DO WE GO FOR "REASONABLE DOUBT" OR MOST LIKELY
G. William Domhoff
The tone of Taylor's reply is much more reasonable than in his original piece, where he
used the words "naïve" and "dishonest" to describe those who
allegedly overlooked the possibility that Senoi had forgotten or hidden their unique
dream-sharing and dream-shaping practices. In now claiming that I don't even mention such
possibilities, he is denying what I wrote in my reply, namely that I did consider such
issues: readers can find my discussion of what I allegedly didn't mention on pages 31-33
of The Mystique of Dreams.
Taylor does not seem to understand that the only surviving writing from Pat Noone's
work with Temiar, published in 1936, lends no support whatsoever to "Senoi dream
theory" as we know it. What Noone does say concerning Temiar beliefs about the spirit
world, as I show on pages 32 and 33 of my book, is remarkably similar to what Benjamin,
Dentan, and Clay Robarchek found three and four decades later. This is strong evidence
against Taylor's claims.
Taylor again mentions Noone's liner notes to a Folkway Records recording of Temiar
music. Since none of Noone's notes and drafts ever were found by his family despite great
efforts, these liner notes either came from his one published article or are fraudulent.
Either way, they add nothing to the debate.
Taylor says he believes Stewart on Senoi dream beliefs because some of these ideas work
for him, but the usefulness of the Stewart techniques tells us nothing about whether they
were used by Senoi, as I repeat several times in my book- Taylor adds that he believes
Castaneda for the same reason, but the evidence is that Don Juan does not exist and that
Castaneda recycles material from writings on religion, spiritualism, mysticism, and
Taylor says there is "justification for reasonable doubt" on the issue of
whether Senoi ever practiced " Senoi dream theory". He thereby adopts the
opposite approach to a scientific one, where the comparison of rival hypotheses for their
ability to explain the most systematic and reliable evidence is the important issue, not
whether there is some faint hope that the most unlikely hypothesis just possibly may be
true. In my book I show that the overwhelming weight of the evidence supports the
hypothesis that Senoi never practiced "Senoi dream theory." I further show, in
support of this hypothesis, that Stewart cannot be considered a reliable reporter on Senoi
culture. He had an M.A. in behavioristic psychology, not anthropology, when he
accidentally met Noone while visiting in Malaysia and then tagged along with him on a
16-day census expedition in 1934, followed by seven weeks with Noone in a Senoi study in
1938. Much later he received his Ph.D. for a dissertation that makes unsupportable claims
based on a very weak analysis of a very poor data base (the dream samples he used were
collected in extremely different ways by different people in three small Asian societies
that were in vastly different stages of acculturation to large civilizations, including
the Western one in the Philippines).
Can what this man says in an article in 1952 that in many ways contradicts his own 1948
dissertation really be taken seriously when his claims are weighed against what has been
written by every other observer, including Noone? If Stewart is to be given the benefit of
an alleged "reasonable doubt," then any unlikely hypothesis can hang on forever
in the dream community, deadening the impetus to entertain new hypotheses and collect new
data. The whole enterprise becomes futile, frozen in rival cults, which in some ways
describes the current situation. But at least the Senoi do exist.