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My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

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My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2009, 23:47

Hi all,
Here are some email correspondences between me and DragonCon's director of Skeptic debates, regarding the possible participation of me and Eteponge in next year's debate with Skeptics like Randi and Shermer. They have given me permission to post them.

My initial letter to them:

> Dear DragonCon,
> My name is Winston Wu, founder of SCEPCOP (http://www.debunkingskeptics.com), a group
> and website debunking pseudoskeptics like JREF, CSICOP and Shermer.
>
> I just saw the debate from your 2007 Con where the skeptics and believers
> debate. What I don't get is why you always choose paranormal supporters who
> do not know basic debate strategy? To win a debate, you simply present facts,
> evidence and examples that the other side can't refute or explain away, or ask
> them hard questions they can't answer. At that point, they will either dodge
> the issue, change the subject, or use ad hominem attacks on you. Once they
> sink that low, you will have won. Then, continue to press on with what they
> can't explain away, and the public will consider that you've "owned" the other
> side.
>
> Yet the paranormal supporters who enter public debates DON'T DO THAT! And
> it's ANNOYING! Why don't they bring someone competent who can debate with
> facts, logic and evidence, like me for instance?!
>
> Therefore, I offer myself up for public debates with Skeptics like Randi and
> Shermer. To gauge my qualifications, see my site at http://www.debunkingskeptics.com
> and see my treatise and mini-essays linked in the left sidebar of the home
> page. You will see how competent and well read I am at debating the skeptics.
>
> If interested, contact me at wwu777us@yahoo.com.
>
> My website and group has recently been featured in Atlantis Rising Magazine as
> well, issue 77. See my forum for the download link.
>
> Thanks for your attention and I hope in the future you will bring competent
> people to debate the skeptics.
>
> Regards,
> Winston Wu
> SCEPCOP Founder
> http://www.debunkingskeptics.com


Their first response to my letter:

Actually,

We don't 'choose' any of the participants in our annual debates at
Dragon*Con, we offer it up to any of the registered guests at the con, and
then we allow them to be on the debate.

In fact, it wasn't until this year where we now had to cancel the debate for
the 2009 convention because we couldn't find anyone this time around to be
on the 'believer' side or sit across from the Skeptics.

Last year, we even had the head of the Catholic Church for Atlanta on the
believer side, and a couple research fellows. They didn't fair too much
better since they all said they had evidence and examples. But, they SAID
that, but had none of the sort, even couldn't point anyone to some
real-world examples.

Randi had an actual signed challenge with him and offered it to any of them,
to give them a test without the preliminary test if they were up to the
challenge. All they had to do was state what was possible, or what they can
do, and then prove it via a third party testing party. Not one of them
agreed and went on to the same believe babble that ALWAYS happens... Stuff
about how Randi isn't a real skeptic, skeptics don't 'recognize' the stuff
they all know is true... But... ZERO evidence is ever presented, and no one
will agree to actual scientific testing. And, if ANYONE gives me some BS
about how the current science methods are inadequate to test the stuff they
believe, that is the first sign of a diluted person. Happens ALL the time.

I would have loved it if you had come to me about three months ago when we
were all doing our planning for this year, since it is now way too late. We
aren't doing a debate this year, we could only find three people to sit
across from the skeptics this year, and two of them are the same folks who
have been doing it since the start. We wanted more than just the same old
people again. So, we called this year a 'rebuilding' year and will try to do
it again next year.

So, if you are wanting to do it next year, please remind me again after the
middle of January next year, (that is when we kick off our planning for
2010).

Thanks,

Derek C.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2009, 23:52

My next response:

> Hi Derek,
> Thanks for getting back to me.
>
> Can you tell me first, where DragonCon is held exactly?
>
> And how did a science fiction convention become a debate ground for skeptics
> and paranormalists? I've been to Cons before and know people who go to them,
> and they seem to have no interest in the subject.
>
> Also, by "registered guest" do you mean guests who are invited to speak there,
> or to the general attendee who pays to get in?
>
> Well those of us who are informed are never short of evidence. On this page,
> I cite a lot of major evidence, for example. Have a look.
>
> http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/evidence.php
>
> In our experience, it's usually the skeptics who run away when presented with
> evidence. Their either deny it, ignore it, claim to be disinterested in it,
> or use ad hominem attacks. Here is a recent example with a skeptic blogger
> girl, who finally admitted that it was a mistake for her to ask for evidence
> and then express disinterest in it when it became overwhelming.
>
> viewtopic.php?f=2&t=230
>
> It's too bad you weren't able to get the best authors in Parapsychology such
> as Dean Radin, Charles Tart, Rupert Sheldrake or Dr. Gary Schwartz to debate.
> They are probably too busy. But how were you able to get Randi and Shermer to
> attend?
>
> I do not claim to be able to do something reliably to apply for the Randi
> Challenge though.
>
> Regarding Randi having a signed application and agreeing to wave the
> preliminary test, he did something similar with a homeopath named George
> Vithoulkas. George agreed to this and then after a year of preparation, Randi
> suddenly dropped out and made excuses. You can read about it here:
>
> http://www.naturalnews.com/025627.html
>
> That's why many conclude that the Challenge is really a publicity stunt, not a
> serious offer. The late Marcello Truzzi, the most middle ground Skeptic and
> founder of CSICOP, told me in private email that the Randi Challenge was a
> publicity stunt too.
>
> I would be interested in doing it next year. It would depend on my schedule
> though and where I am. I am usually on the West Coast, not East Coast. I may
> also be able to find a partner too. I have one in mind that lives in North
> Carolina.
>
> Do you provide any amenities to the guests? What are the terms for being a
> guest?
>
> Also, do Randi and Shermer go there every year?
>
> May I show your email to my forum to get their feedback? You are free to post
> there too.
>
> Thanks,
> Winston


Their response to the above:

Winston,

Dragon*Con is held in Downtown Atlanta each Labor Day weekend. It fully uses
every ounce of meeting/convention space in four of the largest downtown
hotels; The Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and the Sheraton. Draws around 50,000+
people each year.

Dragon*Con is not a 'science fiction' convention, it is a culture
convention. We have about 50 sub conventions inside the one big convention.
There are sub-conventions for things like; Science, Space, Fantasy, Games,
Movies, Asian Cinema, Paranormal Issues, etc, etc... In the past 5+ years
quite a few major conventions like this have started to have Skeptic based
programming. I know we were one of the first, but it has spread to Balticon,
Comic-Con, etc... So it is not a rare thing actually.

When I said 'Registered Guest' those are people who are actual guests of the
con, ones who come and are 'big' names for one reason or another, book
authors, scientists, movie actors, etc... I said 'registered guests' because
I have no way of knowing who is or isn't coming to the con and nor do I know
their actual resume contents.

I have NEVER once actually seen a skeptic just 'run away' or ignore real
evidence when it is presented. What I HAVE seen, over, and over, and over,
again is people who claim they have some mystic 'proof' that the paranormal
exists. But, all the 'evidence' is flat when looked at by anyone with some
background in logical thinking. Many of the times I've heard little tales of
a big name skeptic 'running away' it was basically a Michael Moore type
story without any of the real facts but spun to sound 'convincing'. <shrug>

If you want to apply to be a 'real' guest at Dragon*Con for next year, wait
until around January when they put the Guest Application back up online. It
is currently down because it is far past the deadline. You then just have to
read over and fill out the application online, the guest committee will get
back to you in a month or two with an answer. When you fill out the guest
application you indicate what you 'need' or want to be a guest, stuff like
hotel room, travel, etc... It is all taken into account when they are
choosing guests based on the budget for that year.

Randi, Shermer, Ben Radford, and others have been coming for the past 3-4
years to do presentations or sit on debates or panels. They started to come
as part of the Science Track, but any event they were on was so crowded that
the fire marshals' had to make tons of people leave to keep the fire codes
in check. After 2007, when an event had even one of the big name skeptics on
it the room was over packed. So, I was asked in 2008 to be the director for
the new full sub-convention just for Skeptic issues. This year Randi was a
guest again, but due to his current health issues, his doctor grounded him
from coming, so he is going to do a live video feed into the con since he
enjoyed it so much last year. But, we have some new names coming this year,
folks like Joe Nickell, Adam Savage, Eugenie Scott, and such.

As for the Million Dollar Challenge being a 'publicity stunt', depends on
what you are implying there. Sure it is a publicity stunt, but that doesn't
make it in any way fake, or un-trustworthy. The challenges are done to
strict scientific methods and are very well documented. Any claim otherwise
is just bitter apples, or the typical type of statement someone makes when
they are caught believing in the tooth fairy once again.

Sure you can show my e-mail if you want, just don't edit it for content or
length in any way. :)

Derek C.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 00:12

My thoughts:

Ahem. Well obviously this Derek fellow is on the side of the Skeptics, in case you haven't noticed.

Since I'm not a big name person recognized in the media, I'm not sure if the guest committee would approve me as a guest or not. But if SCEPCOP takes off and becomes more prominent in paranormal circles, then maybe I'll have a better chance. Or perhaps I could get the endorsement of top parapsychologists like Gary Schwartz, Dean Radin, Charles Tart, Rupert Sheldrake, etc. and send in a page with their recommendations for having me represent them in the debate? That might put some authority behind my qualifications.

Another thing going for me is that Derek said they couldn't find anyone willing to debate the skeptics, so I'd have little to no competition to enter the debate. That's surprising though, since there are many Paranormal buffs and Psychics everywhere, so why can't they find any on the East Coast? I would have thought that there would be hundreds of paranormalists lined up to debate the Skeptics there. Does Randi really strike that much fear into the heart of every "true believer"?

He says that Randi can't attend this year due to health problems and the recommendation of his doctor. Well I hope he'll enter next year. He is getting old, and we don't know how much longer he will be with us, so I hope I can debate him while he's still alive. This may be one of the last few chances to do so, if his health continues to decline.

I gotta wonder though, if Randi found out that there was an Afterlife, would he recant everything or still insist that he's right about everything? Hmmm

I know my friend John Benneth has been wanting to debate Randi for years, but they have a deep personal feud and Randi considers him to be crazy, so he may refuse to debate him. So I am uncertain as to whether I could get Benneth involved. But I'll look into it.
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby brett » 17 Aug 2009, 00:59

well i hope you get the chance , i just wish i could be there to see it - i am fascinated by these conferences as we have nothing like them here - and if there are they are always in London or somewhere that is not easy or cost effective to get too when one is disabled ( as i am ) - and of course nothing happens in the UK out side the M 25 ( a motorway running round the home counties , quelocialy known as the biggest car park in England :lol: - nothing like some of your freeways though ) as that area is the centre of the known universe - in fact i think there are skeptics within it that doubt that places such as Devon actually exist as they have never been here so don't have any evidence of its existence :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

i noted they mentioned Adam savage - is that the guy from "mythbusters " do you think ?? - i must say i like that program - good practical research - a lesson and example for us all ;)

any ways hope you get selected for a debate - but being the "cynic " i am i wonder .................................................. :lol:
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby NinjaPuppy » 17 Aug 2009, 01:36

Yes, I do hope that you are selected for the debate. I'm not all that far from Atlanta and I look forward to possibly attending should you be able to be part of the debate.
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 03:29

Brett,
How did you become disabled? I thought you were so strong?

Well last year's DragonCon was taped and some of it was put on YouTube. So if I debate there, you can probably just see it on YouTube afterward.

Ninjapuppy, wow you live near Atlanta? Cool. Maybe we will get to meet each other there then!
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby NinjaPuppy » 17 Aug 2009, 03:59

Scepcop wrote:Ninjapuppy, wow you live near Atlanta? Cool. Maybe we will get to meet each other there then!


Well, it isn't right around the corner but I can make it there on the train without requiring the use of a sleeper car. :lol:
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby brett » 17 Aug 2009, 04:35

Scepcop wrote:Brett,
How did you become disabled? I thought you were so strong?

Well last year's DragonCon was taped and some of it was put on YouTube. So if I debate there, you can probably just see it on YouTube afterward.

Ninjapuppy, wow you live near Atlanta? Cool. Maybe we will get to meet each other there then!


well "was " is the operative word - but a stroke put paid to all that - mind i was lucky - really lucky all i lost was part of my sight , my driving licences , my job and it has brought on the arthritis and other stuff that where probably underlying - ah well least ways i am still here to tell the tale :D - all caused by stress i recon - cumulative over the years ?? - dunno - so now i sit here , all my so " called friends " don't want to know me now , and of course loosing my lovely wife has not helped my mood as you can imagine - i get some VERY black days and the meds only help so much ( and NO comments from the skeptics saying see i told you he had "psychological" problems - or believe me you will find out that i CAN forget to be a gentleman !! )

but hey even though it could have killed me - it did not as at the time the wife's illness ( cancer ) was just kicking in so at least ways i was around to care for her during her last years - for that i thank what ever gods there may be - and curse them for taking her :evil:

so now i am limited to what research i can do of course as there are no "jobs " much within mobility scooter distance - and some how a "disabled " ghost hunter just does not seem to have much cred - oh well it is just one of many areas that the disabled are discriminated against in :roll:

but one has to keep a sense of humor eh ?? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

thanks for asking :D
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 04:59

Wow Brett. That sounds so bleak and sad. If only you could move well enough, then you could go off and travel and use your pension or disability benefits or whatever. I think the UK is like the US, I heard, where strangers don't talk to each other much and the lifestyle is pretty isolated. The rest of Europe is supposed to be more open, fun and lively. Have you been to France, Spain or Italy? If so, are people more warm to you there?

I guess the study of the paranormal has given you some hope and meaning in your life then. Or do you reminisce about wonderful memories in the past, when you don't have much to look forward to anymore?

Have you tried alternative remedies like herbs, homeopathy, aromatherapy, etc? Do they help?

Are there any New Age groups in your area you could join? Is there a Unity Church?

Someday, if I tour Europe and come to the UK, I will try to pay you a visit.

You must live in the beautiful rolling hills of England, I imagine huh? Kind of like the rolling green hills that William Wallace marched across in the movie BraveHeart? A British girl told me once that England is depicted in American movies as being much more sentimental about its past culture than it really is in real life.

Oops now we're really getting off topic in this thread.
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby brett » 17 Aug 2009, 05:07

Scepcop wrote:Wow Brett. That sounds so bleak and sad. If only you could move well enough, then you could go off and travel and use your pension or disability benefits or whatever. I think the UK is like the US, I heard, where strangers don't talk to each other much and the lifestyle is pretty isolated. The rest of Europe is supposed to be more open, fun and lively. Have you been to France, Spain or Italy? If so, are people more warm to you there?

I guess the study of the paranormal has given you some hope and meaning in your life then. Or do you reminisce about wonderful memories in the past, when you don't have much to look forward to anymore?

Have you tried alternative remedies like herbs, homeopathy, aromatherapy, etc? Do they help?

Are there any New Age groups in your area you could join? Is there a Unity Church?

Someday, if I tour Europe and come to the UK, I will try to pay you a visit.

You must live in the beautiful rolling hills of England, I imagine huh? Kind of like the rolling green hills that William Wallace marched across in the movie BraveHeart? A British girl told me once that England is depicted in American movies as being much more sentimental about its past culture than it really is in real life.

Oops now we're really getting off topic in this thread.



i will PM you with a reply to this tomorrow ( its just after 10 pm here so off to bed soon ) so we keep this on track :D
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Eteponge » 17 Aug 2009, 09:16

I've seen previous DragonCon Debates on YouTube and all of the "Paranormal Research Guests" seemed to be Skeptic Cannon Fodder, easy targets. They didn't have good debating skills, shyed away from presenting actual evidence, and some went on a rant about how the Randi Challenge isn't legit so they shouldn't have to present anything, it's already been proven, blah blah blah. No substance, and makes any serious researcher in these fields look bad.
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Scepcop » 17 Aug 2009, 13:09

I agree Eteponge. Unfortunately though, if the organizers of DragonCon only wish to have easy targets that the skeptics can make canon fodder out of (kind of like how daytime talk shows like to bring on the stupidest people that represent what they want to trash), that means that if they perceive that I have a chance of winning the skeptics in a debate or making them look bad, they might decide it's not in their best interest to have us. lol

So maybe it's better if I present myself as stupid? lol
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Purple Scissor » 17 Aug 2009, 14:28

I hope you get to debate. Some of the people on this forum know much more about the paranormal than I do, especially in terms of names, dates, histories, so I would be very bad in a public debate, but that is a much-needed role. So if you can do that it will be a great thing. Make it a Sheldrake/Wolpert.
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby ciscop » 17 Aug 2009, 15:46

FIRST THAN ALL... i am honestly sorry to hear about your lost brett, i trust you will get better.

and now...
eteponge and scescop
i congratulate you in having big balls and going to to dragoncon
thats admirable
hope you can get in
a quick advice

dont start bashing in dragoncon just yet (you select easy targets, they dont have debate knowledge.. etc.. etc..)
dont engage in dicussions now winston, wait until january and follow the procedure already stated, follow their rules right now, so lets wait till january and then apply for that. :-D

and

if i might add.. since i am a skeptic
i would recommend not mentioning or using homeopathy
since is just water and they will explain placebos and ridiculize you, since science has debunked homeopathy thats like giving away the debate. go with the other unexplainable things in paranormal, but focus in some areas.

so i would go for esp, precoignition, examples of predictions, data of how many people believe in esp (i think is like 50% in america) and stuff is not proven scientificly (does that word exist?)
so get ready to the debate, collect data and numbers (skeptics language) but dont start arguing with them just yet, it isnt time and you dont want to win a debate with dragoncon organizers, you want to win a debate with shermer and the other folks.

so good luck
and i honestly applaud your courage
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: My correspondence with DragonCon re: participating next year

Postby Purple Scissor » 18 Aug 2009, 03:23

ciscop wrote:FIRST THAN ALL... i am honestly sorry to hear about your lost brett, i trust you will get better.

and now...
eteponge and scescop
i congratulate you in having big balls and going to to dragoncon
thats admirable
hope you can get in
a quick advice

dont start bashing in dragoncon just yet (you select easy targets, they dont have debate knowledge.. etc.. etc..)
dont engage in dicussions now winston, wait until january and follow the procedure already stated, follow their rules right now, so lets wait till january and then apply for that. :-D

and

if i might add.. since i am a skeptic
i would recommend not mentioning or using homeopathy
since is just water and they will explain placebos and ridiculize you, since science has debunked homeopathy thats like giving away the debate. go with the other unexplainable things in paranormal, but focus in some areas.

so i would go for esp, precoignition, examples of predictions, data of how many people believe in esp (i think is like 50% in america) and stuff is not proven scientificly (does that word exist?)
so get ready to the debate, collect data and numbers (skeptics language) but dont start arguing with them just yet, it isnt time and you dont want to win a debate with dragoncon organizers, you want to win a debate with shermer and the other folks.

so good luck
and i honestly applaud your courage


Seconded.

And here is what you might argue: there is a big difference between the quotes of some of the major skeptics, and the general impression given off by the skeptical organizations. If you can contrast them, and distance yourselves from the lousy cases which skeptics like to bash and then generalize to the better cases, you can show that the skeptical organizations are giving off an aura of "it is all bunk" out of one side of their mouths, while from the other side saying that some parts of the paranormal are nearly proven. You can portray them as the spin machine they are.
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