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Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

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Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby Scepcop » 04 Sep 2009, 04:48

Just received this interesting account today. Boy I didn't know it could get this bad with a pseudo-skeptic!

Hi. I love your website, and your group.

I am a trained Geologist, with a strong interest in the psychic

I had a horrific experience with a pseudo-skeptic.

It is attached.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

This is not a scientific article, it is about a personal professional
experience. If you want to use it, please put it where appropriate.

Here is the story she attached to me.


Oh my!! Where were you when I needed you five years ago? Finding and reading this site has explained so much that happened to me in the Spring of 2004. It helps now, but the damage to me was done then.

At the time, I was a part-time adjunct professor of Geology at a private university. I was approached the year before by another Geology professor about doing a one hour, special topics class on the paranormal.

After working it over, we agreed on an alternating week pattern of covering the same topic from two viewpoints, both supposedly based in science, but pro and con.

You know where this is going, don’t you? As we got closer to the start of the class, I realized that he wasn’t really preparing for the class. He was going to use Sagan’s book, Demon Haunted World, but he really wasn’t thinking any further. I kept talking about the preparation I was doing for my part, and he began to realize that I was serious about presenting this fairly and accurately, and got a little more serious about his approach, but not much.

The first night of class, he introduced himself as “Dr. *******” [name withheld obviously], and then immediately referred to me by my first name. I sat absolutely silently through that whole class. I didn’t say a word as his first lecture could be summed up by “I am a scientist, and I don’t believe any of this, therefore it isn’t true.”

I went to him the next day, and said that he would not refer to me by my first name in class, that it was Mrs. ***** at the least, but more correctly “Professor *****” which was standard practice in that school. That was only common professional courtesy.

He played innocent, and told me I was being too sensitive, but I knew that it was a put-down of me, and it was intended to mitigate any impact my presentations and part of the class would have.

When I introduced myself the next week, I started my lecture with a psychic experience of mine, and then used that to launch into a discussion of anecdotal evidence vs. scientific evidence. I talked about how science is a process of understanding our world, our universe, and that therefore nothing should be out of consideration for scientific study.

The next several weeks were very stressful. He was getting nastier and nastier to me overall as the class was progressing. His lectures were still some version of “I don’t believe this, therefore it isn’t true.” They were weak on any type of scientific references. He mostly used Randi and Michael Schermer in addition to Sagan.

I was extremely careful because I felt that he was poised for an attack. My lectures were well prepared, on Power Point, and full of science, and I made no claims other than what were made in the original research I was using.
I deliberately left everything open-ended, a “more research is needed” type of ending.

Then about halfway through the semester, we got to the ESP lectures. He did his usual, and then the next week, I was prepared for the class, but not what happened.

I used all sound, scientific studies and evidence, quoting Charles Honorton, Gary Scwartz, Pete Sanders, Dean Radin, and of course, going to the original sources when necessary.

As I was going through the research and it got pretty technically thick with statistics, he started making loud, derisive sounds, clearly heard by the entire class although he was in the back of the room.

He continued making loud sounds, guffaws, groans of disgust, etc through the entire lecture. The students were rolling their eyes, glancing back at him, and looking at each other like “What the...?”

As soon as I finished the lecture, he started screaming at me from the back of the room, continuing as he came down the stairs and got right in my face, yelling at the top of his lungs, completely out of control.

The students bolted for the doors as fast as they could pack up. I was left alone in a large classroom, in the basement of a building, at about 9:00 pm, with this man just screaming at me.

I was afraid. I actually was trying to think of a way to get to a security call phone, but I didn’t know where one was; it was not a building I was familiar with.

He finally left, and I left to find one of my male students waiting in the hall. He was worried about me. It turned out he was a senior pre-med student. He was going to medical school in the fall, and he was interested in alternative medicine concepts, which led him to the class. He was totally disgusted with the other prof’s behavior.

I took several days to calm down and to make up my mind exactly what I wanted before I went to the department chair. He said he had been waiting for me.

He immediately said that *******’s behavior was unacceptable and unprofessional, that he had heard about it from (apparently several) students, and that it wouldn’t happen again. Dr. ******* had been told that.

I told him how scared I was in that basement classroom, and that seemed to surprise him. I asked him to keep that prof away from me. I said I would not attend his lectures from now on, and he was never to set foot in that class when it was my night.

If that were the end of this, it would be bad enough. But only a couple of week’s later, Dr. Screamer was given a permanent, full-time contract, after that display of nearly unimaginable unprofessional behavior.

I was laid off. That was the last semester I taught there.

I think Dr. Screamer would be classified as a pathological pseudo-skeptic, but I wish I could read that description all the same.

The point is even though I am a physical scientist, and not a psychic researcher, I understand completely what they must go through. The stress was unbelievable; the verbal attack unreal in its intensity. And the complete unfairness of the results was just awful.

At least now I have a word for the person I had to deal with. And they are not just pseudo-skeptics, they are liars—they aren’t scientists or scientific at all.
“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: Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby ProfWag » 04 Sep 2009, 05:25

I have been labled a pseudoskeptic on this forum, though I don't like to think I am. Primarily, I don't like to be compared to people like that and there are far too many people who may share my beliefs but don't share my preference on presentation, i.e. turn out to be asses. I'll defend myself, but I don't believe I have been the first to "talk in capital letters." Regardless of my beliefs though, there is a moral, professional, and personal way to treat people. That behaviour would be unacceptable from anyone, regardless of their paranormal beliefs.
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Re: Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby NinjaPuppy » 04 Sep 2009, 05:29

Wow! Just..... Wow!

How horrible that must have been. Sounds to me like she was set up all the way around.
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Re: Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby ciscop » 04 Sep 2009, 06:02

more than a pseudo skeptic (as you call them) that guy is a total asshole
thats not a good way to behave yourself in front of a class room

but then again... before concluding anything
we should state that this is only
her part of the story
i would like to hear the full account including the students
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: Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby The Warrigal » 04 Sep 2009, 10:52

If this individual behaved as badly as described then his conduct is indefencible.

To which I would further add that if he truly did behave in this way, then I would have some serious questions regarding his mental balance.
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Re: Horror story experience with pseudo-skeptic professor!

Postby deadmanjay » 15 Sep 2009, 04:20

ciscop wrote:more than a pseudo skeptic (as you call them) that guy is a total asshole
thats not a good way to behave yourself in front of a class room

but then again... before concluding anything
we should state that this is only
her part of the story
i would like to hear the full account including the students

I concur. Though this incident sounds familiar to experiences I have had with both pseudo skeptics and fluffy bunnies, I would still like to hear the other side, if at least just a snippet.
*Insert something witty and funny and non-offensive*
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