• Paranormalia is written by Robert McLuhan, a journalist and author based in London. Please contact me at robertmcluhan@gmail.com

« Getting to Grips With Physical Phenomena | Main | SPR Conference in Wales »

August 20, 2013

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c6d8553ef0192aca40fb7970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sceptics Divided:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I still don't know how a movement can grow with the type of language skeptics seems to use on a regular basis (harassing, name-calling, vicious). Then again the "latest" ideological trend never appealed to me anyways nor their automatic rejection of anything remotely "supernatural". How can they (or anyone) be so arrogant as to assume that human-made methodology alone can explain all of existence? Though in the future that might change still, but it may not be what the antibelievers want.

"the movement" can grow exactly because there are tiresome characters within it using distasteful language.
I can easily see some folks saying to themselves "hey, i'm into scientific scepticism, i'm not into being a total jerk".

scepticism does not & should not negate curiosity and fairness.

as the movement grows in popularity it will be diluted by moderates who will need to assert their claim to the tag 'sceptic'. as a diverse body of people adopt the label, the rabid bunch will not be able to dominate.

all just speculation here !

Given that Myers has publically accused a prominent skeptic of rape, which follows other bloggers on his network accusing other skeptics of sexual harassment and a skeptic writing in the Scientific American that she was harrassed by a colleague, I would say that the schism is about as major as schisms can get.

What underpins these disputes, though - regardless of the merits of the accusations - is a conflict between skeptics who prioritise social justice and skeptics who prioritise scientific scepticism, and tend to be dubious about the former's hardline egalitarianism.

I'm in the same camp as the first two commenters here, Kelli and Billy. The primary thing that jumps out at me whenever I go to a sceptic blog or video is the coarse language. Time after time, all I can find are polemics unnecessarily peppered with excess profanity, derision and ad hominem attacks. Whether it's directed at their subjects of interest or each other, these atheist/sceptic wonks come across as irrationally enraged.
I know this point is getting old by now, but the fact is, the average activist sceptic is indistinguishable in spirit from a fundamentalist Bible-beater or Muslim extremist.

They claim to have concern for vulnerable victims of "woo-woo" pseudo-science, but that's a line of horse squeeze. (See - I can cuss, too!) It's all about the ego.
Sure, the spiritual and paranormal world is rife with frauds, but most victims of disreputable hucksters are deeply hurting - that's why they're vulnerable to begin with. Many are intellectually sharp, but in their grief and/or angst, they more likely to find more solace from a life-affirming snake oil salesman than from a snarky blogger calling them an idiot for seeking relief to begin with.
But a mutually respectful dialogue between proponents and sceptics requires an internal dignity that professional debunkers apparently don't seem to possess.

It doesn't help that the mainstream media seems to think that rational discussion doesn't sell. If Robert had been quoted in the Newsweek article, it would have opened up a whole new line of discourse, but that might have required some intellectual work on the part of the reader. We wouldn't want to risk that, would we?

Moynihan agrees with its worldview, but as the subtitle makes it clear is not an uncritical supporter (‘Inside a brilliant, nerdy, arrogant, sort of admirable, sort of insufferable movement that questions everything – and wants to upend the way you live and think’.

Sadly, they Do Not want to question everything. That's one reason the term "skeptical" movement is a sham. A true Skeptic would question materialism as well as so called supernatural experience. But, if you hear somebody say "I had a dream that a football game would end a certain way." "Then when I watched it the exact thing happened that I saw in my dream."

Now, a true "skeptic" would say "Well, maybe you did have a precognitive dream." But, you might also be adding things in your own memory and arranging them to "seem" like the dream happened. "Lets set up a test." The next time you have a dream like that, write it down. Give it to somebody you trust. Then lets see how accurate it is.

However, the current "skeptical" movement member would say something like this. "Bullshit, dreams are just a mishmash of the days events and there is no way to see the future because the future hasn't happened yet. IT' SCIENCE!

See the difference? :-)

Actually Steve your observation is proof of precognition because people like that always know the answer before the question has been asked :)

Spot on Steve! If I could express seemingly complex issues that succinctly, I'd have added another comment to the Physical Mediumship post by now!

Sadly (re what Billy said earlier) I have doubts whether the movement will become 'diluted' by moderates. There's been a debate going on between 'dry' and 'wet' skeptics from the word 'go'. The 'wets' (e.g. Marcello Truzzi) haven't got any repressed anger to vent. The 'dry' variety have and that is precisely why they're attracted to the movement in the first place.

They see the aggressive rhetoric and selective moral compass of people like Randi and his ilk, and think it's ok to be the same. And it gives them a visceral buzz linked to an ideology.

'Wets'/moderates really aren't looking for the same thing and may well remain smaller in number. Unless the movement becomes less male dominated, of course.

Bensix said "a conflict between skeptics who prioritise social justice and skeptics who prioritise scientific scepticism, and tend to be dubious about the former's hardline egalitarianism."

If it's true that these are the two camps (social justice and scientific scepticism), then it's not hard to see why they would lose cohesion. Scientism is more likely to believe in eugenics than egalitarianism -the Brights despise the masses because they think that evolution favours the best (cleverest), which they like to think they are.

Quite. I don't remember seeing any articles re the former in SI. Perhaps I missed something?

As I may have said before: The 'Brights' concept has to be the saddest oxymoron out. Bigoted extremism linked to egotism is one of the chief components of the anatomy of stupidity, surely? It also indicates that those who espouse that belief openly, lack social self-awareness. What on earth do they think that everyone else thinks of them?

It does have a corollary in the 'true believer' world though - e.g. 'healers' and 'mediums' who know (privately) that they could use their own backsides as a reading light in the event of a power cut.

I for one am amused by Myers's attacks on Coyne, since I saw them as two peas in a pod. I'm actually in agreement with Myers here (I can't believe I just wrote that, since I never thought I would agree with Myers on anything at all). Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology have less credibility than they have ever had; and the latter especially is actually scientific materialism taken to its illogical extreme/end point, when it comes to psychology and sociology that is.

For the first time in years I am finding the skeptics' circus entertaining and interesting, not such a borefest.

Off topic sorry, but when would one expect the 'Survival E books' list to be updated?
2010 was last update.

My question is off topic as well! My question concerns Uri Geller, was he ever caught cheating?

I think 'yes', although others may disagree. If he has, then I'm of the opinion that he has also been caught not cheating, on occasions. A bit like James Randi, really!

Heated argument among academics of any persuasion is normal and, to a certain extent, healthy. But the vitriol and hate, not to mention obscenity, issuing from the mouths of our skeptical friends brings to mind Shakespeare's famous line: "Methinks he doth protest too much."

When there is no way to win an argument with logic the skeptic's only recourse is to shout loudly and attack with vicious venom. The violent drivel uttered by skeptics of all stripes belies their desperation to escape the onslaught of the oncoming scientific revolution that will inevitably vaporize the materialism they live and die by.

We are on the right side of history and they are destined for its dustbin! They deserve from us not rancor to match their own but our pity or, more charitably, our sympathy.

The comments to this entry are closed.

ORDER ONLINE!

  • SOME REVIEWER COMMENTS
  • ‘A brisk, bracing look at this continuing controversy, exhaustively researched .. a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in parapsychology and its critics.’
  • ‘‘Packed with accurate information while at the same time surprisingly engaging and fun to read.’
  • ‘‘This is one book that gives a completely objective review of skeptical debunking, and spells out in detail a clear pattern of chicanery which pervades a well-funded and organized campaign against all psi research.’

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

  • ‘These disturbing phenomena seem to deny all our usual scientific ideas. How we should like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming. It is very difficult to rearrange one’s ideas so as to fit these new facts in.’ Alan Turing, computer scientist.

  • ‘I have noticed that if a small group of intelligent people, not supposed to be impressed by psychic research, get together and such matters are mentioned, and all feel that they are in safe and sane company, usually from a third to a half of them begin to relate exceptions. That is to say, each opens a little residual closet and takes out some incident which happened to them or to some member of their family, or to some friend whom they trust and which they think odd and extremely puzzling.’ Walter Prince, psychic researcher.

  • When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Arthur C. Clarke

  • ‘Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.’ Thomas Henry Huxley

  • We can always immunize a theory against refutation. There are many such immunizing tactics; and if nothing better occurs to us, we can always deny the objectivity – or even the existence – of the refuting observation. Those intellectuals who are more interested in being right than in learning something interesting but unexpected are by no means rare exceptions. Karl Popper, on the defenders of materialism.

  • If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative. Arthur C. Clarke.

Become a Fan