As we have seen, these pseudoskeptics are fundamentalist defenders of orthodoxy, not true skeptics, open minded inquirers or objective truth seekers. They exhibit the following consistent traits:
PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics
They are materialist fanatics, driven by dogmatic beliefs and views that are fixed, which they seek to proselytize to the world, such as:
- The paranormal is impossible and ALWAYS disproven
- Everything unexplained or unknown MUST have a natural materialistic explanation
- If someone makes a paranormal claim, they MUST be wrong
- ONLY natural reductionist explanations are acceptable
- If mainstream science doesn’t understand or accept something, then it MUST be false or doesn’t exist.
Furthermore, they’ve hijacked the term skeptic for themselves and twisted it to mean the opposite of what it really means. It’s a deceptive form of cloak and dagger mind control on the mass public, a disinformation campaign perhaps.
What we know for sure is that their arguments are subjective statements of belief designed to support a priori assumptions, rather than to seek truth. Their style of logic is designed to refute purely on philosophical grounds rather than factual grounds, which have nothing to do with rationality or reason. In fact, like fundamentalist religion, they are rigid and closed-minded to anything new or contrary, no matter how much evidence there is to support it. They are not truth seekers nor do they care about evidence or facts. All they do is ridicule and deny. Though they may claim to be open minded, their actions and behaviors reveal them to be anything but. And as you know, when one’s words and actions contradict each other, the latter speaks louder.
The true skeptic should be skeptical of his own beliefs as well as of others. But these pseudoskeptics aren’t. Instead they are cynics who are unable to see the flaws and limitations in their own views. Consciousness and NDE expert Greg Stone, author of Under the Tree, and a member of my discussion list, sums up the closed-minded skeptics' problem in an interesting way:
"You see the subjective evaluation of a skeptic holds less weight than the subjective direct observation of the experiencer. What is needed, and sorely missing, is a real understanding of the nature and factors of subjective knowledge. Without this all such discussions will be foolhardy. The skeptic continually fails to understand and admit that he works on a subjective basis. And he seems mystified when someone accepts someone's direct observation over the skeptic’s subjective evaluation."
Richard Milton of the Alternative Science website who has faced scorn and derision from skeptics himself, writes:
“There is no more honourable word in the scientific lexicon than that of 'skeptic' -- one who sincerely seeks after truth and who has the courage to rebut scientific myths and false beliefs with empirical data and sound logic………
But in recent decades, 'skeptic' has come to mean something else. It has come to mean the adoption of an attitude of scorn and derision towards any kind of anomalous data that contradicts current scientific beliefs, and the adoption of an air of condescension and superiority towards those who venture to investigate or write about anomalous phenomena…….
And the 'skeptics' who censor and ridicule in the name of science, whether they know it or not, are the agents not of knowledge but of pseudoscience.
Science does not need vigilantes to guard its gates. Science has been successful because good science drives out bad and because an ounce of experiment is worth any amount of scientific authority.”
And former Naval Scientist Eldon Byrd, who tested spoon bender Uri Geller, rightly states:
"What major contribution has any skeptic made to the betterment of humankind? How many Mother Teresa’s have they produced? How many great scientific discoveries have they made? Many of them are like movie critics--useless and usually wrong."
He was right of course. As someone pointed out, skeptics have contributed nothing for science, just like music critics have contributed nothing to the music genre. After all, no one ever erects a monument to a critic.
Novelist and blogger Michael Prescott described the pseudoskeptics very eloquently in his essay “Why I Am Not A Skeptic”
denigrating and discrediting the paranormal is not simply a tic of the
personality, but the ineluctable consequence of a certain fundamental
life, mind, and the cosmos.
Unfortunately, people with a powerful personal agenda do not make the best skeptics - at least not if skepticism is understood as the exercise of unbiased objectivity.
Self-doubt - or at least the admission of same - is not characteristic of the skeptic, who prefers to radiate an aura of unshakable assurance. To admit any doubt is to cede territory to the forces of unreason - the primordial enemy, which, as we have seen, must be resisted by any means.
And here we come to what is, as I see it, the real problem with skeptics. They wish, above all, to be certain - and when reality doesn't oblige them by offering clear-cut answers, they turn away from reality and seek refuge in pre-existing theory.
They oversimplify history as a battle between good and evil, and miss its complexities and subtleties. They resist modern developments in science and cling to outdated, nineteenth century conceptions. They jump to prearranged conclusions and shut their eyes - and their minds - to anomalous data and alternative explanations.
In their quest to prove themselves right, they lose sight of the ambiguities and paradoxes of life. In their desire to be safe and sure, they turn away from anything interesting and new.
They are creatures of comfort and routine, not explorers. They cannot think outside the box. They will, in fact, deny that there is or ever could be anything outside the box - and they'll heap scorn on anyone who suggests otherwise. They'll call names, cry fraud, and holler that civilization is in danger and the barbarians are at the gates. They'll do anything, really - except examine their own assumptions with a remotely critical eye.
And that's why I'm not a skeptic.”
One might wonder why these closed-minded debunkers do what they do, and what motivates them, for it certainly isn’t truth. Articles have been written which speculate about this (see the list of links below), but we can’t really generalize here and apply one explanation to them all. One explanation though, seems to ring true as a factor. Brian Zeiler writes in his article The Logical Trickery of the UFO Skeptic:
“Skeptics are mostly scientists, but that certainly doesn't mean they behave scientifically, as has been explained. Their behavior stems partially from their distaste for public opinions that contradict the consensus of the scientific community. When a public consensus does contradict the scientific opinion, the scientists will mount a public campaign to discredit this opinion, because such an opinion undermines the role of the scientist in society as the appointed knowledge-seeker and truth-gatherer. What good are scientists if mankind will only insist on believing in warm, fuzzy superstitions anyway? So, these scientists who are guilty of the logical infractions exposed in this essay are so consumed with the presumed validity of their opinions that, like a zealous religious fanatic, they must convert the masses to the side of truth in order to salvage their own self-image.”
Here is another explanation from the vantage point of a mystic named FaithRada:
“Of course the best way to know phenomena such as Clairvoyance, mental telepathy and Astral travel etc., is to have the direct validating experience for one's self.
Truly? if I were a skeptic... and I was one, that is the ONLY way to really Know. What good is belief OR disbelief here? One SHOULD hold out for actual Direct Experience before any judgment is passed. In fact... repeated, validated incidences are often necessary, to rid the mind of its blocks... depending on the resistance one holds for the idea of an expanded reality in the first place.
Which brings me to the main point why more ardent skeptics/cynics always insist these events MUST BE frauds and/or ignorant misunderstandings. FEAR Fear in the sense that if these events are recognized as valid then their whole world .. based on certain laws of logic and the way this world SEEMS to work ..would be destroyed. So, better not to look too deeply. they LIKE their world the way THEY have come to understand it... neat, orderly, dependable... But the question begs... Who's sense of law and order, orderliness and dependability? To the finite mind there is always chaos lurking around the bend. To the infinite mind there is no chaos at all.... but that is a huge leap for the individual mind to take. The contracted mind creates a chasm and then fears it will fall into it. Amazing yes?
Everything these "hard core" skeptics/cynics have based their reality on, as to what IS real, indeed.. who THEY even ARE... would suddenly be invalidated and the reality they base their very existence on would suddenly have no meaning. This is to be avoided at all cost... and so they make sure ALL claims are fraudulent or misunderstood by duped minds. This is their protection mode and they are unlikely to be shaken from it. Instead they need an "inner" shift.. which will allow them to recognize a higher order of things. No shift? No undertanding.
After a while, for those who CAN allow a shift, a new stability does come if they can survive the mental fall.. but in the moment.. the universe would appear to be beyond chaotic. They are like babies in the womb.. not yet quite ready for a whole NEW reality.
& & &
When one begins to "recognize" that their visions are indeed of valid "future" events, and so TimeandSpace are NOT exactly the "set in stone" reality they thought them to be... it can initially throw one into a great turmoil... especially if they had assumed such events were... unlikely to be possible... before this. *note (if a mind believes something to be indeed impossible.. then they will not receive the validating experiences which are crucial to this knowing since their mind is now actively censoring it from them, at their request.)
The more one believes these realities to be improbable, the more turmoil and trauma they will experience... until the mind simply blocks it all out. This is why no matter how much evidence is trotted out... it is like a blind man looking at the moon... they will experience nothing... they are simply not able to because of their current mind set of disbelief.”
Yet here is still a more simpler speculation on what motivates these pseudoskeptics, from one of my readers:
“I sometimes wonder if the debunker or pseudoskeptic mentality results from what might be termed the "Santa Claus Syndrome." That is, these debunkers were so traumatized in their youth by finding out there was no Santa Claus that they made up their minds then that they would never again be duped by anyone. They figured that if they were duped by their parents on Santa Claus they must have also been duped on God. They became polarized in their thinking, i.e., "From now on, I have to see it to believe it," and got stuck in that paradigm. Thus, the tendency for debunkers to throw out the Santa Claus analogy is a result of their own childhood trauma at learning there is no Santa Claus. Perhaps there was some unusual trust issue with their parents that prompted the syndrome. It would be interesting if someone could research this, but it would be an impossible project because they wouldn't admit to certain shortcomings. They would understand where the study was going and attempt to skew it toward the intelligent and rational explanation.”
Nevertheless, perhaps there is yet hope for pseudoskeptics and debunkers. Recently, a famous career skeptic named Susan Blackmore, author of Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences conceded that her prior conclusions about the non-existence of psi were unwarranted after all. This is amazing because career skeptics in general never like to admit to being wrong. After all, they have their career and self-pride among their colleagues riding on their back to give it all up just to end up being wrong. Therefore, her admission is very brave and admirable. And the way she explains her concession is so refreshingly honest, that all skeptics, both open-minded and closed-minded, should learn from it and take heed. In an article for the Skeptical Inquirer, she writes:
“How could I weigh my own results against the results of other people, bearing in mind that mine tended to be negative ones while everyone else’s tended to be positive ones? I had to find some kind of balance here. At one extreme I could not just believe my own results and ignore everyone else’s…. At the other extreme I could not believe everyone else’s results and ignore my own. That would be even more pointless. There would have been no point in all those years of experiments if I didn’t take my own results seriously.” (emphasis added)
In another article she wrote:
“The other major challenge to the skeptic’s position is, of course, the fact that opposing positive evidence exists in the parapsychological literature. I couldn’t dismiss it all. This raises an interesting question: Just how much weight can you or should you give the results of your own experiments over those of other people? On the one hand, your own should carry more weight, since you know exactly how they were done… On the other hand, science is necessarily a collective enterprise…. So I couldn’t use my own failures as justifiable evidence that psi does not exist. I had to consider everyone else’s success.”
“At last, I’ve done it. I’ve thrown in the towel.
Come to think of it, I feel slightly sad. It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena… Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena… I became a sceptic.(emphasis added).
So why didn’t I give up then? There are lots of bad reasons. Admitting you are wrong is always hard, even though it’s a skill every scientist needs to learn. And starting again as a baby in a new field is a daunting prospect. So is losing all the status and power of being an expert. I have to confess I enjoyed my hard-won knowledge.
…None of it ever gets anywhere. That’s a good enough reason for leaving.
But perhaps the real reason is that I am just too tired - and tired above all of working to maintain an open mind. I couldn’t dismiss all those extraordinary claims out of hand. After all, they just might be true…”
Closed-minded skeptics should pay close attention to the underlined parts above. They reflect how a true skeptic should think.
Now let me clarify again that I am not some gullible believer who believes in every wacky item under the umbrella term “the paranormal” out there, such as crystals, channeling, Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle, etc. Most of these paranormal mysteries lack good incontrovertible evidence, and their evidence is scanty and ambiguous to make any judgments. And some of course, have too much damaging evidence against them that they are hardly worth investigating anymore. Others are simply too controversial to know either way.
Therefore, it was never my intention to be a defender for all paranormal phenomena in general, only in the proposition that they should be considered. In fact, I am very skeptical myself, and not quick to believe something unless I have good reasons to. I am very cautious by nature and do not believe everything I hear, contrary to what skeptics often charge me with. My position is that the evidence for any paranormal phenomenon should be CONSIDERED and INVESTIGATED (with an attitude of searching for the truth, not with an agenda) rather than rejected automatically because it doesn’t fit in with convention. Now, I do not claim to have the answers to all the paranormal mysteries either. No one does. However, based on my experience, research, and the overwhelming totality of anecdotal reports (majority of the world in fact), here are my conclusions.
1) The evidence presented in this book refutes the main skeptical arguments demonstrates that at least some kind of metaphysical reality exists. The nature and scope of that is yet to be discovered, as well as the implications. We have only begun to discover its existence through quantum physics, scientific experiments, new research into mind/body connections, etc.
2) The overwhelming anecdotal evidence from at least half the world, discoveries in quantum physics, credible scientific experiments, and new research into mind/body connections indicate that at least certain phenomenon are real in the sense that they have actual unimagined effects – telepathy, ESP, psychic abilities in general, and ghosts. The widespread anecdotal evidence for these phenomena alone indicates that statistically they are very likely to point to something real. In other words, there is something to them beside hallucination, fraud, or misperception.
Similarly, as one man on a paranormal list concluded, one does not have to have mystical experiences to conclude that something real is going on here:
“One additional thought about waiting for a mystical experience to awaken oneself. As I said, it's not all that easy for some of us. There are many who might wait and wait and never have one. I have had a few marginal mystical experiences, but nothing that would have changed my thinking had I been a closed-minded skeptic, debunker, pseudoskeptic, scientific fundamentalist, whatever name we choose to give to such a person. I have never had a near-death experience, but I consider myself a "vicarious experiencer," as I have read enough accounts of NDEs to conclude that they are not all hallucinations. As a number of psychical researchers have said, no one case is strong enough to convince them; rather, it is the cumulative evidence. That's why I put together the 30 or so quotations of distinguished scientists and scholars in the appendix at the end of my book. A person can read the reports of these various men over time, but one tends to forget many of them, although she may very well bury them in the subconscious. I believe seeing them all in one reading might impact some true skeptics. It's one thing to say a particular researcher might have been duped by a particular medium at a particular time, quite another to read the accounts of 30 or more and conclude that they were all duped over and over again. Many of the researchers I've quoted spent years investigating mediums and sat with dozens of them.
Bottom line: It would be great if we could all have mystical experiences, Kundalini awakenings, whatever, but the best most of us can do is become "vicarious experiencers."“
Now, if we are right, then there is the question of what to do with these discoveries and how to apply it to our lives. Well that is the next step, and it is what truth seekers and open-minded researchers think and ponder about.
One independent film has come out lately though, which attempts to address that - What the bleep do we know? The film addresses the latest discoveries in quantum physics and the power of our thoughts. Playing in several states, people have been seeing it multiple times and it has been receiving standing ovations at its showings. One of its most important messages is that contrary to what most people think, thoughts are not harmless. They do not just pass through your head and then are gone. Rather, they help slowly program your subconscious mind and instincts, creating instincts that make you do things without knowing why, often resulting in control dramas of all kinds which are like loop programs that repeat itself. Check its website for more info (http://www.whatthebleep.com) or enter the film title on YouTube to watch it.
For most paranormal phenomena, the jury is still out, and the evidence is controversial and unclear. However, the evidence for telepathy and ghosts, for instance, is very strong when you combine the scientific evidence and overwhelming widespread anecdotal evidence throughout history. Therefore, they are very likely to be real and in all likelihood there is something to it other than fraud, delusion, mistake or misperception.
According to Lew Paz, author of Pushing Ultimates, there is a safe middle ground between science and mysticism that should benefit both sides in their search for truth:
“All scientists have a responsibility to broaden their comprehension of the human situation. An astute skepticism is necessary in the pursuit of truth, but it must be flexible and open to varied possibilities, unhampered by a narrow materialistic orientation. Despite the excessive naivety rife within the New Age movement, the intelligent scientist can’t toss the entire 5,000 year history of mysticism aside, for a century of valid empirical research clearly reveals deeper dimensions of human existence do exist.
Science can never provide us with a total grasp of existence, and any "theory of everything" based on empirical evidence alone would not be all encompassing. The intuitive insights of poets, the visions of mystics and saints, the explorations of shamans, plus the psychological and psychedelic research of different fields of science, certainly count in any attempt at total description. But, though science cannot provide us with an understanding of the whole, it can assist us in cultivating a greater radius of comprehension. Though not the royal road to wisdom many have thought it to be, science is a fine tool and an important avenue toward self-knowledge and overall knowledge of our existential-cosmic situation, Unfortunately, far too many use science to build a bulwark against the insights brought forth by explorations of the mind’s archetypal depths and transcendent dimensions. Scientists and skeptics of materialistic persuasion tend toward a bias similar to religious fundamentalists zealously defending their belief system.”
After all, all it takes to prove the existence of something is one real case, as William James points out,
“If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn't seek to prove that no crows are; it is enough to prove one single crow to be white.”
Regardless of your belief about the paranormal, the important thing is to keep an open mind and not rush to judgments based on our personal world views.
"Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either we dispense with the need for reflection." - Henri Poincare
Against critics and skeptics, we must follow our conscience, heart, and intuition. After all, as Martin Caidin reminds us:
"What you believe someone else can or can’t do hasn't got beans with the doing. Or lack of doing. Just go back through your history books and you’ll discover that just about everything you take for granted today in your daily lives was absolutely impossible not so many years ago." - Martin Caidin
The pseudoskeptics and scoffers should heed the words of the progressive researcher Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a current pioneer in psi research with groundbreaking discoveries, who says in the introduction of his book The Sense of Being Stared At:
"I believe it is more scientific to explore phenomena we do not understand than to pretend they do not exist. I also believe it is less frightening to recognize that the seventh sense is part of our biological nature, shared with many other animal species, than to treat it as weird or supernatural."
The problem is that these phenomena, even if real, don't fit into conventional paradigms of reality. Therefore, what we need to do is update our beliefs and world views to include these facts and find new paradigms that account for them. In the meantime, we should keep in mind that the beauty of mysteries and paranormal phenomena lies not in finding the answers to every question, but in the awe and appreciation we have for them. Therein lies the great lesson that there is always "more to learn" and "something better out there".
As to expanding ourselves beyond our own paradigms, Mr. Paz states beautifully:
"The intelligent, open, and questioning mind does not have to remain limited to a barren materialistic orientation of reality, or succumb to the delusions of religion or overly simplified mysticism. Millions among us can become the companions of the great sages, true poets, profound musicians, gifted artists, philosophers, and scientists of real merit. We can travel with those who know that the brain's magnificent electro-chemical surge of embodied consciousness, in its dynamic ferment, transcends its own activity, igniting frequencies that resonate with dimensions far beyond what we are ordinarily aware of. To know yourself is to know of these things, for such exploration expands our consciousness, enriches our minds, and makes us capable of moving ever nearer to the essential truth of our astonishing existence."
There is a new paradigm now in science and quantum physics called the Holographic Paradigm which explains and allows for paranormal phenomena to exist. You can read about it in one of my favorite books, The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot, or right now in this thought-provoking summary by David S. Walonick, Ph.D. here:
Let me close on this with some eloquent profound quotes for you to ponder.
"Let the mind be enlarged... to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind" - Francis Bacon
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein
“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.” – Albert Einstein
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” - Marcel Proust, French novelist
“We all go on the same search,
solve the same
We will not, of course, ever solve it.
We will finally inhabit the Mystery.”
- Ray Bradbury, SF writer.
And finally, Einstein says it all with:
"Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world. All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it."
- Albert Einstein