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markie
Skeptic Friend

Canada
356 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  13:29:19  Show Profile Send markie a Private Message

Something I just stumbled upon and can't resist sharing. "This could be made into a movie" and "Do we taste our own medicine?" crossed my mind for a title to this thread.

Hey I figure that skeptics (often justifiably) bang on religious institutions and people for their foibles, so consider this a visitation of skeptic karma.

My apogologies for the length of this read. It was written by Dennis Rawlins who was a cofounder of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Guys like Kurtz, Randi and Martin Gardner figure in the story which was a real eye opener for me, and maybe it will be for you. Maybe some skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance may consider that skepticism can be directed towards the skeptical enterprise as well.

http://cura.free.fr/xv/14starbb.html

Opening excerpt is below
quote:
I used to believe it was simply a figment of the National Enquirer's weekly imagination that the Science Establishment would cover up evidence for the occult. But that was in the era B.C. -- Before the Committee. I refer to the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal" (CSICOP), of which I am a cofounder and on whose ruling Executive Council (generally called the Council) I served for some years.
I am still skeptical of the occult beliefs CSICOP was created to debunk. But I have changed my mind about the integrity of some of those who make a career of opposing occultism. I now believe that if a flying saucer landed in the backyard of a leading anti-UFO spokesman, he might hide the incident from the public (for the public's own good, of course). He might swiftly convince himself that the landing was a hoax, a delusion or an "unfortunate" interpretation of mundane phenomena that could be explained away with "further research."
The irony of all this particularly distresses me since both in print and before a national television audience I have stated that the conspiratorial mentality of believers in occultism presents a real political danger in a voting democracy. Now I find that the very group I helped found has partially Justified this mentality.




dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  13:55:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by markie

Maybe some skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance may consider that skepticism can be directed towards the skeptical enterprise as well.
Rather than read the article you've posted I've decided to make an issue of this one off the cuff remark of yours.

But seriously, "skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena" don't fit the definition of a skeptic.

I'll get back to you once I've read the article.
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  14:52:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
Some background on the 'Mars effect', which seems to be the reason for Dennis Rawlins' article.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  17:30:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by markie
Maybe some skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance may consider that skepticism can be directed towards the skeptical enterprise as well.
Markie, why do you go out of your way to be an ass? You know damn well there is nothing "priestly" about CSICOP, nor anything religious in skepticism. Stop projecting. You just come off like more of a head case.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 07/17/2005 18:17:16
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  17:38:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
Intwesting article markie. First off it does appear that there were many rash and regretable actions taken by those involved in this affair. If I had considered CSICOP to be infallible you can bet that I'd be re-evaluating that belief right about now.

Having said that I do have some problems with accepting the article at face value. First of all, Dennis Rawlins is obviously emotionally involved in the affair. It's not clear to me that his characterizations of those who he feels, are mistreating him and misrepresenting the study, are accurate.

Second, it is only one persons account of the affair. I have no doubt that some of the others involved would give very different accounts.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  17:38:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
It seems clear that this was a clash of personalities, one which will never be resolved to the public's satisfaction unless independently-written accounts from all of the primary and secondary (and even tertiary) "personalities" involved are published. And that'll never happen, for obvious reasons.

I mean, it's fairly clear that Rawlins' account isn't an unbiased, non-emotional piece. Not with phrases like "Keystone CSICOPs" tossed in. The man was pissed, and if he was at all correct, justifiably so. But aside from his discussions of things in print, there's no way to verify much of his story.

That being said, I've never been a "fan" of Paul Kurtz. I've never met the man, nor seen him in person, but from what I've read of his writing, and others' writing about him, he's just rubbed me the wrong way.

My wife once jokingly called Skeptical Inquirer a "religious tract," but shortly after becoming a subscriber, I started getting fund-raising appeals from Kurtz (as, I assume, all other subscribers and CSICOP members did) for CFI West. Those things read, to me at least, very much like an evangelical's fund-raising plea, and I found them (and by authorship, Kurtz) disturbing in that regard. I mean, the National Psoriasis Foundation sends me fund-raising letters, too, but they're not nearly as zealous as Kurtz' were.

By the way, the only way I fund CSICOP is through my SI subscription. I've never sent them money over what they want in return for the magazine. I'm also not a JREF member. In fact, the only skeptical group to which I've ever given donations is the Skeptic Friends Network, and I'm the freakin' SFN editor.

Anyway, I'd be very surprised to learn that after 25 years, nothing about CSICOP's "Council" has changed. Or that Rawlins' opinion about CSICOP hasn't changed. Or Randi's (who split from CSICOP shortly after the incidents in question). Or even Kurtz'.

But, it's always good for a skeptic to remember that there are things going on in the "background" of any article, organization or publication that can't be learned unless one is a part of some "inner circle." This is as true of CSICOP as it is for the local town Council (or even the local fire station). Just because such "secrets" exist (or existed at one time) doesn't mean that everything the organization does is wrong, it just means that we need to not fall prey to saying "CSICOP said it, so I believe it" (which is a pretty stupid statement, even if CSICOP were squeaky-clean, ethically).

Frankly, because it's such an idiotic statement, your implication, markie, that anyone here has such an attitude towards CSICOP is fairly insulting. Hell, if I felt that way, why would I be so deeply involved in a "competing" skeptical group (the SFN)?

So yeah, the CSICOP leadership has done some bone-headed stuff in the distant past. What's your point, markie?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  19:09:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by markie

...prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance...
I think that this is supposed to be funny, note the perponderance of p's. It's kind of like how the following sounds like an insult, but it's actually hilarious because of the multitude of m's.

Mild mannered markie makes many mistakes, maybe more than most.
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GeeMack
SFN Regular

USA
1093 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  19:32:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send GeeMack a Private Message
For a moment I'll imagine a worst case scenario. Skeptics have been busted. But if my peers, the community of skeptics, have only this "scandal" as a black mark against them in the past 25 to 30 years, I guess I stand in good company.

The tone of the original post did seem like gloating about uncovering some dirty laundry. But the article appeared to mostly detail a personality conflict. Even if there was a conspiracy to hide the truth from the world, I'm not sure the validity of the Mars effect, whether true or not, is particularly earth shaking.

The posting does bring up a couple of interesting questions:

Why is it that so many people think everyone needs to follow, worship, or prostrate one's self? I've noticed, and this is just a personal observation, the people who are most dependent, who most require a leader or god or idol of some sort, tend to believe that everyone else is as incapable as they are. For future reference, markie, skeptics as a group are probably some of the most independent, capable, intelligent humans you're ever likely to encounter. It is wrong to assume they/we unquestionably accept the gospel preached by anyone, including other skeptics.

And just what would it take to debunk skepticism?
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  19:41:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

Mild mannered markie makes many mistakes, maybe more than most.
But for cutting the cantankerous 'phenomena' composed in the clause, the consonance could've (conceivably) conquered completely, capiche?

Sure, the style is amusing, but the meaning is insulting. A technique used throughout history. Let's not forget the teaser for this thread, posted in this thread:
(But oooh do I have a whopper regarding competence and integrity at CSICOP, but I'll save that for another thread.)
Turns out the "whopper" is 25-year-old news, but markie implies it's a real shocker, and then goes for the zinger generalization in his OP here, no matter how poetic.

quote:
Originally posted by GeeMack

Why is it that so many people think everyone needs to follow, worship, or prostrate one's self? I've noticed, and this is just a personal observation, the people who are most dependent, who most require a leader or god or idol of some sort, tend to believe that everyone else is as incapable as they are.
The psychological phenomenon is called 'projection', GeeMack. And H. nailed it already.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26004 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  20:11:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by me

Anyway, I'd be very surprised to learn that after 25 years, nothing about CSICOP's "Council" has changed.
At the very least, George Abell is no longer even a CSICOP Fellow, much less on the Council. Perhaps because he died in 1983.

Actually, it looks to me like Rawlins and KZA had some discussion of the issues published in Volume 6 of Skeptical Inquirer. Volume 6 was published in 1982, quite some time after "sTARBABY" was published in FATE. (Look up "Gauquelin, Michel" in the SI online index.)

It's a shame one would have to buy a back issue to find out what was said. It'd be nice to think that the whole sordid issue came out, was admitted, and life went on. But I doubt it.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  21:40:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

But for cutting the cantankerous 'phenomena' composed in the clause, the consonance could've (conceivably) conquered completely, capiche?
Phunny.
quote:
Sure, the style is amusing, but the meaning is insulting. A technique used throughout history. Let's not forget the teaser for this thread, posted in this thread:
(But oooh do I have a whopper regarding competence and integrity at CSICOP, but I'll save that for another thread.)
Turns out the "whopper" is 25-year-old news, but markie implies it's a real shocker, and then goes for the zinger generalization in his OP here, no matter how poetic.
I see your point, I agree that markie's wrongheaded lampooning of skeptisism does wear a bit thin at times.

I don't see skeptisism as an entity or organization that needs to be defended however. I see skeptisism as a tool. If it is useful to people then they will use it. If it's not then they won't.

I may have to eat my words here, but to me comparing skeptisism to religion is about as silly as comparing the wearing of clothes to religion. That is, it's so ridiculous that it's difficult to take offence.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  21:48:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Markie:
Maybe some skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance may consider that skepticism can be directed towards the skeptical enterprise as well.


Do you ever read the articles on this site? The last two Kil Reports, this one and this one take's issue with CSICOP as well as most of the skeptical community's opinion on the subject of False Memory Syndrome. In the first link I directly challenge the validity of the accepted skeptical view.

You are simply wrong if you think that we skeptics walk in lockstep depending on what our hero's tell us…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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markie
Skeptic Friend

Canada
356 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  22:36:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send markie a Private Message
As I'm sure most of you guys realize, I was playing things up abit. Hey, are skeptics the only ones permitted to have some fun at other people's expense?

One of my points is that even skeptics have what I may term 'authoritative sources' which are sought out. *Some* skeptics may be assuming that such resources are more reliable than is warranted, that's all. Heck, *I've* consulted CSICOP on occasion in the distant past, *assuming* all was upfront and aboveboard. But as is apparent now, this is not always the case. It was a *whopper* to *me*, even if it happened a while ago.

I've made it clear to myself and my (religious) fellows that that I'm a truth seeker first and a believer second. Believe it or not I am critical of what I believe. Hence I have changed religious and other perspectives more than I care to count. But I wonder, do skeptics regard themselves as truth seekers first and skeptics secondly, or visa versa, or do skeptics believe truth seeking and skepticism to be about one and the same? The article by Dennis Rawlings reveals (to me) that skepticism can sometimes aquire a life of its own which can push the spirit of truth seeking out of the driver's seat.

I well understand that skeptics are more like a herd of cats than a congregation of church goers sitting in pews awaiting the next agreeable sermon. You have your own mind, by and large. Frankly I'm rather glad for that in what appears to be an increasingly fundamentalist world.

But then again, speaking of cats, maybe I've stayed here as long as I have because I sense too much complacent purring going on, like,

"Purrrr, the universe is just like we should expect with what we know from first principles, purrrr."

Then I guess that would make me one of Deity's dogs. Woofff! Sometimes however I've felt more like a mouse

Anyways I wanted to say a big thank you for the opportunity of getting to 'know' some of you, especially Dave, Filthy and Matt, also Dude, H. Humbert, GeeMack and the PapaSmurf. I have gained insights into skepticism which I didn't have before. (It was a first for me to be in the company of skeptics.)

I may pop in on occassion as time permits and if I have some juicy morsel to contribute. Right now however I'm starting to bore even myself.

All the best!

Mark

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  22:39:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
quote:
You are simply wrong if you think that we skeptics walk in lockstep depending on what our hero's tell us…



Again he seems to have some need to marginalize the process of skepticism. This time he is trying to say that because some skeptics had an argument a long time ago, that the process of skepticism is therefore invalid.

I begin to suspect that markie does this because he really knows that his personal worldview doesn't withstand scrutiny, and he really wants his fantasy to be true. The more he can (attempt to) demonstrate that logic and skepticism are flawed, the easier it is for him to rationalize and justify what he wants to be true.

Afterall, if he were really convinced he was right he would merely need to present evidence in support of his case. Instead he tries to show flaws with logic, science, and skepticism.

It is a very similar tactic to what the anti-evolution crowd uses. They have zilch in the way of evidence to support their own hypotheses, so the try to discredit evolution.... as if that will suddenly "prove" their case.

Yet more flawed logic.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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markie
Skeptic Friend

Canada
356 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  23:00:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send markie a Private Message

quote:
Markie: Maybe some skeptics who routinely prostrate their persons before CSICOP's priestly pronouncements pertaining to particular paranormal phenomena, perchance may consider that skepticism can be directed towards the skeptical enterprise as well.
quote:
Originally posted by Kil: Do you ever read the articles on this site? The last two Kil Reports, this one and this one take's issue with CSICOP as well as most of the skeptical community's opinion on the subject of False Memory Syndrome. In the first link I directly challenge the validity of the accepted skeptical view.

You are simply wrong if you think that we skeptics walk in lockstep depending on what our hero's tell us…



I found those articles most enlightening and heartening, done in the true spirit of truth seeking and finding imo. Thanks.

Hey, God knows that I thank God for skeptics. We need more scrutinizers imo.

And my apologies to Dude for being overly buggerly, it may be a weakness.

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 07/17/2005 :  23:03:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by markie
Believe it or not I am critical of what I believe. Hence I have changed religious and other perspectives more than I care to count. But I wonder, do skeptics regard themselves as truth seekers first and skeptics secondly, or visa versa, or do skeptics believe truth seeking and skepticism to be about one and the same?
Skeptics are simply aware of the limits of what can be honestly considered, what can be tested, and what can be known. I do not regard you as a "truth seeker" for the mere fact that you have drawn conclusions far beyond what the evidence permits. You are a "truth fabricator," even if you at least go to the trouble of making sure your fabrications do not conflict with known facts.

I apologize if our unwillingness to entertain your baseless conjectures wounded your ego, although judging from your tone you've already decided that was our fault. I find it unfortunate that the only thing you've managed to take away from our interactions is the idea that skeptics are close-minded. I find it unfortunate that you learned so little.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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