"The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science." - Carl Sagan
Double Standards, Contradictions and Lies
PseudoSkeptics often use double standards in their reasoning and methodology. They will only accept evidence that supports their position, but will reject evidence that doesn't, aka "confirmation bias". Of course, we are all guilty of such biases toward evidence to some degree, but pseudoskeptics tend to be more rigid about it than the average person is, hence making themselves out to be dogmatists only interested in defending their views rather than in finding out the truth.
For example, they say anecdotal evidence and testimonials are invalid. Yet when such testimonials are on their side, they are counted as evidence to support the "nothing paranormal exists" hypothesis.
Also, if a psychic gets amazing hits that are highly specific that couldn't be attributed to cold reading, guessing or coincidence, that is not counted as evidence because it is not a "controlled experiment". But when a skeptic goes to a psychic and gets no hits or only chance results, then that is counted as evidence against psychic abilities. It's an obvious double standard.
Likewise, if a controlled psi experiment shows results that support the existence of psi against astronomical odds, then it is dismissed as flawed, lacking in controls, or due to experimenter bias. But if a skeptic does the experiment and gets only chance results, then it is counted as evidence against psychic abilities.
Similarly, if five eyewitnesses see a UFO while one doesn't, the five accounts are not counted as reliable evidence, yet the one who didn't see it is counted as evidence that there was no UFO. Again, obvious double standards.
These double standards are demonstrated time and time again in their own publications, such as Michael Shermer's Skeptic Magazine, CSICOP's Skeptical Inquirer, and James Randi's website newsletters.
In one famous example, in 1991 when Doug Bower and David Chorley claimed that they had hoaxed all 2000 of the British Crop Circles since 1978, skeptics took their word for it and declared the whole crop circle phenomenon "debunked" as a hoax. Suddenly, anecdotal evidence became valid to them. And nevermind the fact that their claim was "extraordinary" in that they were two old men who claimed to create 2000 geometrical designs in crops whose complexity defies easy geometrical construction, but they were never even able to demonstrate that they could do what they claim.
PseudoSkeptics also charge paranormalists with using "Appeal to Authority" arguments, while doing the same thing themselves. There is nothing wrong with appealing to authority though, since credibility is a real factor and some are more credible and have more expertise than others. That is a simple fact of life, which pseudoskeptics are ignorant about in their closed-minded dogmatism. On our forum, a poster listed an example of this double standard:
"As far as Appeal to Authority goes, they definitely have double standards on this and pretty much their whole debunking thing goes. One of my favorite ones is the alleged debunking of the two different sightings of the Phoenix Lights. They use the following two "Appeals to Authority" to debunk:
1st event - Amateur astronomer Mitch Stanley, and friend, who was outside that night with him state that they saw
2nd event - The USAF explained the second event as slow falling, long burning flares dropped by an A-10 Warthog aircraft on a training exercise over Luke Air Force Base.
They are appealing to two different Authorities and taking their word on.
They also are using anecdotal heresay evidence when they take the word of the amateur astronomers. It just never ends, does it?
Now, of course, they blindly take on faith anything James Randi says and also the CSIOPS people. You can't get too much bigger of an Appeal to Authority than that."
They also contradict themselves. One moment they will say that "God doesn't exist" or "UFO's don't exist" or "Bigfoot doesn't exist". But then later on they will claim that they never said that and that they would never claim that something doesn't exist because it's impossible to prove a negative. Then when I show them that they did say that, suddenly they act deaf and ignore it.
It is also not uncommon for pseudo-skeptics to lie too. If they can't debunk something, they will just make something up to discredit it. It's purely dishonest, but then again, these pseudoskeptics were NEVER truth seekers, as evident by their actions.
One common lie is that when you ask them why they can't be open to the possibility of psychic phenomena, they say, "Because every case has been disproven over and over again to the point where the possibility of them existing by now is zero." This is completely false. The majority of psychic phenomena and scientific experiments have NOT been debunked or disproven, they are merely put in the "unexplained" category. There may be some pseudo-skeptic out there who CLAIM that each case has been disproven. But that doesn't mean it really has. These scoffers are so fanatical in their beliefs that when other skeptic who claims that something is "debunked" even without good reason or evidence, they automatically accept it. So much for their standards.
Rupert Sheldrake, researcher of telepathy with animals, cites some instances where Randi flat out lied:
"James Randi - a Conjurer Attempts to Debunk Research on Animals
The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, "We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail." No details were given of these tests.
I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.
I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place "years ago" and were "informal". They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so."
Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: "Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by." This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape."
Back in the 70's, when Uri Geller passed some rigorously controlled experiments at SRI (Stanford Research Institute), which was published in the prestigious Nature journal, Randi became furious and declared the experiments as uncontrolled and sloppy. But of course, he wasn't there, so how would he know? Obviously because if they were controlled, then he wouldn't have passed, and in a controlled test he would have failed. That's his typical closed minded denial logic.
Hal Puthoff of SRI told me this in an email about the incident:
“Not true at all. They just quote Randi and his pronouncements, e.g., in his book Flim Flam. In Flim Flam, he gives something like 28 debunking points, if my memory serves me correctly. I had the opportunity to confront Randi at a Parapsychology Association conference with proof in hand, and in tape-recorded interaction he admitted he was wrong on all the points. He even said he would correct them for the upcoming paperback being published by the CSICOP group. (He did not.)
In case one thinks that it was just a case of our opinions vs. his opinions, we chose for the list of incorrect points only those that could be independently verified. Examples: He said that in our Nature paper we verified Geller's metal-bending. Go to the paper, and you see that we said we were not able to obtain evidence for this. He said that a film of the Geller experiment made at SRI by famed photographer Zev Pressman was not made by him, but by us and we just put his name on it. We showed up with an affidavit by Pressman saying that indeed he did make the film. Etc., etc.”
“Geller did the same kind of remote viewing in our lab, that more than fifty others from the government and army have done as part of the 25 year remote viewing program. If the whole world has remote viewing abilities, why shouldn't Geller have some?”
“Again, these claims of inadequate controls are generally just repeats of what Randi says. The truth of the matter is that none of Randi's claimed suspected inadequate controls actually had anything to do with the experiments, which of course Randi was not there to know of. This has been independently reported by Scott Rogo somewhere in the literature, who came out specifically to check each of Randi's guesses about inadequate controls and found them inapplicable under the conditions in which the tests were conducted. In fact, all of Randi's suggestions were amateurish compared to the sophisticated steps we took, suspecting as we did everything from magician's tricks to an Israeli intelligence scam.”
"For example, in his "Skeptic" column in Scientific American in March, 2003, he cited a research study published in the Lancet, a leading medical journal, by Pim van Lommel and colleagues. He asserted this study "delivered a blow" to the idea that the mind and the brain could separate. Yet the researchers argued the exact opposite, and showed that conscious experience outside the body took place during a period of clinical death when the brain was flatlined. As Jay Ingram, of the Canadian Discovery Channel, commented: "His use of this study to bolster his point is bogus… He could have said, 'The authors think there's a mystery, but I choose to interpret their findings differently'. But he didn't. I find that very disappointing" (Toronto Star, March 16, 2003).
Pim van Lommel wrote to the editor of Scientific American setting out the evidence that Shermer misrepresented."
On my own email list, I caught a highly knowledgeable skeptic named Dr H red-handed in some lies as well. When confronted, he became silent on the matter and refused to explain the obvious contradiction. There was no question that he was hiding something. But he refused to address it at all. You can read about the incident here.