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1skeptic -general anti skeptic post

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  • Eric Krieg
    Jul 9, 1998
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      To people on the Skeptic email list: The following was listed by Society for
      Scientific Exploration at:
      http://www.jse.com/skeptics.html
      They are the more scientific and rational of the pro paranormal people. They
      don't resort to fraud or tabloid style journalism and have many competent
      people contributing articles. I hope to join them soon. It's a shame that
      their relationship with skeptics has to be confrontational. My friend, Dave
      Leiter (who believes a number of paranormal claims) says, "everyone should
      appreciate the value of an 'honest skeptic' - they can save you much
      embarrassment". Ideally, the people who subscribe to JSE (Journal of
      Scientific Exploration), should also subscribe to Skeptical Inquirer to
      get good ideas on critical thinking. Anyhow, here's their piece:

      ===========================

      BE SKEPTICAL OF THE "SKEPTICS"

      (A commentary by Bernhard Haisch, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Scientific
      Exploration)

      If seeking publicity for the Society had been the purpose of publishing the
      Sturrock-Rockefeller UFO Report, one could take comfort in the
      observation of Oscar Wilde: "The only thing worse than being talked
      about... is not being talked about." Let the critics and self-proclaimed
      skeptics scoff and ridicule... just so long as they manage to get the SSE
      website straight. But publicity was never the purpose. The real purposes
      were advancing science and serving a public eager for credible information.

      The San Francisco Chronicle summarized the situation well in an editorial:
      "The panel chided fellow scientists for shying away from UFOlogy, fearing
      the ridicule of their colleagues. As a result, 'the problem is in a very
      unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion' the panel said. With more
      than 60 percent of the American public open-minded and curious about
      UFO's and space aliens, scientists may never have a better chance to get
      funding for such research. They should go for it."

      The Sturrock-Rockefeller UFO Report is marked by restraint and
      conservatism. It makes no claims other than that science owes it to itself and
      the public to not simply dismiss UFO reports out of hand. It concludes
      without pretense by stating: "The UFO problem is very complex and it is
      quite impossible to predict what might emerge from research into this area."
      It states explicitly that the scientists on the panel found no evidence for
      the
      involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence in the reports presented to them.
      It urges further scientific investigation.

      A skeptic is one who adheres to the conviction that true knowledge may be
      uncertain, who suspends judgement, and who is willing to examine new
      evidence. By this definition, the Report is one of true skepticism.

      On the other hand the self-proclaimed skeptics attempting to discredit the
      Report and the Society are not skeptics by this dictionary definition. Their
      critiques virtually all consist of scoffing, ridicule, ad hominem attacks, and
      the amazing claim that their dogmatic beliefs that certain things are
      impossible necessarily constitute laws of nature. It is a modern replay of the
      cardinals refusing to look through Galileo's telescope because truth has
      already been revealed to them. Interestingly many of the vocal skeptics are
      not themselves practicing scientists.

      The ridiculing posture of the skeptical comments is self-evident. Consider
      the embarrassingly crude New York Post caricature of the Report: "And the
      case for little green men making landings all over the farm belt in order to
      kidnap and then have unusual sex with random hicks in pickup trucks is
      even more ridiculous."

      Ad hominem attacks are cropping up. One magazine somehow twisted
      serious work --published in prestigious physics journals -- on the quantum
      vacuum by one physicist involved in the workshop into the absurd claim
      that he "designs perpetual motion machines." In fact, this scientist has
      actually tested and debunked a dozen of the "free energy" devices widely
      touted on the internet.

      The "nutty professor" innuendo has been directed at the panel director.
      Never mind that he won the 1986 Hale Prize in Solar Physics from the
      American Astronomical Society, the Arctowski medal in 1990 from the
      National Academy of Sciences, and the 1992 Space Sciences Award from
      the 40000 member American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for
      his "major contribution to the fields of geophysics, solar physics and
      astrophysics, leadership in the space science community, and dedication to
      the pursuit of knowledge."

      Moving beyond ridicule and innuendo, some of the following seemingly
      serious arguments have also been advanced.

      * According to CSICOP "The release of the report appears well-timed to
      gain publicity for the SSE and their claims. It occurs a week after the
      release
      of the X-Files movie and during the week of Fourth of July when news is
      slow." But in fact the timing of the release simply followed the standard
      Journal publication schedule. The Report appeared in the first available
      issue following its completion. This was the same as the previous several
      years' publication schedule for the June issue of the Journal.

      * Funding UFO research is predicted to damage mainstream science. Hardly.
      The total federal civilian research budget is approximately $35 billion. A
      mere 0.01 percent of that amount would be more than enough to begin to
      make progress.

      * The Journal is said to advocate such New Age concepts as reincarnation.
      In reality the articles published on such topics are not New Age speculation
      and metaphysics. Rather they have been scientific detective work involving
      such hard evidence as searching medical records of death wounds on one
      individual for possible correlation with birthmarks on an individual
      claiming to remember that previous life. The data are presented and
      analyzed in scientific fashion without claiming any proof of reincarnation.
      Similar treatment is given to other topics whose titles are sometimes given a
      giggle spin by the "skeptics." (Interestingly this same sort of ridiculing of
      topics used to infuriate the scientific community when Sen. Proxmire used
      these tactics in his "Golden Fleece Awards" to attack the National Science
      Foundation.)

      The most frequent "skeptical" argument, of course, is that there is "not a
      shred of evidence" and that UFO claims were long ago carefully and
      open-mindedly examined and rejected in the Condon Report. What the
      "skeptics" either never bothered to read or choose to ignore is that there is
      substantial evidence in the roughly 1000-page body of that report itself and
      Condon's dismissive summary bears hardly any relation to what the rest of
      the report says. Condon's aim was to put an end to serious UFO
      investigation, and that is how he slanted his summary, never mind what was
      in the actual report. Indeed the rest of the Condon report contains
      substantial "shreds of evidence." An analysis of the Condon Report by
      Sturrock was published in Vol. 1. of JSE and will be posted on the web
      shortly.

      Cut through the ridicule and search for factual information in most of the
      skeptical commentary and one is usually left with nothing. This is not
      surprising. After all, how can one rationally object to a call for scientific
      examination of evidence?

      Be skeptical of the "skeptics."

      ----------- end of quote --------------
      best wishes,
      Eric Krieg

      fax (215) 654-0651 eric@...
      http://www.voicenet.com/~eric/more.htm