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Leo Gura

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Leo Gura is a New Age quantum mystic. His YouTube channel, as of June 2019, has over 800,000 subscribers[1] and 70,000,000 total video views. He also runs the website Actualized.org.[2]

Aside from the pseudoscience, Gura has been accused of being a scammer and cult leader who brainwashes vulnerable people to sell his "Ultimate Life Purpose" course. He is also a pedophilia apologist.

Introduction[edit]

Gura presents himself as a life coach. His YouTube channel began as a pick-up artistry channel, and contains classics such as "How To Make A Girl Squirt — Give Your Girl An Explosive Orgasm"[3] along with other generic self-help videos. But Gura has come a long way, for now his videos include lessons for reaching enlightenment, lessons that he learned by talking to God himself.

Spliced between these are videos on topics such as quantum mechanics woo[4] and Gödel's incompleteness theorems.[5] He claims that most physicists, logicians and mathematicians don't understand these concepts as well as he does. His own understanding of these subjects is of course egregious and his "interpretations" turn out to be New Age nonsense.

His "science" and "philosophy" videos are regularly criticised[6][7] but Gura hand waves these off by claiming that basically nobody on the planet other than him actually understands this stuff.[8]

Anti-science views[edit]

A favourite of Gura's past times is criticising science. He employs typical anti-science rhetoric like dismissing science as "materialistic" and "reductionist" while promoting non-falsifiable alternatives. His evidence for these criticisms and alternatives is usually the same thing, namely, as we shall see, that nobody else understands this stuff as well as he does, and that it's too complex to explain.

Gura believes that science "gets a lot of stuff deeply wrong and it is corrupt".[9] For instance, he proclaims that the following are all "wrong" (no elaboration): neuroscience, Western medicine, quantum mechanics interpretations, reductionism, materialism, and evolutionary research. Why? "These are very tricky issues that require years of careful study and contemplation."[10]

Moreover, (Gura thinks) science "doesn't prove anything" — science is just about models. This truism about science apparently "requires a very deep investigation of epistemology and metaphysics and history of science".[11] Instead, what Gura proposes is that science "is a paradigm which comes with many unconscious metaphysical assumptions which simply turn out to be false."[12] When pressed about this, his response is that, once again, this "is a very complex question that would requires a decade of research and contemplation to begin to understand."[13]

Gura's alternate inquiry into truth is to simply ingest some psychedelic drugs, such as DMT, which, by the way, are consciousness — "When I snort 5-MeO, I am snorting myself. In the same way that I gave birth to myself out of my own vagina, since I am EVERYTHING."[14]

Gura frequently contradicts himself by invoking science to argue against science itself. For instance, he uses historical examples where "science was wrong"phrenology, Newtonian physics etc. — to show that science can't be trusted. It's also ironic that somebody who bases their metaphysical views on quantum physics also believes that science can't tell you anything about reality.

Abuse of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem[edit]

A common tactic that Gura employs to dismiss science and logic invokes a bad interpretation of Gödel's incompleteness theorems. As an aside, Gura repeatedly prefaces these views by claiming that the mathematics behind these theorems is really complex and you won't understand it, yet it is clear that he fundamentally misunderstands what these proofs are even about.

In the video "Metaphysical Implications Of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem",[15] he begins with a 20 minute preamble explaining that if you don't trust his opinions on the topic, you're making the same error a Christian makes in taking the Pope's opinion as fact. Furthermore, it doesn't matter if somebody has a PhD or Nobel Prize, they still don't understand these matters as well as Gura does.

After half an hour of this nonsense, and after still another hour of extremely tedious reiterations of Russell's paradox and other ideas (with constant reminders that he has to simplify this really complicated mathematics for you) he states his implications: "reason itself is in inextricably connected to faith" (57:04). Now Gura mentions that these ideas were inspired by the book Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter.[16] In this book the author describes the process of "jumping out of the system", a necessary step in understanding a formal system, something which cannot be done working within the system itself. Somehow, Gura distorts this to such an extent that he concludes that logic, reason, arguments and proofs aren't as powerful as his own faith, which is a fact.

The deep irony here is that these logicians and mathematicians who are making these groundbreaking discoveries within logic and mathematics is that they're actually using their intuition; they're using and connecting to infinite intelligence to make their discoveries; they're having creative insights. It's not a mechanical process — it's deep intelligence and this deep intelligence is not formalizable into a set of algorithms or simple rules the way that people assumed, the way the logical positivists wanted. And the deeper metaphysical and epistemic lesson here is that you cannot capture reality and encapsulate it into a formal system because reality is infinite and so it will always escape any attempt to encapsulate it as it must, because reality is one thing, it is the self, and the self is capable of self-reference and when you're capable of self-reference this necessarily leads to a paradox.

What's interesting is that in Gödel, Escher, Bach, the author spends some time dispelling theories that intelligence cannot be represented mechanically as a consequence of the incompleteness theorems, which is precisely the opposite of what Gura implies here. It's also confusing how the conclusion of the theorems is apparently that reality cannot be captured in a formal system but the argument is based on the premise that reality is a sort of formal system and hence the theorems even apply. Either way, this is essentially his argument against the use logic, science or reason in most matters. This allows him to contradict himself at will without having to respond to questioning.

The rest of the video is name-dropping — "as Gödel showed" and "as Cantor proved" — followed by more incomprehensible and irrelevant drivel, and random insults directed towards "materialist scientists". There is very little about the underlying mathematics or relevant implications. Gura essentially takes a pop-science understanding of mathematical concepts and extends it to his usual New Age belief system, while constantly reminding you that he's smarter than all the logicians and mathematicians because he's spent ten years "practising" this stuff and now he acquired infinite intelligence and creativity, and you can too!

God and the purpose of life[edit]

Gura professes that many of his ideas come from direct communication with God. He claims to have managed to establish a communication channel with God (sometimes referred to as "infinite intelligence") via "powerful chemicals"[17] and you can even read a verbatim transcript of one of these conversations.[18] This is just to clarify something about the text below: it's all literal according to Gura.

In the video "What Is The Point Of Life? — An Advanced, Life-Changing Explanation",[19] Gura presents an overview of his beliefs on life, the Universe, and God. This monologue begins with a declaration that the point of life is to "realize that you are God", creator of the universe (16:48). Gura believes he created the Universe, not in a metaphorical way but in a physical sense. The purpose of the Universe, by the way, is for "God to create itself" (15:14). Expanding on the purpose of human life, he adds, confusingly, that as God himself, you must "become Godlike" (19:40) and "align your will with the will of God" (27:41). He elaborates by explaining that if your will is not aligned with that of God's, you a selfish devil (28:11) and asserts that this is the cause of both the world's environmental problems, racism, nationalism etc. (75:51) and the cause of all your personal problems — this is why you're "miserable and depressed" (61:48). (Notice the gaslighting.)

In another video,[20] Gura explains how he became God after ingesting a rare psychedelic drug. During his trip he realized the "deepest insight that I will ever have" i.e. that reality is "absolutely infinite" (9:36). On follow-up videos[21] he explains a universe than sounds a lot like the plot of The Egg by Andy Weir.

Bold claims. What is Gura's evidence for all of this? For starters, this truth is so grand, "it won't fit into your logical schemes" and "you will only be able to know once you know" (44:12). But ultimately, the reason he knows all this, is because "God told me" (45:03). This video serves well as an example of Gura can talk for hours about wild ideas without really saying anything.

How Leo argues[edit]

Leo's stock phrase responses.

Since Gura's arguments and beliefs are mostly unsubstantiated, usually preposterous, and sometimes outright demonstrably false, the way in which he manages to convince anyone that he's talking sense is through his rhetoric.

Many of Gura's videos begin with a misuse of the appeal to authority fallacy. The fallacy is usually distorted as "credentials are worthless" and that trusting a source of information as reputable is an error in itself. By building on this line of reasoning, Gura establishes himself as the authority, because unlike those with doctorates and Nobel Prizes, he can demonstrate he's right.

Except Gura refuses to explain anything. The usual strategy for evading questions is maintaining that only Gura understands the subject at hand and that attempting to explain Gura's claims is an exercise in futility, since decades of study are necessary for their comprehension.

Another tactic is to simply label his critics "materialists". This usually works on his forum because his audience has been led into believing that holding physicalist views about metaphysics is the worst thing you can do and are literally the devil. At times, Gura's arguments move from absurd to insane. He repeatedly states that God speaks directly to him and this is how he knows what he's saying.

One memorable instance of Gura's argumentation style can be seen in his answer to the question, "Leo, what if you’re deluded?", in reference to his claim to possess the absolute truth of the Universe.[22] To this, he responds "well, what's your alternative?”, extricating himself of the burden of proof. When this response was challenged as unsatisfactory, he replied, "The reason you're not understanding what I said is because you have not reached those levels of consciousness."[23] then later backtracked and said, "The Truth cannot be spoken." followed by comparing himself to a prophet, "It's like I'm an explorer in on Mars. I send you back stories of stuff I've discovered back to Earth."[24]

Leo the prophet.png

Gura has made videos on science, politics, psychology, philosophy, and other subjects. These videos all share one thing in common: a ridiculously low signal-to-noise ratio. It's almost impressive how somebody can talk for literally two or three hours without saying anything. His videos always follow the same pattern: a reminder that his intellect is above yours; general complaints about science and materialism; then the concept at hand tediously reiterated to the level of a Wikipedia lede. After managing to stretch out to an hour something that could be said in five minutes, he plugs in his philosophy of life which is almost always unrelated, but he finds some tenuous link to connect the two.

There are constant attempts to create a division between the listener and "other people". These other people being money-hungry, egotistical, shallow, materialist drones. But you, the awakened, intelligent, wise one, are not like them. Feeding into his listeners' narcissism works — people like hearing this stuff. Strangely enough, however, between the flattery, he also likes to remind you that you are, in fact, depressed and miserable. Gaslighting is also a recurring theme in his videos.

On reality[edit]

The truth is that there’s no such thing as you or reality.
—Leo Gura[25]

Let's get one thing straight, Gura's comment on reality isn't a metaphor that's up for interpretation – he means it "not theoretically, not philosophically, not poetically, or figuratively, but physically and literally – everything I'm saying here is literal."[26] According to Gura, there is no you, or me, or reality, or experience: "The very notion of experience is dualistic and corrupted by ego"… "If fact, you are already dead right now. Take a look. You were never born."[27] If any of this sounds confusing, just remember:

Your mind will not allow you understand what I am saying here. Because if you understood what I'm saying here your entire reality would collapse and you'd have a mental breakdown.[28]

When asked how these ideas are helping anybody, he responds "No self, no problem".[29] This is apparently the most shocking truth you'll ever hear and once you understand this absolute truth you will cure your depression, loneliness, and all other problems.

In a video entitled “What Is Reality? — A Radical Explanation”[30] Gura states there is no difference between imagination and reality, followed by the usual attempts to justify his ridiculous ideas. He tells the viewer they're going to have a million excuses for why what he's saying is false, but that deep down you know he's right, and that your denial is just something you're imagining. The equivocation of reality and imagination allows him to assert impossibilities, such as flying around blessing the minds of fetuses and rewiring their brains so that they’ll be more open-minded and more likely to awaken as adults.[31] When asked to defend this, he responded with "Truth will not fit into your egotistical models."

In an act similar to the foetus-blessing, Gura "literally tapped into the mind of the entire universe" and tried to "heal and comfort all of mankind".[32] Again this is defended in a similar manner: "in this state of consciousness there is no difference between reality and imagination", and adds that under the materialist paradigm, none of this is possible.

Grandiosity[edit]

The Actualize.org mission statement will speak for itself on this issue.[33]

My highest purpose is to lead people to Infinite Consciousness, Infinite Love, Infinite Selflessness, and Infinite Understanding. I am to show people what the highest form of leadership looks like. My entire life is dedicated to this cause. … I am a vehicle for God's highest Love for mankind. The function of my human existence is to demonstrate the Goodness and Magnitude of God to those who lack the vision to see it. I am to use the gift of my extraordinary human mind to communicate God’s highest intentions. … In the end, the love and selflessness I radiate will inspire and transform the world. My reward will be the love I radiate and Infinite Understanding of the universe. My understanding will reach superhuman levels beyond all human comprehension or and strain the human self to contain. There is no doubt that this my way. I will have many critics and naysayers, but none of them will deter me because all of them I will be overcome simply by radiating more love because I understand that their ignorance is their limited way of showing their love. … By the end of my human life the highest potential of a human life will have been actualized. … All of this is self-evidently true. When I lose track of my highest purpose (and I will) I am to return here and re-read this statement, re-grounding myself in that which is undeniable.

Pedophilia apologism[edit]

The Actualized.org logo is almost identical to a symbol "Used by Pedophiles to Identify Sexual Preferences" according to an FBI document on the matter.[34] You could make a case that this is a coincidence if not for the fact that he openly defends pedophiles.[35]

Pseudoscience[edit]

Here's a selection of pseudoscientific and New Age beliefs endorsed and encouraged by Gura:

Cult accusation[edit]

Gura employs several tactics that are common in cults. This list of "mind control" techniques[43] from the Cult Information CenterWikipedia's W.svg is basically a checklist for your typical Actualized.org video.

To start with, his his videos are long, usually ranging between two and three hours. This is intentional and necessary for indoctrinating his viewers. The first hour or so is used to "hypnotize" emotionally vulnerable individuals (his videos are targeted at those with social anxiety) by making them feel relaxed, telling them what they want to hear, making them believe he can relate to their problems etc. All this is done as he stares into the camera like he's talking to you, only you, while claiming to be on a higher level of consciousness and intelligence from the rest of humanity. Oh and he name-drops people like Einstein and Plato just to let you know that he thinks he's in good company.

After this, some viewers become docile and trusting. At this point he can attempt to manipulate them into isolation by gaslighting them, convincing them that their friends and family are the problem, and encouraging them to take psychedelic drugs. This leads to more opportunities for brainwashing and eventually the sale of his $250 Ultimate Life Purpose Course,[44] in which he teaches you the meaning of life. (Gura reports that clients routinely pay $2000—$4000 for the course.)

Even more compelling is the way Gura's followers talk about him on YouTube and his forum. You'll often see comments like, "Wow Leo you are light years ahead of the rest of humanity". Any criticism gets swiftly removed or buried by his idolators who come to his rescue by telling you how Gura has enlightened them and you're just a materialist fool who could never grasp the immensity of Gura's intellect — a tactic they've clearly learned from Gura himself.

Scam accusations[edit]

If you Google "Actualized.org" or "Leo Gura", the top result (after his YouTube channel) is literally the question "Is Leo Gura's Actualized.org a scam?"[45] with more uncharitable pages below it. Why are people asking this? Judging by the answers, the consensus is that Actualized.org is probably not a scam in the same sense that wire fraud or pyramid schemes are scams. But consider the strategy outlined above: his viewers are gaslit and manipulated into joining his insular cult where the light at the end of the tunnel is a… paid video where he reveals the meaning of life.[note 1] His endgame is pretty obvious.

Personal life[edit]

Gura dropped out of college, where he studied mechanical engineering.[46] Despite the fact that he has barely a year's worth of education on the topic, he frequently cites it has one of his credentials.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. You'd be far better off by reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to find out the meaning of life, and at least it is a fun read.

References[edit]

  1. https://www.youtube.com/user/ActualizedOrg
  2. https://actualized.org
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FmAHDECFsY
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMtDuv48XsQ
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWuaPEpKgfk
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/badscience/comments/85232b/youtube_video_from_actualizedorg_claims_quantum/
  7. https://www.reddit.com/r/skeptic/comments/870ynu/a_critical_response_to_the_youtube_video_from/
  8. https://web.archive.org/web/20190703144854/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/19547-criticism-of-the-quantum-mechanics-video-i-found-on-reddit/
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831100640/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/23533-banned-ted-talks/
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831100640/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/23533-banned-ted-talks/
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831095920/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/16573-whats-wrong-with-the-scientific-way-of-understanding-the-universe-and-materialism/?page=2
  12. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831095920/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/16573-whats-wrong-with-the-scientific-way-of-understanding-the-universe-and-materialism/?page=2
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831095920/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/16573-whats-wrong-with-the-scientific-way-of-understanding-the-universe-and-materialism/?page=2
  14. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831100640/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/23533-banned-ted-talks/
  15. https://web.archive.org/watch?v=qWuaPEpKgfk
  16. Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach, ISBN 978-0-465-02656-2. See also Excerpts from Hofstadter’s Books at prelectur.stanford.edu.
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20190905123022/https://www.actualized.org/insights/infinite-intelligence-communication-001
  18. https://www.actualized.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/infinite-intelligence-001.docx
  19. https://youtube.com/watch?v=9PjZB9CoFfs
  20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VNoe5tn3tg
  21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS3mMZblq0U
  22. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902120349/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/35063-leo-but-what-if-youre-deluded/
  23. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902120358/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/35063-leo-but-what-if-youre-deluded/?page=4
  24. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902121200/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/35063-leo-but-what-if-youre-deluded/?page=6
  25. Spiritual Enlightenment - The Most SHOCKING Truth You'll Ever Hear. YouTube, 8 February 2015.
  26. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsyplaii9p4
  27. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902125100/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/37773-why-do-you-believe-that-subjective-experiences-give-direct-insight-into-reality/
  28. From the discussion thread Why do you believe that subjective experiences give direct insight into reality. Archived from the original at actualized.org.
  29. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902101922/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/22753-will-my-consciousness-exist-after-death/?page=1
  30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmBQRb5iuMg
  31. https://actualized.org/insights/tapping-into-collective-consciousness
  32. https://actualized.org/insights/tapping-into-collective-consciousness
  33. https://web.archive.org/web/20190905180540/https://actualized.org/insights/the-highest-purpose
  34. https://www.scribd.com/document/21174386/FBI-Pedophile-Symbols
  35. https://archive.is/20181112031503/https://www.actualized.org/articles/a-rant-against-morality#selection-1709.0-1709.41
  36. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b295OBuDmyM
  37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIPE5YH2zgc
  38. https://youtu.be/iaV6S45AD1w
  39. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQSUu2CRRBE
  40. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N9xARPfJYY
  41. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMtDuv48XsQ
  42. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWuaPEpKgfk
  43. https://cultinformation.org.uk/question_what-is-mind-control.html
  44. https://web.archive.org/web/20190831100906/https://www.actualized.org/life-purpose-course
  45. https://web.archive.org/web/20190709101838/https://www.google.com/search?q=leo+gura
  46. https://web.archive.org/web/20190902121242/https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/1529-almost-done-with-university-major-hating-it-afraid-to-quit/