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The Big Bang is Science. Transcendent Sex is Not.

Via Fark, I stumbled across this ridiculous article from some vacant sex columnist for Fox News. And before I go any further, could there possibly be a less appealing job than sex columist for Fox News? I mean, god forbid if she should mention condoms, or abortion, or anything kinkier than doggy style.

Okay, anyway, Yvonne K. Fullbright is a very good example of the basic fact that having a lot of schooling does not necessarily make a person an intelligent critical thinker. Wikipedia says she “has a Ph.D. from New York University, a Master’s in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Penn State University.” Despite that impressive (and probably quite pricey) education, Fullbright recently wrote a piece on Huffington Post buying into the ridiculous media-created fear-mongering about the HPV vaccine (here’s a good rebuttal Jen linked to in the Quickies a while back).

Fullbright doesn’t stop there, though — a few days ago she promoted a completely made-up paranormal sex myth called “transcendent sex” that appears to be the invention of a woman named Dr. Jenny Wade, who just so happens to be selling a book on the topic. Ta-da! Let’s look at this fine piece of journalism a little more closely, shall we? What follows is a line-by-line breakdown of how to be a bad journalist.

Some people actually supersede the state of climax and reach a state of transcendent sex.

“Some people” is a fun trick to use when you have no actual evidence to support your premise. “Some people say that Yvonne Fullbright eats the souls of orphan children!” See? It’s easy and fun.

Such lovemaking is said to involve a divine force, and is regarded as a path to a higher consciousness. It has been known to change one’s views on sex and spirituality.

Fun Size Snicker Brains
Fun Size Snicker Brains

“Is said” and “has been known” is another trick like “some people” to help you when you’re making stuff up. That’s why “some people” consider use of the passive voice to be shoddy journalism — you’re hiding the person or thing doing the action, which the reader needs in order to figure out whether you’re full of crap or not. Like this: “It is said that Yvonne Fullbright has dozens of Fun Size Snickers bars where most people keep a brain.”

Yet this mystical, spiritual sexual experience is one of the best kept sex secrets around.

(Because it does not exist.)

Why isn’t it well-known? Recognized by the likes of Deepak Chopra, such meaningful experiences are nothing new.

Deepak Chopra recognizes it? Why, that’s fantastic! If only Paris Hilton would appear on Oprah to talk about it, then we’d have all the greatest minds of science together in agreement that transcendent sex is a Fact.

Lovers have had them since ancient times.

I saw it painted on a cave wall once.

Still, people who have experienced them are afraid of being called crazy or getting mocked.

Mocked, or properly medicated. Whichever.

You can’t really blame them. Many would find it far-fetched to hear that their friend, brother or co-worker was transported to another realm during sex last night.

Far-fetched? “Many would find it far-fetched” to hear about their brother’s supernatural orgasm? So you’re sitting around Christmas dinner with your extended family, and during a lull in the conversation your brother grins sheepishly, holds his wife’s hand, and announces, “Last night Hillary and I made sweet sweet intercourse, and when I orgasmed I felt my soul leave my body and travel across the Universe to bond with an energy source that had evolved beyond what any of us could possibly imagine. Eventually my soul returned to my body, which was by then covered in ejaculate and tears. Pass the cranberry sauce, please?” Yes. “Far-fetched” is the first adjective that would spring to my mind.

The closest I’ve ever come to such a spontaneous, divine experience involved my life-force energy shooting up from the base of my spine during an orgasm. It happened when I was with my ex-lover and I found myself blissfully lost in a purplish-turned-white light that went beyond my body. The feelings were beyond description. Saying it was amazing doesn’t do it justice. But from what I understand, my story can be trumped by even more ecstatic experiences.

Eta Carinae Nebula

Hi, that’s called an intense orgasm combined with made-up words that mean nothing, like “life-force energy.” One time I came so hard I saw the Eta Carinae Nebula. Yeah, that’s right. My astrophysical sex story trumps your transcendent sex story. Win.

People who have been swept into transcendent ecstasy, according to developmental psychologist Dr. Jenny Wade, have reported: — Seeing visions; — Feeling heat, light and energy waves throughout the body;

Okay, I’m with you so far . . .

— Reliving past lives;

Whoooa there. Once again, let’s turn to the Hypothetical Situation Generator to see how this sort of thing might play out in real life: You’re in bed with your loved one, who you have just sent to sexytown. He’s yelling, “Oh god. Oh god! OH . . . Zeus?” Then he demands (in Greek) that you bring him a few succulent slave boys to continue pleasuring him. Scary!

— Seeing the face of God;

Which one?

— Paranormal powers;

Which ones? Who? Where? Is this how Sylvia Browne got her powers?

— Being visited by gods;

Not the capital-G God from before?

— Feeling possessed by spirits;

Sexy spirits.

— Working with natural forces;

I’ve read that sentence fragment seven times and I still have no idea what it means, even in a stupid paranormal sense. Can anyone help me here? I don’t even know how to further mock this, it’s that incoherent.

— Nothingness, whiteness, pure bliss; — One with everything – there is no “me” or time; — A lack of sensory channels;

Is that last one supposed to mean a lack of sensory input? Right. That’s called an orgasm. Good work, Sex Detective.

— Time travel;

I see a promising premise for Back to the Future IV.

— Enlightenment.

I’m skeptical that one can achieve enlightenment just by having an orgasm, but I am willing to keep testing this scientifically for the rest of my life. Can you believe there are still six stupid, pointless paragraphs left to this article? Ugh.

What invites transcendent sex? While many equate it to a religious experience, you don’t need to be a person of faith to experience the sacred, transformational power of sex. You don’t need to be a Tantric practitioner or be specially trained in sexuality or transcendent sex. You don’t need to be striving for orgasm. You don’t necessarily have to be making love.

Wow, so for all that talk about transcendent sex, you don’t actually have to be having sex, and it can even happen to atheists. I could just be walking down the street and BAM, crazy paranormal orgasm. I am now terrified of achieving this magical thing in a really inappropriate place, like a job interview or tea with someone’s grandmother.

It can happen to anyone at anytime. It does not involve drug use. It should be pointed out, though, that while people have had transcendent episodes during casual sexual liaisons, these intense events tend to be triggered in a more loving context. Wade estimates that as many as one in eight individuals has had a transcendent episode.

Oh good, a real scientific estimate that I’m sure comes from a real scientific study. One in eight! Fabulous! So, Skepchick gets about 5,000 readers a day, which means that about 625 of you have had transcendent orgams. THAT means that at least a few of you have paranormal powers you got through sex, and at least a few of you have “worked with natural forces,” so you should definitely be able to explain that one to me.

While this path to soulful realization seems too good to be true, experts in this area warn that there are hazards. Individuals have reported being overwhelmed by intimacy or seeking out dangerous liaisons in desiring more.

Dirty Sex Gnome

Oh noes! It’s not all orgasms and bonding with life energies, say “experts.” Who are these experts? Fullbright refuses to reveal her sources, but I have my suspicions (gnomes).

In being transported to this altered, super-dreamlike state, know that things may be nonsensical. You will likely lose all sense of reality. You may not recognize your lover or feel like yourself. The experience can be destabilizing. You may be sick afterward from the intensity.

Oh my god, Yvonne K. Fullbright is having a transcendent orgasm RIGHT NOW!

Despite its potential drawbacks, the healing, profound impact of transcendent sex has the potential for long-term effects. It can result in releasing shame and guilt around sex. It can help one to heal from sexual trauma and abuse. It can lead to a healthier life. If you’re interested in learning more, Wade’s “Transcendent Sex” promises cautious guidance on this spiritual awakening. I don’t know about you, but I plan to check it out.

You plan to check it out? What? This entire article was written based upon the stupidity tumbling out of one woman’s imagination, and you haven’t even actually read that woman’s book? Seriously, how can a person go through so many years of education and yet learn so little? It’s amazing, really, in a very sad way. My conclusion: screw (figuratively) Yvonne K. Fullbright. If you want to read an intelligent, skeptical sex columnist, it’s best to stick with Dan Savage.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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54 Comments

  1. “One time I came so hard I saw the Eta Carinae Nebula. ”

    Talk nerdy to me, baby.

    Sure, I’ve had “experiences” like the ones described. It’s great fun, but the last thing it is is paranormal. It’s called a damn good orgasm. Of course your brain is going to go wonky! (Yes, wonky is a scientific term.)

    I clicked on the link to Dan Savage… oh my goodness that’s the FUNNIEST sex column I’ve ever seen. Finally one that’s not polite and nice and all dressed up in lace!

  2. Wait.. so people aren’t supposed to hallucinate, black out, and then think they were having sex with a god or angel or something every time they have sex? Damn… I guess I’ve been doing something wrong, then. ;)

  3. See, this is what happens when a journalist’s boss says, “Write something about a hot topic that will draw readers to our website but that won’t get us sued or attract knowledgeable people who might question our data.”

  4. I see a promising premise for Back to the Future IV.

    I can see it now: Christopher Lloyd flipping down his visor and saying, “Clothes? Where we’re going, we won’t need clothes.”

  5. “I’m skeptical that one can achieve enlightenment just by having an orgasm, but I am willing to keep testing this scientifically for the rest of my life.”

    I actually LOL-ed, and then, because I knew it might annoy someone, said LOL as well ;)

  6. I’m guessing that “working with natural forces” means experimenting with electromagnetism and gravity. Those are really the only natural forces the average person can work with. Maybe, when things get really intense, “some people” “have been known to” play with those magnetic levitation toys. Seems a bit unlikely, though. I mean, how would that work?

    “Oh yes! YES! YES! YES! Spin up that Levitron baby!”

  7. Hmmm.

    You know the really sad thing?

    This “transcendent sex” thing wasn’t even invented by Fulbright or the other author.

    What they’ve just offered is an almost word-for-word description of the experience of the “arousal of Kundalini” in an Indian mystical system called Tantra. In that system, there is supposed to be a serpent called Kundalini that lies coiled (usually 3.5 times) around a lingam situated at the base of the spine, in something called Muladhara (root) chakra. The whole aim of Tantric mysticism is to awaken that serpent and send it shooting up the spine through a channel called Susumna (you don’t want it to go through two nearby channels, Ida and Pingala). Anyhow, when Kundalini gets to the top of the Susumna after it has pierced through several more chakras (little wheels of energy along susumna), it arrives at a chakra called the “crown chakra” or sometimes the “thousand-petalled lotus.”

    At that point, the kundalini, which is said to be a feminine energy, becomes merged with the divine male energy (as opposed to the not-so-divine lingam, or penis, in the Muladharacakra)… and all of the symptoms that are described in the article are exactly those said to occur happen. Word for word, the description is exactly the same.

    And I know this because, believe it or not, I was initiated into a Tantric sect years ago (the Paramananda Natha Sampradya, if anybody asks). Hearing this story was part of the most basic training I received after I “took diksha.”

    So, yeah, not only is what this author writing about not true — and by “some people,” she must be referring to those who have learned something about Tantra, which in a lot of New Age versions is pretty much the same thing as “sex magic” — but it isn’t anything new. The description itself was probably first written down in India around the 7th or 8th century, AD.

    In other words, what we have here is old crap in a new sack.

  8. Oh, forgot to add (when did comment moderation start, anyhow?), there’s even a name for the transcendent state of consciousness that’s supposed to result from all this. It’s called “turiya,” the fourth state. The other three states are wakefulness, dreaming, and sleep-without-dreaming.

  9. Q: How is transcendent sex like a pizza?

    A: When it’s good, it’s great. But when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

    Q: What did Buddha say to the sex worker?

    A: Make me one with everything.

    But seriously, folks. I kid, I kid. I’m a transcendent lover, I bet. One time I was being intimate with a delightful young lady when my life force shot up my spine and I started to work with natural forces. Startled, she looked up at me and said, “Are you comfortable?” “Eh,” I said. “I make a nice living.”

    I’ll be here all week. You guys are great; I mean that.

  10. (when did comment moderation start, anyhow?)

    A few years now — it’s triggered by certain words or IP addresses, so our more salacious posts give me plenty of work to do! Thanks for the very informative post, morisal.

  11. Oh… yeah, I get it. I betcha it was “susumna” that set off the filter. That just sounds damned sexy, doesn’t it?

    “Wanna see me make my kundalini shoot up my susumna, baby?” Woo hoo!

    Anyhow, you’re welcome (and this is Mike O’Risal, BTW, who managed to forget his old password when he switched to a new computer :)

  12. Morisal, “It has been known” that Tantra “is considered” nonsense, but “studies show” that using more scientific-sounding terms like “transcendent sex” makes things sound more convincing. “It is said” that many people can be fooled by this method.

  13. Awesome post, rebecca! If I wasn’t already married, I’d propose.

    What’s she describing sounds a lot like a seizure to me, actually. I have seen and felt some seriously freaky stuff in seizures, although no spontaneous orgasms, alas.

  14. So, Skepchick gets about 5,000 readers a day, which means that about 625 of you have had transcendent orgams. THAT means that at least a few of you have paranormal powers you got through sex, and at least a few of you have “worked with natural forces,” so you should definitely be able to explain that one to me.

    Unfortunately, no one can be told what the “natural force” is. You have to see them for yourself.

    (Hint: it’s in my pants.)

  15. The closest I’ve ever come to such a spontaneous, divine experience involved my life-force energy shooting up from the base of my spine during an orgasm. It happened when I was with my ex-lover and I found myself blissfully lost in a purplish-turned-white light that went beyond my body.

    Was this woman describing an orgasm or an alien abduction?

  16. > — Feeling possessed by spirits;

    Hum… Next time, try faking an orgasm while keeping an eye on your partner’s fingers and/or tongue. There you have your spirits.

    > You don’t necessarily have to be making love.

    You mean, like when “shaking the governor’s hand”?

    And FYI, “working with natural forces” is when your partners passes wind and you just smoke it lovingly.

  17. One time I had one of those transcendent orgasms while sleeping and ended up working with natural forces. In this case it was the Weak Force, and resulted in a nocturnal emission of beta particles. It was pretty embarrassing, on the whole…my sheets were completely irradiated.

    Then I was visited by Gods, and that part was pretty cool I’ll admit, even if Zoroaster was kind of a dick.

  18. Ok, full disclosure, I stopped reading at the jump because, seriously, if I want some conservative nimrod’s view of how to have “good sex”, I’ll just ask Bill O’Reilly. Or Ted Haggard. Or Larry Craig. Or the two-wetsuit, dildo-up-the-ass priest. Or Rick Santorum. Hell, pretty much any douchenozzle in the Republican party who ever rallied against “them gays”.

    I mean, really, how often should we indulge people who think putting an ice cube in your mouth is a fabulous sex tip? It’s like Cosmo’s sex tricks for retards.

    “You know…men really like it when you touch their penis! Try it tonight and drive him WILD!”

    Yeah, thanks.

  19. @danb

    Personally I’d go with “Crack to the Future” (as a primarily anal flick) or possibly “Rack to the Future” if the starlet is endowed with particularly ponderous protuberances…sorry, couldn’t stop the alliteration.

    Good, good. Creating a reputation by commenting with a passel of prurient posts…stopping now.

  20. wow….i appear to have accidentally discovered how to make italics in html (yes, i am a bit special sometimes).

    what i meant to say was that i think aaron’s comment should totally be in the running for cotw:

    “I can see it now: Christopher Lloyd flipping down his visor and saying, “Clothes? Where we’re going, we won’t need clothes.””

  21. oh, and i adore dan savage. i started listening to his podcast a couple of months ago, and i’m not quite sure what i’ll do when i run out of back eps, as i’m currently going through 2 or 3 per day.

    great stuff.

  22. I am lucky enough to have been reading Dan Savage since I was an adolescent (fortunately I was raised in the faggy pinko haven known as the Bay Area, reading him since at least ’92 in the East Bay express), and he’s probably one of my favorite people ever.

    And this quote from @22: “pulled out to come on your face and he got a little in your eye!”

    reminded me of a Savage Love column where he was showing how to spot a fake letter! Someone had written in describing a very detailed account of getting cum shot in their eyes, falling asleep, and then having trouble getting their “glued shut” eyes open – I think they were writing under the guise of asking what’s the best method of getting 12 hour glue-come off of eyes.

    He responded that jizz stings like a mother and it’s basically impossible for that to happen because your eyes tear up so much that they could never get glued…um, it’s true. Your welcome.

  23. “It’s like Cosmo’s sex tricks for retards.

    “You know…men really like it when you touch their penis! Try it tonight and drive him WILD!””

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! So true!!!! Was it written for 13 year olds??

    Nevertheless, keep the sex page open on and airplane and the old lady next to you will not try and make conversation…

  24. *snigger*

    You do sarcasm so well :-D

    It’s a talent sadly lacking in this day and age where the average person thinks that people who use it well are elitist ivory tower atheist traitorous liberal academic homosexual muslims.

  25. — Seeing the face of God;

    I found that especially amusing, since here in Argentina, “seeing the face of God” was in a time used as an euphemism for sex.

    Hi! I’m new here. I hope I’ll be commenting more in the future.

  26. Hi Andrés! I hope you’ll be commenting more, as well. Welcome!

    This thread is particularly dirty and educational. And here I was worried about it not getting appropriate amounts of attention due to the weekend…

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