Former AC faculty member launches public-television series
PASADENA, Calif.--A new weekly show on national public television, Closer to Truth, is the brainchild and dream come true of former Ambassador College faculty member Robert Kuhn.
Dr. Kuhn also heads up The Geneva Cos., a mergers-and-acquisitions firm based in Irvine, Calif.
The show is in the process of premiering on more than 100 public-television stations around the country, with a potential viewing audience of half of all Americans, said Brian Knowles of Monrovia, Calif., a frequent Journal contributor and an associate producer for the show.
The show's concept is the pursuit of truth by scientists, scholars, philosophers, theologians and other thinkers.
"In all, 55 renowned scientists and scholars participated in the shows," reported Mr. Knowles.
The 28 segments of Closer to Truth were all produced and taped before its launch on May 8.
Dr. Kuhn, 55, has written a book--by the same name: Closer to Truth--to accompany the television series. It is available at Amazon.com and other bookstores.
Dr. Kuhn lives in Pasadena with his wife, Dora.
For more about Dr. Kuhn's new enterprise, see Brian Knowles' news feature, below.
Here's how Robert Kuhn is bringing America closer to truth
Mr. Knowles is a former managing editor for Worldwide Church of God publications, a frequent writer for The Journal and an associate producer for the new public-television show Closer to Truth.
By Brian Knowles
PASADENA, Calif.--Beginning May 8 and continuing throughout the summer, public-television stations all over the country have been launching, and will continue to launch, an exciting new television weekly series called Closer to Truth. The host of the new 28-segment, half-hour series is Robert Lawrence Kuhn.
Dr. Kuhn, who in the '70s was an Ambassador College faculty and board member, is president of The Geneva Cos., a mergers-and-acquisitions firm based in Irvine, Calif.
For Dr. Kuhn the new show is a dream come true. More about that later.
Over the next few months the program will premiere on some 100 public-television stations around the country, covering more than 50 percent of American households. Dr. Kuhn taped the show in the studios of KOCE, the Orange County, Calif., PBS-affiliated station.
I had the privilege of being in on all of the episodes from concept to conclusion. As an associate producer, my role was minor, but what I learned through the experience was major.
Guests on the shows include top-ranked--in some cases Nobel Prizewinning--scientists and scholars across a variety of disciplines. In all, 55 scientists and scholars of renown participated in the shows. They represented scientific and intellectual elite from America and other countries.
I was privileged to spend many happy hours picking the brains of these accomplished men and women in the "green room" while they waited to take their turn before the cameras.
'Closer to Truth': the book
Dr. Kuhn has also written and edited a book to accompany the show that McGraw-Hill will publish this summer. It will be the main offering of the publisher's new trade-science division, which seeks to facilitate communication between scientists and the public. You can back-order Closer to Truth through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Copies will probably be available in June.
Check Web site
A Closer to Truth Web site is up and running. Bruce Murray, professor of planetary geology at Caltech and president of the Planetary Society, works closely with Dr. Kuhn on site development. At this writing it is still a work in progress.
To access the Web pages for information on the show, including airtimes, visit www.closertotruth.com.
Audiotapes will be available through Hay House and videotapes through Great Plains National.
Watch also for a major public-relations thrust beginning in the summer and continuing through the fall.
About Dr. Kuhn
Robert Kuhn is the most intellectually curious person I know. (I realize you could take that two ways.) Above all, he wants to know.
What does he want to know? Everything. He leaves no scientist or scholar unturned in his quest for truth.
Note that I didn't say the truth; I said truth. To use Dr. Kuhn's own words: "Closer to Truth is feel and flavor more than fact and logic, experience and emotion more than reason and analysis. It's not the truth, not even closest to truth. It's more process than conclusion; the discussions reflect educated opinion but no certainty, no smugness. There's a welcome measure of ambiguity, complexity and even occasional confusion."
In other words, this fellow knows better than to pass dogmatic judgment on issues about which the jury is still out.
Nevertheless, after you've watched a show you'll feel much closer to truth on whatever happens to be the subject under discussion than you did before you watched it. Robert Kuhn insists on uncompromising scientific evidence and rigorous logic while seeking to make their pursuit fun and entertaining.
(He has no objection to faith and belief as long as people do not attempt to support them with bad science and flawed logic.)
On Closer to Truth (CTT), Dr. Kuhn explores with the most knowledgeable people on the planet the bleeding-edge issues of physics, philosophy, consciousness, cosmology, creativity, longevity, parapsychology and sex (to name only a few).
The guest roster reads like a who's who of science and academia: philosophers John Searle and Patricia Churchland; physicists Leon Lederman and Andre Linde; artificial-intelligence pioneers Marvin Minsky, Ed Feigenbaum and Ray Kurzweil and political scientist Francis Fukayama.
Biologists Francisco Ayala and Greg Stock take their turn before the cameras and Dr. Kuhn's probing mind.
Television writer and producer Stephen J. Cannell and theologians Richard Mouw and Nancey Murphy are pressed to present their insights into truth on the show.
The list of outstanding guests is too long to reproduce here.
Each thinker is asked to bring viewers up to date on the most critical knowledge issues of our time. Science, unlike theology, speaks a universal language. Consequently, people of all disciplines can coherently talk shop about each other's specialties.
Meanwhile, these high-domed scientists can communicate their understanding to people like me. On one occasion I asked Professor Ed Feigenbaum, an expert on artificial intelligence, to explain to me, a nonscientist, what is brain.
"That's the hardware," he said.
"What, then, is mind?" I asked.
"That's the software," he replied.
Then I hit him with my zinger: "Okay, then, what is consciousness?"
"That's the memory of things present," he said, his eyes twinkling through his pipe smoke.
When I presented Dr. Feigenbaum's definition of consciousness to another scientist, a psychologist, she said: "Why, that's great. That's the best definition of consciousness I've ever heard."
From that moment on, she owned it. Me too.
From daydreams to reality
The ideas and issues that emerge on CTT have been, and are, Dr. Kuhn's life passions. In high school his daydreams weren't like yours or mine. While I was dreaming about hiking the mountains and painting pictures, Robert was mentally meandering between particle physics and cosmology, trekking from microstructures to macrostructures.
Wrote he in the book's epilogue: "In 1960 the theoretical unity of the fields was not yet widely apparent. The quandary was resolved by a mental shift of high-speed excitement: How could I even contemplate these two universes? Through what extraordinary mechanisms could human beings apprehend the sweeping spectrum of existence, from the subatomic to the cosmic? Only through the brain."
I have associated Dr. Kuhn not only with the brain but with brains ever since I met him in 1968. It was he who introduced me to the skill of critical thinking: something for which I am everlastingly grateful.
Dr. Kuhn took his doctorate at the Brain Research Institute of the UCLA School of Medicine, completing it at age 22.
"Because the brain is always the interface between our awareness of reality and the essence of reality," he says, "the brain researcher may be more sensitive to the distinctions between perception and substance and thereby may sit a little closer to ultimate truth."
Two achieving decades
The quest for ultimate truth is what CTT is all about. Over the past 20 years Dr. Kuhn's pursuits and accomplishments have been many and varied. He has pursued academic business (professor of corporate strategy at NYU), entrepreneurship, investment banking (The Geneva Cos. is the largest mergers-and-acquisitions company in the United States representing private midsized companies), advisory work in China, writing and editing (20 books plus a seven-volume encyclopedia of investment banking) and television production.
Three of his books have been translated into Japanese and another three into Chinese. In both cases his books were the first published on the subject of investment banking in those languages.
Thinking is Dr. Kuhn's obsession. He is fascinated by ultimate questions. In his own words, "I remain intensely interested in the fundamental issues of existence."
He keeps up with and intelligently engages all of his learned guests, even when their academic disciplines diverge far from his own.
When it comes to intellectual curiosity, he is the quickest study I know. It comes through on CTT. The problem with the shows is that watching them can leave one intellectually overstimulated. Each segment moves the viewer closer to truth in the area of its topic, and they all leave you wanting more--and more and more.
Let's hope the series catches on and becomes a fixture on TV stations around the country and beyond our borders. Dr. Kuhn has poured his heart, soul and resources into this monumental television-publishing project. Qualitatively, it is a number of major cuts above anything else being aired on television.
Scheduling and timing
You'll have to look for most of the airtime information at the Web site (www.closertotruth.com) or in your local newspaper. But, for those who live in New York, WLIW, Channel 21, airs the program Sundays at 11:30 a.m.
In Washington, D.C., WHUT (Howard University) carries the show, along with WNVT, both on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. It will also be on WETA.
For viewers in the Los Angeles area, the show airs on KOCE at 10 p.m. Wednesdays, with a repeat Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. (CTT was the featured cover story on KOCE's May program guide).
KLCS carries the show Mondays at 11 p.m. KVCR (San Bernardino-Riverside) will air it at 11 p.m. beginning Saturday, June 17. The major PBS station in Los Angeles, KCET, will air the show Mondays at 1 a.m. (that is, late Sunday night) beginning June 5.
By the way, Dr. Kuhn's wife, Dora, is an accomplished concert pianist who performs all over the world. Her compact disc of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto on the ASV label was reviewed by Gramophone magazine as the best interpretation of the concerto in 50 years.
Robert's and Dora's beautiful daughter, Daniella, an actress who played the second-lead female role in the movie Patch Adams, was also involved in the show, mainly as her dad's wardrobe policeman and dialogue coach. Working with her was a delight, especially when I recall how shy she was when she was a little girl. Rent the movie and see if you can figure out which role she's playing.
A word about conspiracies
One last thought: For conspiracy theorists who suspect that Robert Kuhn is a Jesuit, Mason, member of the Illuminati, clone of himself, member of the Order of Apocalyptic Food Irradiators, agent for the Vatican seeking to bring about a new world order or member of the Skulls secret society, forget it.
At the moment he's too busy bringing the world closer to truth to have time to rule it. Even he has his limits.
However, if you insist on guilt by association, keep in mind that I may well be a card-carrying member of the society dedicated to the preservation of wooden toilet seats: the Birch John Society. We are currently conspiring to flush the world by the end of the first decade of the third millennium (with a 3 percent margin of error).
As of this writing, Dr. Kuhn has not been nominated for membership.
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