3 of 5
3
Sam Harris vs. James Randi
Posted: 27 November 2007 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  842
Joined  2006-02-19

I also think that you are a little overly skeptical of the motives of people like Michael Shermer and Joe Nickel. Right now, these guys are eking out a somewhat comfortable living in the skeptical community, but are largely ignored or dismissed by the larger credulous community.

Just imagine, though, if you were these guys, and you uncovered incontrovertible evidence for some psychic phenomena. Why would you want to cover that up? I’m sure the money they get from promoting skepticism would be peanuts compared to what they could get by being the guy who discovered a new paradigm, and turned most notions of modern physics on it’s head.

Hell, I’m as skeptical as they come (and proud of it), but if I thought I had uncovered the crucial evidence to prove any paranormal event, I would be screaming it from the roof tops, proudly displaying it on Oprah (and, man, I hate Oprah), writing my multi-million seller expose, overseeing the movie about just how I made my earth-shattering discovery (“I don’t care if he’s too old, I want to be played by George Clooney!”) and be confident that my name would forever rank in posterity with the greatest explorers and scientist of all time.

Of course, that would only be if I could get the absolutely incontrovertible evidence. And I’m certain that if Nickel, Shermer, Randi, or anyone else in the skeptical community did so, they would be just as eager to do the same.

 Signature 

People have said that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of keyboards would produce the works of Shakespeare, but the internet has shown this to be wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 November 2007 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14
[quote author=“Dee”]While he was there he was messing around trying to find something or get things in order , and he accidently shot himself. He was bleeding very badly and became halfway unconscience .It was a wilderness sort of area , but not so much that there were no roads within a mile away. There was a man driving on one of those roads and he decided to stop for no reason, other than a strange feeling came over him and he drove to where the wounded man was, and stopped the bleeding and saved the guy’s life. The man who rescued him happened to be a doctor . What caused that ?  Can anyone say or have something like that happen to him/her and not wonder if there could be something true about this “God” business ?

This story seems to fall along the lines of telepathy—as in, the doctor was somehow picking up on the wounded man’s thoughts.  Or, it could be more a case of clairvoyance, in that the doctor could sense the circumstances without having a way to actually observe them. 

To debunk this you’d have to say that the doctor just happened to pull over.  Which immediately raises the question: how often does this doctor pull over?

It occurs to me that he might have heard the gunshot, and even though he was comfortably driving down the road in his car, a strange feeling resulted.  For a doctor who’s used to saving people’s lives, his senses may be tuned higher to subtle clues of life endangering situations.  If it was the faintest “blam” from a mile away, barley audible over ambient noise, he may not remember hearing it, but his reaction was dead on anyway

You seem to be implying that god told the doctor what was happening.  Thing is, the doctor probably stopped the bleeding simply because he was doctor and saw someone else bleeding in anguish.  I’d try to do the same thing, and I’m not a doctor.  Saying god had something to do with it subtracts from the heroism of the doctor, and also states that we should only save the lives of those that god chooses.  It’s a destructive concept all around.

 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2007 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14
[quote author=“Celsus”]You’d be surprised what kids can pick up on when you don’t think they are listening…By four, most kids would know what a wound is…We always assume that all children know is Sesame Street, and I can tell you from experience that this just isn’t so.

Like I said, it’s an open question. These are all good points.  But keep in mind that her daughter imagining things that echoed events of the past was just one of the things that led the homeowner to think her house was haunted, and the TAPS guys ran into a couple things as well.

[quote author=“Celsus”]Of course, that would only be if I could get the absolutely incontrovertible evidence. And I’m certain that if Nickel, Shermer, Randi, or anyone else in the skeptical community did so, they would be just as eager to do the same.

You’re sort of thinking in the “fortune an glory” mindset that is all to often malignant within paranormal studies.  No one’s going to shift paradigms with one photo.  If you think it can, whether you’re a believer or skeptic, it’s just igniting a conflict over who claims the fortune and glory.  Essentially, the professional skeptics are only trying to steal the fortune and glory from the seekers of fortune and glory.  I guess they would come forward with incontrovertible proof if they had it, but they’d still be going about it the wrong way.

Scientists at the university level investigate things because of the value of science, as shared by the higher learning institutions they’re installed in.  Professional skeptics aren’t working with that ethic, but a select few paranormal investigators are.

 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2007 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  842
Joined  2006-02-19
ligh+bringer - 28 November 2007 04:25 PM

You’re sort of thinking in the “fortune an glory” mindset that is all to often malignant within paranormal studies.  No one’s going to shift paradigms with one photo.  If you think it can, whether you’re a believer or skeptic, it’s just igniting a conflict over who claims the fortune and glory.  Essentially, the professional skeptics are only trying to steal the fortune and glory from the seekers of fortune and glory.  I guess they would come forward with incontrovertible proof if they had it, but they’d still be going about it the wrong way.

Now, I’ll admit that one photograph won’t create a new paradigm. As a photographer, I know all too well the limits of photography. But I was only being half-serious any way. Besides, when I said “incontrovertible proof,” I was thinking of something like a jar full of ectoplasm, the carcass of a sasquatch, an alien artifact (far superior to what ever its earthly counterpart may be), or some such thing. Physical evidence would probably be about the only evidence that would lead to the creation of a new paradigm.

I should tell you. As for photographic evidence, I once picked up some orbs on my digital camera. Then I cleaned the lens.

Scientists at the university level investigate things because of the value of science, as shared by the higher learning institutions they’re installed in.  Professional skeptics aren’t working with that ethic, but a select few paranormal investigators are

I’m not quite sure that I agree with that assessment. It would seem to me that the professional paranormal investigator would have a greater vested interest in covering things up than would the skeptic. There definitely have been cases of paranormal investigators lying in order to keep their racket going.


I’ll tell you that a lot of my problem with this is how people seem to go from 0-60 with their hypothesis. People will see-feel-experience-hear of something that they can’t seem to wrap their heads around, and immediately proclaim that it was caused by God, UFO‘s, faeries, the Devil, ESP, Santa Claus, etc before even trying to see if there is a rational explanation. It would seem to me that one would endeavor to rule out all the mundane explanations before accepting the extraordinary one.

The problem becomes one much like the one with a magic trick. When you first see a magic trick, it looks amazing, you’re astounded that anyone could do such things. But if you find out how it’s done, you almost refuse to accept it. Most magic trick seem so cheap and cheesy when revealed, and most of us, I think, would prefer to think that we couldn’t be fooled so easily. Indeed, I have known some people who refuse to believe the explanation when given to them.

I think this happens with the paranormal. Why would you be accepting of mundane explanations of weather balloons and crash test dummies when a crashed alien space ship and alien autopsies seem so much cooler. Even I have to admit that some explanations can be a let down.

You say that we should keep investigating so long as people keep having experiences, but what if people keep having experiences because they refuse to seek, or believe, a more mundane explanation. What if people are so desperate to believe that it’s ghost closing their door that they refuse to see if it’s just that the door is hanging off plumb. (This once happened to some one I know. Their door was just enough off plum that it would eventually close of it’s own volition. Once they re-hung the door, using a plumb bob for a guide, the door would remain open. Truly ghost are foiled by the simplest of devices)

[ Edited: 28 November 2007 03:25 PM by Celsus]
 Signature 

People have said that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of keyboards would produce the works of Shakespeare, but the internet has shown this to be wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 November 2007 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14

[quote author=“Celsus”]Physical evidence would probably be about the only evidence that would lead to the creation of a new paradigm.

Why? How much physical evidence did Darwin have before he shifted a paradigm?  How much more physical evidence will it take before everyone’s on board with global warming?

I consider it a distinct possibility that, as interesting as this stuff is, the paranormal simply doesn’t have the power to shift paradigms.  Like me and Mia were talking about, many times the problems arise when you attribute too much to the paranormal, and become convinced that it has to shift paradigms – and all of a sudden you’re a holy warrior.  I think the professional skeptics do this as much as believers.

[quote author=“Celsus”]It would seem to me that the professional paranormal investigator would have a greater vested interest in covering things up than would the skeptic. There definitely have been cases of paranormal investigators lying in order to keep their racket going.

You’re talking about paranormalists who make a lot of money.  Most investigators are working on their own time and their own dime to seek the truth—as a hobby parallel to some other profession.  When they’re losing money over an absurd obsession, covering anything up becomes too much to ask (if not impossible).  Now how much is James Randi worth? At least a million, and he’s doing this full time.

[quote author=“Celsus”]When you first see a magic trick, it looks amazing, you’re astounded that anyone could do such things. But if you find out how it’s done, you almost refuse to accept it.

Speak for yourself. 

Magical thinking can be bad, yes, but I have a hard time believing that everyone is dead set on it, and no one is capable of overcoming the temptation.  Experiencers of the paranormal include a huge range on individuals, and in numerous cases very level-headed people: military, scientists, law enforcement, etc.

I think it comes down to whether you’re willing to accept that, most of the time, people really are seeing/hearing/smelling exactly what’s there.  A magic trick requires a trickster and the tricked.  When there is no trickster, how far can self-deception really carry you?  If you think self-deception and faulty hardware reign supreme, how many pillars of your life and society come tumbling down when you can’t trust any human sensory apparatus?  You have the same genes and same organs evolved for millions of years to keep you alive in a dynamic environment.  If you really think magical thinking trumps that, it appears to me anti-humanistic.

[quote author=“Celsus”]Even I have to admit that some explanations can be a let down.

Some explanations, but not all.  Some earthly explanations are just as interesting an enlightening as the implied paranormal ones. 

[quote author=“Celsus”]What if people are so desperate to believe that it’s ghost closing their door that they refuse to see if it’s just that the door is hanging off plumb.

Why would someone desperately want to believe that their home is being invaded by visitors from the beyond the grave?  You’d have to argue that people are afraid of ghosts, and they can’t control their fears.  But fears can be controlled.  I don’t know of “skepticism” is really a means of doing that.  I’d call it more like “training”.

 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 November 2007 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  842
Joined  2006-02-19
ligh+bringer - 29 November 2007 06:15 PM

Why would someone desperately want to believe that their home is being invaded by visitors from the beyond the grave?  You’d have to argue that people are afraid of ghosts, and they can’t control their fears.  But fears can be controlled.  I don’t know of “skepticism” is really a means of doing that.  I’d call it more like “training”.

Why wouldn’t people be desperate to believe in ghost? While one might claim to be annoyed that ghost have invaded their domicile, ghost would seem to provide evidence for the most desperately hoped for idea of all, the survival of the self after death.

But for the most part, this is coming down to one of those agree to disagree situations. We both seem to be of the mind that we should examine paranormal phenomenon, we just have a different belief as to what the ultimate result will be.

[ Edited: 29 November 2007 06:49 PM by Celsus]
 Signature 

People have said that an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of keyboards would produce the works of Shakespeare, but the internet has shown this to be wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2007 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  462
Joined  2006-11-23

I just wanted to respond to Mia’s post (since I didn’t get a chance to for a while back?) about “proof”

There is a great deal of evidence for the paranormal. That is different from “proof” as “evidence” and “proof”  are two different things.

There’s no proof for God’s existence or non-existence either. If you’re an atheist, you probabaly (dis)believe becasue of evidence there is no God (or lack of evidence that he does)

But can you porve God’s non-existence? Of course not.

Why wouldn’t people be desperate to believe in ghost? While one might claim to be annoyed that ghost have invaded their domicile, ghost would seem to provide evidence for the most desperately hoped for idea of all, the survival of the self after death.

Yes, that’s probably why I want to believe ghosts are what they appear to be (see my username). But the scary thing is that perhaps ghosts are only a ruse to make us belive in an after life, whether there is one or not. UFO entities for example, inpersonate what we suppose beings from other worlds would look like, even though that’ s clearly not what they are.

[ Edited: 04 December 2007 01:50 PM by Tad Trenton's Ghost]
 Signature 

...it has to put into the equation: the possibility that there is no God and nothing works for the best. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that view, but I don’t know what I do subscribe to. Why do I have to have a world view? I mean, when I wrote Cujo, I wasn’t even old enough to be president. Maybe when I’m frty or forty-five, but I don’t now. I’m just trying on all these hats.
-Stephen King

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2007 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3208
Joined  2007-04-26
Tad Trenton’s Ghost - 04 December 2007 06:39 PM

There’s no proof for God’s existence or non-existence either. If you’re an atheist, you probabaly (dis)believe becasue of evidence there is no God (or lack of evidence that he does)

But can you porve God’s non-existence? Of course not.

That’s partially correct. We need to stress the distinction between possibility and probability. The burden of proof is on the side advocating the existence of deity, or the side proposing that some natural event has a supernatural cause. While it’s intellectually irresponsible to blindly rule out all supernatural claims, it’s equally as irresponsible to give credence to such claims without evidence.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 December 2007 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14

Yes, people may be in desperate want of evidence for an afterlife, but ghost phenomena don’t really sex it up like religion does…which gets back to my original point that all too often evidence of the paranormal contradicts religious doctrine, and can drive people away from it.

When you’re told everyone goes either to heaven or hell, and you see all these people hanging around…it seems god’s willing to make some exceptions - or is limited in his powers.

[ Edited: 04 December 2007 04:28 PM by ligh+bringer]
 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2007 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  27
Joined  2007-12-05

I can’t speak for Harris or Randi, but I respect and like both of thier writings and contribution to logic and reasoning, however…


I think that Harris wants more science experiments done regarding new age mumbo jumbo so that it can *hopefully* ruled out via failure after failure.  On the other side Randi has been doing experiments for about 20 years or more with ESP’rs, and other new age woo woo, and each and every experiment has resulted in a failure to prove the claimant’s *powers*.  While Randi isn’t a scientist per se, he has been conducting non scientifically published experiments for years.  I think Harris wants real scientists to get in on the action.  Randi has also shown that real scientists have been duped many times by new agers because scientists aren’t trained to watch for tricks that new agers come up with.  Randi is a conjuror and illusionist and he is trained to look for those things.  Randi even did an experiment to show that scientists can fall for ESP tricks.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2007 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  26
Joined  2007-06-14

James Randi correctly identified the problem of scientists like Targ and Puthoff ‘testing’ people like Uri Geller “You have to set a thief to catch a thief.” In this respect Randi is far better placed to test these people than scientists. Scientists are used to observing nature, and nature doesn’t lie, cheat, and use missdirection like Geller does.

As with all of these things, it’s really about the standard of evidence. anecdotal evidence is just not enough to substantiate the kind of claims Randi investigates. The million dollars is still sitting safe after all these years.

This is the latest sorry failure:

http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/131/1/

I think Sam will be speaking at the next “Amazing meating” by the way!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2007 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14

[quote author=“Jinn Unicorn Dragon”]Randi is a conjuror and illusionist and he is trained to look for those things.  Randi even did an experiment to show that scientists can fall for ESP tricks.

So who’s surprised when he can trick a group of scientists?  It really doesn’t prove anything more than he’s a good magician, and remains an empty gesture in regards to ESP.

[quote author=“archsceptic”]Scientists are used to observing nature, and nature doesn’t lie, cheat, and use missdirection like Geller does.

You bet it does.  Nature is rife with counterintuitive and paradoxical results to both experiments and field studies.  If you expect everything to be laid out perfectly for you and make sense immediately you’ll won’t get anywhere in observing or studying nature.

[quote author=“archsceptic”]the next “Amazing meating”

Is that a deliberate misspelling?

 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 December 2007 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  585
Joined  2007-10-11
ligh+bringer - 05 December 2007 08:58 PM

[quote author=“Jinn Unicorn Dragon”]Randi is a conjuror and illusionist and he is trained to look for those things.  Randi even did an experiment to show that scientists can fall for ESP tricks.

So who’s surprised when he can trick a group of scientists?  It really doesn’t prove anything more than he’s a good magician, and remains an empty gesture in regards to ESP.

[quote author=“archsceptic”]Scientists are used to observing nature, and nature doesn’t lie, cheat, and use missdirection like Geller does.

You bet it does.  Nature is rife with counterintuitive and paradoxical results to both experiments and field studies.  If you expect everything to be laid out perfectly for you and make sense immediately you’ll won’t get anywhere in observing or studying nature.

[quote author=“archsceptic”]the next “Amazing meating”

Is that a deliberate misspelling?

That’s what I’m wanting to know also. Didn’t you mean “meeting ” ?  What’s this “Amazing meeting “? It’s about time for him to say something again—-I hope he does’nt just let himself fade from the publics sight ( “out of sight , out of mind” ) There WAS a fairly good article about him and Ayaan Hersi Ali,in the NEWSWEEK magazine, though ! (last week’s copy )

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 December 2007 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  26
Joined  2007-06-14

ligh+bringer, not quite. Something like the superposition of particles is a different kettle of fish to the plain dishonesty of somebody like Uri Geller who deliberately sets out to con people. As Einstein said “God does not play dice with the universe.” well, people like Geller and Sylvia Brown etc, etc, do play dice with the education and miseducation of people.

It would be an obfuscation of scepticism to say anything else.

P.S. Yes, I did mean *meeting* it was a subliminal misspelling - I was eating raw meat as I was trying to type.

http://www.randi.org/joom/content/view/17/29/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb0JP5cfa7g

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 December 2007 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  282
Joined  2007-01-14
archsceptic - 06 December 2007 02:54 PM

It would be an obfuscation of scepticism to say anything else.

I think Randi’s entire career is an obfuscation of scepticism.

I mean, Geller and Brown could have powers, but their ability to take people in and suck their dollars out of them has nothing to do with it.  Skepticism is the part that says: “no, there is no such thing as ESP.”  Randi’s role is more as a watchdog.  He doesn’t really have to be skeptical to do what he does - even if he is deeply skeptical to a fault.

archsceptic - 06 December 2007 02:54 PM

I was eating raw meat as I was trying to type.

“mmmmeeeeaattt!!”
—Kowalski

 Signature 

“Don’t listen to me, listen to your head”
—Jourgensen

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 5
3
 
‹‹ Ken Wilber on God      Sai-Baba Dabba Doo ››
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed