This from the pages of the Daily Grail, an interesting site. I would highly recommend!
For many years on this site I’ve critiqued (this is the owner of the site the daily grail) the demagogic tendencies of a number of the ‘leaders’ of the modern skeptical movement (see the bottom of this post for some links). I’ve often faced resistance (and sometimes hostility) from card-carrying skeptics for pointing out the foibles of these so-called champions of science, and the dangers of having such people as figureheads of a movement dedicated to truth and reason – but I had no inkling that in the space of just a few short years the reputations of a number of them would begin coming undone at their own hands.
The first tremors began, perhaps, two years ago with the ‘Elevatorgate’ scandal within skepticism, in which Richard Dawkins outed his ‘drunk uncle’ persona to those within skepticism by entering a controversial argument he didn’t need to engage in, and making comments that were always going to set off a firestorm.
Just a few months later, the previously Teflon-coated James ‘The Amazing’ Randi was caught at the center of his own scandal when his partner of more than two decades, Jose Alvarez, was caught and pleaded guilty to identity theft, after overstaying his visa in the 1980s. Though many felt sympathy for both Randi and his partner’s dilemma, there were also questions over how much Randi knew or was involved in the crime – a not-particularly-good look for the much celebrated champion of truth and honesty.
Randi’s credibility devolved further earlier this year when Will Storr’s book The Heretics brought Randi’s Social Darwinist-like philosophies into the spotlight, as well as Randi’s own confession that he sometimes lies to win his arguments.
Do see “Slippery Skepticism.” here is part:
“Perhaps they missed what psychologist James Alcock of York University in Toronto found in Bem’s paper entitled “Writing the Empirical Journal Article” on his Web site, in which Bem instructs students: “Think of your data set as a jewel. Your task is to cut and polish it, to select the facets to highlight, and to craft the best setting for it. Many experienced authors write the results section first.”
Randi’s wrong again “statement of “no positive results”:
SRI International was the nursery for the Stargate remote viewing project, of which statistician Jessica Utts concluded: “Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well-established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance…there is little benefit to continuing experiments designed to offer proof, since there is little more to be offered to anyone who does not accept the current collection of data.” That’s a little hard to reconcile with Randi’s statement of “no positive results”…
All in all, it’s rather easy to see why ‘psychic personalities’ would ignore the Million Dollar Challenge, irrespective of anyone’s opinion as to whether their talents are real or fraudulent. It asks them to risk their careers on a million to one shot (assuming they are not fraudulent), putting all the power into the hands of a man they distrust – and who has been antagonistic towards them over a number of years – with no legal recourse available to them.
Also worth reading:
- James Randi: Let Survival of the Fittest “Act Itself Out” On Those With Low IQ and “Mental Aberrations”
- The Myth of the Million Dollar Challenge
- Richard Dawkins Comes to Call
- The Shermer Sham
- Skeptical of a Skeptic
- The Carlos Hoax…Hoax?
- Slippery Skepticism
- Hampton Haunting Debunked?
- Randi Goes Round the Bem
- Global Warming Burns Randi
- Randi’s Wrong Again
- The Real Peril of Skepticism
Posted by red pill junkie at 22:11, 09 Aug 2013
In 2006, if you had asked to any self-professed rationalist/atheist who was the person he or she admired the most, 2 out of 3 the name Richard Dawkins would have surfaced. That same year Wired magazine published an article titled ‘The Church of the Non-Believers’, in which Dawkins was listed among Sam Harris & Daniel Dennet as one of the undisputed leaders of a growing secularist movement, commonly referred nowadays as the nu-atheists.
Fast forward to 2013, and things have changed dramatically. The author of ‘The God Delusion’ is not only frequently accused of bigotry & sexist views by the opponents of nu-atheism, but he has even managed to become a public embarrassment to many people who share his distaste for religion.
A few months later, prominent skeptical voice Brian Dunning (of the popular Skeptoid podcast) pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud for his part in a scheme to ‘hack’ eBay’s affiliate marketing program which netted millions of dollars for the group.
This week, Richard Dawkins once again put his foot it with a provocative tweet about the lack of Nobel Prizes in the Islamic world (if you want to understand why it was a stupid tweet, swap ‘Islam’ for ‘women’ in the tweet and his later ‘reflections’ on the matter). This time, it seems that Dawkins may have put the final straw on the camel’s back: Owen Jones wrote that Dawkins could no longer “be left to represent atheists“; Martin Robbins wrote that atheism “will leave Dawkins behind“; Tom Chivers asked him “to please be quiet“; and Nesrine Malik said Dawkins himself was as irrational “as an Islamic extremist“.
There’s a fair feeling of chickens coming home to roost in these incidents, but this week flocks of previously hidden fowl seem to have emerged from every dark shadow in the world of skepticism