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Re: Thanx 4 th. Greeting, Skeptics, Believers, Ad Hominems, &C.

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  • odd_empire
    Hey James; I was wondering if you had anything to add? Or do you agree with what I just asserted? In any case, thanks. The feedback was interesting. The Odd
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 7, 2005
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      Hey James;

      I was wondering if you had anything to add? Or do you agree with what I
      just asserted? In any case, thanks. The feedback was interesting.

      The Odd Emperor
      http://www.oddempire.org
    • James N. Dawson
      ODD EMPEROR: Here s my response to your response. Sorry for the mess. I m still not very good at this message board thing. I tried to put your response in
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 7, 2005
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        ODD EMPEROR:

        Here's my response to your response. Sorry for the mess. I'm still
        not very good at this message board thing. I tried to put your
        response in between *****.
        *********************************************************************
        > OK, no problem. Most of what I'm doing on the Odd Empire is
        > criticism from a skeptical viewpoint. I seldom resort to Ad Hominem
        > unless onebelieves that criticism um *is* ad-hom. The reason it
        looks
        > that way is because most believers seem unable to take any criticism
        > of their beliefs objectively. This is not surprising for beliefs and
        > belief systems are as personal to one as their right arm. So them
        even
        > a gentle assault on a belief is by definition a personal attack. The
        > interesting thing about this is, very few people can fault what
        > I'm saying even a little. A few have tried but time and time again
        > they prove that what I'm saying on the Odd Empire is true and
        > correct,
        > insulting or no I feel It's important to tell the truth and not
        > stay silent in the face of deception.

        > Don't you agree?
        **********************************************************************

        I guess I'd have to read much more of your website and/or writings to
        decide to how much you use ad hominems.

        I will concede believers do tend to get angry when their beliefs are
        challenged. That may be due to human nature to some extent, but
        also, I find I'm irritated by skeptical arguments, as I've already
        said, that are condescendingly simplistic---"Oh, you just saw venus,
        Oh we all see strange things when we're excited, etc. etc."
        Sometimes these responses may be true, at others maybe not. The
        attitude is insulting, and so why shouldn't people be annoyed with it?

        Of course you should tell the truth as you sincerely see it. What
        you see as "deception" may be an open question in my mind.

        *********************************************************************
        > Well that's regrettable to be sure but I've tried being nice
        > about it. Many believers just get snide and unbelievably rude if you
        > even attempt to assert an opinion that may run counter to theirs. If
        > you don't believe that you can try it out for yourself.
        >
        > It may interest you to know that I'm not a big fan of James
        > Randi. I respect what he's doing (which BTW is mostly being
        > outraged
        > at people who play his magic game but call it real, not trickery.)
        **********************************************************************

        I know next to nothing about magic, or I guess a better word might
        be "illusionism". For all I know Randi may actually have occult
        powers and what he does is real magic, and he just doesn't want
        people to know. Maybe he's really a sorcerer and the reason he's mad
        and trying to ridicule claims of the paranormal is to safeguard his
        esoteric knowledge, which he believes should be kept secret. Just a
        theory. In any case if I were to believe James Randi that all or
        almost all paranormal feats were just slight-of-hand, then it would
        be largely on faith, if not entirely.

        **********************************************************************
        > What I think is really threadbare is irrational-unconditional
        belief.
        > That stuff is tens of thousands of years old, so is rabid-irrational
        > defense of such belief.
        **********************************************************************

        It isn't apparent to me that many of the things you debunk
        ARE "irrational-unconditional" belief. Many scientists have what
        they believe is evidence of sasquatch, ESP, UFO's, etc., etc. You
        may disagree with the validity of the evidence they cite and/or it's
        interpretation, but to call their belief "irrational"
        and "unconditional" is a gross exaggeration. From their point of
        view their belief is a scientifically-based and educated one. You
        may find flaws in their reasoning process, but to say
        they're "irrational" in my judgement, overstates the situation.

        > >
        > > Regarding the seances with Marilyn and Andy---Boy you come to
        > >judgement quickly about something you've never seen. How do you
        know
        > >that personal things were not revealed by the medium that only the
        > >friends present probably would have known? Why are you in a better
        > >position to know than the close personal friends themselves?

        >********************************************************************
        > Because it's mind bogglingly that they spoke to famous people at
        > all even if their séance actually worked. With what; five or six
        > billion people already dead, why would they be able to casually pick
        > out certain ones? Why is it that no one has yet been able to get
        any
        > proprietary information that only the dead person would know. What
        > about the historical aspect? Think about how someone who was
        actually
        > present in the court of Henry VIII could enlighten us about event
        that
        > we only have sketchy information.
        >
        > Additionally; are you not being just as judgmental by *accepting*
        the
        > word of people you've never met and events that you were not
        > present
        > at either?
        >*********************************************************************

        I didn't "accept" the word of these friends of the alleged spirits.
        Maybe they were manipulated. Maybe they weren't. I don't know
        them. Neither do you.

        To accept the POSSIBILITY that some sort of interesting and non-
        understood phenomena is going on in this seance does not NECESSARILY
        mean we have to accept a Spiritualist theory/explanation of it:
        I.E. "People have souls and when they die they go to another world
        and still have their original personality/identity." Some form of
        subconsious telepathy might explain it. Fundamentalist Christians
        believe these entities are deceptive spirits, masquerading as the
        departed. Even non-Christians might believe in a variation of this
        explanation. I honestly don't claim to know QUITE what may be going
        on. I'm still mulling it over. But I'm not frantically just trying
        explain it away by scoffing at and ridiculing it. I know this has
        become a bit of a cliche, but when you're trying to understand these
        wierd phenomena you may have try to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX just a
        little.


        > > I know about "cold readings" so you needn't go into a spiel about
        > >them. It wouldn't answer the question of why this was or was not
        > >probably a cold reading. Was this "fake". Maybe. Maybe not. It
        > >was interesting and I'm curious about it. You're apparently put
        off
        > >by it.

        *********************************************************************
        > I'm not put off by it and now, *who* is being judgmental about
        > another. I don't believe in it and I think people who do that
        > sort of thing are deceiving others. That's all.
        *********************************************************************

        Okay. Maybe I am pre-judging you. I HAVE seen many other debunkers
        with you same general message---Joe Nichols, Randi, etc.---who do
        look and sound pretty plaintive and disgusted when they talk about
        these things, although in recent appearances on TV have seemed to be
        practicing a calmer delivery. Frankly, whatever side one is on,
        these issues seem to bring out strong emotions in all of us.
        >
        > > Maybe it was neither "real" or a "fake". Maybe the medium was
        > >sincere, truly believed in what he was doing, but it was a
        > >"construct" from his subconscious.

        *********************************************************************
        > Much much worse!
        *********************************************************************

        I don't understand. What is worse, my theory or the possibility that
        it was a subconscious construct.

        > > Maybe it was another entity transferring a
        > >construct ("fantasy") to his mind. Any number of possibilities
        > >exist. I know about occam's razor, theoretical parsimony, and all
        > >that. I don't consider them the magic bullet you might.
        > > In theory and application they're problematical. A good rule of
        > thumb, but not a precise determinant of a good versus a bad theory.
        > >
        *********************************************************************
        > I believe Occam to be a magic bullet now? Do tell! What else do I
        > believe o' oracle of the Odd Emperor. ; )
        *********************************************************************

        Many debunkers invoke Occam when they argue against the unexplained.
        If you don't, my apologies. I guess I have much to learn about your
        methodology.

        **********************************************************************
        > Anyway, one does not use Occam to tell a theory from say a
        hypothesis
        > or a conclusion. A theory must be provable and *refutable.* Occam
        > simply stated that simpler ideas are more likely correct. In science
        > this is often expressed as *reduction* I.E. an attempt to make
        > problems simpler so that they can be more easily solved.
        > ********************************************************************

        Yes, I'm aware of all this. It's interesting. I wonder if science,
        particularly in its early stages, followed these neat little rules as
        closely as debunkers think they should today, and if they had, it
        would have gotten very far. We're on a frontier. We've barely
        scratched the surface of these things, if they are more than
        delusion, as you seem to think they are. Maybe there always has to
        be a vague, broad period of speculation, of brainstorming, of trial
        and error, of groping, before one even gets to "hypothesis, theory
        and occam".

        The problem with occam's "simplicity" requirement, is that it compels
        the theorist to ignore or filter out observed phenomena that "reduce"
        his theory to the elegance he deems "correct". Witness Kepler and
        his beautifully simple system of circular planetary orbits. Turns
        out the elliptical models, not to mention wobbling planets, are far
        more complex and "messy"---but they're considered by just about all
        astronomer today to be "correct".

        > > I did the ouija board one summer when I was in my early teens.
        > >That's all we ever got---Joe Schmoos from Sheboygban. I was
        > >practically addicted to this and from the experience I've come away
        > >with the belief that there is an actual unexplained phenomenon
        going
        > >on with it. I don't accept simplistic answers. These mysteries
        are
        > >deep, and I'm still, very gradually, exploring them. (I'm skeptical
        > >of the Spiritualist explanation, though might consider it partially
        > >valid). I was pretty much a nonbeliever before that (though not a
        > >skoffer, or mocker). There are indeed mysteries out there, and
        they
        > >fascinate me.
        > >
        *********************************************************************
        > I too am fascinated by mysteries, probably more than you can
        believe.
        > However I usually attempt to *solve* mysteries and seldom just go
        away
        > believing one thing or another. I enjoy understanding which put me
        at
        > loggerheads with people who frankly, don't wish to understand.
        >
        > Regarding Ouija Boards and stuff of that ilk, the principles are
        well
        > understood and not at all mysterious.
        **********************************************************************

        I've heard some of the *skeptical* explanations for how the Ouija
        board works. I'm skeptical of these skeptical explanations, but
        openmindedly so. They might have some validity, but they haven't
        explained my experiences completely to my satisfaction.

        >
        >
        > > I will agree that many believers are very uncritical, fantasy-
        prone
        > >and have a tendency to over-interpret. But skeptical "scientists"
        > >are usually patronizing and condescending, and I maintain have a
        > >"know-it-all" attitude, even though they try, in the interest of
        > >"sensitivity", to tone it down. A few scientists and CSICOP-types
        > >are openly contempuous and sarcastic. (I don't use the word
        > >"believer" pejoratively. Everyone believes in some model of the
        > >universe, and if they say they don't, they're intellectually
        > >dishonest. They don't "know" in the final analysis, as they may>
        > >claim, as this would imply infallibility, nor are they totally
        > >noncommittal as some strict Forteans claim to be).
        > >
        > ********************************************************************
        > I don't agree. I work with people like you describe, skeptical
        > scientific types. Few of them seem overbearing, patronizing or
        > condescending. (Most of them anyway, we have a few…) But, if you
        > come to one of them with a crazy sounding idea they might point out
        > that your idea is crazy sounding and why. Is that wrong? I think
        > it's
        > unfair to characterize *all* scientists (skepticism being a
        > pre-requisite for science) as patronizing et-al. That seems *very*
        > judgmental and not a little bit unfair, at least to me.
        **********************************************************************

        It would be hard, if not impossible, for me to "prove" that these
        scientists are patronizing or condescending, so why bother. Suffice
        it to say that many of us "believers" (a word I think debunkers use
        to slight us) FIND THEM SO.

        The very fact that you call an idea "crazy sounding" reveals a gut-
        level prejudice against it, which lends credence to my perception
        that scientists really do have a negative and insulting response to
        people who even consider them as possibilities.


        > > Thanks for the offer of instructions to download the seance, but
        I'm
        > >still on dial-up and downloading even a 2 minute song used to take
        > >hours and often aborted, back when I used to bother with
        downloading.

        **********************************************************************
        > Get cable or DSL!
        **********************************************************************

        Maybe I can't afford it. But I'm thinking about the cost/benefit
        ratios involved.

        ALL: Back in the mid-nineties I debated with Erwin S. Strauss, a
        Ph.D. physicist, in his APA, The (formerly Libertarian) Connection.
        I didn't even finish college, so Dr. Strauss (a.k.a. Filthy Pierre)
        was a formidable opponent. Anyway, we both got into some rather
        lengthy discussions. In the end, I was no match for him, though I
        don't concede he one the argument. At best, he got me on a
        technicality, namely, "formal methodological criteria" which I'm
        still mulling over.

        Anyway, I still have these for anybody who might be reading this
        who'd like to seem some really intelligent and good discussion on the
        whole "skeptic-believer debate".

        This was back before I had a computer or was on the net, so it's not
        in electronic format. Send me $3 bucks and I'll send you what I have
        of it: James N. Dawson, P.O. Box 613, Redwood Valley, CA 95470.

        This is not to dis The Unexplained. I find it fascinating. But I've
        got mountains and mountains of important projects I have to attend to
        and I regret that this forum must take a back, back seat for the
        foreseeable future. I'd like to, but I don't have time for long
        protracted debates. I will try to drop in from now and then as
        opportunity allows.

        Take care, all.

        James
      • odd_empire
        James writes; ************** Here s my response to your response. Sorry for the mess. *************** Don t worry about it. I really can t stand the way
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 8, 2005
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          James writes;
          **************
          Here's my response to your response. Sorry for the mess.
          ***************

          Don't worry about it. I really can't stand the way
          Yahoogroups
          reformats everything,--yuck! It's almost impossible to read!

          You write;
          **************
          I guess I'd have to read much more of your website and/or writings to
          decide to how much you use ad hominems.
          **************

          ..or not. You might wish to approach the thing with an open mind and
          not go into it looking for this or that mistake. Ad hominem is a
          logical fallacy and I try to avoid those when I can. This is not to
          say that I'm always successful.

          BTW, if you or anyone else has any specific comment to make on any of
          my statements, please let me know.

          You write;
          ***************
          I find I'm irritated by skeptical arguments, as I've already
          said, that are condescendingly simplistic---"Oh, you just saw venus,
          Oh we all see strange things when we're excited, etc. etc."
          Sometimes these responses may be true, at others maybe not. The
          attitude is insulting, and so why shouldn't people be annoyed with it?
          ****************

          People who say stuff like that are not being skeptical, objective or
          anything else. They are (in my opinion) being prejudicial. It's
          not
          simplistic, it's stupid.

          Anyway, *who* says stuff like that? I never do.

          You write;
          ***************
          Of course you should tell the truth as you sincerely see it. What
          you see as "deception" may be an open question in my mind.
          ****************

          Fair enough; my judgment regarding deceptive behavior is my own. For
          example, I know this fellow who runs around telling folks that he has
          books published when in fact, he is merely self-published. Either
          that or he simply lies about it. Should I nod my head and say (as
          many others do) "oh congratulations on getting your wonderful
          book
          published") or should I tell him the truth? Who's in the
          wrong here?

          You write;
          ****************
          I know next to nothing about magic, or I guess a better word might
          be "illusionism". For all I know Randi may actually have occult
          powers and what he does is real magic, and he just doesn't want
          people to know. Maybe he's really a sorcerer and the reason he's mad
          and trying to ridicule claims of the paranormal is to safeguard his
          esoteric knowledge, which he believes should be kept secret. Just a
          theory. In any case if I were to believe James Randi that all or
          almost all paranormal feats were just slight-of-hand, then it would
          be largely on faith, if not entirely.
          ****************

          That's a very interesting way to look at it. You know that any
          stage
          magician will tell you up front that *all* their tricks are
          illusions. *Stage magic* (which is all I'm talking about here) is
          nothing more than applied social engineering. There is nothing
          paranormal about it. If you believe otherwise you have (in my
          opinion) never completely researched the field or you have been
          fibbed by people who are not stage magicians. Those are the facts.
          There is no faith or belief required here except in the incredulity
          of the audience which is how the stage magician gets a payoff for
          their skill.

          You Write;
          ****************
          It isn't apparent to me that many of the things you debunk
          ARE "irrational-unconditional" belief. Many scientists have what
          they believe is evidence of sasquatch, ESP, UFO's, etc., etc. You
          may disagree with the validity of the evidence they cite and/or it's
          interpretation, but to call their belief "irrational"
          and "unconditional" is a gross exaggeration. From their point of
          view their belief is a scientifically-based and educated one. You
          may find flaws in their reasoning process, but to say
          they're "irrational" in my judgement, overstates the situation
          ****************

          Ok, no problem there. When have I called any of those *subjects*
          irrational? UFOs (for example) are not at all irrational in
          themselves. I've seem my share of unknown or unidentifiable
          aircraft.
          I think there is something to it, same with Cryptology, ESP et-al.

          I take issue *people* who make wild unsubstantiated claims and refuse
          to support themselves. If I say something I can either support it
          with examples and/or documentation or, I state up front that
          "this is
          an opinion." Many in this "biz" can't seem to do
          that. I find it
          intellectually lazy and I tell them.

          Besides; *who's* point of view is scientific? For example,
          I've been
          reading Richard Hoagland's weblog recently and never have I seen
          a
          more fetid mishmash of opinion couched as fact and pseudo-science
          asserted as science. (other than from his books, what did I expect? ?)


          You write;
          *****************
          I didn't "accept" the word of these friends of the alleged spirits.
          Maybe they were manipulated. Maybe they weren't. I don't know
          them. Neither do you.

          ******************

          Quite true, I also didn't see the piece you cited, did they at
          any
          point assert that these were real spirits of Elvis or whomever? If so
          I would suggest that they are probably that they are either mistaken
          or deliberately lying.

          You write
          ******************
          Okay. Maybe I am pre-judging you. I HAVE seen many other debunkers
          with you same general message---Joe Nichols, Randi, etc.---who do
          look and sound pretty plaintive and disgusted when they talk about
          these things, although in recent appearances on TV have seemed to be
          practicing a calmer delivery. Frankly, whatever side one is on,
          these issues seem to bring out strong emotions in all of us.
          *******************

          Randi sounds disgusted with it because he *is* disgusted. Look, say
          you set up a used car dealership, you run it for ten or fifteen
          years, people trust you for your honesty. One day someone sets up a
          car lot next door and begins to systematically rip people off. He
          manages to bring in more customers than you because of his huge
          signs, lots of balloons and performing elephants. That would piss me
          off, it's exactly what stage magicians feel when they see people
          like
          John Edwards and all those other mentalist and psychics saying that
          they are really doing something paranormal. He's gotten so
          disgusted
          that he put up a million dollars for *anyone* if they can prove a
          paranormal claim to be real. No one to this date has.

          You write;
          ********************
          The problem with occam's "simplicity" requirement, is that it compels
          the theorist to ignore or filter out observed phenomena that "reduce"
          his theory to the elegance he deems "correct". Witness Kepler and
          his beautifully simple system of circular planetary orbits. Turns
          out the elliptical models, not to mention wobbling planets, are far
          more complex and "messy"---but they're considered by just about all
          astronomer today to be "correct".
          *********************

          Very correct! Occam's razor is not a law, it's more like a
          guideline. ;) It's simply a way of looking at things and a rule
          of
          thumb method to reduce noise in a system. But in the long view it
          holds up amazingly well.

          BTW, Kepler is thought by all real astronomers to be incorrect. They
          still respect him though, why? Because he reached logical conclusions
          based on *available* data. Just like we know that Newtonian physics
          are incorrect. But few people would hesitate to call Newton a non-
          scientist.


          You write;
          *********************
          I've heard some of the *skeptical* explanations for how the Ouija
          board works. I'm skeptical of these skeptical explanations, but
          openmindedly so. They might have some validity, but they haven't
          explained my experiences completely to my satisfaction.
          *********************

          If you ever become interested in knowing how they work, simply do the
          research. It's fascinating stuff.

          You write;
          **********************
          It would be hard, if not impossible, for me to "prove" that these
          scientists are patronizing or condescending, so why bother. Suffice
          it to say that many of us "believers" (a word I think debunkers use
          to slight us) FIND THEM SO.
          ***********************

          I've heard that argument from a number of people. It goes like
          this; "you know that debunking my beliefs upsets me so just stop
          it!"

          My response to that is "grow up and own your own feelings. I
          can't
          make you feel bad about yourself, only you can do that. Take some
          responsibility for what you are feeling. If you have a beef with
          someone, for pete's sake TELL THEM. Don't whine about it,
          don't
          expect other people to automatically validate all your petty beliefs
          (because that's what most of the argument come down to.) If you
          confront people, don't demand that they believe you

          Also, what should I call a believer then? "An individual with the
          propensity to take issues on faith, with little critical review or
          research?" "A person who is habitually pre-judgmental?" A
          woo-woo?
          Those are very derogatory descriptions I think. Just as derogatory
          as "skeptibunky" "Skepti-bunny" Randi-bot"
          "psycho-
          skeptic," "debunker", "pathological skeptic,"
          *"sKeptic,"* "jerk," "idiot," "smug
          twit," "moron," "pelicanist" "troll,"
          "troll-bee," and about a
          hundred other things a few believers spew around in an attempt to
          insult skeptics.

          The term "believer" is pretty mild in comparison. What would
          you
          suggest?


          You write
          *********************
          The very fact that you call an idea "crazy sounding" reveals a gut-
          level prejudice against it, which lends credence to my perception
          that scientists really do have a negative and insulting response to
          people who even consider them as possibilities.
          *********************

          I don't see how, first off I never call myself a scientist so I
          find
          it strange that you would lump me with them. I said that I work with
          skeptical science types. Much of my activity is in a field where
          intuition, experience and logic are all essential tools.

          Secondly, do you think that *no* idea is crazy sounding? Don't
          you
          judge each idea with the colored lenses of your own beliefs and
          experience? If not some folks in Nigeria have recently emailed you
          a "serious proposal." You should take them up on it. ?

          You write
          **********************
          This is not to dis The Unexplained. I find it fascinating. But I've
          got mountains and mountains of important projects I have to attend to
          and I regret that this forum must take a back, back seat for the
          foreseeable future. I'd like to, but I don't have time for long
          protracted debates. I will try to drop in from now and then as
          opportunity allows.
          ************************

          Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Please come back when you have
          the time! BTW, if anyone wants to comment, I for one would be happy
          to hear from them. This is a list that's all about debunking
          debunkers and I am a debunker…..

          Take care! (All!)

          The Odd Emperor
          http://www/oddempire.org
        • odd_empire
          James writes; ************** Here s my response to your response. Sorry for the mess. *************** Don t worry about it. I really can t stand the way
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 8, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            James writes;
            **************
            Here's my response to your response. Sorry for the mess.
            ***************

            Don't worry about it. I really can't stand the way
            Yahoogroups
            reformats everything,--yuck! It's almost impossible to read!

            You write;
            **************
            I guess I'd have to read much more of your website and/or writings to
            decide to how much you use ad hominems.
            **************

            ..or not. You might wish to approach the thing with an open mind and
            not go into it looking for this or that mistake. Ad hominem is a
            logical fallacy and I try to avoid those when I can. This is not to
            say that I'm always successful.

            BTW, if you or anyone else has any specific comment to make on any of
            my statements, please let me know.

            You write;
            ***************
            I find I'm irritated by skeptical arguments, as I've already
            said, that are condescendingly simplistic---"Oh, you just saw venus,
            Oh we all see strange things when we're excited, etc. etc."
            Sometimes these responses may be true, at others maybe not. The
            attitude is insulting, and so why shouldn't people be annoyed with it?
            ****************

            People who say stuff like that are not being skeptical, objective or
            anything else. They are (in my opinion) being prejudicial. It's
            not
            simplistic, it's stupid.

            Anyway, *who* says stuff like that? I never do.

            You write;
            ***************
            Of course you should tell the truth as you sincerely see it. What
            you see as "deception" may be an open question in my mind.
            ****************

            Fair enough; my judgment regarding deceptive behavior is my own. For
            example, I know this fellow who runs around telling folks that he has
            books published when in fact, he is merely self-published. Either
            that or he simply lies about it. Should I nod my head and say (as
            many others do) "oh congratulations on getting your wonderful
            book
            published") or should I tell him the truth? Who's in the
            wrong here?

            You write;
            ****************
            I know next to nothing about magic, or I guess a better word might
            be "illusionism". For all I know Randi may actually have occult
            powers and what he does is real magic, and he just doesn't want
            people to know. Maybe he's really a sorcerer and the reason he's mad
            and trying to ridicule claims of the paranormal is to safeguard his
            esoteric knowledge, which he believes should be kept secret. Just a
            theory. In any case if I were to believe James Randi that all or
            almost all paranormal feats were just slight-of-hand, then it would
            be largely on faith, if not entirely.
            ****************

            That's a very interesting way to look at it. You know that any
            stage
            magician will tell you up front that *all* their tricks are
            illusions. *Stage magic* (which is all I'm talking about here) is
            nothing more than applied social engineering. There is nothing
            paranormal about it. If you believe otherwise you have (in my
            opinion) never completely researched the field or you have been
            fibbed by people who are not stage magicians. Those are the facts.
            There is no faith or belief required here except in the incredulity
            of the audience which is how the stage magician gets a payoff for
            their skill.

            You Write;
            ****************
            It isn't apparent to me that many of the things you debunk
            ARE "irrational-unconditional" belief. Many scientists have what
            they believe is evidence of sasquatch, ESP, UFO's, etc., etc. You
            may disagree with the validity of the evidence they cite and/or it's
            interpretation, but to call their belief "irrational"
            and "unconditional" is a gross exaggeration. From their point of
            view their belief is a scientifically-based and educated one. You
            may find flaws in their reasoning process, but to say
            they're "irrational" in my judgement, overstates the situation
            ****************

            Ok, no problem there. When have I called any of those *subjects*
            irrational? UFOs (for example) are not at all irrational in
            themselves. I've seem my share of unknown or unidentifiable
            aircraft.
            I think there is something to it, same with Cryptology, ESP et-al.

            I take issue *people* who make wild unsubstantiated claims and refuse
            to support themselves. If I say something I can either support it
            with examples and/or documentation or, I state up front that
            "this is
            an opinion." Many in this "biz" can't seem to do
            that. I find it
            intellectually lazy and I tell them.

            Besides; *who's* point of view is scientific? For example,
            I've been
            reading Richard Hoagland's weblog recently and never have I seen
            a
            more fetid mishmash of opinion couched as fact and pseudo-science
            asserted as science. (other than from his books, what did I expect? ?)


            You write;
            *****************
            I didn't "accept" the word of these friends of the alleged spirits.
            Maybe they were manipulated. Maybe they weren't. I don't know
            them. Neither do you.

            ******************

            Quite true, I also didn't see the piece you cited, did they at
            any
            point assert that these were real spirits of Elvis or whomever? If so
            I would suggest that they are probably that they are either mistaken
            or deliberately lying.

            You write
            ******************
            Okay. Maybe I am pre-judging you. I HAVE seen many other debunkers
            with you same general message---Joe Nichols, Randi, etc.---who do
            look and sound pretty plaintive and disgusted when they talk about
            these things, although in recent appearances on TV have seemed to be
            practicing a calmer delivery. Frankly, whatever side one is on,
            these issues seem to bring out strong emotions in all of us.
            *******************

            Randi sounds disgusted with it because he *is* disgusted. Look, say
            you set up a used car dealership, you run it for ten or fifteen
            years, people trust you for your honesty. One day someone sets up a
            car lot next door and begins to systematically rip people off. He
            manages to bring in more customers than you because of his huge
            signs, lots of balloons and performing elephants. That would piss me
            off, it's exactly what stage magicians feel when they see people
            like
            John Edwards and all those other mentalist and psychics saying that
            they are really doing something paranormal. He's gotten so
            disgusted
            that he put up a million dollars for *anyone* if they can prove a
            paranormal claim to be real. No one to this date has.

            You write;
            ********************
            The problem with occam's "simplicity" requirement, is that it compels
            the theorist to ignore or filter out observed phenomena that "reduce"
            his theory to the elegance he deems "correct". Witness Kepler and
            his beautifully simple system of circular planetary orbits. Turns
            out the elliptical models, not to mention wobbling planets, are far
            more complex and "messy"---but they're considered by just about all
            astronomer today to be "correct".
            *********************

            Very correct! Occam's razor is not a law, it's more like a
            guideline. ;) It's simply a way of looking at things and a rule
            of
            thumb method to reduce noise in a system. But in the long view it
            holds up amazingly well.

            BTW, Kepler is thought by all real astronomers to be incorrect. They
            still respect him though, why? Because he reached logical conclusions
            based on *available* data. Just like we know that Newtonian physics
            are incorrect. But few people would hesitate to call Newton a non-
            scientist.


            You write;
            *********************
            I've heard some of the *skeptical* explanations for how the Ouija
            board works. I'm skeptical of these skeptical explanations, but
            openmindedly so. They might have some validity, but they haven't
            explained my experiences completely to my satisfaction.
            *********************

            If you ever become interested in knowing how they work, simply do the
            research. It's fascinating stuff.

            You write;
            **********************
            It would be hard, if not impossible, for me to "prove" that these
            scientists are patronizing or condescending, so why bother. Suffice
            it to say that many of us "believers" (a word I think debunkers use
            to slight us) FIND THEM SO.
            ***********************

            I've heard that argument from a number of people. It goes like
            this; "you know that debunking my beliefs upsets me so just stop
            it!"

            My response to that is "grow up and own your own feelings. I
            can't
            make you feel bad about yourself, only you can do that. Take some
            responsibility for what you are feeling. If you have a beef with
            someone, for pete's sake TELL THEM. Don't whine about it,
            don't
            expect other people to automatically validate all your petty beliefs
            (because that's what most of the argument come down to.) If you
            confront people, don't demand that they believe you

            Also, what should I call a believer then? "An individual with the
            propensity to take issues on faith, with little critical review or
            research?" "A person who is habitually pre-judgmental?" A
            woo-woo?
            Those are very derogatory descriptions I think. Just as derogatory
            as "skeptibunky" "Skepti-bunny" Randi-bot"
            "psycho-
            skeptic," "debunker", "pathological skeptic,"
            *"sKeptic,"* "jerk," "idiot," "smug
            twit," "moron," "pelicanist" "troll,"
            "troll-bee," and about a
            hundred other things a few believers spew around in an attempt to
            insult skeptics.

            The term "believer" is pretty mild in comparison. What would
            you
            suggest?


            You write
            *********************
            The very fact that you call an idea "crazy sounding" reveals a gut-
            level prejudice against it, which lends credence to my perception
            that scientists really do have a negative and insulting response to
            people who even consider them as possibilities.
            *********************

            I don't see how, first off I never call myself a scientist so I
            find
            it strange that you would lump me with them. I said that I work with
            skeptical science types. Much of my activity is in a field where
            intuition, experience and logic are all essential tools.

            Secondly, do you think that *no* idea is crazy sounding? Don't
            you
            judge each idea with the colored lenses of your own beliefs and
            experience? If not some folks in Nigeria have recently emailed you
            a "serious proposal." You should take them up on it. ?

            You write
            **********************
            This is not to dis The Unexplained. I find it fascinating. But I've
            got mountains and mountains of important projects I have to attend to
            and I regret that this forum must take a back, back seat for the
            foreseeable future. I'd like to, but I don't have time for long
            protracted debates. I will try to drop in from now and then as
            opportunity allows.
            ************************

            Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Please come back when you have
            the time! BTW, if anyone wants to comment, I for one would be happy
            to hear from them. This is a list that's all about debunking
            debunkers and I am a debunker…..

            Take care! (All!)

            The Odd Emperor
            http://www/oddempire.org
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