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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2016 :  17:49:47  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Because part of my subscription fees would pay Michael Shermer for crappy columns.

I'll let John Hawks tell you about Shermer's latest ridiculousness regarding Hawks' own research:
...We may someday uncover evidence to establish a violent cause of death for one or more of the bodies. We cannot predict what we may find in future excavation of the Dinaledi Chamber. We should keep an open mind.

But Shermer is wrong to ignore the evidence that already exists. The editor of
Skeptic magazine failed to do the one thing that any journalist should do: simply ask someone whether he was missing some important evidence that might make him look like a fool. I’m very sorry that he has misled so many Scientific American readers about the nature of evidence about Homo naledi and how we approach the science of human origins.
And HJ Hornbeck sums it up nicely:
If Shermer is any guide, the process of skepticism is as follows:
  1. Look for something that might challenge what you know.
  2. Invent a story to explain it away.
  3. Bask in the glory of a job well done, and optionally remind people how smart and thoughtful you are.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1414 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2016 :  21:05:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
4. Promote your book.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13377 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2016 :  01:05:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by ThorGoLucky

4. Promote your book.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 01/04/2016 :  10:16:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And from Rebecca Watson:
To make matters worse, Shermer has responded on Twitter by claiming that his article was “less about H. naledi & more about human nature & our violent past that is often downplayed”, which makes one wonder why the entire thing is about H. naledi, including his conjecture that these researchers in particular “are downplaying an all too common cause of death in our ancestors—homicide in the form of war, murder or sacrifice.” He states emphatically that “further examination of the Homo naledi fossils should consider violence (war or murder for the adults, sacrifice for the juveniles) as a plausible cause of death and deposition in the cave.” That seems awful specific to H. naledi.

But Hawks takes Shermer at his word, which doesn’t help Shermer much, pointing out “So H. naledi was a way to get attention for your pre-existing views about human nature? Not very skeptical-sounding.”

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13377 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2016 :  21:27:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Shermer responds here:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/homo-naledi-and-human-nature/

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 01/08/2016 :  20:28:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Shermer responds here:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/homo-naledi-and-human-nature/
Shermer can't even be bothered to spell Hawks' name correctly, much less address Hawks' primary objection to Shermer's death-by-violence hypothesis, which is that there is zero evidence in Shermer's favor. Shermer says,
Thus, in my opinion the hypothesis of homicide/sacrifice for the H. naledi fossils is as good as the others also proposed by the authors...
At best, in view of the actual evidence in hand, this means that Shermer thinks there's no evidence at all in favor of any of the hypotheses, therefore they're all equally likely. The fact that there's plenty of evidence for violence among paleolithic peoples (to which Shermer devotes almost two additional paragraphs) doesn't make the hypothesis that these particular people died from homicide or sacrifice any more likely.

Shermer completely fails to even mention, much less acknowledge, the fact that Hawks and his co-authors found no evidence of cutting, crushing or other major bone damage, despite having cataloged rat tooth marks and beetle bites on the bones. Maybe Shermer thinks that these 15 people died from precision cuts to major arteries which would leave no evidence on the bones, but that's the whole point: there's no evidence of violence.

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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

United Kingdom
1255 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2016 :  09:06:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
the community falling out over minutia such as this is so sad.

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2016 :  21:12:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

the community falling out over minutia such as this is so sad.
The community didn't "fall out" over this. The community split because Shermer is a bigoted asshat who is probably a sexual predator and many in the community are so awash in hero worship that they refuse to believe any of it, and "defend" their hero in the vilest of ways.

No, this is just one more small example of why Shermer is a shitty exemplar of a skeptic. A refusal to engage with the data should be a big no-no for a self-proclaimed skeptical "thought leader," don't you think?

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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

United Kingdom
1255 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2016 :  23:06:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by On fire for Christ

the community falling out over minutia such as this is so sad.

No, this is just one more small example of why Shermer is a shitty exemplar of a skeptic. A refusal to engage with the data should be a big no-no for a self-proclaimed skeptical "thought leader," don't you think?

He might be a bit "rapey" but he's still one of your most charismatic leaders.

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2016 :  19:13:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

He might be a bit "rapey" but he's still one of your most charismatic leaders.
And what caused the schism is that some of us think he shouldn't be. Just like there are plenty of decent atheist leaders who aren't Dawkins or Harris, there are plenty of skeptical leaders who aren't Michael frikkin Shermer.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  13:48:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Is Michael Shermer really that much hero-worshipped in the skeptical community? I know he is a big name, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, very few skeptics will claim Shermer as a major influence. One person many skeptics do claim as a major influence is Carl Sagan (and I'm not saying it isn't well-deserved). My single biggest skeptical influence is Steven Novella. I find Novella to be a much more systematic and analytical writer and thinker than Shermer is.

Shermer has a magazine, but he is far from the only writer in it, and it has an editorial board consisting of many people, not just him. I assume the magazine will keep going long after Shermer.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13377 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  19:07:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo
One person many skeptics do claim as a major influence is Carl Sagan (and I'm not saying it isn't well-deserved).

I was a skeptic before I read Demon Haunted World, which is probably the best book on skepticism written so far. Sagan is one of my heros.

My single biggest skeptical influence is Steven Novella. I find Novella to be a much more systematic and analytical writer and thinker than Shermer is.

I'm a Novella fan too, and his Science-Based Medicine site is one of my go-to's.

Shermer has a magazine, but he is far from the only writer in it, and it has an editorial board consisting of many people, not just him. I assume the magazine will keep going long after Shermer.


The magazine is not all his and there are some terrific people who write for Skeptic. I pretty much skip everything by Shermer.

As for heros, James Randi has it all over Shermer. He was actually a skeptic activist and is probably close to Sagan in popularizing modern skepticism. He's pretty much retired now, but I will always have a very high regard for him, faults and all.

There are others.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 03/24/2016 :  13:40:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, The Demon-Haunted World tends to recieve a lot of praise from skeptics. I have seen it being called the skeptical Bible, or that if you only read one book about skepticism, read that book.

I must admit I have never got around to read the whole of The Demon-Haunted World from cover to cover. I have read some specific chapters though. With that in mind, I can see why many skeptics praise it. Sagan not only goes through skeptical thinking, he also discusses why it is important for society as a whole. Among other things. The book branches off in many directions.

I don't share the same dislike for Shermer that you seem to do, he has written some good stuff. But as Skeptic magazine is not really dependent on him and there are plenty of other high-profile people writing for it, maybe his role in the future will be viewed more of an organizer than an analytic thinker. His embrace of Sam Harris' moral realism views, despite that it is very easy to find a refutation of them, is problematic to say the least.

Paul Kurtz is widely considered instrumental in founding the modern skeptical movement, yet his books are very rarely featured in skeptic book recommendations. It is clear that his primary legacy was in organizing, creating organizations and magazines. Perhaps that's the case with Shermer too?

I truly hope Steven Novella will keep doing great things for skepticism. I really wish he'd write a book! As he is (relatively) young, he'll keep on going for a few decades more at least.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 03/31/2016 :  19:51:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

I don't share the same dislike for Shermer that you seem to do, he has written some good stuff.
"Some" being the key word. We know which subjects Shermer really sucks at. My problem is that Scientific American pays him no matter what he writes, whether he's good or bad at the subjects he chooses. So my subscription fees were essentially a blank check for often-sucky writing.
...maybe his role in the future will be viewed more of an organizer than an analytic thinker.
Probably not. He doesn't seem to particularly excel at organizing, either. Even the SPI seems to have wiped him off their web pages.
Paul Kurtz is widely considered instrumental in founding the modern skeptical movement, yet his books are very rarely featured in skeptic book recommendations. It is clear that his primary legacy was in organizing, creating organizations and magazines.
Kurtz' primary legacy is secular humanism. That's what the bulk of his books were about.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2016 :  09:44:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, well. Is it possible folks are finally starting to see what a waste of human semen Michael Shermer is? Now, what about the damage he has done to skepticism with his definition of skepticism specifically designed to let his Libertarianist normative shit go unchallenged?

Remember when the scope of skeptical critique use to apply to normative matters as well as empirical ones? Dogma used to be in the scope. Shermer has been instrumental in this widespread failure of modern skepticism to deal with normative intrusions into skeptical inquiry. If we had kept that inclusive scope in our definition, Watson likely would not have gained as much traction as she did and we would all be better off.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
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The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2016 :  17:30:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas

If we had kept that inclusive scope in our definition, Watson likely would not have gained as much traction as she did and we would all be better off.
I (for one) can't imagine how you reached such a conclusion without at least using historical inaccuracies as premises, so please enlighten me.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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