Are you frustrated that TAM & the JREF are no more, and the skeptical community has disintegrated?

40 years of podcasts.

40 years of podcasts.

Are you bummed and disappointed that our favorite annual reunion The Amaz!ng Meeting is no more? That James Randi’s JREF has ceased operations? That the community of like-minded enthusiasts of skeptical thinking — once called “organized skepticism” — seems to have exploded into feuding factions of atheists, social justice warriors, and rage bloggers?

You’re not alone. I hear it a lot. I hear it in casual emails from listeners, and I hear it from my long-time friends and colleagues with whom I spent many happy hours in the Del Mar lounge at the South Point. While I don’t deny that TAM will be sorely missed, these changes have all happened for the right reasons, and in that sense, constitute something that we all still share.

First, the demise of TAM and the JREF happened for exactly the right reason, and no other. Our friend James Randi, considered a mentor by many of us, has simply retired. TAM was a great success. The JREF was a great success. Randi continues to symbolize “Better living through less woo”. JREF didn’t go out of business or fall apart or have some giant drama; it simply closed, quietly and appropriately, as its central figure steps back. We should all be so lucky. Mourn the loss of TAM, but don’t read it as some sign that things are going to hell. They’re not. They’re getting better.

The fractioning off of splinter groups whose priorities were other than “Better living through less woo” is not a sign that critical thinking is crumbling. In fact it’s almost the opposite; it’s a cleansing, like one of those organic gluten-free detox coffee enemas we all love. For now, when we do attend a conference, we’re less likely to get punched in the face with some drama that has nothing to do with the reason we attended.

And, attend those other conferences, we are doing — from my read, attendance at skeptical conferences continues unabated. NECSS is having its eighth annual conference this year in New York, and it continues to draw rave reviews from those lucky enough to go. The seventh annual SkeptiCal in the San Francisco Bay Area is always surprisingly fun and affordable and with a speaker list that punches way above its weight. CSICon, which traces its lineage all the way back to the original CSICOP crew who got us started, remains the solid heavy hitter every year, and this year is moving to Las Vegas to fill TAM’s much-missed gap. But keep a wide-open eye on SkepTrack at Dragon Con, the skeptical mini-conference within the world’s largest gathering of our best potential new compatriots. This year SkepTrack is now in one of Dragon Con’s large halls, and that’s significant. More new people will probably be introduced to great skeptical content at this year’s SkepTrack than at any other conference past.

And those are just in the United States, hardly the world’s center for rational thinking. Look for QED in Manchester again this year, the Australian Skeptics National Convention in Melbourne, and the European Skeptics Conference every year. And these are to say nothing of the many smaller conferences worldwide.

It’s noteworthy also that a number of these conferences are run by the same people who bring you the podcasts you’re still listening to after an entire decade, which is a gargantuan achievement. Skeptoid is your favorite OF COURSE, but SGU, Skepticality, and The Skeptic Zone have all been around 10 years (!!!!!!!!!) and organize, or have been instrumental in, some of these great conferences. Support the podcasts; we need you in order to provide what you expect from us.

Yes, be sad that we can’t all go to TAM anymore. But be glad of the reason why, and make a point to attend an alternate conference instead. You’ll find many of your same old friends are there, we’re all still passionate about “Better living through less woo”, and we’ll be glad to tip a glass and remember the JREF, and insure that “the good old days” are still rolling.

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
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147 Responses to Are you frustrated that TAM & the JREF are no more, and the skeptical community has disintegrated?

  1. Thanks for setting the record straight on TAM and the JREF. I was lucky enough to get myself on that stage twice before it all ended, and I’m happy to have taken part in such an incredible event every year for almost its entire run. Randi certainly deserves a retirement, although he’s also still available for speaking engagements should any organization be interested.

    And thanks for the shout-out to SkeptiCal. All you Northern California skeptics and science-minded folks can join us there on May 15th, and we’ll all raise a glass in Randi’s honor as we continue the tradition of trying to bring reason into a sometimes unreasonable world!

  2. Andy Beale says:

    Can I just say that QED is held in Manchester, not London.

  3. Kevin Hoover says:

    I’m glad to have attended twice, met all my skepti-heroes, embraced Randi and experienced the Del Mar Lounge.

  4. Interesting
    So my first TAM was the last. Thrilled that in the first five minutes I arrived James Randi was standing in the lobby of the Tropicana and I got to say hello. I think I scared him a bit at first since he is a tiny man and I am over 6 feet tall. After looking up at me like a denizen of Tokyo in a Godzilla movie he was warm and shook my hand. Glad I met him. I am sorry that the JREF has shut down. Overall the numbers present at that meeting shows where scientific skepticism is going.

  5. Wordwizard says:

    I was sad that NECSS was near my home, but I couldn’t afford it. I wish there were some way for low-income individuals to volunteer…

    • Bruno Van de Casteele says:

      Contact them directly! Or try via George Hrab, who is a regular guest rogue and also will take part (partially). They are all very likeable guys/girls, I’m sure they need a helping hand somewhere.

    • they 100% take volunteers WW but truth you have to finance the trip they don’t have the resources to pay for assistant. Staying in NYC can be quite pricey. I am not going this year because I have to work related conference I may go for one day but even a train trip round trip can be 100 bucks from CT.

  6. Macky says:

    I also support better living through less woo.

    In the case of American pseudo-history and a few other subjects, I’ve tried to bring solid evidence against US govt woo (i.e. the Official Story) of a few events, and critical analysis that debunks much of what are unevidenced beliefs trotted out by the mainstream corporate media as the truth.

    Pity that the Skeptoid section of the skeptical community doesn’t seem willing to apply their hero’s (Randi) same rigour to 9-11 or TWA 800, to name two.

    • Richard says:

      We did, there just isn’t any evidence for anything that goes against all the experts’ view on those issues. The thing has been handled AT LENGTH, many times by skeptics, all the evidence was found sorely lacking and the given narrative confirmed, as it is by 99% of experts (especially concerning 9/11). You are confusing skepticism with denialist conspiracy thinking, Macky.

      • Macky says:

        “We did, there just isn’t any evidence for anything that goes against all the experts’ view on those issues.”
        There’s plenty of US govt agency evidence against the US govt’s Official Story of 9-11. It was posted two years ago on the Pentagon Missile thread, and lately on here.
        Nobody wants to discuss it.

        “All the experts” is simply not true. There are many experts who question the US govt version of 9-11, for many reasons.
        “as it is by 99% of experts (especially concerning 9/11).”
        How did you arrive at that figure ? Was there an extensive poll of “experts”?

        “You are confusing skepticism with denialist conspiracy thinking, Macky.”
        Not at all. I am skeptical of the US govt story of 9-11. My skepticism is backed by US govt’s own files, plus critical analysis.
        I have not proposed any conspiracy theory.

    • Bruno Tonon says:

      “Pity that the Skeptoid section of the skeptical community doesn’t seem willing to apply their hero’s (Randi) same rigour to 9-11 or TWA 800, to name two.”

      I agree with you Macky.

      Soft targets are easy to knock down and thats what the Skeptics prefer doing!!!!!

      • Lynda M Lafferty says:

        My psychic abilities were tested by a research scientist (PhD) who set up his own test. I scored 100% accuracy. The reason no one could win Randi’s prize and why I didn’t try is because psi cannot be accurately used for self-gain of any kind. Any attempt to prove ones abilities to others will fail because there is some form of self-gain involved. When you live with the gift all of your life you learn from your experiences what the limitations are.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          Seems like a pretty weak excuse. You don’t have to accept any money offered to you and if you can demonstrate your supposed abilities you’d be helping humanity more than yourself. You’re publicly announcing your supposed powers right now. Isn’t it more self-serving to make that claim without evidence? We can easily set up a cash-free test of your abilities if you like.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            For me to want to “prove” myself and receive any kind of validation would amount to self-gain. The research scientist asked if he could test me because my behaviors led him to the hypothesis that I must have psychic abilities. So I did his test FOR HIM. He didn’t use Zener cards. The test was done on the beach so the surf blocked out the sound. I was required to cover my eyes. He stood behind me where I couldn’t see him. He did however many tests required to meet scientific standards and beat the laws of chance. He chose to write numbers in the sand. There was no limit as to what digits he could use or how many. I not only scored 100% but also asked why on the last test he wrote a two, erased it, and wrote a 7, which he had done. I have experienced pre-cognition, empathic pain that brought me to my knees, remote reading, remote viewing, etc. I’ve been called everything from a guardian angel to a witch to one of Satan’s minions. I help those it sends me to.

          • John Monroe says:

            Does “the research scientist” have a name? Is he willing to confirm your claim and describe how he tested you?

        • WMcCreery says:

          Such a cop out

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            The “research scientist” was David A Buckley, PhD. His PhD was in organic chem. After securing his B.S. in organic chem he worked for Kodak, got 6 original patents in his name, was then accepted for the PhD program. In his career, before he was disabled by heart disease he got a total of 26 original patents and didn’t even bother to count the derivative patents he got, let alone the papers he wrote, co-wrote, and presented. He died in 2006.

    • mudguts says:

      Nice that you tried tho.. Hows the etheric going?

      • Macky says:

        Fine thanks Henk. I saw my “etheric” again today, the same colour as always.
        How’s yours ? You said you had seen it immediately after trying my directions.

    • Rich F. says:

      If you have something to bring to the table along with the evidence, then bring it. I’m sure the skeptical community will examine it. But so far, nothing has stood the test of scrutiny. And it’s been 15 years and more. I guess some will keep trying. The rest of us have moved on.

      • Macky says:

        Rich F.
        “If you have something to bring to the table along with the evidence, then bring it. I’m sure the skeptical community will examine it.”

        I did. March 31 2014 on the Pentagon Missile thread. Several links to FBI files which directly contradicted the US govt story of 9-11, and Fl77 in particular.

        In nearly two years, nobody on Skeptoid (including Skeptoid) has ever discussed them.

      • Macky says:

        Rich F.
        It was brought to the table two years ago on Skeptoid’s Pentagon Missile thread. FBI and BTS files which directly contradict the US govt story of 9-11, and in particular Fl77.

        Whether anybody examined it or not, nobody has discussed the evidence, neither Skeptoid nor any Official Story supporter.

        As such, there have been no critical analysis of the evidence.

        Yes some will keep trying. There are thousands of professionals from all disciplines with no conspiracy theories, but who like me question the Official Story of 9-11 on the basis of evidence, science and critical analysis, Skeptoid’s alleged mandate and methods.

        The rest who have moved on are satisfied with an uproven US govt-generated, US govt “proven”, and US govt “confirmed” story of 19 terrorists hijacking airliners with dozens of very capable passengers, among them martial artists, completely taking over the aircraft with a few knives/box cutters, and then driving at least two aircraft to hit at high speed tiny targets on the very first go, the very first time those alleged pilots were ever on those aircraft types.

        Anybody that swallows a story like that without scrutiny is in no shape or form a thinking skeptic. They are simply believers of the US govt, that is all.

    • Scott says:

      I’m not sure what rock you’ve been under but the skeptical community has been all over this. eg:
      And on skeptoid

      • Macky says:

        Arguing about what brought the WTC’s down is a waste of time. A diversion.

        America didn’t invade Russia or China based on the towers’ collapses. They invaded the Middle east on the US govt story that the attacks were caused by Islamic terrorists sent by Al Qaeda, and headed by OBL, none of which has any evidence for it.

        It doesn’t matter whether the towers were brought down solely by aircraft or by controlled demolition, the US govt Official Story of who the perpetrators were is unproven, both logically and scientifically.

        Perhaps a million+ people have died on the back of an unevidenced US govt urban myth.

        • Lynda M Lafferty says:

          Unlike those who video conspiracy theory videos for YouTube in the bathrooms of their trailers, I researched the construction because I wanted to know why the towers fell. Skyscrapers are vertically cantilevered, like diving boards and FLW’s Fallingwater are horizontally cantilevered. So the weight is on the bottom so the upper floors can withstand the high winds, and the only load bearing walls inside the buildings are in the center where the elevator banks are. All other inside walls are only gravity-bearing walls. Skyscrapers are not designed to have planes flown into their upper floors, no matter who does it.

  7. mudguts says:

    Yeah thats right.. I saw mine as well.. and I got my camera to do ten as well..

    Brian would offer an etheric prize for people who cant understand chemistry except… you can even fool a camera to mimic these processes..

    As you know.. fuzzzy camera pics dont count in the skeptic world, the real world..

    But boy does it work for old frauds who finally have worked out another task for their hands..

  8. Nick Pietrzak says:

    What’s this about Skeptrack at Dragoncon being moved? I can’t find any info. Where is it going to be?

  9. Bob Weber says:

    JREF is now the International Skeptics Forum. All of the old JREF archives are on ISF. They just had a long thread on the collapses of the Twin Towers with two “Truthers” who are real poster children for Dunning-Kruger.

  10. Macky says:

    Oops, cocked that one up. Meant to say “its own death-toll hundreds of times over” …

  11. Ken says:

    No, I’m not bummed, frustrated or disappointed. I’ve never lived close enough to any of these bunfights to consider attending and I barely knew most of them existed until a few years ago. Randi had to pack it in sometime after years of good work. Nothing lasts forever – except stupidity.

  12. WMccreery says:

    doesn’t imply that skepticism is a cult of personality centering around James Randi?

    • Macky says:

      James Randi certainly deserves recognition for exposing frauds in the paranormal and pseudoscience departments, but his one million dollar challenge was a load of rubbish.

      Like Skeptoid’s re-definitions of Conspiracy Theories never proven, the Randi Challenge’s conditions were so tight, nobody could possibly pass the test.

      Even if someone managed to show that their “psi” abilities were genuine, the 4 years I’ve been posting on Skeptoid has demonstrated without doubt that the “skeptics” would remain unconvinced.
      The reason for that is skepticism itself can become simply a belief system, “skepticism” a label that covers what the so-called skeptic actually believes without evidence, ignoring even official evidence that goes against his/her belief system.

      9-11 is a classic example. Two years of official files ignored by both Skeptoid and Official Story supporters. If one believes the OS of 9-11, one is an intelligent skeptic, but if one asks questions and provides evidence against, one becomes a conspiracy nutter, even when promoting no CT.
      And just like Randi, “skepticism” descends into name-calling of those that oppose the Official Story, whatever it may be.

      An undoubtedly talented magician, a master of trickery and deception, overseeing tests/experiments that would supposedly scientifically prove that “psi” abilities existed ?
      What a laugh. Any scientist worth his salt would not accept Randi’s test as any kind of proof.
      Even I know that science requires replication, not single (or even a few repeated “singles”) experiments.

      Yet “skeptics” seem to take it for granted that because nobody has passed Randi’s million-dollar challenge, that something like telepathy or other psychic abilities do not exist.

      And that’s entirely different than a simple lack of proof that they do. Not to “skeptics” though. In their eyes, Randi’s the Gatekeeper. Their mentor.

      • WMcCreery says:

        The claimant is always involved with the testing, and only start when they feel confident. It’s when their so called talent fails them that they call foul!!

        • Macky says:

          Maybe some have called foul, but that doesn’t apply to all claimants, and would-be claimants. Also some have called foul for very good reasons.

          And if the Randi test is supposed to prove that a certain psi ability (for example) exists, then it fails that proof scientifically even if passed by the claimant via Randi’s conditions, for the reasons stated above in my previous post.

          There is another point to consider. Psi abilities are that of the mind.
          Scientific principles are/were also constructed by the mind.
          Those principles require repeatable and consistent demonstrations of physical processes so that scientific data can be recorded and be regarded as true until proven otherwise by the same scientific method.

          No one can define the mind and all its processes/abilities entirely by using scientific principles, especially with replication.
          That’s why psychiatry is criticized as largely unscientific, a consensus of opinion mainly.

          It’s also why heinous experimentation went on for so long under MKUltra for example (may still go on for all we know) and the ghoulish ECT still exists as a form of mind-therapy.

          Some psi abilities are once-only events, and simply cannot be subjected to Randi or scientific rigour.
          And since psi abilities are of the mind, by the mind, there is also the question that said abilities may be blocked or distorted by other minds nearby concentrating on a test fail, or simply interfering with the claimant’s abilities, even without the claimant being aware of it.

          The Randi test therefore is not applicable to psi ability enquiry, AND it is not scientific either. It’s a stage show that reflects one man’s opinion and his supporters, right or wrong.

          Certainly it has exposed frauds, which is beneficial to all, but Randi’s admirers seem to extend that to a belief (belief it IS) that psi abilities do not exist because they are “not proven scientifically”.

          • WMcCreery says:

            If you can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist

          • Wordwizard says:

            Your special pleading for psi phenomena that can’t meet normal criteria of proof is SO underwhelming.

          • Terry Macdonald says:

            That’s right! You got it. If there is no evidence, no proof, for psi then in what way can it be said to exist? It doesn’t mean it 100% DOES NOT exist, it just means there’s no reason to say it DOES exist.

          • Louise says:

            Funny, I hadn’t heard that the skeptical community has “disintegrated.” There are many other skeptics groups still alive and kicking. It simply takes time to adjust to the loss of TAM and JREF. The skeptical community is not dead. It has received a substantial blow. It will regroup and recover. I was sorry to see TAM and JREF disappear, but, though they were a driving force, they did not represent the whole skeptical community. This kind if thing happens to organizations every day. Why this weeping and rending of clothes and planning for burial while the body is still warm, functioning and conscious?

          • Louise says:

            Actually it means there is no objective evidence for its existence so the default is that the claim is null until objective, testable evidence in its favor is presented. It does mean that the probability for its existence, for now, is zero.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            Actually, I have interacted with a number of people who have had modern ECT, because I am a Certified Peer Specialist in Mental Health Recovery, and their results were very beneficial. It does depend upon the severity of the illness. Anecdotally, it works better on bipolar disorder and unipolar depression – mood disorders, but not as well on thought disorders such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder, and others.

      • A Comma In Infinity says:

        Elsewhere in this thread, I just posted five links about the limitations in James Randi’s thinking and JREF, in general. At this writing, it is awaiting moderation.

        NOTE: I have great respect for JREF and James Randi for their good work in exposing flakes ans fakes. However, they are far from perfect, and this doesn’t get talked about enough.

        Here is a link about the highly flawed Million Dollar challenge.

        • And as Dr. Novella noted in his post Randi Hasn’t run the challenge for years. The point is not to scientifically explore the possibility of supernatural phenomenon. Rather it is test designed to allow a person to do what they claim to do with a structure that doesn’t allow a significant chance to cheat. It is not a experimental model and statistical designs are strictly for eliminating random chance. The purpose is to stop any ability to cheat given the power/ability they claim to have as they describe it. In a sense they define the test by defining what their abilities are. Objecting to it as a scientific study is false, in science their claims are many steps away from scientifically control/tested .

  13. I hadn’t heard that TAM and JFREF had shut down operations. I am sorry to hear it. I do hope, however, that one of the other skeptical organizations, or several of them together, will pick up on James Randi’s Million Dollar challenge–and call it that, in honor of James Randi. It has been a most important part of JREF and received a great deal of well deserved publicity. I can guarantee that a new Challenge will never put its million dollars at risk.

    How about it, skeptics?

  14. Macky says:

    “WMcCreery says:
    April 7, 2016 at 8:32 am

    If you can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist”

    That’s a statement of belief, not necessarily fact.

    “Wordwizard says:
    April 7, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Your special pleading for psi phenomena that can’t meet normal criteria of proof is SO underwhelming.”

    What is “normal criteria of proof”? I am not pleading for the existence of psi phenomena necessarily. I am saying that Randi tests are inappropriate for the investigation/proof of possible psi phenomena, as is scientific methods of verification, for the reasons stated in my last post.

    • Wordwizard says:

      Normal criteria of proof are the kinds Randi uses—scientific methods of verification. Your “reasons” are special pleading. These methods are not “inappropriate” for proof of psi phenomena. They are the only way you could prove them IF THEY IN FACT EXISTED.

      • Macky says:

        Then if Randi tests and scientific verification methods are one and the same, science undoubtedly provides solid, proven and applicable data in relation to physical processes/properties. There is no question about that and the human mind has been utterly proven to be a clever and competent tool in that area. Technology and applied sciences are direct products of the human mind and their accomplishments are to be applauded in most areas.

        But when it comes to other mental processes such as psi abilities, scientific/Randi methods can only have limited success (if any) in proving to others the truth of whether abilities such as telepathy, dowsing etc actually exist or not.

        The reason is obvious. The Mind is not a physical quantity that can be analyzed by purely normal scientific methods. Psychiatry for example is accepted generally by the scientific community but is only largely an unscientific consensus of opinion by “psychiatrists”, criticized even by psychological associations.

        The plain fact is, that if someone is being tested in a Randi manner (itself having been criticized for its bias at times) for alleged psi abilities ( i.e. purely of the mind ) then it is entirely conceivable that said abilities, should they in fact be genuine, could be influenced by other minds nearby in some way that ensures that the test is failed (or indeed passed in other cases).

        The whole idea of using scientific/Randi methods of “proof” for psi abilities is certainly appropriate for exposing fraudulent practices such as covert blowing on paper, but is useless for definitively proving whether said psi abilities exist at all, or not.

        You can’t subject a non-physical entity (the human mind) to tests that belong to physical processes/properties, and for so-called skeptics to insist on scientific/Randi proofs for psi abilities is as much an expression of belief that science is everything, as the so-called psychics who assign themselves powers that have no evidence of their existence, given their often poor record of success.

        The scientific method is not some primordial universal truth stumbled over by Mankind in the course of his evolution. It was and is conceived PURELY BY HIS MIND in order to explain the world and the universe in ways that he could understand BY HIS SENSES.

        Therefore a constructed process of his mind, the scientific method, denies another proposed/alleged aspect of the same mind on the grounds of its own rules which apply to physical processes/properties, but not the non-physical.

        That is why statements such “if it is not proven it doesn’t exist” and “science is everything”, with the accompanying implication that said proof MUST come by way of scientific method, are only assertions of BELIEF, themselves ultimately unprovable even by sciences own methods.

        • Wordwizard says:

          The mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain, as the pretty light you see of a fire is an epiphenomenon of oxidation. “Mind” can’t be explored; the brain can, by our senses. There’s no need for extraordinary methods to test the mind. The brain exists as a physical entity. Etheric thoughts being influenced by other thoughts is gobbledygook. Why are you wasting everyone’s time on this special pleading about what doesn’t exist? Go somewhere else where your crackpot theories will be taken seriously.

          • Macky says:

            You’re about as ignorant as anyone could possibly be on these matters. If you had any experience of life to any degree you would realize that the brain is in fact electrically driven, as every cell and nerve in our body is also, therefore there is a magnetic field issuing from such electrical activity which MAY interact with another brain’s EM in the manner of a transformer, or perhaps radio.

            The phenomenon of crowd control re riots and political rallies show the effects of collective bringing into phase many brains and their electromagnetic waves. Many rioters for example, finding themselves up some deserted street away from the rest, calm down and even wonder why they were so worked up over things. The Hitler rallies were another example of crowd collective hysteria. Football matches too.
            Under LSD, some have become telepathic with others also on the trip, and have issued requests by thought alone that could not have been telegraphed in any other way, with the received party performing actions according to said request.
            You would probably have no idea of that.

            My own experiences with a FEW successes in my previous job dowsing for telephone cables which normal detectors did not locate is an indication that sometimes there is a place for such processes. They are not repeatable under scientific testing therefore of no use on an everyday level.
            But they exist, despite your rejection of anything outside your own experience.

            Even Randi comments that psi phenomena is an area for further investigation.

            One of the main reasons why I continue to post here (at Brian’s request btw) is to show how even so-called skeptics are themselves only believers in a system (scientific methods) that is erroneously used to prove or disprove phenomena outside physical science.

            The endorsement of science-only proof as a yardstick for whether anything exists or not is the rigid adherence to a set of rules constructed BY THE MIND, for physical properties, a point which is evidently lost on you.

            Using science to “prove” psi abilities exist is as inappropriate as using science to try and prove or disprove the existence of God. Even Randi admits he is not a pure atheist.

            In short, get a life and stop clinging to a system of “proof” which is entirely appropriate to physical processes in the near universe, but not non-physical concepts which remain open to honest enquiry.

          • Wordwizard says:

            Post away, but mass hysteria is not caused by electromagnetic effects, and whether “Randi himself” is not entirely an atheist does not by dragging his name in provide proof for a deity that clearly could not logically exist.

    • A Comma in Infinity says:

      Good fight, Macky. I totally know what you’re saying dude. These people on this thread are honestly unaware of the great deal of digging that has been done that has shown that the Randi challenge was in many cases was a sham. This is not to discount the valid work of JREF. However, it is very clear that in many cases the rules of the testing changed when representatives were faced with actual possible evidence of psi. It’s too bad I’m not near my computer right now, or I could hook up the readers here to several links clearly indicating the JREF was not the squeaky-clean organization in all cases that it is supposed to be. Again, hats off to JREF for a lot of good work. But, the facts are this: There was some rotten stuff in the woodpile with them. There is a lot of documentation about this. Also, even if I could present to you these links at this moment, I’m quite confident that the zealots of JREF are honestly incapable of seeing this evidence if placed in front of them. They honestly have blinders on that they are not aware of. JREF was very good at plucking the low-hanging, obvious fruit of fakes and flakes. But, when presented with quality evidence, their track record is not good at all.

      • Sure easy to make anonymous claims that the JREF was hiding evidence of Psi. Name one! Any evidence at all would be appreciated. It makes your argument so much more sound than” I show you all my evidence but they won’t believe it so I’m not gonna bother” which is a ridiculous. Although many have try to rewrite the story of the test after the fact. The JREF challenges are an open book and the legal documentation is in writing easy to find. The participants in advance signed statements agreeing to the conditions of the test and what qualifies as success or proof. IF they didn’t agree the test did not happen. Many later try to rewrite history, lie or try to rewrite what is agreed to be a success. Typically the participants do self delusional post hoc back tracking. Trying to change the standard post hoc after agreeing to the conditions of the test does not constitute evidence. It is a hand waiving special pleading to try to explain their failure for themselves and other believers.

      • WMcCreery says:

        Typical if it doesn’t come out the way want they ust have cheated

        • A Comma in Infinity says:

          About an hour ago, I made a post with four links to info pointing out the limitations in the thinking of James Randi, and, by extension, the work if JREF. I went out of my way to repeatedly point out the great amount of good that James Randi and JREF has done. Also, in the spirit of even-handed investigation, I pointed out limitations.

          For whatever reason, this post is awaiting moderation. If,and when it is allowed on the board, I suggest you read the links with an open mind.

          I suggest that your simplistic dismissive post discredits the very organization you are trying to support. Very rarely is something as simple as the tone of your comment suggests. Suggest improving your “game.”

      • Wordwizard says:

        You’re so sure we won’t look at the links, that you can’t be bothered to back up your words? Yet you criticize us for not being willing to look at what isn’t there. Convenient, but hardly convincing. No proof=no proof.

        • A Comma In Infinity says:

          WordWizard — Read my post from earlier today. I posted several links that, for whatever reason, await moderation. Later, I posted a link that was immediately put up on this thread.

          It is clear that you didn’t read my first post carefully and accurately. In that post, I made it clear that I was unable to post the links at that time. Implicit was that I wanted to post them. It strongly appears that you just skimmed what I wrote. Tighten up your act, dude.

      • Macky says:

        The Randi test is commendable for exposing fraud, nothing more. Significant criticisms of the test include this article
        and at the last, since when should a Randi test prove that something like psi ability exists even if passed by the participant, under mutually-agreed test conditions ?

        That Randi seems to have a band of “skeptic groupies” who can’t wait to go and see this fine magician is amusing, given that true skepticism is not practiced here on this site on many occasions, namely that of 9-11 related subjects, Pearl Harbour, Russian cosmonaut tragedies, TWA 800 etc.

        Many so-called skeptics on Skeptoid are mere believers, nothing more, and the sooner they own up and admit that, the clearer their minds will become for proper ordered critical analysis, not simply repeating the Party Line/Official Story, often with derisory name-calling of serious questioners as part of their “skepticism”.

        Regarding normal skeptics’ calls for solid evidence, said evidence has been presented 2 years ago that directly contradicts the US govt version of 9-11.
        None of it has even been commented on by any skeptic, or Skeptoid itself.

        Skeptics and their “club” obviously select their pet subjects for “scrutiny and analysis” but not the ones that really matter, and it is now significant that even the old Skeptoid’s archival comments are deleted from the main board, effectively censoring opposing evidenced positions to Skeptoid’s main theme, that world-changing and other important events are correct as stated through corporate media by the US govt Official Story.

        At the last EVERY SINGLE US govt story should be scrutinized by those that call themselves skeptics, just on the FD-302 FBI form alone, since they were all supported by this Police State form, AND roundly criticized by Brian himself.

        Skeptics would do well to examine their own skepticism on some subjects, because it has been obvious over the last 4 years since I’ve been posting that critical analysis and evidenced support for a conclusion has been notable by its absence on a few important subjects, by so-called skeptics.

        In particular, a true skeptic should be aware of the difference of when he/she has arrived at a conclusion by solid evidence, or by mere belief that the Official Story is true. Many “skeptics” have not, and the rather sycophantic support for Randi as some kind of skeptical mentor is misplaced, in my opinion.

        • Oh My macky yes it true having standards for the million dollar challenge does make it more difficult to practice deception. SO ya I also noticed the article you posted argues that high standards are the problem. If you gonna let the dealer play his three card monty game then yes you will lose your money but it wont be proof he can make a red ball teleport. The challengers have the same right as the challenge to opt out at any level and not agree to the standards of the test. Anyone can argue that the requirements are impossibly high. Realistically the participants agree to the procedures at every level of the challenge. They seem to only find fault with the system well after they have failed.

          • Macky says:

            Sure Stephen
            According to the article I posted the link to, many find fault with the procedures before they are even tested. The flaws have been clearly presented in said article, however a point that I bring is that even if someone does pass the Randi test on ‘psi ability’, that still does not prove that psi ability exists. They are a public entertainment showcase that often (rightly) proves fraud and trickery, but not a lot more than that.

            For example, any dowser worth his salt should never try and prove his/her “ability” on Randi tests because as in science, repeatable strikes are required, and dowsing is not like that, which is why it is no good for everyday routine uses. Dowsers should know that. But for those that have had successful “finds” using dowsing methods, said “psi” ability is very real, but not provable under Randi tests or by science’s methods. Dowsing has only an occasional use.

            From the point of view of skepticism, what I’ve seen here over the years is skepticism being used for what amounts to nothing more than beliefs.
            Under Skeptoid’s OWN rules re skepticism, critical analysis and solid evidence for a contrary view to Skeptoid’s has been presented time and time again, and Skeptoid’s reaction has been the total ignoring of said evidence, or the attempted obfuscation of the argument.

            So-called skeptics have piled into the wholesale personal attacks on the One Who Opposes The Party Line, and Skeptoid’s own articles have been full of discussions on conspiracy theories, with very little on the actual issue.

            True skeptics need to sharpen their act up and examine their own skepticism, because what passes for intelligent skepticism is often only their beliefs without any coherent evidence, and bereft of any critical analysis. Along with the humourous CT-bashing, the Skeptics Club is only yet another group of believers, and that is okay, but it’s not scientific or critical skepticism.

        • Louise says:

          Just how do,you define psi? Please be specific. What is it, exactly, and how does it work. How does the brain detect psi.

          • Macky says:

            If you’re asking for a scientific of psi, you won’t get one because much of the mind resides beyond the area of science’s enquiry and proofs.

            That’s why psychiatry is so criticized for its unscientific (read opinionated consensus of psychiatrists) methods.

          • Louise says:

            Criticized by whom? Psi is criticized, too. Does that automatically make it invalid? What makes any claim invalid is that no evidence has been presented to support it. Psychiatry has supporting, testable evidence of many of its claims–infinitely more than psi has. Psi has none.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, am the host (alter in charge). The birth child is two years old. The brain created the rest of us as as survival mechanism. I have co-consciousness with some of them but not all of them. The birth child didn’t consciously choose to do this because at 2 the hippocampus isn’t fully online. The brain is like a universe unto itself. How does one scientifically explain service animals that warn their owners in advance that they are going to have a seizure so the person can get themselves into a safe position? We don’t know everything about psi and lots of other stuff.

        • Louise says:

          Randi succeeded in exposing fraud in the flakes who claim psi is a true phenomenon. That’s enough for me. If anyone here thinks Randi, et al handled the claim wrong, then show us a legitimate scientist who has looked at it and handled it right. What peer reviewed journal were the results published in? None? Then the claim is false. Stop blaming Randi for the gaping flaws in your claims.

          • Macky says:

            That’s right Randi (rightly) exposed fraud. He didn’t prove that “psi” abilities don’t exist, in general.

            Your reference to peer reviewed journals is unsound, since many articles from said journals have been withdrawn, having found to be written by a computer program, therefore certainly not properly edited.

            I’m not blaming Randi for any imagined flaws and/or claims. I’m saying that so-called skeptics hold him up to be some kind idol on the grounds of critical thinking and scientific analysis and proof, when he is only very good as a magician in proving fraudulent claims on showtime.

          • Louise says:

            Anyone who has tried to put one over on Randi and failed would say that, wouldn’t he?

          • Louise says:

            Neither Randi nor anyone else is ever required to prove something does not exist. All he had to do was to show that your claims did not pass scientific scruitiny, which he did.

            If you think anyone can prove non existence, prove that anything does not exist. Start with Zeus, if you need an example. I will pass on your method to Randi and other skeptics. We would all be happy to try it.

          • Louise says:

            Neither Randi nor anyone else sets out to proves claims to be fraudulent. He only proved that whatever “evidence” was claimed to uphold a claim does not pass scientific testing. The evidence presented may or may not be fraudulent. Sometimes the claimant is just mistaken or doesn’t understand the rules of science. The claims are considered not proven because the claimants can’t show evidence that holds up to scientific testing that they are true. This is true with ALL claims, not just psi claims.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            I agree with Macky that not proved scientifically doesn’t mean false or fraudulent claims. It could simply be that the existing evidence doesn’t meet the current scientific standards as evidence. As our knowledge expands scientific criteria might also expand. I’m certain Jonas Salk was told a polio vaccine couldn’t be done, that people said we couldn’t land on the moon, etc. Heck, I remember Terry Bradshaw failing to complete a long bomb and completing it on the next exact same play. He did that all the time.

          • Louise says:

            Linda M. lafferty wrote:

            I agree with Macky that not proved scientifically doesn’t mean false or fraudulent claims. It could simply be that the existing evidence doesn’t meet the current scientific standards as evidence. As our knowledge expands scientific criteria might also expand. I’m certain Jonas Salk was told a polio vaccine couldn’t be done, that people said we couldn’t land on the moon, etc. Heck, I remember Terry Bradshaw failing to complete a long bomb and completing it on the next exact same play. He did that all the time.

            Lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean false or fraudulent claims. It means the person making the claim has failed to prove his claim and the scientific default is that the claim is invalid–at least unless and until the person making the claim can provide evidence that it is true. No evidence=invalid claim, no matter why the evidence hasn’t been shown.

            Any claims made by or about Jonas Salk, those who walked on the moon and Terry Bradshaw were invalid until they proved them to be true. I doubt that Salk said he had a vaccine for polio before he actually had it or before it passed scientific tests. If he did he would have been a fool. NASA didn’t get credit for putting a man on the moon before they did it. Terry Bradshaw had to make the plays before rational people would say he proved his predictions. Only after a claim is proven to be true is it considered valid. Predictions about anything are a dime a dozen. Occasionally they come to pass. The vast majority don’t, and are therefore considered invalid, at least until evidence can be shown, just as any unproven claim is considered invalid.

        • Louise says:

          It exposed the fraud of psi claimants very well, so Randi must have been doing a good job but I see that’s your problem. The better Randi did, the more you claimed his methods were wrong. He was using standard scientific methods and nobody could cheat them. That’s why psi claimants are so pissed. When someone exposes them as fraudlent, the claimants start attacking the methods. Typical reaction by frauds. If you can find a legitimate scientist or group to examine your claims and say they are correct, tell us about them. Or is it that EVERYBODY who examines claims of psi is incompetent? Interesting phenomenon.

          • Macky says:

            Absolutely not. Anybody who tried to prove or demonstrate “psi” abilities on Randi tests, and was either proven to be a fraud, or simply unable to demonstrate what they claimed has to take the fall in good grace.

            They didn’t do what they said they could do, so I have no problem at all with Randi in that respect.

            If they are grizzling later after the fact, then as frauds who is going to listen to them ? In the case of dowsers who missed their targets under Randi tests, then I am surprised that any competent dowser would ever try and prove his expertise in a scientifically repeatable manner, when dowsing by its very nature is only an occasional ability used when other methods have been found unsuitable (costs etc).

            In my opinion, said persons did not understand dowsing properly at all.

          • WMcCreery says:

            Bravo!! Well Said!!!

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            If you don’t understand how psi works, on a scientific basis, how can you say it doesn’t exist. Psi works independently of consciousness and that is why it can’t truly be controlled and proved scientifically.

            As for dowsers, I had a friend who lived in NM and when he needed a well dug the dowser nailed the spot to drill.

          • Louise says:

            I can say psi probably doesn’t exist because no one has ever shown it to exist and the burden of proof is on the person(s) making the claim. I would not claim it doesn’t exist, though some people might, and the statement cannot be proven wrong. The person to whom a claim is made is never expected to prove a claim is not true. Without evidence from the claim maker(s) the default is that the claim is invalid. This is a rule of critical and scientific thinking. Of course, anyone is free to ignore the rule if he or she doesn’t mind being seen as a fool by people who understand and accept rational and scientific standards.

      • Jeff Wagg says:

        As the person who was responsible for the challenge for many years, I can personally assure you that if anyone had the powers they claimed, they would have won easily. I would have shouted from the rooftops if there was any irregularity. There simply was none while I was at the JREF.

    • Louise says:

      What is it, Macky, that makes psi phenomena a exception to the scientofic method? Is there anything else that’s an exception?

      • Macky says:

        Off the top of my head, oh say.. falling in love, God, reincarnation, the ability to hear someone’s thoughts from holding an object which they own (or owned), knowing how good or bad a person’s organs are from a distance, just for a few…

        • Louise says:

          Hardly the same thing, Macky. Not even in the same league.

          But none of those things can be proven to exist, either, so psi is no more a provable claim than they are, and the default for unprovable claims is that they are invalid.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            When I worked in health insurance people had to prove that they did not have secondary health insurance from their spouse. So they had to prove a negative. I am disabled and worked part-time. When I quit working I had to prove to SSDI that I no longer worked. We are required to prove negatives in life all the time.

          • Louise says:

            I doubt you had to “prove” it. You were probably asked to state it or sign an affadavit to that effect for legal reasons. If you were found to be working or insured by your spouse you could be charged with perjury but only after the fact. If you were expected to prove to SSDI that you weren’t working, how did you go about it? Did you have every employer in your city, state and even in the whole country (you could have been doing free lance work at home) sign an affadavit that you were not employed by them? How did you arrange this? How did you prove you were not being paid under the table?

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            In the two cases of proving a negative, one has to get verification from 1) the spouse’s insurance carrier that you are not covered and 2) SSDI requires part-time employment and income to be reported to Social Security on a monthly basis. When no longer working, SSDI requires confirmation from the employer. Under the REAL ID Act of 2003, to get/renew a driver’s license requires a govt. issued birth certificate, all marriage certificates, all divorce certificates, copy of lease or mortgage showing current physical address, and mail like bank current bank statements that are being sent to your physical address. So you have to prove you are no longer married.

            As as for no valid proof of psi, try looking up the research done by Duke University.

  15. Macky says:

    “Post away, but mass hysteria is not caused by electromagnetic effects, and whether “Randi himself” is not entirely an atheist does not by dragging his name in provide proof for a deity that clearly could not logically exist.”
    Good. We’ve gone from “Go somewhere else …” to “Post away..” so progress has been made.

    “but mass hysteria is not caused by electromagnetic effects,”
    I haven’t said that, nor would I, and Randi has not been dragged in to provide proof for any deity. Randi has been one of the subjects of this blog from the start.

    Even Randi admits “if I were to claim that no god exists, I would have to produce evidence to establish that claim, and I cannot.”
    He remains in effect an agnostic atheist, or the second of two types of atheist as he asserts.

    You however go further by stating “.. a deity that clearly could not logically exist.”
    Please explain your reasoning. Randi can’t.

    Like psi phenomena that you assert does not exist, you have provided no evidence or arguments for your pronouncements so far, except assertions simply based on belief that they do not exist because science hasn’t proven them.

    • Wordwizard says:

      No, it is not logically possible for the common-or-garden belief in an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god to exist, due to the problem of evil. Any being that came up with this world full of war, starvation, cancer, grief, depression, as its best effort, would have to be a sadist, or incompetent, or insufficiently powerful. I was able to accept this logic when I was presented with it at age 8. Can you? If you wanted to go for a creator that was not any of these, (such as creators of digital worlds within computers), that then walked away, it would have no moral sway. My parents created me, but don’t have the right to order my life. These logical contradictions are not my simple assertions, unbacked by proof.

      • Macky says:

        I’m not making a case for whether God exists or not. I am questioning your logic on the matter in the same way I question your “logic” regarding your flat-out statements that neither God or psi abilities exist, based on the lack of scientific proof.

        “Any being that came up with this world full of war, starvation, cancer, grief, depression, as its best effort, would have to be a sadist, or incompetent, or insufficiently powerful.”
        I’ve heard this argument before. It is an assumption that said being would be just like us, which is not even logical, given that He/She/It has created (or IS in fact) the universe. Such a pin-drop as a misbehaving Earth in such a huge universe may only be a tiny anomaly in a giant program of creation.
        “it would have no moral sway.”

        In these two statements you have brought morality into the argument, which is unscientific (since you seem to promote science as the definitive proof of whether something exists or not).
        The role of science is not about ethics.

        Your logic and reasoning behind your position therefore is backed (as it is in psi phenomena) on emotion and belief, not science.

        That is a clear example of what I’ve posted on Skeptoid in the past, that even so-called skeptics with there insistence on scientific proof for everything, still at the end of the day are governed primarily by belief not science.

        • Wordwizard says:

          No, I was addressing the concerns of god-believers who feel their deity has the right to determine morality, the common-or-garden definitions I mentioned at the top of the post. Why would Earth’s being a pin drop from something else’s perspective give them a free pass to cause evil while still being considered the definer of good? From common human perspective, our griefs are vast. If only you suffer, would that make your suffering trivial? I wouldn’t give your god the time of day.

          • Macky says:

            You’ve completely ignored what I’ve just said in my last post, especially re your latest non-scientific ethical observations, whether they are true or not, and attempted to divert the debate away towards others who are not involved.

            Your original assertions
            “Your special pleading for psi phenomena that can’t meet normal criteria of proof is SO underwhelming.”
            “Normal criteria of proof are the kinds Randi uses—scientific methods of verification.”
            “Etheric thoughts being influenced by other thoughts is gobbledygook. ”
            “These methods are not “inappropriate” for proof of psi phenomena. They are the only way you could prove them IF THEY IN FACT EXISTED.”

            …are clear examples of your assertions (often repeated in essence by so-called skeptics) that unless something is proven by modern science, it does not exist.

            Your arguments and assertions have since drifted away into statements of philosophical ethics and beliefs.

            You BELIEVE that psi abilities do not exist, NOT that they don’t because science hasn’t proven them by its own methods.
            There have been many things that have existed well before science ever proved them to be true, especially in science’s own physical realms of enquiry.

            Your assertions as you stated originally (above) therefore have no foundation in science whatsoever, but are merely beliefs.
            Trying to use science to support your beliefs does not make you a true skeptic. Only a disbeliever of psi phenomena. And that’s all right. But it’s not scientific.

        • Lynda M Lafferty says:

          The scientific method requires reproduction of results to form a theory. But as Jung wrote synchronicity shows that not everything can be repeated. I believe everyone experiences synchronicity and that everyone experiences psi. Even the cardiology researchers list an impending sense of doom as a sign of a forthcoming heart attack in women.

    • Louise says:

      Randi is absolutely correct when he says he’d have to produce proof if he were to say that god does not exist because that would be a positive claim. That doesn’t make him not an atheist. The problem is that too many people don’t know what atheism is. It is not a statement about existence. It is a statement of non-belief. An atheist who understands what atheism is would never say that atheism means knowing or claiming that a god does not exist. It means that the atheist has no belief that a god exists–probably because no objective evidence has ever been presented for the existence of a god. The word itself should give you a clue: a=without, theism=belief in god. That’s all it means. Individual atheists may claim to know there is no god, but that has no bearing on what atheism actually is. In addition, agnosticim is not a third choice between atheism and theism. Agnosticism is a statement on knowledge. Atheism is a statement on belief. They are two completely different concepts. If you ask a person who designates himself as an agnostic if he believes a god exists, he would likely say no, which would make him an atheist, whether he likes the word or not. J If he says he doesn’t know, he doesn’t know his own mind. Nobody can truthfully say he doesn’t know whether he believes in a god or not. If people would understand what atheism is they would not need a word such as “agnosticism” to water it down.
      There are only two choices, theism or atheism. Anyone who says he doesn’t know whether a god exists is an atheist. The fact that Randi says he doesn’t know does not lessen his atheism. It shows him to be an intelligent atheist, something that is all too rare in the world today.

      • Lynda M Lafferty says:

        But isn’t a statement of non-belief actually a statement of a personal belief system? Just like choosing not to make a choice is a choice.

        • Louise says:

          No it is not a statement of belief, it’s a statement of non belief. If you were asked to state whether you believe unicorns exist or that fairy tales are true, would they be statements of a personal belief system? Or would they be statements of nonbelief, which is exactly what atheism is.

      • Lynda M Lafferty says:

        I’m an agnostic because I honestly can’t prove that a god does or does not exist. That’s fact. And I used a small g because I’m not limiting it to the Abrahamic god. I see intelligent design in life but I don’t know how it started or evolved.

        • Macky says:

          “But isn’t a statement of non-belief actually a statement of a personal belief system? Just like choosing not to make a choice is a choice.”
          “I’m an agnostic because I honestly can’t prove that a god does or does not exist. That’s fact. And I used a small g because I’m not limiting it to the Abrahamic god. I see intelligent design in life but I don’t know how it started or evolved.”

          Absolutely agree.

          Under Louise’ definition, there actually are no true atheists because even in primitive societies, the concept of God, or gods etc is well imprinted on the mind.

          In our more “civilized” societies, the concept of God is clearly reinforced. We are all brought up with said concept, one way or another. “God bless America etc…”

          Therefore an atheist is one who denies (does not believe in) God or gods, which is a belief, since science cannot prove or disprove God or gods.

          That clearly shows there are at least three positions on the matter. The agnostic is a definite thoughtful position, where it is truly asserted that they cannot prove whether God exists or not.

          In fact, it is the only one of the three that does not require Belief.

          In essence, “proving a negative” has in fact been overcome by science quite a few times, btw.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            I find that just as there are rabid believers in a supreme being there are those who have abandoned that, declared themselves atheists, and are as rabid in their non-belief as they were when they were believers. They have that graphic mindset – everything is either black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. They do not see the 256 shades of gray.

          • Louise says:

            How would you know how atheists view the world? Have you ever been one? I mean a real one, not a religiously inspired fake one, used to shine a good light on religion.

            An agnostic is not an atheist.

            I can only wonder how many real atheists you know. I have been involved with atheist and humanist organizations for a good part of my life and I have never met any that would fit your description, which sounds more like a shameless fake description a religion would come up with, designed to warn its members away from “evil” atheism. It is not a new technique for religions. They seem to think they need an enemy to make themselves look good and to be in constant battle against. Einstein was an atheist. Would he fit your description? Here’s a list of self-professed atheists–that is, people who gladly admit to being atheists, not people who religions accuse of being atheists because they don’t like them and who don’t know what an atheist actually is.


        • Louise says:

          Agnosticism is not a third choice between theism and atheism. though many people make that mistake. Agnosticism has nothng to do with belief. It’s a statement on knowledge. Everyone is an agnostic about claims that have not been proven (unless they are kooks). Belief has nothing to do with it. A theist is a person who believes in god(s). An atheist is a person who has no belief in god(s). An agnostic says he doesn’t know whether a god exists. An agnostic can even be a theist because the word is not a statement on belief. An agnostic says he doesn’t KNOW the truth (it doesn’t have to be about god(s). If a person says he doesn’t know whether he believes or not, he has a much bigger problem than misusing words.

          • Lynda M Lafferty says:

            “I don’t know” is a statement of fact, not a statement of belief. I can’t prove theism or atheism. If expressed in positive terms, an atheist would say I believe no god(s) exist. Just as a theist would say I believe god(s) exist. If you are an atheist what is your scientific proof that there are no gods? If you are a theist, what is your scientific proof that there are gods?

            I know I can’t create a universe or planets or stars or black holes or solar systems or animals, etc. But just because I can’t doesn’t mean that a smarter, more powerful being than me couldn’t do those things, either. Did the universe come into existence purely through synchronicity? I don’t know.

  16. Louise says:

    Macky: Under Louise’ definition, there actually are no true atheists because even in primitive societies, the concept of God, or gods etc is well imprinted on the mind.

    Prove that, Macky.

    No person is ever born believing in a god. People are indoctrinated to believe it, often through great fear.

    You don’t know what an atheist is or what the root of the word is. It’s a=without, theism=belief in a god, no matter how believers have tried to corrupt the meaning of the word to suit their own ends and their own arguments. It will never fly with intelligent people.

    • Macky says:

      “No person is ever born believing in a god.” Agreed. But for most after an early age, the concept of a God or gods is very real, nevertheless. World events are often conducted on collective perception of what is reality, whether scientifically proven or not. The alleged perps of 9-11, for a notable example.

      “People are indoctrinated to believe it, often through great fear.” And guilt as well. That has been one of my prime criticisms of the Christian religion as promoted by the Powers That Be.

      “You don’t know what an atheist is or what the root of the word is.” I’m not interested in the study of words particularly although I am ready to listen to your definitions. The current common usage of a word is often different than its original meaning. Today, an atheist is one who denies the existence of God or gods. That is an unprovable position, just like one who does believe in God. As I said, an agnostic is the only one of the three that truly uses plain reason, not belief.

      “It will never fly with intelligent people.” Completely unprovable statement of belief only.

    • Lynda M Lafferty says:

      You might want to read Michael Shermer’s “The Believing Brain.” I’m not loaning my signed copy to anyone.

  17. Macky says:

    “Louise says:
    May 12, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Criticized by whom? Psi is criticized, too. Does that automatically make it invalid? What makes any claim invalid is that no evidence has been presented to support it. Psychiatry has supporting, testable evidence of many of its claims–infinitely more than psi has. Psi has none.”

    Psychiatry is roundly criticized for its close financial ties with the pharmaceutical industry which MUST affect the often unscientific dispensing of drugs, the attempted secrecy (non-disclosure) of the DSM-5, the British Psychological Society, the National Institute of Mental Health, the non-scientific “testable” evidence based on social norms rather that sound scientific methods, the over-medication of normal human emotional responses to grief etc, the ignoring of biological reasons for mental disorder…..shall I go on ?

    The reasons for most of the above is simply because the MInd cannot be investigated as scientifically as other physical processes and properties. Neither can psi events/properties either. BOTH psychiatry and psi phenomena are therefore extremely vulnerable to fraud, and as you say, Randi has done a good job exposing fraud, and also shown that people re psi were not able to do what they agreed to do on his show.

    My main criticism on this thread has been because many “skeptics” consider that psi phenomena do not exist because it hasn’t been proven scientifically, which is of course illogical, and that because Randi allegedly uses scientific tests, by extension because nobody has passed a Randi test series re psi ability, it doesn’t exist.

    In fact you yourself has argued against your own case by endorsing psychiatry as a very real method of mental disorder treatment despite a great deal of psychiatric diagnosis based on unscientific analysis, including the influences of the above.

    It’s a criticism I have made of Skeptoid and many so-called skeptics in the past, that science by its very nature is perfectly suited to the investigation and applied uses of physical substances including the physical body etc, but it is simply not the end all proof of whether something exists or not, especially the properties of the Mind. To say that it is, is only another belief system.

    If in fact science and the scientific method was a complete and closed system that described all of reality, then your argument (along with the other so-called skeptics that promote it) may have some validity, but because science is open-ended, finding that the more it finds out, the more there is to find out, then the assertion that psi ability (in any form) does not exist because science hasn’t proven it is directly against science’s own direction and motivation. It is also the rigid adherence to a system that was ultimately devised by the Mind itself, not some primordial great Truth stumbled over by Mankind sometime in his evolution.

    • mudguts says:

      Go on.. wheel out the paranoia! Lets all brace for untestable claims and anecdote..

      Science bashing by the nonsensical..

      When it comes to the natural world there is science and there is nonsense. Having checked just a few seconds ago.. This is the natural world.

      If someone has a better approximation of an area of nature, they investigate it and publish it. Getting it past review is only the first hurdle.

      Of course science could be about sitting on ones bum and doing nothing about their daily grandiose musings.. But we never get to read about that. Thats because the daily grandiose musings are… nonsenses hardly pursued by the lazy..

      As usual .. For those considering further education; Think about enrolling in a science degree come this spring semester in the Nth hemisphere

      Dont worry about the twats who think you are doing it to “develop weapons” or some other idiotic jealousy smear. They have a 100% hit rate on dull grandiose daily musings. They are jealous they cant attempt to do a science degree (with in the expectation of completing it) themselves. Yes it is a lot of hard work..

      • Louise says:

        Macky, you have proven my point and shown a good example of a religious fool and his bizarre and uninformed opinions about atheists. Keep up the good work. You are creating additional atheists with everything you write–real atheists, not the fake variety created from whole cloth by foolish theists to suit their religious agenda.

        • Macky says:

          Well done you two. I didn’t think it would long before the personal attacks and insinuations would start up.

          That’s what happens when the retired scientists and science-only-as-proof believers encounter plain logic they can’t answer to.

          To the retired scientist who has posted on occasion that science is everything, when you awake from your religiosity, which I doubt will never happen given your attitude over the last 4 years which consists almost entirely of derision and diversion instead of considered argument, why should I deride science when I have publicly endorsed it over the years ?
          And why should science be the only definition of nature, given Mankind’s survival through thousands of years without it ?

          To Louise, who started out arguing logically and sensibly but has now degenerated into personal abuse, I am not religious at all. Whether I am foolish or not is only your opinion, nothing else, and now that you have left behind your considered arguments on psychiatry and psi phenomena in general, I repeat again that I am not interested in debating the literal meaning/definition of a single word, when the general public if asked will say that an atheist is someone who denies God (or gods), or simply does not believe in God, or equally simply has no belief in God.

          Either way, the Mind still possesses a concept of God (or gods) and the very mention of Him or him or Her or It demonstrates that. Therefore they have made a decision based on belief that God doesn’t exist.

          I have no religious agenda. You started out talking about psi phenomena and how there was no objective proof etc. I don’t mind because I am not trying to push any belief on you re God or psi whatsoever.

          The point I argue with you is that just because science hasn’t proven psi phenomena, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, simply by plain logic and by science’s own history.

          Why have you suddenly degenerated into personal insinuations and unseemly descriptions ? What happened to your considered arguments ?

          • A Comma in Infinity says:

            My two cents, directed at no one in particular

            Some have a religion. Some of these people start to see holes in the logic of their religion. Some, then, give up the religion. Some of these people then make the error of reasoning that if the religion is wrong, then therefore there’s no god. Many of these people start calling themselves atheists. Some are emotionally fueled by bitterness and resentment at their former religion.

            Out of this group who have stopped following a religion, and conclude that there is no god, some THEN realize that even though their religion makes little sense, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is not a higher encompassing and subsuming consciousness, greater than our own, just as our consciousness is greater than an insect’s. Maybe yes, there is a larger consciousness, maybe not. These persons often become agnostics.


          • Louise says:

            Everyone with the least understanding of science and how the universe works is already an agnostic. Agnosticism has nothing to do with belief.

          • mudguts says:

            ah yes.. these is science and there is nonsense..

            Thanks for the nonsensical spray.. But derision is always deserved . You have a funny way with words in the way they tend to roost on you.,

            Now onto psi.. its rubbish.. another suck people in coffee table book attack turned to gutter blog.. How is your etheric atheism coming on?

            You know, I bet the paper lice and homeworking eating dogs around your place died of starvation Macky.

            But if you are hedging a bet on psi.. lead on.. this time.. Do a bit of research . Pleae do a bit of research.. we dont want to have to ignore pages of complaint about how you should be able to just copy blogs.

            I do note you quote Duke and religious scientists at Louisa.

            (I hope you understood that)

    • Lynda M Lafferty says:

      Psychiatry and psychology use diagnostic criteria because as yet there are no inexpensive scientific tests for psychiatric disorders. PTSD was called many things for hundreds of years but it didn’t make it into the DSM until DSM-III and that was due to the push by Judith M. Herman, MD who was the head of the American Psychiatric Association. They are doing genetic research but it is slow and expensive. They do know that the brains of conspiracy theorists are different from those of us who are not. Just as two witnesses will see something differently based upon vision, belief system and emotion, Some will get a particular psychiatric disorder and others will not even if both organisms have been involved in the identical experience. So there is a combination of nature and nurture. Because it only takes one episode of mania for a DX of bipolar, if the namia wasn’t extreme it might not be mentioned to the psychiatrist. The symptoms would then meet the DX of a unipolar depression and the wrong medication would be prescribed. One of the questions on the MPPI test (T/F) says, “I flew across the Atlantic 32 times this year.” The healthy answer they expect is F but what if your business or fortune did actually result in you crossing the Atlantic 33 times in one year?

  18. Macky says:

    A Comma in Infinity
    Great post.

    “Louise says:
    May 14, 2016 at 9:45 am
    Everyone with the least understanding of science and how the universe works is already an agnostic.”

    Then explain how a significant percentage of scientists are religious, or at least have a belief of some higher power as per Comma’s comments.

    “Everyone” is simply not true.

    • mudguts says:

      “Louise says:
      May 14, 2016 at 9:45 am
      Everyone with the least understanding of science and how the universe works is already an agnostic. Agnosticism has nothing to do with belief.”

      Precisely Louise. Not even Collins ever did a measurement wondering whether the sparkled wobbitydoo was responsible. If he did, he forgot to publish.

      Lets drag this agnosticism back a few hundred years. The last mention of good old wobbitydoo was in Newtons publications.

      Religious scientists?… no, religious people.

      Religious altie therapists? All of them.. Why? Same non universe.

      My chakras needed re-aligning.. Thank god for wind..

      • Macky says:

        Henk pronounces “Thank god for wind”

        Absolutely, your post wouldn’t exist without it, that’s all it is.

        ” Not even Collins ever did a measurement wondering whether the sparkled wobbitydoo was responsible.”

        Another reality-distorted and unprovable statement to go with a couple from Louise.

        Which non-universe do you inhabit, Henk ?

        • Mudguts says:


          Got anything on psi that doesnt come from a blog or wellbeing bod?… You mentioned Duke University yesterday.. So I assume you are familiar with their numerous publications from the related departments over there. Post em up and give us prasaes on those papers in your argument. This should be as entertaining as watching Bruno squirm over not gibing a complete article on mindfulness and having to redo it.

          Put a big Mudguts at the start of the post so I know it isnt a whinge directed at anyone else criticising your spirtualist wind bag rants..

          After all there is science or there nonsense, I am quite interested to see if you can form a nonsensical position like Meryl Dorey of the anti vaxx mob has (I assume it will be the same methodology).

          Now you do realise I’d love to see your “research” with outthe endless whingeing.. But I have to accept that you are trying to construe something of a special pleading argument along the way (been a while too.. since your crash and burn starting with the LHC).

      • Louise says:

        Macky and others obviously don’t know what atheism and agnosticism or what the represent. They STILL confuse belief with knowledge.

        Macky wrote:

        “Then explain how a significant percentage of scientists are religious, or at least have a belief of some higher power as per Comma’s comments.”

        Having a belief in a higher power does not translate to knowledge. If Macky understood the difference between knowledge and belief he wouldn’t make that error. A person can have a belief in a higher power and still be agnostic. Only the most arrogant of believers would claim to have knowledge of a god. Having a belief doesn’t mean “knowing.” Both atheists and a theists can be agnostic and both will be if they are rational. If Macky thinks a “significant percentage” of actual scientists believe in a higher power, I invite him to provide a a link to legitimate survey that supports that claim.

        • Macky says:

          It seems I’m being accused of the very thing that I accuse the “science-only-as-proof” people, that their assertions are often only beliefs, not actual knowledge.

          “Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether God, the divine, or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.”
          Under the above definition, agnosticism, while appearing to be based on knowledge and not belief, still is ultimately a belief because in fact the above claims may well be known outside said agnostic’s experiences and comprehension, for all we know.

          After all the science has been dealt with and put to uses, Man operates on Belief. That along with Hope is the prime motivator of Mankind, and the world is an example of what Beliefs do, for better or worse.

          To most people who have no “inner knowledge” or belong to some exclusive sect most know nothing about, whether God exists or not is belief only. Agnosticism, like science, asserts that because the existence of God, metaphysics etc, is unknowable (a belief) they are somehow basing their stance on knowledge (the lack of, actually) not belief. But belief it still certainly is, just like the belief that if something is not proven by science, it doesn’t exist.

          Scientists that have a belief in God ? google “scientists who believe in god today” should keep one busy for a while.
          Scientists who believe in a higher power of some sort ? google it for more discussion and thoughts on the subject.
          Scientists who are religious ? Same again.

          I don’t believe in dowsing or telepathy, for two. I KNOW it to be true because I’ve experienced it myself more than once (certainly not often). Neither of those are able to be proven scientifically or by Randi tests. Others who haven’t experienced those phenomena either believe that they exist or not.

          If none of what I have written here is good enough, then I would request Louise provide her definitions of the three states, especially atheism, since she has written about what “true” atheism really is, not “fake” atheism etc.

          • Louise says:

            I have given definitions of theism, atheism and agnosticism, if that’s what you mean. Somehow, you seem to think that if I don’t give the definitions you like, I am not giving definitions.

            Theism: belief that one or more gods exist. A theist can be a person who believes in a god who hears prayers, demands to be honored, and controls everything in the universe and outside it and performs miracles that defy the laws of physics as humans have come to know them, or it can be a person who believes a god or gods created the universe and everything in it but that god(s) wields no control over it, does not expect to be honored, performs no miracles and does not answer prayers.

            Atheism: lack of belief that any gods exist, usually on the basis that none have been shown to exist objectively. Atheism is not a belief, it is a position on belief. Atheism is not a claim that god does not exist. It is a statement from a person regarding his or her belief in a god. Some atheists claim to know there is no god, but that is a personal opinion and has nothing do with atheism. Most atheists know better than to make unprovable claims.

            Agnosticism: without knowledge. A person can be an agnostic about any subject. It simply means the person defining himself as an agnostic lacks knowledge of a subject. When it is used regarding gods, an agnostic is saying that he lacks knowledge of aany and all gods. Either a theist or an atheist can call him or herself an agnostic. Agnosticism is not a third choice between belief and lack of belief. Agnosticism says nothing about belief. It speaks of knowledge alone.

      • Lynda M Lafferty says:

        There are numerous books one can read. God and the New Physics by Paul Davies. Genesis and the Big Bang by Gerald L Schroeder, PhD as well as others.

        • Mudguts says:

          Maybe I mis wrote that or you misread my intent with that reply.

          Scientists dont do their experiments to prove a deity. If so these would be published not ripped into a popular press book.

          I note that the spectacularly successful career of an organic chemist is discussed here today. If you are going to discuss that persons impact, His work is clearly published and reviewed. Had he published a how to defeat the cold by self prescribing chemicals, we would be talking about him in the same light as Collins.

  19. Macky says:

    Thank you.

    Atheism: “It is a statement from a person regarding his or her belief in a god.” There’s that word again, Louise : Belief.
    Look if you’re going to categorize yourself according to utterly precise definitions, then you’re entitled to. But one who has a lack of belief in God still has a mental perception of God, otherwise they would genuinely have no clue about what atheism re God is. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about. Therefore, a lack of belief in God, and having a belief there is no God, have one and the same consequence.

    There seem to be different interpretations of what agnosticism is. I saw several on google, each slightly different than the other. The one I presented was different than yours.

    If I was asked now, I would prefer your definition.

    So where are we on the original subjects re psi phenomena and Randi, or is it closed ?

    • Louise says:

      Macky: “But one who has a lack of belief in God still has a mental perception of God,”

      If atheists have a mental perception of god it’s because we’ve been bomarded daily with the image of the sadistic biblical god. It’s impossible to avoid it. it mat surprise you to learn that one does not have to believe movie monsters are real to have a perception of them.

      “otherwise they would genuinely have no clue about what atheism re God is.”

      We know the difference between fantasy and reality. Apparently you don’t, nor do many theists.

      “They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.”

      Do you know what people are talking about when they talk about movie monsters? Do you believe they exist in reality? Well, maybe you do.

      ” Therefore, a lack of belief in God, and having a belief there is no God, have one and the same consequence.”

      What’s the consequence of not believing in god? About the same as not believing in movie monsters, I would expect.

      I am seldom surprised at the stupidity of theists who can’t get their minds around the difference between fantasy and reality, so they make up impossible scenarios about atheists. It is most likely the result of brain damage or arrested development caused by religious indoctrination. I see it every day.

      • Mudguts says:

        Louise, the only frustrating thing about “activist religionists” is their lack of understanding of the materials they should know thoroughly. I’m not particularly worried about any theist (that includes conspiracism, altie therapies and spiritualism) unless it prevents folk from getting a good education.

        I’ll even comment on a bod called Maher who scripted and starred in a religious bashing comedy. It turned out that Bill is just as religulous as the people who he attempted to parody. Another face palm parody was a zensation called zeitgeist (why zen? look at the scholar who nosedived a career being part of it).

        If it gets in the way of education and health.. then its fundamentalism.

        As the next few posts pop your way.. try to ascertain how fundamentalist the position of a religious quack really is. Has that world really moved from the conspiracist world of domains painted by Ellen G. White at all?

        I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions.

      • Macky says:

        “If atheists have a mental perception of god it’s because we’ve been bomarded daily with the image of the sadistic biblical god. It’s impossible to avoid it. it mat surprise you to learn that one does not have to believe movie monsters are real to have a perception of them.”

        Yes I understand about the “bombarding, sadistic” etc. Much of that is certainly true.
        But along with the movie monsters, once the concept(s) of God, gods, movie monsters are known by the mind, that’s it. They reside in the consciousness. You either believe in them or not, Belief being the operative word.

        “Do you know what people are talking about when they talk about movie monsters? Do you believe they exist in reality? Well, maybe you do.”

        No I Believe they do not exist. But as an agnostic non-believer in movie monsters I lack knowledge in said movie monsters, therefore I cannot say with any certainty that movie monsters do or do not exist. I Believe they don’t.

        “What’s the consequence of not believing in god? About the same as not believing in movie monsters, I would expect. ”

        In some areas of the world, death I suppose. Out of the more extreme countries, the consequences are in the mind. Once the concept has been placed in the mind (by any method, violent or not) the consequence of denial or endorsement is the same. You are a Believer, either way.

        “I am seldom surprised at the stupidity of theists who can’t get their minds around the difference between fantasy and reality,..”

        Yes I’ve seen some nasty examples of that through my life. But I AM surprised by the so-called skeptics on this site who have much the same mindset. Believers in fantasy instead of reality when it comes to important and world-changing events such as 9-11 etc…..

        ” I’m not particularly worried about any theist (that includes conspiracism, altie therapies and spiritualism) unless it prevents folk from getting a good education.”
        Totally agree. I would add, health and well-being to that.

  20. Lazer says:

    Unfortunately, questioning anything has become a “no-no” to the global Marxism that persists through the world. I have always felt that the only truth is that which can be tested and proven, and that an open mind must persevere. Unfortunately, the elite feel that “they” are better people to decide and make decisions for us, based on their biases. The only true skeptic is one who continues to listen, continues to question, continues to test, and won’t be bullied by the self-righteous, self-visionaries, whose goals are to control our thoughts and lives. Whether the Pope, the politician, the Imam, the actor, the government, the agenda-driven media, or the grant-driven scientist…. all should be questioned. Skepticism can’t survive in a “politically correct” society.

    • Louise says:

      That’s what the evangelicals and true believers are afraid of. “Stamp Out Skepticism” could be their motto.


  21. Lynda M Lafferty says:

    I actually don’t understand why the fundamentalists and evangelicals would want me in their “Heaven” to begin with. Do they think their “God” is going to “fix” me so I agree with them? If they saw me they’d think they’d been sent to hell.

    • Mudguts says:

      Lynda, religion is religion. Clearly someone can write anything about you and your soul because there is nothing defined on the matter.

      An open contract with a just invented Poohbah doing naughty things with you when you die. The writer of such clearly was twitching with “supernatural zeal”. Given there is no evidence of the divine and supernatural has replaced the term (out of embarrasment) its pretty clear who ever makes these comments to you has much better things to do with their time.

      Absolutely no different from the comments you read here on any woo topic.

  22. Heather says:

    And there’s a new skeptic conference this January in Los Angeles called LogiCal-LA.

  23. Macky says:

    Heather says
    “And there’s a new skeptic conference this January in Los Angeles called LogiCal-LA.”

    Why bother going to a conference where logic and critical thinking is promoted when skeptics here don’t know the difference between those and plain Belief.

    It will only be yet another gathering of science-only-as-reality believers, without any examination of the illogical nature of their assertions.

    “skeptics” on Skeptoid have proven in at least the last four years by their posts that they will deride any critical analysis against their beliefs, and that they will ignore the solid evidence that they themselves call for, if said evidence trashes their endorsement of the Official Story.

    Going to conferences won’t change any of that, it will only reinforce their beliefs that science is everything, when the merest logic dictates that that is only an unevidenced assertion, a belief.

  24. Jarno says:

    I’m just happy that I made it to TAM before it ended – the very last TAM. Sad that it was the last though – I had such a great time, and met so many interesting people. Volunteered too, and was nice meeting the other volunteers, and of course James Randi, and some other speakers too.

    I’m not wealthy, so I can’t afford going around the world to skeptical conferences very often – if I were, I probably would. 🙂

  25. Scott Cragin says:

    You forgot to mention Skepticon in Springfield, MO!

  26. Macky says:

    If one went to skeptical conferences in order to meet people and enjoy their company, that would be fine.

    But otherwise, it’s a waste of money, because like religious gatherings, the so-called skeptics are only reinforcing their beliefs (such as if it’s not proven by science it doesn’t exist, or that ‘science is everything’, etc, comments that have appeared on Skeptoid over the years, repeatedly ).

    At least in religious gatherings, the sensible faithful acknowledge that their religion is their faith, their beliefs, but so-called skeptics who try to use science as the proof for what are in fact their own beliefs are dwelling in a world of belief-only as much as any religious devotee.

    Holding Randi up as some kind of icon of rationality, scientific proof, and critical thinking is only yet another example of unevidenced slavish adoration by a cozy little group of people who call themselves skeptics.

    They would all be much better off examining their own skepticism, and coming to the sensible conclusion that their allegations of “scientific proof” are yet only another form of belief system, and that they are not some elite band of “rational thinkers” who hold the “ultimate truth”, after all.

    • Jarno says:

      As I mentioned, to connect with other skeptics, and experience something I hadn’t before, was the primary reason I attended the last TAM.

      But you’ve got an incorrect perception of what happens at such conferences – they aren’t just mutual back patting parties, and lecturers preaching to the choir. At least that wasn’t at all my experience at TAM.

      I met a lot of people and it was exhilarating to have actual substantive discussions on varied subjects with people who were on the same page with you where it comes to the approach to truth; namely that truth is important, more important than what you might currently believe – that you too can be wrong, in whatever you believe, and you’d rather find out what wrong things you believe, in order to change your mind.

      The presentations and lectures varied in quality, but the subject matters were interesting, and not just regurgitating material I knew already. In fact, the presentation that was most interesting, was one where the presenters would poll the audience about what they believed concerning the topic of their presentation; which was about the state of the world today, including stuff like population growth and average family sizes – most of us, including me, were shown to have demonstrably wrong ideas about the world (which were more right maybe thirty years ago), and were shown in the presentation to have been wrong.

      They got a standing ovation. Skeptics really do get enjoyment out of being shown wrong – if it is done with good evidence. It’s an intellectually exiting feeling when you get a new, better supported idea, and work out how it affects other things you believe.

      That’s what good skepticism is about. We also had discussions on skepticism itself, and things like the backfire effect, which makes skeptical outreach very difficult, and often makes pointing out something that is demonstrably wrong, to someone who believes in that, counter-productive, at least if it isn’t done very carefully, and in a specific way.

      And that difficulty of communicating ideas that contradict some of the things people believe, without coming off as an a-hole, is probably the source of the source of the image you have of skeptics, which is in my experience, not accurate.

      If you are out there as a skeptic, you may get the same argument, the same idea, that you’ve just patiently dissected and explained again and again – knowing that in order to refute it, you’d have to explain a lot of background information that the person that is giving you the line probably doesn’t possess. Humans, skeptic or no, aren’t infinitely patient, so you do often see some skeptics respond flippantly or dismissively instead, which enforces the “skeptics are cynics” or “skeptics are just another form of believer” tropes.

      And holding Randi up as an icon? Randi is respected for the long career he’s done, and many of us like him as a person. But he’s no infallible religious icon! Randi too gets called out by other skeptics, if, and when he gets it wrong – like his earlier comments, some years ago, about climate change, which he got called out for, and admitted that he’d not done the research, and corrected himself.

      Skeptical podcasters – very popular ones – regularly get mail from other skeptics pointing out where they got it wrong; and they typically respond by looking into it, and correcting themselves if they got it wrong.

      The most interesting discussions with other skeptics at the conference were the ones were there was contention – because that environment was one where discussions with strangers on contentious topics didn’t just devolve into arguments, and you could actually learn stuff.

      Skeptics examine their own skepticism, namely the methodology of what they do (as skepticism is a methodology, an approach to truth claims, not a set of beliefs) all the time. And if someone calling themselves a skeptic claims to posses the “ultimate truth”, they are anything but a skeptic.

      As a skeptic, I hold only provisional beliefs, none of which is isolated from scrutiny, and none of which I hesitate to have challenged, if someone has new evidence to point out.

      On this, another example – Simon Singh, another highly respected skeptical public figure (who I met briefly in TAM too!), has been called out on pretty significant inaccuracies in his “bad science”, when it comes to the line he sells about the placebo effect. The Manchester Skeptical Society, and their podcast Skeptics with a K, has been concentrating on the placebo effect, and the false beliefs about it in the skeptical community, for a while now, dissecting the case made in Simon Sings well known book. I too, have changed my view of the placebo effect recently.

      They also have a podcast called “Be Reasonable” that is all about inviting in people with various strange ideas, and giving them a platform to explain why they believe what they do – they are pretty non-confrontational interviews.

      In other words, your picture of what skeptics are like does not match my experience at all.

      • Macky says:

        Thank you Jarno for your informed and considered post in reply to mine.

        I accept your accounts of your experiences re skeptics’ conferences/gatherings as the truth, and as I’ve always promised on Skeptoid, I have changed my views on said conferences in the light of better evidence/information than mine.

        Unfortunately, I have been somewhat biased in the last 5 or 6 years since I have been posting to Skeptoid, by the behaviour of those who regard themselves as skeptics, but are anything but, supporters of Skeptoid’s Official Story endorsement, at least on a few important issues such as 9-11, TWA800 etc, if not in general.

        Those individuals (including Brian) have totally ignored clear US govt agency evidence which calls into question the US Govt Official Story, or Standard Model, as Brian puts.
        In addition, I have been continuously labelled a conspiratist, when in fact I have never promoted even a single conspiracy theory on either the old Skeptoid, or this blog.

        As well as the name-calling by a few excited individuals who should be ashamed of themselves, there has been very little considered discussion on several matters (Jade Helm for example) by those who have presented their arguments as though to even question a US govt Official Story must somehow be promoting some kind of wacko conspiracy theory, when all I have done is to question said OS, and the thinking behind it, in a logical and critical manner. With solid evidence for my position, totally ignored in many cases.

        Re Randi, my above comments as he is regarded as an icon by some may be a little exagerated, but it is certain Randi IS regarded as at least a mentor in some circles. Brian’s article confirms it.

        The blinking red light re Skeptoid for me, was when Brian posted his google Setting The Record Straight(er) which I have already posted on Skeptoid’s blog as being entirely satisfied with Brian’s explanation and his sincerity.

        However, Skeptoid’s continued total endorsement of the US Govt Official Story in so many world-changing issues such as 9-11 etc is in direct contradiction of his (justified) criticism of the FBI’s FD-302 form, which Brian was subjected to, and which can be changed at will (and WAS in Brian’s case) without any redress by interviewee’s, who risk proscecution if they attempt to challenge the FBI-completed form.

        This form has been implemented on every single FBI investigation at least during and since the Kennedy assassination, and is a channel for official institutionalised perjury, rendering every US Govt Official Story of events such as 9-11, TWA-800, etc open to question.

        Yet 11 months later after his terrifying experience with the FBI, Brian posts an Official Story-endorsement of TWA-800 (for example) where the FBI almost completely took over the investigation out of turn, botching procedures, removing evidence permanently, and generally over-riding the NTSB before they had even determined whether there was foul play or not.

        I have complimented Brian on the bulk of Skeptoid, his informed and entertaining style of writing, but I am skeptical of Skeptoid’s skeptics, which is why I challenge various points of view, and overall themes by some of the writers.

        You have said “Skeptics examine their own skepticism,…”

        That has not happened on Skeptoid, either the old version or these blogs. Many so-called skeptics (supporters of the Official Story/Status Quo aka Skeptoid’s articles) are practising what is in fact an entrenched belief system, devoid of critical analysis (Skeptoid’s alleged mandate) and/or evidence.

        Considered skepticism it is NOT, and I have been biased as I said by what appeared to me a sycophantic regard of Randi, reflected in the above thread debates.

        At least re skeptical conferences/gatherings, your post has cleared up my misconceptions, and as I said, I will change my views in the light of your better evidence and experiences.

        Thank you.

        • mudguts says:

          Yeaah Macky is right.. Ive never regarded myself as a skeptic.. so I dont need long winded rants like … say.. a conspiracist

          How are those etherics going Macky?? Rant worthy still?

          I bet you hate coffee tables now!

          • Macky says:

            Good old Henk van der Gaast (mudguts) wakes up and posts yet more irrelevant drivel.

            No considered argument, no nothing. Pretty consistent for a self-confessed lab-rat who retired early.

            Btw I love coffee tables, Henk. I bet you hate the day you spat the dummy and revealed your true name.

            You were warned………

  27. Raena says:

    I am a skeptic and I am also a woman. I have been dismayed that in this male dominated skeptic sphere women do not seem to be appreciated, nor wanted in these groups. One would think that with intelligence, a sense of fairness would prevail. Who should care if skeptics are black, white, or purple with pink polka dots? Who should care if skeptics are female, male, LGBTQI or asexual? Who cares if skeptics are tall, short, skinny, fat, disabled or fit?
    Common people, all that matters is a meeting of the minds having interesting conversations and making suggestions about how to improve the sorry state of affairs in our world because of all the fake and bogus information swirling around causing people to make really bad decisions.
    Why can’t you guys be respectful towards others, especially women, and make them feel welcome?

    • Noah Dillon says:

      The Skeptoid blog would love to have more contributors of all sorts, including women!

    • Macky says:

      Raena, have you any examples from the Skeptoid blog where women have been disrespected, not made to feel welcome, not appreciated, or not wanted ?

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