Discussions about the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Challenge.
First I have to say, as somebody who always thought about writing a book called Debunking the Debunkers, I was surprised to find a sight like this. It was mentioned in one of the videos by that lawyer who studies the afterlife.
One day I was watching a video on Youtube where in two different lab experiments, people who claimed to have ODE's during sleep were tested and succeeded in describing hidden numbers/pictures while asleep. At some later point I ran across a Randi video of him trying to deceive a bunch of people where he claimed to have a dream where he was out of his body looking down upon it and could see himself laying under a specific blanket and his cat laying on his bed. IIRC when he woke up he learned that his cat was not in his room and the blanket he saw in the dream was in the clothes washer, or something to that affect. So of course he thinks his dream somehow debunks real OBE's (which of course he never mentioned the verified experiments: that's lying by omission). What a sleaze he is.
But I then thought, it seemed just a little too contrived that he would have a dream like this. Where's the proof. If we use the skeptic's claim of proof, and if somebody can't come up with proof, to them that means it doesn't exist. That got me to thinking about dreams in general and that to this day not one of the 7 billion people on this planet have provided proof they dream. ZERO. ZIP. It's all anecdotal as the liars/deniers/skeptics would claim, and therefore no proof at all. So it must be stated that James Randi has never had a dream and dreams don't exist. It's time to make them adhere to their own B.S. Nobody likes a hypocrite.
As somebody who has watched virtually every documentary on paranormal phenomena, all of them seem to feel the need to put on some dumbass skeptic to lie about what we just saw with our very own eyes. Joe Nickell was one common guest. Time and time again he would lie or fabricate false stories that had nothing to do with the actual case. It would irritate the hell out of me that he kept getting away with this. Every show was the same. Truthful people tell what they experienced followed by a skeptic who basically called them liars or confused people. Never were the skeptics put on the spot and forced to answer pointed questions or to address their ridiculous conclusions about the cases or to explain certain facts that they ignored. There's a lot of talk in general about their tactics, but there needs to be more specific examples that show them as the bald face liars they are. They need to be pinned down to address their denial of actual facts until they look like idiots.
Just to pick a random case of what I mean. There was a case of spontaneous human combustion. It involved a woman, her husband, and their son who were at their Spamalamadingdong table in the middle of a meal. The woman burst into flames internally and they were coming out of her mouth, and of course this was witnessed by her husband and son who were sitting right there. She died from it. Then up pops Joe Nickell and he says something like: "Here's what I think could have happened. The husband was probably smoking, needed to flick his ashes somewhere, so he got up, walked to the window, flicked his ashes out of the window, then a breeze blew them back into the Spamalamadingdong, landed on the woman's sweater, caught fire, and as she breathed in and out, they mistook that as the flames coming out of her mouth". I couldn't have made up a more unbelievable and idiotic story if I tried. After Joe Nickells got his fabricated story in, they then pointed out the woman's autopsy showed her esophagus down to her stomach were burned up. The problem is, why didn't they force this info into Joe Nickell's face and force him to deal with it? This is never done, but it needs to be.
Welcome to the forum but be aware, there are some major Randi fans on here not just the anti-skeptic types. Too, you need to consider the one thing I encourage everyone to do -- get away from the extremes and find the mid-point, this is the one place you are most likely to find the greater truth, not when you are pure believer or pure naysayer.
I have a very long list of reasons to distrust Randi including a few that his followers refuse to recognize (and I'm not just referring to his sexual exploits with under-aged boys). At the same time I have shared with him (directly) certain discoveries I've come across when it comes to dangerous operators and vice-versa, in that we both share an agenda when it comes to exposing and prosecuting the charlatans. . . and there are a lot of them out there, most far more sinister than those harassed by Mr. Houdini 80 or so years ago. . . then again, most of these "debunkers" only target the safer individuals or groups to really go after, the one's not likely to get physical. . . kind of like the cops that prefer dealing with petty crime than actually policing the community and getting rid of the real problems.
Yes, Randi, Joe Nichol, Ray Haman and the lot of them are bigger frauds than the people they've each cashed in on. Each of them are "has been" magicians that knew a modicum of success in show biz but couldn't hack it for whatever reason so they became anti-everything jerks that alluded to the media and thus, the public, that "Intelligent People Don't Believe in Such Things". . . in other words, they are Evangelists for the American Atheist movement and have received some serious life-achievement awards for their contributions to said cause. Historically however, most of the more brilliant writers, thinkers, philosophers and "scientists" were all men (and a few women) that shared very deep religious/spiritual beliefs even though their understanding was often in conflict with the orthodoxy (mainly due to the more Gnostic nature of it all i.e.; Jesus was just a man, a learned and thus "enlightened" individual akin to Buddha, NOT some kind of immortal Son of a deity like all the other great heroes of the Easter-Western European environment.
Randi, as far as I'm concerned, is a Cult-Leader who had a faux institution built around him so that he could live like a king while side-stepping tax laws. Then again he was run out of his home nation (Canada), literally disowned, because he was a Political Dissident and trouble-maker (active/radical Communist if I recall correctly) so he came to the U.S. (the cover-story as I can piece things together suggesting that he was some kind of CIA Observer which I really find doubtful given how big his mouth is, how short his temper tends to be and the extreme lack of discipline he tends to exhibit in general) It was somewhere in this era two scandals show up around him, the first of several Pedophile situations (not to mention the dozens of young teens he hit on who are afraid to speak about things publicly these days...you'd think Randi was a Catholic Priest ) the other scandal involved some kind of Art Fraud which, as I understand things, has never actually been fully resolved, just buried.
Nichol, Hayman and Shermer are simply arrogant jerks that love to feel superior to any and all. Hayman has been slapped down more than a few times by people that actually know about certain things he's played authority on and then proven to be quite wrong over; like Ian Rowland, a bit of ethical perspective needed to be handed to him (originally) but all of the aforementioned in the long run, because of their encouragement to harass people that consider themselves Psychic/Spiritual -- something this sort of Left-Brain functioning jackass can't comprehend and generally refuses to let go enough to allow themselves to honestly learn about it, experience it, etc. Interestingly, a great deal of clinical psychology doesn't work well for these same fools because they put up blocks (huge block walls) that prevent them from opening up and experiencing LIFE over EXISTENCE... I find it a very sad note even though certain people within the Skeptic's arena seem to have captured the essence of what the Buddha encouraged. I've even pointed out to a couple of my skeptic friends, like Randi's successor Steven Shaw (Banachek) that he seems to have that kind of peace and balance so many New Agers keep trying to capture, because he has managed to disconnect so well, in the ways that matter while retaining a balanced point of view when it comes to his environment. Steve's quite an amazing guy and NOT the sort of hard "in your face" skeptic these other jerks tend to be. Nor is he a media hound ego that wants to be featured on every low budget expose' program barfed up by this and that news or documentary group. . . we can't say that about the others, can we?
When it comes to Randi however, I'll share with you something a friend of mine said a few years ago when I asked if he'd contribute to a "debunking the debunkers" styled book I've been working on, "He's an old man with one foot in the grave who's health is failing him and conscience is getting the better of him; I have no more time, energy or desire to pick at this wound. Let him have what peace he can know and die quietly". The man that said this was Uri Geller, the "charlatan" that seems willing to extend far more grace and honor than Randi or any of the others will ever muster.
Sooooooo, you BOTH are writing a "Debunking the Debunkers" book? Hmpf.
If I may suggest, since I was taught in grade school grade that a double negative is usually not a good thing, how about you both write something positive? Wouldn't that be a more interesting read? Sorry, just thinking to myself out-loud.
You can't not have enough double negatives nowadays.
I don't doubt it...
I am writing something postive. . . the positive fact that a large number of the more fanatical elements within the Skeptic's community are conmen and charlatans taking advantage of those that want to be seen as "Intelligent" and beyond the "need" of any sort of paranormal or supernal thing out there; rationalism and logic is all that's needed -- all that's real. Yet, in said contention they have proven by way of action and demeanor, that they are just as "human" and just as unstable and yes, just as fanatical as any other fool with a BELIEF and given the proper setting ANY belief can be changed!
My axe grinder towards Randi however, centers on how so many have turned him into their guru and in so doing, choose to ignore his numerous (and questionable) short-comings; acts of violence towards others (very short temper) when they are gaining the upper-hand or able to blind-side him with facts not weighed or rather, facts that prove unfairness when it comes to research -- the same imbalance we find with all those poor lab rats that are given outrageous levels of high exposure to just about everything until they get cancer. . . kind of echoes the old saying about "everything in moderation is good" These "scientific tests" under "laboratory conditions" however, aren't fair, honest or even remotely "true" in that the research simply pushes the envelope on things far beyond common limit. We see it with the literal lab rats as well as how persons of a particular point of view can skew any collection of statistics to fulfill their own agenda and game plan. I guess you could say that "Science" is no long "pure" which is why the truly rational person must question both sides of any such issue -- the fanatical ends are both false, it's the median majority base that contains the more pragmatic reality or viability. The extremist of the skepics world however know this and elect to side-step it. . . they are not alone in that the polar opposite congregation in the believer's realms do the same exact thing; both refuse to listen, see and embrace the central "truth" where either extreme exists at the same time.
This is not something new, I've said this before and it is why I know what I've been collecting notes and details on over the years will ultimately prove to be a very positive and constructive overview. Granted, it will come down hard in the opening pages when it comes to the key players of the Skeptical community, exposing ALL of Randi's known blemishes and how the JREF network helps keep things buried and "non-issues". The same will be done with the other crew of schmucks like Nichols, Shermer and Hayman in that equal time is necessary. . . that includes taking a similar purview of the New Age & Religious world icons and the abuse, blemishes, etc. they like to keep concealed -- fair is fair; my task is to give folks reason to question both sides of this particular issue and in so doing, I'll be giving a black-eye to both sides. The mid-point of the book however, reveals (at least from my level of understanding and the collected & shared views of other "occultists") the common threads shared by either side and hopefully, show how we can choose to come together with a reasonable sense of understanding that will allow for a more positive social environment withing general culture, but most importantly when it comes to the scholastic or "thinking" communities. I just started reading Susanne Langer's translation of Ernst Cassirer's LANGUAGE & MYTH, it is a wonderful 100 (ish) page book that touches on these very things, an ideology that was first introduced in the 1930's & 40's which seems to hint at the fact that I'm not alone when it comes to seeing the "injustice" of rationalism.
Still sounds like a negative piece to me. Rather than point out human flaws in people, wouldn't it be best to simply point out the errors in their methods of debunking? That is what would interest me, not a book on Randi or Mike being assees. When Mike goes on TV and says simply that ESP or TK have never been replicated by science, I would like to know why he's wrong. I couldn't care less how he's treated people who don't agree with him. Two wrongs don't make a right as my mother always told me...
Two wrongs don't make a right, but two Wright's can make an airplane.
I'm sure that Dr. Mengele had errors in his methods of his research too. Would it have changed anything about his medical research if throughout history authors had written about him and left out his human flaws? I am NOT comparing the two people in question here or suggesting that there is anything similar about them or their flaws or research. Simply put, if Craig was writing a book on Dr. J. Mengele, would you feel the same way?
Well, that depends on how it was written I suppose. If the first couple chapters were about Mengele being a short-tempered, egotistical ass, then yes, I probably would feel the same way. I guess my point is, if one is going to write a book about what crappy people Randi and Michael are, then name it "The Crappy Personalities of Debunkers." At least that would give me the idea that I really don't care to read it. But if it's entitled "Debunking the Debunkers," then I would be interested if it is written so that I can understand the flaws in the Skeptics' rationale. Is this going to be a biography of Skeptics' personalities or is it a serious book about the flaws of research methods?
If the information in the book is factual and true, then 'how' it is written will only determine if the book will become a top seller. It doesn't change the facts. The rest of the words inbetween those facts are filled in with the authors opinion or spin on those facts.
Therein lies the rub. is it factual and true or is it only factual and true to the person writing it but what isn't written was that the person writing it was an ass to begin with. Now please don't think I'm referring to Craig here, because I'm not and I'm quite certain that isn't the case here, but let's face it, there are a lot of "he said/she said" stories when it comes to believers and skeptics...
I just want to know why the Skeptics, i.e. "debunkers," are wrong. I couldn't care less about how personality disputes started.
Oh. . . so you want bury the sins of the Pope's and Bishops just as that other ancient institution did 1,700 years or so?
With Randi, the flaws around his famed challenged have been exposed numerous times leading to modifications in how the challenge is written & presented, this has been documented by several folks over the years as have other scenarios involving other skeptic groups who've falsified statistics, etc. (and no, I'm not going to play fetch, so don't ask, I actually have a lot of other things happening in my life and haven't the time to play such games BUT, the dates and data will be in my book should I actually follow-up on it and complete it. . . I've just now gotten back on track with a 12 year old book project I had to take time away from, so who knows?)
Then again, the negative quirks expressed by such individuals says a great deal about their moral & ethical fiber. . . at least in the real world where people aren't trying to out-smug one another. Then again, I know a fair number of legit scholars that literally sneer when such individuals are mentioned because they are seen as jokes within said environs. . . the term I heard from one particular Nobel Prize Winner was "moron", which kind of sets the tone in my book/mind; if such highly esteemed people think these guys are jokes, who are they actually playing to?
Asking for the focused report as you have is akin to a Baptist handing you a bible and telling you to ignore all the edits and contradictions just stick with the facts (as set in that tome and based solely on what that source is saying). Or, vice-versa (and one of my favorite ploys when confronted by bible thumpers) force them to defend their faith and moral standards without relying on said tome. . . regardless, the parameters thwart the likelihood of success when it comes to the one challenged. It's a very old ploy used by lawyers & cynics for more than a few centuries in that it causes the challenged to trip over their feet and become stifled.
That is why there are so many libel and slander lawyers to choose from. What a person writes will always be a case of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Many things are covered by the "US Constitution" but don't ask me which one of these things would need to be challenged in this particular case. Writing something is what you have to do to publish something. The rest of the stuff has it's own set of rules, regulations, laws, beliefs and let's throw in morals and etchics for good measure.
I know that you would never say anything that would imply that anyone here was or is capable of anything suspect without some actual proof. In dealing with the basic subject material of the word "stories" vs. "fact", that would be whatever the guidelines are for fiction vs. non-fiction. Both are acceptable and wonderful types of books. Personally I don't fancy "fiction" books. You won't find me in the "fiction" aisle of a bookstore or library very often but I do occasionally enjoy a break from reality. Properly written, you can get away with murder by creating fiction that mirrors fact. Poorly written, you will find yourself in court in a heartbeat defending yourself against an entire community of lawyers in $5,000.00 Italian suits.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the basic topic of the book in question was about specific people associated with a specific foundation. It seems logical to me that not all self proclaimed skeptics are created equal. Each person is an individual with a slightly different mindset or levels of skepticism. If this is not the case, then it seems that mind control is possible and that sure would blow any of those theories to hell.
According to Elhardt who started this thread and Craig, they both are writing, or thinking of writing, a book called "Debunking the Debunkers." I interpret that title to mean it will be a book as to why the Debunkers are wrong, but Craig said his first few chapters were going to be about Randi, Hyman, and Shermer and their short-termpers, among other things. Someone being an ass or having a short-temper has absolutely nothing, zero, zip, to do with their side of a debate as to whether the paranormal is a reality. For example, Shermer stated clearly that reading other people's minds has never been shown to be a possibility according to science. As such, he is debunking those that say it is possible. If one is going to debunk that debunker, I want to know why Shermer is wrong, and not how or why he belittles those that dare to question him. In my humble opinion, anyway. Perhaps there is money to be made in a book about Randi, et.al being asses, but it just won't come from me.
Excellent example and excellent question.
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