. Chris Langan recalled that his “stepfather constantly asked [Chris] difficult questions, and when I’d give him correct answers to those questions, he’d bat me in the mouth or something of that nature to let me know he didn’t appreciate a guy trying to be smarter than he was.” At the age of twelve years, Langan began weight training, and forcibly ended the abuse by throwing his stepfather out of the house when he was fourteen, and telling him never to return.

Langan says he spent the last years of high school mostly in independent study, teaching himself “advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin, and Greek”. He earned a perfect score on the SAT (pre-1995 scale) despite taking a nap during the test. Langan attended Reed College and later Montana State University, but faced with financial and transportation problems, and believing that he could teach his professors more than they could teach him, he dropped out.

In 1999, Langan and others formed a non-profit corporation called the “Mega Foundation” to “create and implement programs that aid in the development of severely gifted individuals and their ideas” (the organization’s designation for those with IQs of 164 or above).

Langan told Muscle Magazine that “you cannot describe the universe completely with any accuracy unless you’re willing to admit that it’s both physical and mental in nature” and that the CTMU “explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase”. He calls his proposal “a true ‘Theory of Everything’, a cross between John Archibald Wheeler’s ‘Participatory Universe’ and Stephen Hawking’s ‘Imaginary Time’ theory of cosmology.” In conjunction with his ideas, Langan has claimed: “You can prove the existence of God, the soul and an afterlife, using mathematics.”

The CTMU has gained both praise and controversy in the scientific community. Robert Seitz, a former NASA Executive and Mega Foundation director, stated that “every physicist is inundated with amateurs’ ‘Theories of Everything,’ but Chris’ CTMU is very, very different”. On the flip side, the CTMU theory has been criticized for its use of convoluted language. Langan’s use of terms he has invented (or redefined) has made his exposition obscure. Some suggest this is deliberate.

Chris Langan grooms a horse at his ranch in Missouri.
Asked about creationism, Langan has said:

“I believe in the theory of evolution, but I believe as well in the allegorical truth of creation theory. In other words, I believe that evolution, including the principle of natural selection, is one of the tools used by God to create mankind. Mankind is then a participant in the creation of the universe itself, so that we have a closed loop. I believe that there is a level on which science and religious metaphor are mutually compatible.”

In a 2014 radio interview, Langan said that he has worked on the P versus NP problem and thinks he can prove that P does not equal NP.

In March of 2017, Langan’s article “An Introduction to Mathematical Metaphysics” was published in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017).” (Wikipedia)