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Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical review

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 29 Aug 2010, 10:06

Ok, let's do another one.

3) Carries a fixed set of unchanging beliefs which all data must conform to

I'm guessing this is a code for materialism so I'll wait til I get to that one a bit below.

4) Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending the views of establishment

For this one I'll use Penn and Teller:

Here are some topics they've taken on:

1-05: second hand smokeL Critiques concerns on second-hand smoke and attempts to ban it,
1-07: bottled water: challenging claims on the quality of bottled water
2-04: the war on drugs: Questions the constitutionality of the "War on Drugs"
2-05: recycling: Criticizes certain aspects of recycling, including the increased cost of particular forms of recycling and the detrimental effect that certain forms of recycling have on the environment, and debunks numerous myths regarding landfills. Notes that people are generally more than happy to recycle and that it is the system that is flawed.
2-09: death inc): Offers criticisms of many claims made by businesses which offer funeral services, and investigates the validity of cryonics as a method of preserving a human body.
3-02: family values: Argues that the "traditional" husband-and-wife family is a relatively recent creation. Supports gay marriage and polyamory, and also attacks the idea that homosexuals can be "cured".
3-06: College: Opposition to political correctness, speech codes, and diversity requirements, especially on college campuses.
3-09: Gun control: Against gun control laws.
3-11: Endangered Species: Criticism of the U.S. Endangered Species Act and highlights its unintended consequences.
3-13: The best (Criticism of people who engage in the pursuit of needless luxury.)
4-02: Prostitution: Pro-legalization of prostitution. Criticizes various viewpoints on the dangers of the profession, and points to the dangers of it not being legalized.
4-03: the Death Penalty: Argues against capital punishment, from pragmatic and moral viewpoints.
4-05: Ground Zero: About the dragging of feet and design mistakes by the LMDC in rebuilding at the World Trade Center site, the lack of family and public approved memorials to the 9/11 attacks, the impact on local business, and how the whole process has been co-oped by people out to make money.
7-07: Taxes: Penn & Teller attack the tax system of the United States as complex and unfair. The guys visit the halls of Congress in search of a legislator willing to discuss America's tax system.

Full disclosure: I haven't watched most of those episodes (got the descriptions from wiki.) But those topics are all P+T arguing against government or "establishment" policies.


5) Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but views their own fixed viewpoints as constant:

Ok, I've already shown examples against this in other threads. In the Randi video thread I pointed out Randi in the video saying that he accepted that psi might be possible. I've posted Michael Shermer saying similar things about Bigfoot. Both men have explicitly stated that they are open to the possibility of these things, but need reliable evidence to believe it.

6) Are willing to lie and deceive to preserve establishment views, which are their true master:

Well, I don't know what he's getting at here. I know Randi lied about project Alpha, but that was the point. I don't know what examples Scepcop is alluding to here. If they lied, they shouldn't have. I do know that I've seen Randi post corrections to past mistakes. I think in general people are too quick to resort to the "lying" accusation, on both sides. Most of the time, when someone makes a statement that turns out not to be true, when dealing with these types of topics, its a mistake, rather than deliberate deception. There may be examples of pure dishonesty, but I don't know of them off hand. I'd be happy to discuss them if provided with examples.


Ok, that's good for tonight.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 29 Aug 2010, 23:10

really? wrote:
really? wrote:
Craig Browning wrote:Sure, we all would love magic to be true. I've been a big fan of fantasy novels since I was a kid. I used to dream about flying (sometimes still do). I would love to have "powers". And I appreciate being taken away to another world by the entertainment industry as much as anyone. And enjoy "magical" feelings as much as anyone.

And yet, you would take that fantasy away from the world by saying "it doesn't compute"

The fantasiful possibility tied to "Magick" is based entirely on innocence and hope. When the public is constantly told to grow-up and stop believing in imaginary friends (god) and miracles because science doesn't support such things, you remove the possibilities -- the hope and inspiration such imaginative tales give us.


Yet some of us manage somehow to make it through life without fantasiful possibilities. Can you explain why ?


It doesn't mean that they are happy or serene... they might be "content" as the result of acceptance, but they are typically not capable of relating to the typical human being, are confrontational on regular cycles (quite predictable, in fact), and too, I've noticed that a very large number of those clinging to the more cynical view of things show greater propensity towards OCD type behaviors and forms of self-abuse (booze, Drugs, Sex, shopaholic... numerous escape routes)... and of course, I should remind you that denial is the first symptom of all the above...

The majority of folks that fit into the skeptic's niche AREN'T highly educated with many being failed magic lovers that have fallen back on a "career saver" (as some call it)... the cheap PR angle of being a "debunker" ala Houdini (give me a break... even Houdini used it as a fall back, he wasn't the first, nor the best. Just a good PR man). What we have is loads of "trailer trash" (metaphorically speaking) that's read a handful of books and articles, many of whom belong to a skeptic group or two for the sake of rubbing elbows with VIPs (in hope that what they have will rub off). These armchair experts are the bigger problem, which turn people like myself, decidedly anti-skeptic in that they refuse to actually study things in a balanced manner; learning to understand things from either side of the issue. Whenever people refuse to do such a thing reveals that their "faith' in the gospel they espouse, has holes in it. Let's face it, Constantine didn't convert to christianity until he was facing death and wanted to cover all bases... atheist rarely exist in fox-holes... and we all have some mode of fantasiful escape that fills the voids you're suggesting that your life don't have.

If I'm reading you right, you're simply saying that it's alright to believe in fictions if its comforting. Is that right? I don't want to oversimplify but that's the crux of it?

My way of dealing with someone who believed they were cursed, or some such, would not be to foster the delusion, nor would it be to mock them. I would want to teach them think critically about why they believe what they believe. I would acknowledge their belief, then try to help them dissect it, break it down, question it, back it up, etc.


What I said is that there are times when you MUST use honey (and wisdom) instead of vinegar. When you are dealing with a person well into their late middle age or older, most of whom have but a limited formal education; their "faith' being one of the few constants in life and the "only" answer they've ever had to things you cannot do what you suggest in the above and expect to get the kind of results your think you should... people don't work that way. To take your approach alienates people and costs them any semblance of hope; it is decidedly cruel and highly disrespectful when it comes to people's culture, traditions and beliefs.

Look at it this way... when was the last time you actually gave those pesky door-to-door missionaries the time of day? They're just trying to get you to see things "critically" from their perspective as to what is true and right... it's the "fix" they understand. Chances are though, you will instantly put up a wall that filters out their "logic" and if you are atheist, you will rant about how these people invade your privacy and right to not deal with them...

People of faith will view your encouragement in a similar light and more importantly, the minute you try to replace "god" with "logic" or "critical thinking" they will see you as being a servant of Satan... an evil thing that must be shunned and sent away e.g. no progress can possibly happen when it comes to helping such people see and eventually accept alternatives.

When you give respect... honest respect and reverence towards other people's beliefs, traditions, and general life influences you gain 'trust' which means that the once closed door is set a bit ajar and thus, opportunity given to us when it comes to educating and guiding people, not so much away from their traditions or testimony as into a state of willingness to step back and look at the False Evidence that's Appearing Real... I place myself into the position of empowering folks rather than being seen as a threat and non-believer. As such I'm in the position to "guide" more people towards the act of critical examination than those walking in with sledge hammers and battens.

When we close the door on our own education and unwillingness to learn about such cultural influences and the psychology of faith... when we remove ourselves from the human side of it all, we limit our own ability to be effective teachers and that's exactly the role you think you're in the position to take on, but as I hope you can see, you're very far from it... you're missing a few of the requisites when it comes to effective communications in this kind of case.

Sure... if I had people that are obviously beyond the state of typical faith expression or even radical in their testimony, I may very well use a shock approach when the knit glove method seems to be a waste of time. I have a client right now that I keep kicking in the psychic rubber parts because of her delusions and serious need for aggressive professional assistance from the mental health establishment. BUT, I'm one of the few males she trusts; because of the various events in her life in which men abused her, she is a basket case. Because she falls into the low income category the medical attention she is getting comes from an organization that lives by the philosophy of "keep them stoned"... Medical Professionals that live by the pill and however much tax payer money they can figure out how to steal. If you haven't caught on, this is one of those "legit" establishments that does more harm than good and waaaay more harm than any professional Reader or even clergyman tends to do. But, the skeptic community believes it better to send people into the hands of this sort of "science based" network than placing them in the care of people that will (over time) help these people not only become more empowered on their own volition, but likewise through finding the proper resources for their medical needs.

It's not all as black & white as the skeptic's world wants it to be. When you finally remove your blinders you'll begin to see that and why... but hey, that's just logical, isn't it?
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 30 Aug 2010, 00:44

Craig Browning wrote:What I said is that there are times when you MUST use honey (and wisdom) instead of vinegar. When you are dealing with a person well into their late middle age or older, most of whom have but a limited formal education; their "faith' being one of the few constants in life and the "only" answer they've ever had to things you cannot do what you suggest in the above and expect to get the kind of results your think you should... people don't work that way. To take your approach alienates people and costs them any semblance of hope; it is decidedly cruel and highly disrespectful when it comes to people's culture, traditions and beliefs.


I'm not sure what you think my approach is. As I've said, I'm pretty firmly in the "don't be a dick" camp of skepticism/atheism.

Look at it this way... when was the last time you actually gave those pesky door-to-door missionaries the time of day? They're just trying to get you to see things "critically" from their perspective as to what is true and right... it's the "fix" they understand. Chances are though, you will instantly put up a wall that filters out their "logic" and if you are atheist, you will rant about how these people invade your privacy and right to not deal with them...


I haven't engaged those guys but usually its because I'm occupied. I have in mind at some point to engage them in discussion.

Thing is, unless it's with people I know very well, I don't engage in too much atheism/skepticism talk with people IRL. Most of my discussions are online, where people comes specifically for good discussion and debate.

People of faith will view your encouragement in a similar light and more importantly, the minute you try to replace "god" with "logic" or "critical thinking" they will see you as being a servant of Satan... an evil thing that must be shunned and sent away e.g. no progress can possibly happen when it comes to helping such people see and eventually accept alternatives.


That really depends on the person, doesn't it? Many theists are capable of rational conversation about their beliefs. But that's where knowing your audience comes into play. You can't take the same approach with everyone. Some methods of discussion are more effective with some types of people, others, with others.

It's not all as black & white as the skeptic's world wants it to be. When you finally remove your blinders you'll begin to see that and why... but hey, that's just logical, isn't it?


You're making some big assumptions about blinders, nor do I see the world as black and white. You are making assumptions based on stereotypes which, I have been arguing on this site, are largely unfounded. There is a characature of the "evil skeptic" presented on this site (and by many proponents) which is as unjustified as most stereotypes.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby really? » 30 Aug 2010, 01:38

Arouet wrote:It's not all as black & white as the skeptic's world wants it to be. When you finally remove your blinders you'll begin to see that and why... but hey, that's just logical, isn't it?


You're making some big assumptions about blinders, nor do I see the world as black and white. You are making assumptions based on stereotypes which, I have been arguing on this site, are largely unfounded. There is a characature of the "evil skeptic" presented on this site (and by many proponents) which is as unjustified as most stereotypes.[/quote]

Golly I always like being the evil skeptic. :cry:
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 31 Aug 2010, 00:26

You're making some big assumptions about blinders, nor do I see the world as black and white. You are making assumptions based on stereotypes which, I have been arguing on this site, are largely unfounded. There is a characature of the "evil skeptic" presented on this site (and by many proponents) which is as unjustified as most stereotypes

But what about the negative assumptions skeptics make towards believers or supporters of the paranormal?

We can't have it both ways, which is what most humans want... you can't put me in this niche but I can put you in this one over here...

Honestly, "public opinion" as to what niche folks go into is always based on the antics of the minority -- the negative type-cast. I have many friends, several of note, that are part of the Skeptic's Community and I can honestly say that I have a healthier and far closer rapport with them than I do most of those involved with the shut-eye world of the paranormal or New Age life (I just don't do airheads and stupid really well no matter the source).

Now when it comes to "Evil Skeptics" you guys need to thank churchianity and it's various cousins, they are the source by which your obvious alliance with Satan comes from... at least in part. The small fragment that does not come from this arena comes from within your own world via the various assholes out there that, like their christian counterparts, try cramming their own gospel down everyone's throat with no exception. So, as the say, get your own house in order before casting stones... :? granted, this is what all groups need to do but it's so much easier to deal with the splinter in the eye of others vs. the beam in our own, isn't it?

Now when it comes to some of the responses you make in my previous post... I agree with 95% of it... if you can "challenge" a person to "think" and mull over "possibilities" then there is a chance of actually helping them. But you must be able to "speak their language" as it were, and I think we are both in agreement as to what that means. When I talk about working WITH people based on their customs and beliefs I'm not saying to cosign or even help perpetuate a delusional circumstance, only pointing out that sometimes you do need to prescribe the proper placebo in order to get affirmative results. The more you inner-act with such individuals and generate trust (by way of honoring their beliefs) the more they will open up to you and how you see things, which is the "chink in their armor" so to speak, that allows "me" to challenge them at the critical thought level.

Yes, it's a slower boat but it is likewise a method of approach that allows the transformation to happen based on the person's own course of decision making rather than feelings of persecution, which is how most people feel after an encounter with the Shermer & Randi type personalities. For that matter, you can see how the modified and "softened' approach being used by Banachek and even Derren Brown in the UK, seems to come with far less resistance or public challenge; most folks like these guys where you can't say that for Randi, Joe Nichols, etc. (hell, there are skeptics out there that avoid these clowns).

I always encourage HEALTHY Skepticism be it through my shows or when I'm doing classes in Psychic Development; this includes the idea of "clarity", challenging our perceptions so to speak. In simple terms I manifest something the average person would perceive as "miraculous" and then challenge my students to find answers.

NO, I'm not "exposing" magic secrets per ce but I am encouraging the eager believer to look beyond the manifestations they may encounter, so as to see what the real cause might be around an effect... and life is filled with such scenarios. But in order to honestly help these people to THINK, I must speak their language and appeal to their fantasy in order to avoid resistance. One of my tools for doing this is revealing how many of the explanations offered by the skeptics are 100% correct and then I show them why, using "logic" in the process of evolution so to speak, and thus showing how ALL magic has its very simple, carnal truths. In using this approach I'm able to reveal why real Psychics exist to the skeptical while likewise helping the believer better understand what that idea (being Psychic) actually means... removing the boogieman factor.

In other words, we're speaking the same language just approaching things in a very different way.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 31 Aug 2010, 05:10

Craig Browning wrote:But what about the negative assumptions skeptics make towards believers or supporters of the paranormal?

We can't have it both ways, which is what most humans want... you can't put me in this niche but I can put you in this one over here...


What's this, the two-wrongs-make-a-right argument? I don't like it when skeptics dismiss proponents as idiots, there are some very intelligent believers out there. Belief is a complex thing and its not always about intelligence (though its often about critical reasoning).


Honestly, "public opinion" as to what niche folks go into is always based on the antics of the minority -- the negative type-cast. I have many friends, several of note, that are part of the Skeptic's Community and I can honestly say that I have a healthier and far closer rapport with them than I do most of those involved with the shut-eye world of the paranormal or New Age life (I just don't do airheads and stupid really well no matter the source).


There are all sorts of people from both sides.

Now when it comes to "Evil Skeptics" you guys need to thank churchianity and it's various cousins, they are the source by which your obvious alliance with Satan comes from... at least in part. The small fragment that does not come from this arena comes from within your own world via the various assholes out there that, like their christian counterparts, try cramming their own gospel down everyone's throat with no exception. So, as the say, get your own house in order before casting stones... :? granted, this is what all groups need to do but it's so much easier to deal with the splinter in the eye of others vs. the beam in our own, isn't it?


I don't know what "house" I'm in. I'm not a member of any of these organizations (unless you count signing up for internet forums and some email lists). Even if I was, I wouldn't be in a leadership role (no time!). But on these forums I will call out BS where I see it, from either side. I don't just agree with skeptics because they're skeptics. And I don't just disagree with proponents because they are proponents. I'll take each issue as it comes. And when I see inappropriate stereotypes from either side, I'll often speak up (not every time, I mean, it happens so often on these forums that I'd quickly become shrill if I did it every time!).

Now when it comes to some of the responses you make in my previous post... I agree with 95% of it... if you can "challenge" a person to "think" and mull over "possibilities" then there is a chance of actually helping them. But you must be able to "speak their language" as it were, and I think we are both in agreement as to what that means. When I talk about working WITH people based on their customs and beliefs I'm not saying to cosign or even help perpetuate a delusional circumstance, only pointing out that sometimes you do need to prescribe the proper placebo in order to get affirmative results. The more you inner-act with such individuals and generate trust (by way of honoring their beliefs) the more they will open up to you and how you see things, which is the "chink in their armor" so to speak, that allows "me" to challenge them at the critical thought level.

Yes, it's a slower boat but it is likewise a method of approach that allows the transformation to happen based on the person's own course of decision making rather than feelings of persecution, which is how most people feel after an encounter with the Shermer & Randi type personalities. For that matter, you can see how the modified and "softened' approach being used by Banachek and even Derren Brown in the UK, seems to come with far less resistance or public challenge; most folks like these guys where you can't say that for Randi, Joe Nichols, etc. (hell, there are skeptics out there that avoid these clowns).


Fair enough, I'm not clear on what kind of counselling you do, but certainly a soft touch and really listening to the people can be very important, as I've said. I'm in the DBAD camp of the skeptics movement. I often cringe at what I see, especially when it derails conversations.

I always encourage HEALTHY Skepticism be it through my shows or when I'm doing classes in Psychic Development; this includes the idea of "clarity", challenging our perceptions so to speak. In simple terms I manifest something the average person would perceive as "miraculous" and then challenge my students to find answers

NO, I'm not "exposing" magic secrets per ce but I am encouraging the eager believer to look beyond the manifestations they may encounter, so as to see what the real cause might be around an effect... and life is filled with such scenarios. But in order to honestly help these people to THINK, I must speak their language and appeal to their fantasy in order to avoid resistance. One of my tools for doing this is revealing how many of the explanations offered by the skeptics are 100% correct and then I show them why, using "logic" in the process of evolution so to speak, and thus showing how ALL magic has its very simple, carnal truths. In using this approach I'm able to reveal why real Psychics exist to the skeptical while likewise helping the believer better understand what that idea (being Psychic) actually means... removing the boogieman factor.


I'm honestly not very clear on where you stand - ie: whether you believe in the paranormal or not, or rather just have a reverence for the feelings of wonder and magic that can be induced in some people using various techniques.

In other words, we're speaking the same language just approaching things in a very different way.


That very well may be true! As I read more of you I'll be better able to judge!
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 01 Sep 2010, 00:47

I don't know what "house" I'm in. I'm not a member of any of these organizations (unless you count signing up for internet forums and some email lists). Even if I was, I wouldn't be in a leadership role (no time!). But on these forums I will call out BS where I see it, from either side. I don't just agree with skeptics because they're skeptics. And I don't just disagree with proponents because they are proponents. I'll take each issue as it comes. And when I see inappropriate stereotypes from either side, I'll often speak up (not every time, I mean, it happens so often on these forums that I'd quickly become shrill if I did it every time!).

Kudos!

As I believe I’ve mentioned somewhere around here, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate in either camp even when I agree with the tenets of what the other person is arguing. I do this in order to learn but likewise, it’s a way by which I can encourage them to widen their view on things and take the concept of “critical thought” a bit further down the line so they are capable of seeing the more complete portrait of the forests rather than the few trees blocking the view.

Since my early teens I have striven to learn as much as I can from both, the esoteric side of things as well as the more analytical side. To my mind this is the only way to be truly fair in my judgment but more so, when I actually PARTICIPATE vs. viewing things scholastically, I’m able to cultivate a bit of actual “wisdom” when it comes to the issue as a whole. Unfortunately, both sides tend to change the rules and definitions here and there, so as to use linguistic/sematic manipulations ala the classic two-bit lawyer; antics that perpetuate the tension rather than bringing about acceptable resolution… that middle ground area I keep referring to that really does exist.

I'm honestly not very clear on where you stand - ie: whether you believe in the paranormal or not, or rather just have a reverence for the feelings of wonder and magic that can be induced in some people using various techniques.

All of the Above!

I do have a genuine belief that comes from two factors;
a.) Personal Experiences
b.) “Critical” Theory


Personal Experience is the one most people can understand and most skeptics love to take a dump on, belittle and make claims that the person with the testimony is simply misremembering things. It is the least “provable” aspect of faith and at the same time, one of the most concrete arguments of perspective you will get form a believer.

Critical Theory is what I’ve been trying to reveal in this and other threads and it is admittedly, a difficult thing for most folks to wrap their head around, especially those that aver logic oriented by nature. The theory itself came about in the early 1980s as I started seeing parallels between the theatrical art of Mentalism and Hermetic philosophy. As I dug deeper I found similar parallels within the Rosicrucian, Shamanic and Kabalistic tradition as well as the auspices of the Roma (Gypsy) culture. In simple terms these shared formula include (but aren’t limited to) the following;

1.) Memory/Recall Development – mnemonics – this would include training courses in general Awareness that is quite similar to what Law Enforcement as well as what Mental Health professions must go through and then some.

2.) Subliminal Communication – this includes everything from understanding body morph factors ( body shape, facial reading methods, movement/body language, etc.) to more deliberate “application” techniques akin to NLP/Suggestion, Conversational Hypnosis and even “codes” that can be used to convey information to other “members of the collective” in a covert manner. For an example, the multiple meanings behind Hebrew characters and similar associations found in other cultures outside the Romanized world; the Druids as well as Native Americans likewise had some unique forms of “sign language” that could be employed based on how they held their hands & fingers against a staff.

3.) Higher Mental Function Development – which rings a very sad note in human history actually, in that the “advancement” of the public school system (particularly in the U.S.) resulted in a slow phasing out process of certain exercises tied to this “mystic” tradition. In simple terms this category centers on training the brain to focus and process on demand. The most rudimentary exercise would be simple mathematic computation which likewise tied into music, which is a very mathematical art form. The Druids of modern time requires all members of the order to be able to play at least two different kinds of instruments such as a Violin and Reed or similar contrast… they likewise require their neophytes to be able to speak no fewer than three languages fluently, which goes hand in hand with mystic training and development… as well as intellectual development from within the scholastic and monastic environs i.e. challenging the brain to learn complete new and contrasting disciplines on a 3-5 year rotation. Not only does this exercise aid one in the Mental Function area, it adds to your general versatility and as has been recently discovered, adds to one’s longevity and quality of life… then again, most all wizards and wise ones (women) were known for being “ancient” in years, weren’t they?

4.) Environmental Awareness – is quite established on the ancient scale but is something echoed as recently as the mid-20th century by the legendary Edgar Cayce., but it can be found as part of Yogic and Buddhist Meditation as well as TM… the act of sensitizing one’s self to the finest of “vibrations” surrounding you. Though this sounds New Agey and silly, stepping back a few paces and thinking about bio-physics (ideomotor influences) as well as the previously noted awareness training allows you to bring this idea into a more “mundane” or “critical” perspective… the more aware we become when it comes to our surroundings the more “sensitive” we are to the subliminal or subconscious influences that our conscious mind is typically not aware of… it ignore it. But when you have been trained to be aware/sensitive or even born with a nature penchant towards such things, you suddenly find yourself with the ability to “READ” things. That would include the more metaphoric sense of perspective when it comes to positioning of things from a given horizon & center-line; colors, the type of thing you are looking at, direction of movement if applicable, etc., etc. {BTW I have a book series of which Book One has already been released (though not presently available) and Book Two is planned to be out next spring… entitled “Easy Reading” the two tomes cover much of what I’m describing here}


I believe this short list of examples helps reveal the criss-cross between the two disciplines and why I lean on these factors as “proof” that Psychics and Magick are very much real but not so much in the exoteric manner most of humanity makes them out to be… and that includes the assumptions/ implications made by the skeptic’s community who likewise sustain the more fantasiful idea behind such things in order to have their debate.

When I teach or work with folks that are being terrorized due to personal beliefs and cultural influences, I can only reach them by understanding their perspective and worth with that in order to not just empower them when it comes to their issue, but as I said previously, I want to gain their trust so that I can empower them even more by giving to them “the deeper mysteries” as they are known in the shut-eye world… shining light on the greater truth so they can digest it and most importantly, make it their own sense of discovery. We can say the words and show them all the studies on the planet but until the believer is ready to accept the data, it will never stick. However, when I hold their hand, speak their language and have other elders from around the globe sustaining the lessons I share, I am able to show them directly what it means to claim personal power over spiritual and mystical situations; I can teach them how to see the illusion and not fear it, doing so in a way that allows every bit of the goal to be their discovery… their choice… their idea. This is when the lessons take hold and I end up with individuals set within a faith-based community who are able to take the very same course of action and open the eyes of others.
NO, it doesn’t work each time but it does work to some degree with every person the approach is used on for reasons that should be obvious by this point.

Being “Psychic” only means that you are more aware – expanded awareness and the ability to “see” and process the subtle data in ways most other human being do not or cannot due to lack of discipline. But as I’ve pointed out in many an interview and to students; just because you can read the Tarot Cards or you understand Palmistry based on what you learned form a book/class DOES NOT mean you are a “Psychic”… those things are just tools that help you cultivate your skills and move you in the direction that may allow you to gains such perspective, nothing more!

Of course I really piss them off when I explain why it’s all “Cold Reading” but that’s another story altogether…
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 03 Sep 2010, 11:08

Ok, some interesting discussion slowly coming out of this thread. Would like to see some more of you come out of the woodwork. This is the essence of this site, right?

So where was I?

Oh, the big one:

7. Automatically dismisses and denies all information that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy

Ok, let's go with the big mac daddy himself: James Randi.

Here's an article from Randi, a little dated (2003), but deals directly with this topic: http://www.randi.org/jr/072503.html.
The article is primarily about some of Randi's views on religion, but a good chunk of the article deals directly with our topic here.

Randi recognises the accusation that Scepcop throws at him:

I frequently receive criticisms from offended believers in psychic matters and religious dogma, accusing me of being one of those dreaded "materialists," or of being unable to accept the wonders they choose to embrace because I'm "locked into" a world-view that accepts only the "unyielding" and "orthodox" scientific version of how the world works. These words in quotation marks are taken directly from recent scoldings I've been offered.


Maybe Scepcop was one of those scolders? Anyhow, good news is: we don't have to wonder at his response, because he tells us!

First of all, the word "unyielding" cannot possibly be applied to the genuine scientific view. My favourite concise definition of science, one which I admit I invented, is:

Science is a search for basic truths about the Universe, a search which develops statements that appear to describe how the Universe works, but which are subject to correction, revision, adjustment, or even outright rejection, upon the presentation of better or conflicting evidence.

Science is a discipline that yields frequently while attempting to closely approach that elusive goal called "truth," but knowing that any conclusion it can arrive at is merely the best one of the moment.


He then goes on to note that it is the very willingness to adjust that is the glory of science. As for materialism?

Yes, I'm a materialist. I'm willing to be shown wrong, but that has not happened — yet. And I admit that the reason I'm unable to accept the claims of psychic, occult, and/or supernatural wonders is because I'm Iocked into a world-view that demands evidence rather than blind faith, a view that insists upon the replication of all experiments — particularly those that appear to show violations of a rational world — and a view which requires open examination of the methods used to carry out those experiments. The decision to be a materialist is my own, I made it after many years of consideration of what I observed, and after reading Bertrand Russell and others. Since it was not a mere reaction to incoming information, but the result of examining that information, I'm proud of my decision.


This directly contradicts Scepcop's allegation.

After discussion religion for a bit, Randi gets back to the topic that is our focus here:

I keep hearing, from the parapsychologists, the religious, and the occultists, about this unwillingness they point to, a reluctance by certain skeptics to consider the evidence. There may well be skeptics out there who match that description, but I don't know of any. I've heard that the skeptics' postulated refusal to believe, parallels and even exceeds the dedication of the most ardent reincarnation enthusiast, spoon-bending buff, or UFO devotee. I've also seen attempts to delineate the more or less nonrational bases that underlie such extreme positions.


He continues a little further down:

Similarly, skeptics do not attempt to prove materialism. It is simply the best, most logical, reasonable, explanation of the universe. That's using parsimony. And materialism can be tested — a feature the credophiles often say is not acceptable nor necessary within their supernatural world-view.


Implicit in this statement is the recognition that materialism may be replaced one day as the "most logical, reasonable, explanation of the universe." There is no other way to view this statement. This quotation alone refutes Scepcop's allegation against Randi.

Again, this is just one example of Randi's discussion of this. There are more. Anyone who reads or listens to Randi on an even cursory basis would not be surprised at what Randi wrote here. Scepcop, I imagine, is surprised.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby really? » 03 Sep 2010, 11:27

These quotes should be posted on that other forum also. ;)
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 04 Sep 2010, 00:02

:? To me invoking the words of St. James is akin to calling being a Nazi or Fascist...

Randi is NOT a Scientist but rather a magician that not only fell into the "I can't get to the top" mode but who likewise had some very nasty situations surrounding him, such as trying to kill off his primary competition (Steve Baker/Mr. Escape)... such things, on top of all his other "alleged" crimes and questionable associations, basically tell the average person that he's not to be trusted... amazingly, the intellects of society seem willing to ignore all the man's shortcomings because he not only cosigns their idea of things, he's become the Billy Graham of the Atheist world.

Understand, Randi can be quite personable and charming, I've had some very pleasant conversations and email exchanges with the man even though we don't agree on an array of points. His resources have been an aid to some of my studies about predator psychics in certain parts of the country and I have no problem sharing my discoveries with the JREF. I know this sounds rather contradictory but I feel it must be stated so as to sustain the fact that I really don't believe in absolutes.

Where we have the above quotes and article we will find changed words and views further on in his life and work, views that fluctuate based on the social-political and even scholastic environs of the time. The problem is, Randi seems to take a dump on any and all things that don't fit his particular group of niches, even denying scientific proofs, theories and facts... one tale having him getting a bit physical with a noted Nobel Prize winning physicist promoting some sort of connection between Quantum Science and the Paranormal... as the story goes, Randi's temper (and he has one) got a bit out of control and he punched this poor man... but as I said, I don't know the whole tale though I have seen posted, Randi's denial or "retelling" of said events, which of course, paint him in a more positive light.

Where is the explanation behind Randi's habit of picking and choosing which science he'll support or use vs. what is ignored or down-right rejected? I'm not talking about some of the "pseudo-sciences" out there like NLP or even Parapsychology for that matter, but what's his aversion to Quantum Physics and the many avenues Quantum theory give us to explore? Why can't he accept the scientific logic that alien life probably does exist and though it would require technology well advanced to our to do it, they may have found ways to traverse the galaxy... accord to this feature -- http://science.discovery.com/videos/sci-fi-science-ii-cheap-exploration.html we are moving in that direction. It may be a few centuries away, but we already have the foundation technology for doing this. Considering that, it is most likely humans will be exploring and colonizing other regions of the galaxy not only in the manner noted in this article but in time, via real time travel.

This IS science as is an abundance of material that sustains the views I've already shared that "explain" psychic & magickle operation and thus, proves that such claims are genuine and just because we have these explanations does not negate the claim; a person that possesses the skill and discipline to work with such energy is still a psychic... just because you know how a Levitation works on stage doesn't mean it's not a Levitation...

Skeptics/cynics don't want to accept this reality, that is where I begin having problems with them; the universe is not explained in Black & White.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 04 Sep 2010, 00:46

Craig Browning wrote::? To me invoking the words of St. James is akin to calling being a Nazi or Fascist...


I seem to be again not getting one of your quips. Your're not invoking Godwin's law here are you?

Randi is NOT a Scientist but rather a magician that not only fell into the "I can't get to the top" mode but who likewise had some very nasty situations surrounding him, such as trying to kill off his primary competition (Steve Baker/Mr. Escape)... such things, on top of all his other "alleged" crimes and questionable associations, basically tell the average person that he's not to be trusted... amazingly, the intellects of society seem willing to ignore all the man's shortcomings because he not only cosigns their idea of things, he's become the Billy Graham of the Atheist world.


What you're doing here is "poisoning the well". Let's say that Randi's done some not-nice things in the past- what relavance does that have on his arguments, which is what we're discussing. Plus, has any of those "alleged crimes" been substantiated? Or are they smear campaigns? I don't know the answer. But still, it has nothing to do with what we're discussion ITT.

The problem is, Randi seems to take a dump on any and all things that don't fit his particular group of niches, even denying scientific proofs, theories and facts... one tale having him getting a bit physical with a noted Nobel Prize winning physicist promoting some sort of connection between Quantum Science and the Paranormal... as the story goes, Randi's temper (and he has one) got a bit out of control and he punched this poor man... but as I said, I don't know the whole tale though I have seen posted, Randi's denial or "retelling" of said events, which of course, paint him in a more positive light.


See, when I site these guys, I actually provide the link, and what they actually said. You're just poisoning the well again. I've been filling this thread (and others) with specific examples. I'll invite you to do the same.

Where is the explanation behind Randi's habit of picking and choosing which science he'll support or use vs. what is ignored or down-right rejected? I'm not talking about some of the "pseudo-sciences" out there like NLP or even Parapsychology for that matter, but what's his aversion to Quantum Physics and the many avenues Quantum theory give us to explore? Why can't he accept the scientific logic that alien life probably does exist and though it would require technology well advanced to our to do it, they may have found ways to traverse the galaxy... accord to this feature -- http://science.discovery.com/videos/sci-fi-science-ii-cheap-exploration.html we are moving in that direction. It may be a few centuries away, but we already have the foundation technology for doing this. Considering that, it is most likely humans will be exploring and colonizing other regions of the galaxy not only in the manner noted in this article but in time, via real time travel.


Give me some examples of specific things he's said, and I'll tell you what I think.

This IS science as is an abundance of material that sustains the views I've already shared that "explain" psychic & magickle operation and thus, proves that such claims are genuine and just because we have these explanations does not negate the claim; a person that possesses the skill and discipline to work with such energy is still a psychic... just because you know how a Levitation works on stage doesn't mean it's not a Levitation...


Well, it certainly makes a difference if one is using a magic trick to levitate someone, or psi!

Skeptics/cynics don't want to accept this reality, that is where I begin having problems with them; the universe is not explained in Black & White.


Don't tell me what skeptics do in general. Provide specifcs! I have been. It does no good to respond in generalities.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 04 Sep 2010, 23:32

PUT ON THE BREAKS!

You're good... you sucked me into the classic merri-go-round game skeptics love to play; the goal being to get the "believer" frustrated so they blow up and the skeptic can run of gloating... NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

"Poisoning the Well" is not ok when it comes to your "leadership" and yet it is exactly what you guys do when any information or source that goes contrary to your desired points of view is offered. You constantly demean any "legit" resource that might challenge you and your views; this merri-go-round argument is one method used for creating this image. Especially when you know that "believers" or those that defend a persons right to believe, are not as anal-retentive as the typical skeptic who keeps a list of resources, studies, quotes, etc. on hand at all times... it's part of your training it would seem... I'd love to find that JREF Boot-Camp... :?

I just can't wrap my head around how anyone could support anyone that has as much ugly "elements" surrounding them as Randi does... even CSICOPS distanced themselves from him at one point. The sex scandals... the number of young men he's put through college when sex scandal was threatened... questionable art deals... the list is interesting and long but a solid spin was given by St. James and so all his "intelligent" patrons keep throwing their tithes in his direction blindly... sustaining the Church of Randi and more directly, their flawless leader... last I checked, thinking a leader to be spic-and-span and seeing their word as the gospel are two of the first key warnings of a potentially dangerous cult scenario.

No... I go no further in this game... not due to lack of reference, just lack of desire to play this game and WASTE time digging up all the links or citations, etc.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby really? » 04 Sep 2010, 23:42

Craig Browning wrote:PUT ON THE BREAKS!

You're good... you sucked me into the classic merri-go-round game skeptics love to play; the goal being to get the "believer" frustrated so they blow up and the skeptic can run of gloating... NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

"Poisoning the Well" is not ok when it comes to your "leadership" and yet it is exactly what you guys do when any information or source that goes contrary to your desired points of view is offered. You constantly demean any "legit" resource that might challenge you and your views; this merri-go-round argument is one method used for creating this image. Especially when you know that "believers" or those that defend a persons right to believe, are not as anal-retentive as the typical skeptic who keeps a list of resources, studies, quotes, etc. on hand at all times... it's part of your training it would seem... I'd love to find that JREF Boot-Camp... :?

I just can't wrap my head around how anyone could support anyone that has as much ugly "elements" surrounding them as Randi does... even CSICOPS distanced themselves from him at one point. The sex scandals... the number of young men he's put through college when sex scandal was threatened... questionable art deals... the list is interesting and long but a solid spin was given by St. James and so all his "intelligent" patrons keep throwing their tithes in his direction blindly... sustaining the Church of Randi and more directly, their flawless leader... last I checked, thinking a leader to be spic-and-span and seeing their word as the gospel are two of the first key warnings of a potentially dangerous cult scenario.

No... I go no further in this game... not due to lack of reference, just lack of desire to play this game and WASTE time digging up all the links or citations, etc.


Craig, Arouet didn't suck you into anything. You did that all by yourself. Arouet is very good a dissecting arguments especially weak ones.
You're treading on thin ice their Craig with those allegations. Scepcop tried it and almost had a law suite handed to him. He wisely backed off.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 05 Sep 2010, 09:59

Yeah, wtf Craig? I'm trying to take a critical look at Scepcop's article, which deals with some very specific topics, and you keep on derailing (including making some very serious allegations which may very well be libelous). Such allegations should not be so callously brought up and I hope its not just homophobia.

In any event, can we stick to intellectual arguments here and leave the lurid stuff aside? Scepcop has accused certain well-known skeptics of certain things, and I'm trying to see if the facts match up to the allegations. So far in this analysis, they don't. I've been able to find examples contradicting every one so far. If you have any evidence supporting Scepcop's allegations I'd like to see it.

This site has been set up to attack certain skeptics (here called pseudo-skeptics). Don't you think it's fair to really see if the criticisms are warranted?
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 05 Sep 2010, 21:02

Yeah, wtf Craig? I'm trying to take a critical look at Scepcop's article, which deals with some very specific topics, and you keep on derailing (including making some very serious allegations which may very well be libelous).


Thus far NO ONE has ever been taken to court for calling Randi a sexual deviant... and I'm certainly not the only person to have ever done so, even some of his "own" joke about it. Secondly, your comment in the parenths above are the exact words every JREF member chants whenever anyone brings up Randi's past transgressions.

Such allegations should not be so callously brought up and I hope its not just homophobia.


Now this is one I had to laugh at... I'M GAY... so it's far from anything homophobic but certainly not supportive of pedophilia... which IS the primary issue here.

My reaction above centers on the use of the "Poisoning of the Well" parrying move... it is more or less part of the skeptic's handbook. I find it amazing how a group of people that claim to use intellectual superiority lean on so many cleverly worded "outs" and worse, they live my the adage that they can use such contentions without judgment but the same rule isn't allowed to be invoked by their opponent... such as how skeptics put down any legitimate researcher's support of anything metaphysical/paranormal.

As I've pointed out, skeptics deliberately play the "prove it to me" card when it comes to citations or links (typically links because they seem to refuse book or physical magazine references for some reason), knowing that very few "believers" collect such information... they just aren't that anal retentive and come from a place in which such extreme levels of "defending" one's beliefs are simply not the norm; why should they have to defend their beliefs? The result being a "soft target" that allows the intellect to gloat success around when in truth, very little opposing challenge exists.

I'm stepping out of this mess... don't need it.
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