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Late in the summer of 2011, I was asked to submit an affidavit in a lawsuit 

brought by a parent who alleged that her child had been physically abused by a Waldorf school teacher. 

Here is what I wrote. I reprint it here in the hope that it may help other parents in similar distress.

 (I have omitted names and some other details.)





Dear Honorable Judge X,


I am writing you in behalf of Y and her daughter Z ...  While I cannot comment on the specific facts of their case, I can provide context and background.


My name is Roger Rawlings. I have long and deep knowledge of Waldorf education.... [Here I gave my bona fides.]


Because of the length of this affidavit, I have divided the affidavit into sections.



I. Waldorf Schools and Anthroposophy



Waldorf schools were created by the Austrian occultist Rudolf Steiner.  It is noteworthy that Waldorf schools are often also called Steiner schools — their commitment to Rudolf Steiner’s teachings is fundamental. Steiner called his teachings Anthroposophy — a system arising from Theosophy, placing humanity at the center of universal evolution. (The word “Anthroposophy” literally means human knowledge or wisdom.)


Perhaps the main point to be grasped about Waldorf schools is that they exist to spread Anthroposophy, which is a pagan, occult religion. A secondary point to grasp is that Anthroposophists and Waldorf faculties are often extremely deceptive about their purposes and activities. This is in keeping with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, who was a self-proclaimed occultist. The essence of occultism is the belief that one possesses secret, hidden (“occult”) knowledge that must not be shared with the uninitiated. This is how Waldorf faculties generally confront the world.


I realize how bizarre — even unbelievable — all this must sound. But if you bear with me, I will endeavor to prove every statement I make. Thus, on the question of occultism, we should note that one of Steiner’s most central books is titled AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. By “occult science,” he meant his own teachings: Anthroposophy. Along these lines, Steiner made such statements as these:


1) ”If from the new standpoint of spiritual investigation we meditate upon the old legends and myths, allowing those grand and powerful pictures which have come down from primeval times to work upon our minds, we shall find, if we have been equipped for our task by the methods of occult science, that these legends and myths are the expressions of a most profound and ancient wisdom.” [1]


2) “[T]he Christ Impulse works on below the surface — works, at first, as occult, i.e., hidden, reality. [paragraph break] My dear friends, allow me at this point to confess to you that when in my occult researches I tried to follow this stream, I often lost trace of it ; I had to search for places where it reappeared.” [2]


3) “Recently in my occult research the following question arose. What is the relationship between the visionary worlds that one can find through initiation ... and the realm in which one dwells between death and a new birth?” [3]


4) “The occultist bases his thinking on facts. Hence, it is not important to him to be ingenious, but truthful! As an occultist one must give up lawless thinking; one must not draw arbitrary conclusions and pass judgments. Step by step, with the help of spiritual facts, correct thinking must be developed.” [4]


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/occultism.



II. Waldorf Secrecy



Waldorf schools generally follow Steiner’s admonition to preserve secrets from outsiders (among whom Steiner included the parents of students). Here are some of these directives, addressed to Waldorf faculty:


1) “Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings ... [W]e do not want to shout that to the world.” [5]


2) “We also need to speak about a prayer. I ask only one thing of you. You see, in such things everything depends upon the external appearances. Never call a verse a prayer, call it an opening verse before school. Avoid allowing anyone to hear you, as a faculty member, using the word ‘prayer.’” [6]


 3) “[D]o not attempt to bring out into the public things that really concern only our school. I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth ... We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” [7]


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/secrets.



III. Waldorf and Religion



In one of the quotations I have just given, Steiner speaks of prayers and asks Waldorf teachers to call them verses. This is a key indicator. Although Waldorf schools generally deny that they are religious institutions, they are in fact filled with disguised religious doctrines. Thus, the students usually begin each school day by reciting, in unison, “verses” written by Rudolf Steiner. Here is one of these “verses”:


“The Sun with loving light

Makes bright for me each day;

The soul with spirit power

Gives strength unto my limbs;

In sunlight shining clear

I reverence, O God,

The strength of humankind,

That thou so graciously

Hast planted in my soul,

That I with all my might

May love to work and learn.

From Thee come light and strength,

To Thee rise love and thanks.” [8]


This “verse” is clearly a prayer — it addresses and praises God.


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/prayers.


Steiner’s followers deny that Anthroposophy is a religion because they prefer to think of it as a “science” — specifically, as the “occult science” described by Steiner. The essence of this “science” is to use clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. Steiner discusses this in his book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT, also issued as HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS. Despite these denials, however, Anthroposophy is certainly a religion. Centering on a panoply of good and evil gods, Anthroposophy combines teachings from Theosophy, Gnostic Christianity, and Hinduism, with admixtures of other religions including Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. The practice of Anthroposophy entails faith, reverence, prayers, meditations, spiritual guides, observances, and other religious identifiers. It lays out the path to spiritual improvement for its adherents, and it threatens spiritual loss and perdition for everyone else.  Anthroposophists believe that they are on the side of the gods, and they believe that their critics are on the side of the demonic powers.


Anthroposophy is a religion. 


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/is-it-a-religion.



IV. Waldorf and Violence



Steiner’s followers are generally well-intentioned individuals, and Waldorf schools are well-intentioned. (I should stipulate that there is variety among Waldorf schools — they are not all exactly alike. But most of them conform to the description I am giving you here.) But Steiner's followers are essentially deluded, as in their belief in clairvoyance, which science tells us almost certainly does not exist. [See https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/clairvoyance.] And because so many Waldorf teachers are true-believing Anthroposophists, they often behave in ways that are hard to justify rationally or morally. Their frequently disingenuous, deceptive statements to outsiders constitute just one indication of this. Another is the casual attitude the schools often have toward bullying and violence directed at students. Anthroposophists believe in karma, and as a result they think that interfering in the actions of students and teachers can be a serious mistake. A bully may have a karmic need to be a bully, and a victim of violence may have a karmic need for this victimization. (I discuss this on the page https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/slaps.) Indeed, Steiner taught that people choose to die in volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in order to satisfy their karma. "[W]e see ... groups of human souls in their descent from pre-earthly into earthly existence wander to regions situated, for example, in the vicinity of volcanoes, or to districts where earthquakes are liable to occur ... [S]uch places are deliberately chosen by the souls thus karmically connected, in order that they may experience this very destiny ... [They think] 'I choose a great disaster on earth in order to become more perfect....'" [9] Seen in this perspective, non-lethal violence inflicted on a child can be considered, in Waldorf belief, a trivial matter.


Acts of violence in Waldorf schools are almost certainly isolated and random. Yet many such acts have been reported, and there seems to be a pattern of denial and inactivity on the part of the school officials. Here are a few reports of in-school Waldorf violence. These are, of course, mere anecdotes, proving nothing. But the existence of such reports should give us pause. Here are some reports of violence against Waldorf students committed with essential impunity by fellow Waldorf students and by Waldorf faculty.


1) “I think it is very important to at least try to understand what some children go through in Waldorf/Steiner schools — especially those where Anthroposophic extremism is the norm. There are the obvious questions around "is Anthroposophic education good for children?" And then there are other issues: I've known more than a few children who were hit, screamed and sworn at by Waldorf teachers — with virtually NO repercussions, other than pathetic suggestions that those who raise concerns do not understand karma. [Steiner taught that the things that happen to us in this life often come from our karma, which we created for ourselves in our previous lives — Steiner’s doctrines include reincarnation.] Fact is there were no other available teachers, so the wild ones stayed, believing (and being supported by peers) they were destined to be with the children in their class. That what Steiner says.” [10]


2) “To belittle the experiences of families who have been through these schools and seen the worst of Anthroposophy in action would be a grave mistake. Where our children went, not only was there unnecessary physical force from teachers (apparently quite violent), and bullying amongst the children. There were occasions when dark children with some non-European roots (including ours) were singled out; questioning this brought rage from the teachers; I constantly question the motives for this now; at the time, we hadn't read enough Steiner.” [11]


3) “My Waldorf school, and the kindergarten, too, was very violent; violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.


“The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I can't describe it better. You could count on being thrown into the wall, cupboards or into rocks, being hit, being pushed, those kinds of things — every day.” [12]


4) “At our Waldorf school, my son's class teacher did take bullying seriously when it was brought to his attention and, as far as I could tell, handled the situation well. Parents in other classes, however, told me they were not satisfied with how teachers handled reports of bullying. One girl, who made up stories about other children hurting her, actually broke other children's bones. One of her parents was a Waldorf graduate and at least one of her grandparents was an Anthroposophist. Several teen boys, including the son of Waldorf teachers, assaulted a girl. The girl's mother reported the assault to the police and the teachers' son ended up having to leave the school. Some years later, an Anthroposophist parent and board member told me that the girl's mother had overreacted. Because I knew some of the details of the assault, for me it was one of those moments when you're looking at someone and you suddenly realize they are barking mad.


“A girl I knew was rammed against a wall by a teacher, left the school shortly thereafter, and seemed traumatized by it when she told me about it years later. Yet another girl told me that a teacher hurt her when he yanked her arm to try to force her to cross a stream on a field trip and then grabbed her and shook her violently, despite the fact that she kept telling him not to touch her. I saw a teacher go ballistic on two children for playing with some outdoor sprinkler lines when all he needed to do was to say, "Don't play with those pipes." Even a teacher whom we liked and respected had a reputation for occasionally going into extraordinary rages in the classroom.” [13]


5) “My teacher was a man who I will refer to here as Mr. M, who was and is an asshole and a teacher bully....


“I remember him in first grade screaming at me in front of the whole class, because I was having trouble understanding a math problem....


“...When I was in second grade Mr. M hung me by the legs, over a hockey rink wall. Mr. M was helping kids over the wall and when he lifted me over to the other side; he grabbed me by the legs and hung me over the wall upside-down with my hands on the ground, and I did not know he was going to do this....


“Whenever dealing with my parents Mr. M would pretend to act all sweet and nice, but when he was with me, he became a bully.” [14]


6) “I personally had a main lesson teacher for eight years [“main lesson is the first, longest class of the day]. I used to try and count the days I DID NOT get beaten. One term there were no days....


“I am sick to death of hearing about what personalities we Steiner children are, how creative and full of self-confidence. There are borstals where the same claim could be made ... There are so may of those, whom I went to school with who are totally broken people. Wandering the streets or countryside babbling at the sky, one is in a permanent mental institution, another two committed suicide. Another pregnant at 16 to escape another teacher who had been having sex with her since she was 14 is now working in the local food market, barely surviving after her ‘Caring and expensive education. Giving her such a rounded education.’" [15]


The following comment may put much of this in context:


“Anthroposophy has a very screwed-up psychology, full of beliefs that are not conducive to mental health, such as (one of my favorites), "Thoughts are living reality," which leads a person to try to repress bad thoughts or bad emotions rather than accept and deal with them. Instead you're encouraged to project anxieties and fears and anger on spirit entities (e.g., gnomes). This stuff is also inflicted on the children, and it is particularly explosive with children, makes them extremely angry and uncooperative. So you have situations building in the classroom every day where lots of people are getting angrier and angrier, both teachers and students, and have no healthy outlets for it, particularly because with children, you can't talk about anything directly. [16]


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/slaps.



V. Waldorf and the Uninitiated



Waldorf schools tend to be extremely defensive. Believing that they work on the side of the good gods, they believe that their opponents and critics work under the sway of demonic powers. Anyone who challenges a Waldorf school should be opposed with all possible force, since s/he serves the cause of evil. Lying to these enemies, or misleading them, is perfectly justified, Anthroposophists believe — as in calling prayers verses. From the Waldorf perspective, opposition to Waldorf denotes malice and stupidity. Outsiders cannot comprehend the living truth of Anthroposophical doctrines. “[M]alevolent or narrow-minded people can easily discover contradictions in the concepts of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy]. The concepts are alive, and what is alive is mobile, though it does not, in fact, harbour contradictions.” [17] Steiner promoted a hostile, paranoid attitude among his followers, telling them that they are surrounded by ruthless enemies. “[O]ur enemies are springing up on every side...” [18] Opponents are evil, literally in league with demonic powers. “[I]n the future the earth with all its beings will pass into a kind of spiritual condition, with the exception of those who refuse to receive the Christ-principle; this refusal we have to understand as a malevolent and unintelligent spiritual opposition energetically exercised ... [T]he lower nature they will have acquired through not having accepted the Christ-principle will be expressed in the astral [realm] by their having essentially the animal form we have characterized, with the seven heads and ten horns” [19] In Waldorf belief, defending Waldorf schools and Waldorf teachers is tantamount to defending the divine powers of the universe.


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/enemies and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/inside-scoop.



VI.  The Nature of Waldorf Education



At this point, I should back up to establish the underlying nature and purpose of Waldorf education. As I have said, the purpose is to spread Anthroposophy, which is a religion. To establish these points, I will rely on Rudolf Steiner’s own words.


Addressing Waldorf teachers, Steiner said: “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” [20]


Since Anthroposophists believe that their doctrines are the Truth underlying all other knowledge, they think that the presence of Anthroposophy will be “justified” at virtually every point in every subject studied. They may be circumspect about it, bringing their beliefs into the classroom subtly, covertly, but they bring them. Steiner said, “As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” [21]


Indeed, one of the most important facts about Waldorf schools is that they are meant to spread Anthroposophy: “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.”  [22]


Waldorf education is meant to usher students toward true spiritual life, which is inherently Anthroposophical: “As far as our school is concerned, the actual spiritual life can be present only because its staff consists of anthroposophists.” [23]


Waldorf teachers serve as priests in a religion that recognizes many spiritual powers or gods (plural: Anthroposophy is polytheistic). The goal of Waldorf schooling is not so much to educate children as to save humanity by leading it to Anthroposophy. Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be on a holy mission: • "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." [24] • “We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” [25] • “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” [26]


In sum, the goals of Waldorf schooling are inseparable from the goals of Anthroposophy, although Waldorf teachers generally deny this, for fear of a public backlash: “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." [27]


What is Anthroposophy? It is a religion: "[T]he Anthroposophical Society ... provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [28]


And so: "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." [29]


Thus: "Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious." [30] Steiner wasn't concerned that the history class was religious; he worried that outsiders might think it was excessively religious. That there will be some religious content in a Waldorf class goes without saying. Waldorf schools are religious institutions, with "a religious element" introduced into "every subject." And the religion the schools adhere to is Anthroposophy. Hence Steiner was able to say to Waldorf students: “[D]o you know where your teachers get all the strength and ability they need so that they can teach you to grow up to be good and capable people? They get it from the Christ.” [31]


Take care when Steiner and his followers refer to "Christ." They do not mean the Son of God worshipped in regular Christian churches; they mean the Sun God. This need not detain us at this moment, however. The key point for us now is to recognize Steiner's admission that Waldorf teachers are true believers; they believe they draw their authority from a god. Their work as Waldorf teachers is religious. Even when encouraging their students to love beauty, their purpose is fundamentally religious. “We must, in our lessons, see to it that the children experience the beautiful, artistic, and aesthetic conception of the world; and their ideas and mental pictures should be permeated by a religious/moral feeling." [32]


For more, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/heres-the-answer, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/soul-school, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/spiritual-agenda, and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/waldorf-teachers-consciousness.



VII. Conclusion



Rudolf Steiner’s followers, many of whom are on the faculties of Waldorf schools, mean well. But they are deluded. They accept the teachings of a self-described clairvoyant and occultist. As the self-appointed devotees of a self-appointed spiritual savant, they close ranks whenever challenged from outside their occult circle. This makes penetrating to the core of their beliefs and actions difficult, but as I hope I have shown, not impossible. 


There is an underlying dishonesty in the Waldorf movement. Parents are rarely told of the real nature and purpose of Waldorf schooling, at least until they have become deeply immersed and committed to the movement. Moreover, many practices and activities in the schools are veiled in secrecy. Waldorf teachers surely intend no harm — they want to promote the spiritual development of their students. But the basic mission — luring students toward the occult system of Anthroposophy — is highly questionable and, arguably, immoral. Attempting to achieve this mission through clandestine means, without the explicit permission of students' parents, is surely immoral. And the occasional acts of violence that occur in and around the schools are likewise indefensible.


I hope this affadavit is of use to you. I am prepared to answer any additional questions to the best of my ability. My Web site, Waldorf Watch, has an index, an encyclopedia, and a dictionary — you may find these helpful [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/site-index, https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/encyclopedia, and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/dictionary].


Respectfully submitted,


Roger Rawlings








ENDNOTES





[1] Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Health Research, 1972), pp. 6-7.


[2] Rudolf Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008) p. 97.


[3] Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), pp. 5-6.


[4] Rudolf Steiner,  OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), lecture 1, GA 101.


[5] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER  (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650.


[6] Ibid., p. 20.


[7] Ibid., p. 10.


[8] Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 45.


[9] Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 226-227.


[10] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/9051


[11] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/9085


[12] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/9104


[13] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/9120


[14] http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/teacher_bullying_sarah.html


[15] http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/RosieTestimonial.html


[16] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/messages/9095


[17] Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992) lecture 22, GA 174.


[18] Rudolf Steiner, SECRETS OF THE THRESHOLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), “Words of Welcome”.


[19] Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958). lecture 11, GA 104.


[20] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.


[21] Ibid., p. 118.


[22] Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.


[23] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.


[24] Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.


[25] Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33.


[26] FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 55.


[27] Ibid., p. 705.


[28] Ibid., p. 706.


[29] Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.


[30] FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 655.


[31] Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 29.


[32] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 77.
































[R. R., 2011.]



























To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.


◊◊◊ 4. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PARENTS ◊◊◊



For parents considering sending kids to a Waldorf school


Detailed pointers on evaluating a Waldorf school


Reverence, wonder, and the aftereffects of straining for them


One family's story [external link]

 

Classroom discipline and...


Some positive elements, but also...

A parent's cry

Another

HELP 3

A father asks for guidance

Looking at a Parent Handbook


Unjustly assailed


An inquiry into the “success” of Waldorf schooling


The “temperaments” as conceived and acted upon in Waldorf schools


Can a Waldorf school cleanse itself?


Examining a problem that began with the first Waldorf School


An overview and a parent's personal report [external link]



——————————


You may also want to consult a few essays 
posted elsewhere at Waldorf Watch:


SIX FACTS ABOUT STEINER EDUCATION
A guide for students and parents

OUR EXPERIENCE
Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools

COMING UNDONE
A report by a mother who was drawn to a Waldorf school but left disillusioned

MOMS
Talking it over

POPS
Had enough?












If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here, 

you might begin by consulting the following resources:





THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY

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THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA


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WALDORF WATCH INDEX


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