Knowing Falun Gong at a book stall
Journalist: Mr. He, how did you get to know Falun Gong?
He Zuoxiu: On November 26, 1996, I happened to find at a book stall the book "Zhuan Falun" by Li Hongzhi, which was published by China Radio and TV Publishing House. I wondered why China Radio and TV Publishing House, an important national press, published a book to advocate Buddhism. Then I took it for granted that the book was only to advocate Buddhism. However, a close reading of the book surprised me a lot because it was making use of and even debasing Buddhism so as to spread superstitious ideas. I thought Li Hongzhi and his Falun Gong should be given due attention.
Later I read more materials related to this respect. The most impressive was one article by Mr. Chen Xingqiao from the Buddhist Association of China to expose Falun Gong. Mr. Chen attacked Falun Gong from the perspective of Buddhism and held that Falun Gong was only taking advantage of Buddhism and it was in fact a cult. Since scholars from Buddhism have thought Falun Gong as cult more than superstition, I thought we should really be on alert against Falun Gong.
Journalist: What urged you to fight against Falun Gong?
He Zuoxiu: Some tragedies caused by Falun gong occurred around me. So I thought it was high time to expose Falun Gong. At that time Falun Gong spread very fast. Even some postgraduates in our institution began to practice Falun Gong. One postgraduate was so infatuated with Falun Gong that he developed schizophrenia. He neither ate nor spoke all day long, and he even forced himself to stay awake the whole day. Leaders of our institution were informed of this situation and took this postgraduate to psychopathic hospital very soon. This incident showed clearly that Falun Gong would lead practitioner to a psychopath and people should be warned of this point. So when I was interviewed by the program "Beijing Express" at Beijing TV Station, I remarked, "Practitioners of Qigong should have a clear idea of the functions of Qigong. People can benefit from Qigong to some degree. But some Qigong may lead people to going into extremes, such as Falun Gong. So practitioners should be on alert." To my surprise, after the broadcasting of this interview, Beijing TV Station was beleaguered by some practitioners of Falun Gong. I received a lot of letters that expressed the similar voice to defend Falun Gong. Most of the letters were from Shenyang, which explained that the movement was specially organized. Falun Gong practitioners in our institution and China Science Academy came to me and argued with me about Falun Gong. Then I really wondered why Falun Gong launched movements of such a large scale to respond to my criticism. Almost at the same period, Falun Gong followers have besieged many newspaper offices and other media, which made a great stir in the society. At that time most of the news agencies besieged were forced to apologize, and only a few media withstood the pressure.
One article starting a storm
Journalist: After you criticized Falun Gong openly, Falun Gong arranged many practitioners to beleaguer Beijing TV Station, wrote letters to you and debated with you. Then did you feel endangered?
He Zuoxiu: I was not scared by the threats and debates from Falun Gong for I sided with truth. So whenever I got the chance I would continue to expose Falun Gong in the media. For example, I criticized Falun Gong respectively at "The Trend of Science and Technology" and a journal in Xi'an, and they were later besieged by Falun Gong. As for me, I held onto the truth and expressed my criticism frankly. Therefore, I published an article to expose and attack Falun Gong at "Science Review for Juvenile".
Journalist: it is just this article at "Science Review for Juvenile" that angered Falun Gong and they began to beleaguer Tianjin Normal University on a large scale and then even desperately launched their besiegement of Zhongnanhai, the highest leading department of the Party and the country. Could you tell me how you wrote the article and what you have mentioned in it?
He Zuoxiu: In early 1999, I was invited to write an article for juvenile by "Science Review for Juvenile" published by Tianjin Normal University. So I wrote the article entitled "I don't support juveniles to practice Qigong" because I thought the juveniles should be warned against the dangers of some Qigong. Since I realized clearly what Falun Gong really was, I criticized Falun Gong for two times. First I held that Falun Gong was to spread superstitious ideas and advocate the so-called "law of primordial spirit". Second I warned that Falun Gong might make practitioners go into extremes. Here I took the example of that graduate in my institution who went into extremes because of Falun Gong.
In fact, when I was using this example of the postgraduate in our institution at Beijing TV Station, some Falun Gong followers came to debate with me, claiming that postgraduate went into extremes because of the practice of other Qigong instead of Falun Gong. But they couldn't tell me the real name of other Qigong. So what they claimed was just chicanery, for all of us knew clearly that that postgraduate practiced Falun Gong. At that time I said to them, "Why do you lie? That postgraduate suffered schizophrenia due to Falun Gong. Why do you blame other Qigong?" They responded, "Mr. He, that postgraduate went into extremes because he performed wrong postures." I challenged, "I practice Taiji Boxing. I know that people may have a variety of postures in performing Taiji Boxing. If people would go into extremes just because they have used wrong postures when practicing Falun Gong, that only means Falun Gong is too dangerous." Our debate ended in vain. In fact, I have not totally realized the risk of Falun Gong at that time. Now it is clear that Falun Gong is more dangerous than we have expected.
Therefore, in the article published at "Science Review for Juvenile", I specially mentioned that the very postgraduate recovered from schizophrenia and went on with practicing Falun Gong and went into extremes for the second time. He kept murmuring "Master Li Hongzhi is continuously caring for me" all day long, which proved more certainly that this postgraduate went into extremes because of Falun Gong. Those Falun Gong practitioners intended to deny the fact and felt greatly annoyed at my article. So they beleaguered Tianjin Normal University and "Science Review for Juvenile". At the same time, in order to fool more Falun Gong practitioners, they didn't allow the practitioners to read my article. Their excuse was that article was very long and wholly against Falun Gong. In fact, my article was very short with less than 1000 words and Falun Gong was only mentioned for two times. So they fooled and instigated some practitioners to beleaguer Tianjin Normal University.
Later they gathered and protested in front of Zhongnanhai and put forward three requests. First they wanted to be declared as a legal organization. Second they asked "Science Review for Juvenile" to apologize to them. Third they urged to punish He Zuoxiu severely. It seemed that they targeted He Zuoxiu's article. In fact they just made use of my article to elaborate their own intentions, which were to challenge our Party and our Central Government. Now they have begun to attack Communist Party of China, even President Jiang and Premier Zhu. It goes clearly that their besiegement of Zhongnanhai was premeditated, organized and planned action. The chief instigator is none other but Li Hongzhi.
Braving the besiegement and debates
Journalist: Just as you said, Falun Gong followers have debated with you for many times. How did you cope with them?
He Zuoxiu: While I was criticizing Falun Gong, they encouraged some practitioners to debate with me. For example, when they were beleaguering "Science Review for Juvenile" in Tianjin, some Falun Gong practitioners came to my home to debate with me. I had to take up the gauntlet; otherwise they would think truth sided with them. Of course, I would not debate blindly; instead I have taken up some strategies. First, I would ask whether they were representatives of Falun Gong. But no one dared to admit his or her identity of Falun Gong representatives. Then I would ask them why they came to debate with me. I welcomed any kind of debate if they disagreed with me or stood for Falun Gong. I even welcomed Li Hongzhi to debate with me personally. Then one of them claimed to be on behalf of Falun Gong. I required him to show me the letter of introduction. He couldn't show me anything. Then I continued I would not debate with him since he could not prove him to be the representative of Falun Gong.
The second strategy was to recriminate them just with their own ideas. I would say you practice Falun Gong, which believes in truth, compassion and forbearance while I am a member of Communist Party, which grasps well how to fight and how to unite. You talk so loud about forbearance. But what you have done never lived up to the forbearance. I just wrote a short article to show my disagreement with you. But you have started such a stir and dragged so many people to beleaguer or debate. Where was your forbearance? In my opinion, you were much more aggressive than me. Formerly I had thought Falun Gong might have some merits. Now what you were doing was not in consistent with what you were advocating. Of course I will fight against you. I have read the Bible and Christ has taught us that tolerance means "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Now I have only given you some criticism, you rushed to my home to debate. Are you exemplifying your tolerance? Your actions have impressed me really badly.
Then I came to the word "truth". At that time I have learned from Mr. Chen Xingqiao's article that Li Hongzhi had changed his birth date. I asked them, "Li Hongzhi's birthday is July 7. Why did he change it into May 13? Can it be considered as truth?" At that time many of them remained in dark about this news.
I finally came to "compassion". Falun Gong claims that practitioners needn't take any medicine even if they fall ill. Consequently many patients died. Many reports of this kind have appeared on the newspapers. Can this be regarded as "compassion"?
So I just made use of their slogans to debate with them. Li Hongzhi has written in his books that truth, compassion and forearance are the most important laws in the universe. I argued, "You can disagree to my ideas. But why don't you obey what Li Hongzhi has preached to you?"
Standing behind the locked anti-theft door, I kept debating with them. If they really dared to prize my anti-theft door, I would dial 110 and report to the police. But to tell the truth, they did not destroy my door.
Li Hongzhi bragging a lot to fool people
Journalist: Falun Gong has exerted wide and execrable effects on the society and thousands of people have been fooled. Mr. He, do you think what the real reasons are?
He Zuoxiu: Falun Gong began to spread from 1989. From 1992 to 1999, it spread to many places of China. Then it claimed to have a hundred million practitioners. In fact the true number is about 2 millions. Even this number is surprising. In addition, about one third of the practitioners are members of Communist Party. Our Party was founded in 1921 and launched a large revolution in 1927. Members of our Party at that time were far less than the number of Falun Gong followers. Now our country is under the leadership of Communist Party. But such cults as Falun Gong have developed at an amazingly high speed. This situation really deserves our full attention.
In my opinion, Falun Gong can develop so fast and attract such a large number of followers mainly for two reasons.
First, Qigong has enjoyed broad social basis and a long history in China. In recent years Qigong fevers have occurred one after another and people have been obsessed with creating new living gods. All provide many chances for the development of Falun Gong. Especially, Li Hongzhi is good at bragging to fool people. He boasted so much that even I was once cheated. He bragged that Falun Gong practitioners have amounted to 60 millions. I thought the real number would be 20 millions if what was exaggerated was left out. 20 millions is also an amazing number. But in fact the real number is only 2 millions. So Li Hongzhi's exaggerations are beyond our imagination.
Second, Li Hongzhi is good at taking advantage of others' reputation or influence to do his favor and promote Falun Gong as well. He first took advantage of Buddhism and Sakyamuni. He changed his birth date to claim himself to be the reincarnation of Sakyamuni and be far more powerful than Sakyamuni. Then he took advantage of our Party's authority and President Jiang's prestige among the masses. He boasted that President Jiang asked him to postpone the date of earth explosion. In this way he fooled some people into worshiping him and Falun Gong. Third he used some modern scientific terms to cheat people in the name of science.
Journalist: Mr. He, as a scientist, how can you determine Falun Gong to be anti-scientific and false? In other words, how should we differentiate pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience?
He Zuoxiu: It is not an easy job to differentiate pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience. It involves a series of problems such as how to understand the spirit of science and master scientific methods. Of course, anyone who claims they can control the timetable of earth explosion or claim they can solve any problems must be liars. For example, Falun Gong advocates that the whole family would benefit a lot if one person practices Falun Gong; if one is performing Falun Gong, the other around would be healthy. Clearly such statements are exaggerations or nonsense. One statistic shows that by now 743 persons have died because of practicing Falun Gong.
Another case in point is Yan Xin. He bragged that he could send out magical powers in Guangzhou to change the chemical compositions of the substance in tubes in the lab of Tsinghua University. He also boasted that it was him who performed Qigong to have put out the forest fire in Daxinganling. All these are dirty lies. There are also some people who claim to have supernatural powers such as predicting whether the satellite could be launched successfully or not. This is also pseudoscience and a kind of witchcraft.
New Theism in modern times is featured by "a living god" seemingly supported by modern scientific term. In traditional religions, people worship the dead gods and understand the religious ideas according to classical sutra or books. In the New Theism, the "living gods" can issue instructions, update directions and organize movements based on different situations. They are ready to provoke turmoil and therefore they are more deceptive and more destructive. In addition, New Theism has coined "law of eternal soul" and "law of primordial spirit" to destroy modern science.
So it goes without saying that all pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience are against science and civilization and should be thoroughly exposed and attacked.
It depends on all of us to fight against pseudoscience and pseudo-Qigong
Journalist: In fact, many people have realized Falun Gong and other kinds of Qigong are only pseudoscience or pseudo-Qigong. However, only a few bravely stand out to expose and attack them. You are the most typical fighter against pseudoscience and pseudo-Qigong.
He Zuoxiu: You really do me a big favor. In fact, there are many people who frankly expose Falun Gong and other kinds of pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience. It is said that advocators of pseudo-Qigong once called on all Qigong masters to jointly give off powers toward four persons: Yu Guangyuan, Sima Nan, Guo Zhengyi and He Zuoxiu. In their eyes, we four are the so-called "four evil persons". In the fight against pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience, the other three scientists have done a lot of work. I have given my due contribution, that is, I am familiar with natural science, so I can expose them more thoroughly from the perspective of natural science and hence my ideas are easily accepted by the public.
Mr. Yu Guangyuan is the first to openly expose pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience. Mr. Sima Nan once involved himself in some Qigong organizations and got to know much inside information. So he really gave a heavy blow to pseudo-Qigong. Professor Guo Zhengyi used to work in Beijing University and then became the leader of China Science Popularization Institution. He has constantly fought against superstitious ideas for many years. Here I will tell you an interesting story about Guo Zhengyi.
Professor Guo had a telephone equipped at home. The Telephone Bureau offered him a special number whose last four digits were 4444. Why is the number special? The explanation made by the Telephone Bureau was that no one wants this number; you are a fighter against pseudoscience, so you will accept it. Professor Guo responded, "Well, I have the number. I never believe in these kinds of superstitious ideas. Will this number really lead me to death? Nonsense! In fact, 4 in music book is read as 'fa', having the similar sound to Chinese character '发', meaning 'prosperity' in English. Then this number may make me more and more prosperous. Besides, this number is very easy to remember."
Next I will make you know more people of this kind
Professor Gong Yuzhi is the vice president of Party School of the Central Committee of CPC. He is a famous Marxist scholar and economist. He is also an expert in studying Deng Xiaoping Theories. He has written many books to expose and attack pseudoscience from the perspective of Marxism. This is of great significance. Formerly we have only focused on the exposure of pseudoscience from the perspective of natural science. Now Professor Gong has pointed out that modern pseudoscience is totally against Marxist thoughts and principles. Therefore, all the Marxists should be on great alert against pseudoscience.
Professor Zhang Honglin is the director of Qigong researching department at China Traditional Medicine Researching Institution. He is an expert in Chinese Qigong. Based on his rich knowledge of the history and methods of Qigong, he has written many books to expose pseudo-Qigong. He has also devised many specific and effective experiments to reveal the tricks of pseudo-Qigong. According to his experiments, with people's psychological suggestions intercepted, all the so-called "exterior powers" will fail to work magically as expected. That is to say, the magical effects of "exterior powers" are made by people's psychological suggestions. In fact, psychological suggestions can not produce effects at all. With clear thoughts and strong mind, people will not be easily influenced by psychological suggestions.
Doctor Zhang Tongling is a famous psychiatrist. He has studied many cases of patients who went into extremes because of practicing Qigong. Based on his rich clinical experience, he has published books to warn people of the potential dangers.
Professor Li Liyan has also written many books to criticize Ke Yunlu, a crazy supporter of pseudo-Qigong. In addition, Doctor Li Shengxian has been working in the countryside for many years. He has made systematic surveys on how witch doctors fool people and how modern witches spread in name of Qigong. His surveys are great contributions to the exposure of pseudo-Qigong.
Zhuang Fenggan is a widely respected academician. He is the first to expose the so-called "greatest predictor" Chen Linfeng. Rumors went that Chen Linfeng was awarded 200,000 Yuan by China Spaceflight Ministry because he had successfully predicted the smooth launching of the satellites. Zhuang Fenggan has made careful investigation and found out that Chen Linfeng was just a great liar. Chen Linfeng was awarded by the so-called "World Chinese Association" in which Chen Linfeng was just the deputy chief director. That means Chen Linfeng was awarded by himself so as to promote himself.
There are also many other persons who have made a lot of work to expose and attack pseudo-Qigong and pseudoscience, such as Zhang Xiaoxian, president of Tsinghua University, Meng Dongming at Workers Daily and Zhu Haiyan.
A joint and strategic fight against Zhang Baosheng
Journalist: Would you share with our readers your experience in exposing other pseudo-Qigong or pseudoscience?
He Zuoxiu: Well, I will first tell how we have destroyed the myth "water into oil", which was the "invention" by Wang Hongcheng, a liar in the field of science. On January 28, 1993, a famous national newspaper issued a piece of front-page news that the fifth greatest invention of China was to change water into oil. At that time, the eighth Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference was being held. Delegates in the circle of science and technology read the news and thought it absurd and deceptive. So I was urged to write an article to expose the trick.
I first collected all the newspapers which have published this news. A close reading revealed that different newspapers provided different percentages of oil and water. Based on this finding I wrote an analytical and critical article and sent it to three important national newspapers. However, several weeks went by, but my article was not published. Then I sent it to another newspaper featured by science and technology, but it failed to be published either.
In 1994, the Party Central Committee and State Council jointly issued "Some Suggestions on How to Reinforce the Popularization of Science". Song Jian, then chief director of National Science Committee, held a conference to discuss how to carry out the scientific popularization work. In the conference Song Jian called on the scientists to write books or articles to spread science and attack pseudoscience. Informed of the fate of my article to expose the trick of water to oil, he required Science and Technology Daily to publish my article. Later more articles have been published at different newspapers to expose and attack the "invention" of changing water to oil.
Supports of this "invention" have invited me to the northeast for several times to watch their experiments. I responded that since they believed their invention was scientific and universal, why not come to Beijing to make their experiments. They were not confident, so they dared not to experiment in Beijing. Their invention collapsed of itself.
Wang Hongcheng's swindle about "water to oil" has been thoroughly debunked not long before.
Next I will tell you how we have defeated Zhang Baosheng, the so-called first superman of China. Zhang Baosheng claimed that he enjoyed many supernatural powers, such as shaking out the pills from the bottle with his consciousness, identifying Chinese characters with his ears. Many scientists together with me held much suspicion toward his powers. Later we found an opportunity to testify Zhang Baosheng's supernatural powers. So we invited 10 scientists and magicians to attend the demonstrating meeting.
Before I went to the meeting, I have asked the director of Chemical Department at China Science Academy to make several glass bottles of special shapes. In the bottles were some pills attached with specific marks so as to prevent him from duplicating or stealthily substituting. In the meeting, we first requested Zhang Baosheng to use his idiodynamic ability to shake the pills out of the bottle. His performance started from 8 o'clock in the morning, but he failed till noon. Zheng Baosheng complained that the atmosphere there was not suitable for him to perform properly. Then we suggested that he take the bottle home to have a try. No matter when or where he could shake the pills out of the bottle, we would believe in his supernatural abilities. But he refused to take away the bottle.
Then we asked him to perform how to identify Chinese characters with his ears. I wrote some words on a piece of paper and put it into an envelope. I sealed the envelope with my own signature. Zhang Baosheng held the envelope and pretended to give out powers toward it. Then he returned the envelope to the host and said he should go outside to develop more powers. In order to prevent him from stealthily substituting the envelope, I gazed at his hands, but found no suspicious signs. Then one magician asked the host to examine whether the envelop was still the very one with my signature. To our surprise the envelope has already been substituted. Thus Zhang Baosheng's supernatural powers were exposed thoroughly. It turned out that he was just playing a conjuring swindle. We would be easily fooled, but skillful magicians could see through it from the first sight. So Zhang Baosheng was defeated totally in this demonstrating meeting.
Scientific and technological circles should fight against pseudoscience responsibly
Journalist: In order to eliminate thoroughly the bad effects made by Falun Gong and other fallacies, what measures should be taken in the society, especially scientific and technological circles?
He Zuoxiu: To eradicate the baneful influences of Falun Gong and other cults, we should first get rid of the bases on which Falun Gong can develop speedily. The bases involve people's blind fevers for Qigong, supernatural powers and the creation of living gods, which have been popular for some time in China. We must get to know the roots clearly. Otherwise, even if Falun Gong has been banned, another new cult would come up; even if Li Hongzhi has been exposed and attacked, another new "god" would occur.
Secondly, we should realize that we haven't thoroughly defeated Falun Gong theoretically. At present, on the Internet overseas appears a so-called "expostulation letter" by a Falun Gong practitioner to the Party Central Committee. This expostulation letter has put forward many so-called scientific evidences to defend Falun Gong and demanded Chinese scientific and technological circles read closely and make serious and scientific analysis. In fact, all the scientific evidences will only lead to materialism and atheism. They will not provide any service for theism and such "living gods" as Li Hongzhi. So we should do more to attack Falun Gong.
At the ending of the interview, Mr. He told the journalist that he would go on with his exposure of and fight against Falun Gong and other pseudo-Qigong or pseudoscience. He will continuously reveal to the public the baneful influences of pseudo-Qigong or pseudoscience. The journalist has been informed that many national departments have invited Mr. He to make reports. We firmly believe that under the leadership of the Party Central Committee, we will surely succeed in the battle against Falun Gong. Anyone cannot hold up Chinese people stepping toward socialism with Chinese characteristics.
(China Information Newspaper, August 20, 1999)