10 Dec 2017

Sophistry and Snake Oil

By Gi Linda.

“Sophistry” is perverted wisdom; a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning that seems true and sounds convincing but is actually deliberately misleading.

In Greece, c.5BC, the sophists were itinerant intellectuals and paid mentors who rejected moral absolutes, teaching that justice comes from dominance of the strongest. They used spurious arguments and rhetorical persuasion to gain influence for their clients. 

Through Plato and Aristotle, sophistry came to mean the deliberate use of fallacious reasoning, intellectual charlatanism and moral unscrupulousness.

In today’s world of commerce-driven screen-media where distinction between fantasy and reality is irrelevant, the word may be forgotten, yet sophistry is widely practiced in pursuit of  power, privilege and profit.

The most successful sophists who entangle their prey in a self-interested matrix of lies tend to also exhibit extreme narcissist and psychopathic tendencies.

The dominating drive for personal satisfaction feeds greed and stunts development of humane qualities such as integrity, kindness, remorse and empathy. Those who habitually practice deceptive sophistry cultivate a slick veneer of smirking sincerity greased by flattery that lures and hooks the undiscerning. Truth is mocked and compassion is exploited as weakness.  Deceived victims are devalued, discredited and discarded.

This story of two contemporary sophists began in 2013 with a false narrative established by “Truthology Foundation” at “Freedom Summits” where Mark Darwin offered to “set you free from the Money Game”

Mark Darwin - Truthology
Darwin was teaching clients and followers how to defeat the law by using the dominance of clever argumentation. In a 2014 Truthology email Darwin claimed:

“You can be assured that Mark is a very dynamic, charismatic individual and his seminars are entertaining, engaging, and hilarious at times and oftentimes life-changing for those attending…  Thats right we Teach YOU how to do it and finally be FREE from Their system !!!” 

“Truthology” was marketed online as “a truth and awareness site, and service provider that helps the people… We assist you to be free from the shackles of money stress, the debt trap, how to lawfully take on the banks, challenge fines and infringements, and how to stop paying taxes… and much, much more…"

"What Mark had discovered was so liberating, empowering and life-changing that he felt a deep, overwhelming desire to help other people.”

This “deep, overwhelming desire to help other people” led Mark Darwin and Adrian Brennock in 2014 to invite selected” investors, as supposed co-owners of a 640 acre property at Mt Burrell, NSW, to pay large amounts of their money into Darwin's bank account held in trust by Wroth Wall Lawyers. But the land-share narrative was false.

Investors whose naive, misplaced trust was betrayed became victims of this snake-oil sophistry and lost life savings, inheritances, pension funds and homes.

In 2015, purchase of the land should have been made by Darwin and Brennock with a Community Association providing purchase money investors shared proprietary rights as promised, but instead, the land was dishonorably acquired by a private company. Adrian Brennock, as self-appointed director, established his personal ownership of the property by holding a single $1 share.

This bait-n-switch sophistry was morally and ethically unconscionable leaving angry investors defrauded, but Brennock's snatching of the property from those who paid for it was ostensibly legal.

Investors who had been invited in 2014-15 by Darwin and Brennock into the first supposed “land-share community” were evicted from the land in 2016-17 without return of investment. Brennock is now attempting a pre-positioned transfer of the land asset in a phoenix move with the help of Vincents Chartered Accountants.

The “Bhula Bhula Village Community” scam was first exposed in October 2016 in “The Truth About Bhula Bhula” published in the Nimbin GoodTimes, revealing details of the land-share investment scam.

With their false narrative exposed, Darwin and Brennock removed the  “Truthology,” “Freedom Summits” and “Bhula Bhula Village Community” websites and switched their business and social networking name to “Rainmaker Eco Investments” inviting “ethical investments” in the same land-share scam, but at a higher price.

By 2016 Darwin and Brennock had expanded their land-share scam to the adjoining 3,000-acre property owned by Peter van Lieshout, using the name “Mount Warning Eco Village.”

The blog "Mount Warning Eco Village - A Warning" is published by the "Association of Investors Defrauded by Darwin" to document our experience and expose Darwin / Brennock's land-share scam, in the public interest.

Darwin and Brennock, facing criminal and civil charges by the Association of Defrauded Investors,  failed in 2017 with two applications to NSW Supreme Court for urgent injunctions to force removal of the blogs exposing their scam.

In November 2017 they changed the name of their venture from "Mount Warning Eco Village" to “Nightcap Village” then to “Nightcap on Minjungbal”

The “Truthology” website has recently been revived, no longer mendaciously offering services as a “beacon of truth in a sea of lies”, but now anonymously offering help in making superannuation investments.

As discredited sophists adopting various chameleon façades to pretend a more reputable appearance, Darwin and Brennock have devised more false narratives to explain the increasing reluctance of new investors to buy into their snake-oil scam.

After it was discovered in 2015 that investors in the first supposed "land-share community" had been defrauded and that multiple occupancy was not permitted on the land they had paid for, those who demanded accountability were defamed with false narratives and blamed for the failure of the “community”

Ongoing ad hominem attacks against “detractors,” are combined with intimidating threats, malicious harassment and stalking.  The false accusations include incorrect and misleading accounts of ongoing litigation. Vicious character assassinations are spread locally, online and have been presented in perjured affidavits to the courts.

Sophistry does not require that any argument be true or supported by evidence, only that it sounds convincing and is believed. Entranced by snake oil narratives, the credulous are deceived, betrayed and left without feasible legal recourse.

The contemptuous sophists, bloated with infusions of “coin” dishonorably gained by denying defrauded investors their equitable rights, scoff and mock their victims in sickening ritual celebration of their apparently unrestrained ability to profit by deception.

However, with their eyes now cast on even more ambitious empires and a minor celebrity, Tyler Tolman, ingenuously vouching for their authenticity, Darwin, Brennock and their accomplices are now encountering opponents who are highly motivated to bite back against those who attempt to pervert justice by domination of specious argumentation.