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Chris Carter refutes pseudo-skeptical attacks

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Chris Carter refutes pseudo-skeptical attacks

Postby Scepcop » 02 Jun 2009, 10:05

On the Amazon.com page of his book "Parapsychology and the Skeptics", Chris Carter refutes a PseudoSkeptical attack:

From Pseudoskeptic:

A scientific argument for the existence of ESP would simply be proof based on experiments done using the scientific method, and such proof would be inarguable. This book is simply woo true-believer rhetoric wrapped in new clothes and presented as scientific endeavor, which it most assuredly is not.

This type of book tries to take skeptics to task by condemning them, deriding them, and claiming that they are excluding people who "know" ESP exists to serve their own ends. What those ends are is never really clarified, mostly because it is a red herring and not addressing the reality that there is no scientific argument for the existence of ESP.

This type of attack logic is, in fact, illogic. It is the same type of dogmatic response that Ben Stein used in his ridiculous falsified documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". The title of that film inadvertently revealed the truth about its contents, indeed there was no intelligence allowed in it, and this book offers the same dearth of simple scientific method. It is attack rhetoric of the kind often seen on the Fox News network, i.e., trying to prove a point by loudly denouncing the critics of that point and never presenting proof. With this book the Rovian techniques of the Bush years have trickled down to the woo community.

What the true believers in this type of woo don't seem to understand, no matter how many times they are told, is that the way to silence skeptics is prove there is ESP by showing it at work under scientific conditions, with double-blind, repeatable trials. Charlatans like Uri Geller and James Van Praagh would probably hold this book up as some kind of definitive statement, but it is just the same dead horse beaten with a new whip.

The day that ESP is proven to exist under scientific conditions with no chicanery, parlor tricks, or stage magic, you won't have to read about it in obfuscated rhetoric by pseudoscientists like this, it will be unavoidable front-page news. Despite all the claims in this book, that day has not arrived. Save your money.


Response from Chris Carter:

http://www.amazon.com/Parapsychology-Sk ... KNNOVYHZ63

I do not believe that the person who wrote this reply actually read my book. Instead, it simply appears that they put together some James Randi inspired rhetoric with the aim of persuading others not to read it. Let us examine Shaun Mason's claims one by one.

"A scientific argument for the existence of ESP would simply be proof based on experiments done using the scientific method, and such proof would be inarguable. This book is simply woo true-believer rhetoric wrapped in new clothes."

I provide dozens of examples of well-conducted scientific experiments demonstrating the existence of ESP. I also provide examples of so-called skeptics (such as Ray Hyman) admitting that the latest results leave them stumped. And I provide examples of skeptics from all the way back to the 1950s admitting that if this were any other field of inquiry, they would be convinced by the data. A central theme of my book is that this debate is not primarily about evidence, but about protecting a worldview based upon the philosophy (or ideology) of materialism. It is naïve to think that the secular humanists and other materialists are going to give up their belief systems over something as trivial as overwhelming scientific evidence.

"This type of book tries to take skeptics to task by condemning them, deriding them, and claiming that they are excluding people who "know" ESP exists to serve their own ends. What those ends are is never really clarified."

I challenge Mason to list one example of "condemnation" or "derision" from my book. And as to the "ends" of the pseudo-skeptics, for many the end is simply the protection at all costs of their ideology of secular humanism, with its anti-religious, anti-superstitious agenda. (The leading "skeptical" organization, CSICOP - now called CSI - was formed at a meeting of the American Humanist Association in 1976). This end is most certainly clarified in my book.

"This type of attack logic is, in fact, illogic ... It is attack rhetoric of the kind often seen on the Fox News network, i.e., trying to prove a point by loudly denouncing the critics of that point and never presenting proof."

I challenge this man to find one single example of "illogic" or "attack rhetoric" from my book. As for what he calls "proof", one-third of my book is devoted to an examination of the experimental evidence, and to describing how the "skeptics" do everything they can to deny, distort, and suppress such evidence.

"What the true believers in this type of woo don't seem to understand, no matter how many times they are told, is that the way to silence skeptics is prove there is ESP by showing it at work under scientific conditions, with double-blind, repeatable trials."

If this man did not read my book, then he is very naïve. If he did read it, then his remark is dishonest. Here are some examples from my book that illustrates that solid evidence is not enough to convince any die-hard, dogmatic pseudo-skeptic:

If this were any other field, the issue would have been settled decades ago. Back in 1951 "skeptical" psychologist Donald Hebb wrote:

Why do we not accept ESP as a psychological fact? Rhine has offered enough evidence to have convinced us on almost any other issue... Personally, I do not accept ESP for a moment, because it does not make sense. My external criteria, both of physics and of physiology, say that ESP is not a fact despite the behavioral evidence that has been reported. I cannot see what other basis my colleagues have for rejecting it... Rhine may still turn out to be right, improbable as I think that is, and my own rejection of his view is - in the literal sense - prejudice.

Four years later, George Price, then a research associate at the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota, published an article in the prestigious journal Science that began:

Believers in psychic phenomena... appear to have won a decisive victory and virtually silenced opposition.... This victory is the result of careful experimentation and intelligent argumentation. Dozens of experimenters have obtained positive results in ESP experiments, and the mathematical procedures have been approved by leading statisticians.... Against all this evidence, almost the only defense remaining to the skeptical scientist is ignorance.

But Price then argued "ESP is incompatible with current scientific theory" and asked:

If, then, parapsychology and modern science are incompatible, why not reject parapsychology? ...The choice is between believing in something "truly revolutionary" and "radically contradictory to contemporary thought" and believing in the occurrence of fraud and self-delusion. Which is more reasonable? (p. 367)

Here we have two skeptics in effect admitting that if this were any other field of inquiry - that is, one with results less threatening to a worldview based on 17th century science, less threatening to an ideology with its roots in an 18th century struggle between secular and religious members of society - then the experimental data would have carried the day by 1950.

"The day that ESP is proven to exist under scientific conditions with no chicanery, parlor tricks, or stage magic, you won't have to read about it in obfuscated rhetoric by pseudoscientists like this."

No, you can read about it in old journals from the 1950s.
“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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