James Randi’s “Evidence” Against ESP Turns Out to Be Fabricated

James-Randi-LIAR

Some Disinfonauts might recall that last month I posted a rather scathing commentary in regards to the career of blow-hard skeptical debunker James Randi. Of course I hope people realize that I write polemic rants like this to reflect the negativity that the closed minded “skeptical” community, hardline materialist types, and religious people alike have been directing at anyone with alternate spiritual practices for the vast majority of recorded history. We deal with this condescension constantly and to pretend there isn’t a bias against things like Shamanism, the Occult, or Psi is sort of like pretending there’s no homophobia or misogyny, or that racism is just a thing of the past. For the record, we’re not talking about a fictional “sky-god” but rather the potentiality of the human imagination. It’s incredibly bizarre how many people desperately want to believe that this potentiality doesn’t exist and will eat up anything that reinforces this deeply held belief no matter how short on facts or evidence their claims happen to be. Hence the career of someone like James Randi.

Anywho, I had zero interest in stoking this fire anew, but then I accidentally stumbled upon this great piece by former skeptic Michael Prescott, written on a skeptic’s blog, thoroughly debunking James Randi’s claims about the military’s investigations into Psi in his book Flim Flam:

Years ago, when I was a full-fledged skeptic, atheist, and rationalist, I read James Randi’s 1980 bookFlim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions. Randi is an accomplished magician and a professional skeptic, dedicating to disproving any and all claims of what he considers pseudoscience. In line with this agenda, and as its title suggests, Flim-Flam is a concerted attack on miscellaneous purported irrationalities – everything from the pop-culture writings of Erich von Daniken to the more serious investigations of professional parapsychologists. I enjoyed the book, which reinforced my belief system at the time.

Recently I picked up Flim-Flam again. Having changed my mind about many things over the past twenty years, I responded to it much differently this time. I was particularly struck by the book’s hectoring, sarcastic tone. Randi pictures psychic researchers as medieval fools clad in “caps and bells” and likens the delivery of an announcement at a parapsychology conference to the birth of “Rosemary’s Baby.” After debunking all manner of alleged frauds, he opens the book’s epilogue with the words, “The tumbrels now stand empty but ready for another trip to the square” – a reference to the French Revolution, in which carts (“tumbrels”) of victims were driven daily to the guillotine. Randi evidently pictures himself as the executioner who lowers the blade. In passing, two points might be made about this metaphor: the French Revolution was a product of “scientific rationalism” run amok … and most of its victims were innocent.

Still, the tedious nastiness of Flim-Flam does not tell us anything about its accuracy. Intrigued, I decided to check out a few of Randi’s claims in detail.

I chose to focus on Chapter Eight, Randi’s dissection of the experiments of Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, two well-known parapsychologists. Randi calls them “the Laurel and Hardy of psi” and proceeds to argue that their experiments were a tissue of ineptitude, gullibility, and dishonesty.

The first thing I noticed was that Randi never gives any indication that Targ and Puthoff have any scientific credentials or accomplishments. The casual reader could be forgiven for assuming that they are not “real” scientists at all. For the record, Targ is a physicist credited with inventing the FM laser, the high-power gas-tranport laser, and the tunable plasma oscillator. Puthoff, also a physicist, invented the tunable infra-red laser and is widely known for his theoretical work on quantum vacuum states and the zero point field. (see The Field, by Lynne McTaggart, for an overview of Puthoff’s work in quantum phyics.) If these two are “Laurel and Hardy,” at least they come with good résumés. Randi, by contrast, has no scientific training.

Anyway, it goes on from there and I highly recommend reading the whole thing. If you’re totally lazy, I can sum it up by saying that when you look into it, a lot of Randi’s “evidence” essentially comes down to: “I know a guy who was involved that told me there were flaws in the protocols of these experiments, but I’m not going to tell you who this person was.” It’s really that flimsy. Prescott even checked out one of the claims of these mysterious sources personally, at the facilities where the research was conducted and found that it was nonsense. When Randi does quote actual inside sources, Prescott follows up and finds the sources deny ever saying anything close what he attributes to them and aren’t super happy about being misrepresented. Not very compelling “evidence” to say the least. And yet, these materialist weirdoes are continually editing out the reality of Psi research on Wikipedia, which is something that say Russell Targ has griped about rather publicly in recent years. In posting pieces like this, I’m just doing my best to counteract that ignorance. Occultist out.

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Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

CEO at DMI
Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken
  • Gjallarbru

    Absolutes, that is what most people seek. Be it the absolute of religion, science, or of materialism, absolutes comfort and reassure. Absolutes are usually seen as some kind of dogma.

    Yet, black and white the world is not. The world is grey, and truth hides in the mist of the grey. Truth is not a glaring beam of light, it is a furtive moving target, ever shifting in the grey. The reason for this is that the world appears and feels often as a duality, but it isn’t. For our limited perception, a unified view devoid of duality is hard to achieve. So the grey seems harsh, formless and false, therefore hiding the truth.

    So I tend to doubt the peddlers of absolutes. Randi is a pedler of absolutes. I try to stay in the grey, where the black and the white meld together.

    • herzmeister

      A skeptic’s most probable answer: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/middle-ground

      • Gjallarbru

        I’m not claiming an exact middle ground. I’m more precisely denying extremes as sane positions. Therefore, I’m promoting nuance as the fondation of truth. Insisting on the middle is in its own way an extreme position. Imagine two juxtaposed sqares, one black, one white. If you insist truth is on the exact line where they touch, you still think in a binary mode.

        I try to avoid black and white – binary – thinking all together, and avoiding that, there is no middle to aim for anyway.

        • Rey d’Tutto

          I try living life in Technicolor®

          • Gjallarbru

            I want to write “You’re funny”, but I’m unsure if the punctuation should be “!” or “?”… 😉

  • iwanttobelieve

    Is ESP real? I don’t know. I want to believe. As far as I’m concerned, no one needs to prove that ESP doesn’t exist. I would need evidence of ESP to believe. Exactly the same for Unicorns. I don’t require any evidence of Unicorns not existing. That I haven’t seen a Unicorn is enough. Anyway, Unicorns are silly.

    As far as ESP goes, I would truly love to have that evidence. Most of the time the “evidence” for ESP is something like:

    1. after flipping a coin a million times, .0001 percent of the time, the coin flipped the way we wished it would

    or

    2. Hey, look at this weird, shadowy ambiguous thingy. We don’t know what it is, so… ESP!

    or

    3. I can prove ESP is real. All you have to do is take this hallucinogenic drug and have sex with me.

    I’m just sick of it. If ESP were real, I strongly feel the evidence would be more substantial and easier to communicate or demonstrate. That at least some people claiming ESP powers are frauds, is a stone cold fact. Until I see some real evidence that doesn’t fall roughly into one of the above categories, I’m inclined to withhold my belief.

    Thad, showing credible evidence for ESP would be good. That you would rather attack people who don’t believe speaks much louder to the fact that ESP doesn’t exist. In other words, if you had a scrap of evidence for ESP, James Randi would be totally irrelevant. That you’d rather attack him, than offer proof of ESP… the clear message is – you have no proof.

    Yell, yell yell, blah blah — no proof — blah blah blah.

    • EmperorFaustus

      Have you actually looked into any of the proper research that’s been done!? I can’t figure out if you’re trolling for fun or immensely ignorant about the subject you’re discussing…

      If it’s the latter, you should read more. A good place to start might be Rupert Sheldrake’s work (as he is a Cambridge educated experimental scientist, you can be pretty sure that his experiments, though simple, are well-designed). The Science Delusion is a great place to start, but deals as much with the problems of materialism and scientific dogma as it does evidence for psi. As these subjects are intrinsically linked, I would reccommend it nonetheless.

      Cheers.

      • iwanttobelieve

        Trolling, yes. For fun, yes. Immensely ignorant about the supernatural, absolutely! I am guilty as charged. You must have ESP. (sorry, kidding with you)

        Seriously, though, thank you for the referrals. I will check it out. I am being honest when I say I want to believe.

        I am being serious as well, though, that taking the piss out of an old man who has done so much to reveal parasitical fraudulent leeches for what they are, his whole life, is a very weak substitute for just showing proof for ESP.

        • EmperorFaustus

          Ah good! Well, well done… you pretty much had me :-)

          I agree that refulting Randi is no substitute for evidence of ESP. But I’m not sure Randi is quite that selfless… there’s some suggestion that he’s actually quite unpleasant beneath the ‘tireless crusader for justice who looks like Santa’ exterior.

          For example, he’s professed to be a Social Darwinist, then, when people called him on the reprehensible nature of that philosophy, backtracked and claimed he didn’t know what Social Darwinism is. That, for a man of Randi’s obvious intellect and learning, is highly unlikely. As is the possibility he coined the term without investigating what it means.

          But either way, even if he’s lovely, if he uses false information to do his de-bunking, he should be called on it.

          • InfvoCuernos

            To be fair, I would just like to point out that by your own words, Randi does only have a high school education, so he might not have known what Social Darwinism was. They sure didn’t teach that in the High School I went to.

            Of course he’s unpleasant. Its not even beneath the surface: he’s obviously a grumpy old man that goes around telling people there is no god and when you die, that’s it. Oh, and no magick either. He is no fun at all, unless you can talk him into doing some card tricks before he shits on your heartfelt beliefs.

        • drokhole

          Dean Radin also has a boatload for you to sift through:

          Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications on Psi Research
          http://deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm

      • Woobniggurath

        Indeed, Sheldrake – I think “Dogs That Know When their Owners are Coming Home” is a great starter.
        And Also Dean Radin -“The Conscious Universe.” Look up something about his work at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Lab.
        No cold-reading stage psychics or spirit photography there.

    • http://adamgoodwin.info/ Rhoid Rager

      It’s effective rhetorically to say you ‘want to believe’ in something, because that paints your position as being gregariously open. But, on the other hand doesn’t that also automatically disqualify you from any objectivist approach, because you are effectively admitting openly that you are biased in your perspective.

      Of course, this opening statement, and your very nick turn out to be false, as you demonstrate later on in your comment through your flippant dismissiveness and glib strawmen argumentation that you, indeed, do not want to believe. If you are truly driven to discover new recurring, patterned properties of nature (constant conjunctions as Hume called them), you would begin by examining those that are most accessible to you–in this case, in your own experience and the experiences of those you associate with.

      Have you ever been able to predict who is phoning you? What about thinking about someone right before they phone you? Or how about even picking up the phone to call someone to find that they have called you at that very moment, and your act to pick up the phone connects you to them without the phone actually ringing to alert you. All of these have happened to me numerous times…numerous enough to alert me to a statistically significant phenomenon that exceeds the level of chance. I don’t need to have a desire to believe; I base my investigative proclivities off of my own daily experience, rather than referring to third party research to tell me what is real and what is not.

      • iwanttobelieve

        I have had a significant amount of freaky coincidences in my life. Thinking of a song, and then walking into an elevator a few minutes later and hearing that very song. Thinking about someone and then having them call me out-of-the-blue later that day. Deja-vu type feelings.

        These experiences are ubiquitous.

        It is frustrating to experience these things and yet have the explanation be so elusive and unrepeatable. It is galling to see people take advantage of the human condition by hawking books, tokens and promises, when they have no more proof or evidence than I.

        If I seem flip or dishonest or insulting to some, it’s my hope they take it as encouragement to explain the phenomenon. But, yes, your perception of me and my ‘tactics’ are not wrong. Calling me out on my bullshit does not validate the bullshit of others, however.

        • Oginikwe

          “It is frustrating to experience these things and yet have the explanation be so elusive and unrepeatable.”

          Why explain them? Why not just marvel at them when they happen?
          The harder you try to control it or make it happen, the more elusive it is. It is something mystical that happens to you; it is not something you make happen. Can you imagine if you were “on” all the time? You’d lose your mind trying to sort through the information.

      • iwanttobelieve

        This is off-topic, and a double reply – sorry, sorry. Speaking of examples of freaky phenomenon… I recall reading a description of a phenomenon whereby rats (or some test animal) were given some test that was difficult enough to take a long time for them to learn. However, once a certain amount of them learned how to do the test properly, suddenly rats everywhere could do the test quicker.

        My details are wrong, I’m sure, but basically rats in England learned how to do the trick, and then it seemed like rats in Australia could suddenly do it too. Suggesting some kind of universal consciousness. Anyway, you got me thinking of examples, and Google isn’t helping me right now. Have you heard of something like that?

        • http://adamgoodwin.info/ Rhoid Rager

          Yes, I have heard of that. I heard of it through Rupert Sheldrake’s work. You’ll find a lot of compelling evidence with Sheldrake’s research, as another commentor has noted. But the original inheritance-of-acquired-traits research on rats was done by William McDougall. http://www.pandualism.com/z/E/aa1.html

          You may know that inheritance of acquired traits is a big ‘no, no’ in Darwinian natural selection, because it was exactly the argument that Darwin was trying to refute. He wanted to disprove Lamarck’s thesis that parents could pass down to their offspring the behaviours or physical characteristics that they acquired during their lives. Darwin argued for a more passive medium of inheritance (later identified as genes by the great synthesis with Gregor Mendel’s work in the early 20th century) through the mechanism of natural selection.

          But what Sheldrake and others are beginning to show is that this inheritance may not be so passive after all, and, indeed, it may not be limited to the restricted physical configuration of genes. Sheldrake has posited that biology operates along field lines similar to lower physical phenomena like magnetism and gravity. In fact, reality is often more aptly described in terms of fields–I, myself, have found this to be applicable in the social sciences, as well.

          • iwanttobelieve

            Thank you, and EmperorFaustus. I will look into it, and in the future will try to stop myself from posting whimsical rants (though I do still feel such when reading Thad’s anti-Randi stuff) before I’ve had my coffee.

      • VaudeVillain

        Just because I enjoy pissing in peoples’ corn flakes:

        Q: Have you ever been able to predict who is phoning you?

        A: Yes, frequently. Most of the phone calls I receive come from the same half dozen people, and those people have patterns of when they call. I can pretty much guess who is calling me just by the time and day of the week. This is ordinary, non-magical pattern recognition and familiarity, not ESP.

        Q: What about thinking about someone right before they phone you?

        A: Yes, and often I am also thinking that I should call them… generally because there is some expectation of contact. I’ve also, on several occasions, thought about somebody only for them to unexpectedly contact me shortly afterwards. On an enormously larger number of occasions, somebody has unexpectedly contacted me after I did not think about them at all. The former is far more likely to get my attention, however, so those events stand out far stronger in my memory. Selection bias does not prove the existence of ESP.

        Q: Or how about even picking up the phone to call someone to find that they
        have called you at that very moment, and your act to pick up the phone
        connects you to them without the phone actually ringing to alert you[?]

        A: Not really, but only because I grew up in a world with cell phones that preclude precisely that. Equivalently, I have, but almost only ever when there was an existing arrangement of communication. On vastly more occasions this has not happened.

        Assertion: All of these have happened to me numerous times…numerous enough to
        alert me to a statistically significant phenomenon that exceeds the
        level of chance.

        Counter: I seriously doubt that, because I seriously doubt that you counted the number of times these phenomena *did not* occur, or that you have an accurate assessment of the probability many of things have of happening naturally.

        • http://adamgoodwin.info/ Rhoid Rager

          I figured someone might call me out on the ‘statistically significant’ thing. I should have suspected that it would be you, Vaude. You’re right, I haven’t counted the times that it hasn’t happened. So, I’ll redact the ‘statistically’ aspect, but continue with the ‘significant’ aspect. It’s significant to me, because my population sample has been larger than simply half a dozen, the calls I have received in the past have been intermittent with very little expectation of when/who, and I have correlated that phenomenon with similar phenomenon with close family members.

          I would like to devote more time to filtering the piss out of my cornflakers, but I’m already involved in a defense of feminism on another thread.

          • VaudeVillain

            For what it’s worth, that is a pretty common perceptual error for humans to make. I do it all the time. We are not in the habit of noting what is routine, expected or otherwise ordinary; it isn’t part of our survival instincts. I don’t think any less of you for making it, especially since you’re at least gracious enough to recognize the potential, likely, bias.

            As for the feminism thing… which thread is that? I’ve got a hankering to shit on some anti-feminists.

          • http://adamgoodwin.info/ Rhoid Rager

            Here http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-08-27/world-made-by-bigots
            But, you may not entirely disagree with their perspective, as it largely has to do with the whole strong-males-dominating society narrative, especially in a post-collapse scenario. They just can’t articulate themselves in any other way but the ‘good ole boy’ fashion, which may get on your tits. (irony intended there).
            Oh well… off for another brown ale now.

          • VaudeVillain

            Oh dear… that may be more stupidity than I’m ready to step into.

  • EmperorFaustus

    Another great article on the perils of what passes for skepticism Thad. BTW, I remember you offering another (critical) poster in the comments on that peice the opportunity to send you an article to publish on Disinfo. If that’s an open offer, I’d love to inbox you a document. We’re FB friends, so I can get you there if it’s cool.

    • Thad McKraken

      Yeah, hit me up. It might take me a minute to get back to you but I respond to all messages I get on my FB page. I get a lot though and I’m crazy busy, so just be patient.

  • feint_ruled

    So, this guy thinks that Randi should have disclosed that Puthoff had scientific creds as this would have somehow validated his ESP research? Perhaps he should also disclose that (according to wiki) “Puthoff joined the Church of Scientology in the late 1960s and reached
    the top OT VII level by 1971…. claiming to have achieved “remote
    viewing” abilities.”
    Arguably that is more relevant than this laser work! He knows ESP works as he had done it himself, under the auspices of L. Ron’s crew.

    • Ghostlore

      If you TALK to Puthoff, as I have, you’ll also learn that he left Scientology a very long time ago (like, 40 years). Actually, it says it in the wiki you’re quoting, but I guess you missed that part. He credits that church (I use the term loosely) with helping him deal with some stuff that happened to him when he was young, calling it cathartic (his words), and that’s it. That wiki (the one that states he learned remote viewing from Scientology) is completely inaccurate, and highlights the dangers of putting your faith in a 30 second Google search.
      He helped with the development of over-the-horizon-radar for the U.S. and currently he owns his own institute in Texas and is working on ways to mine zero point energy for interstellar space flight. Three guesses as to who he’s getting his funding from.
      Randi….well….Randi has a high school education and a flair for misdirection. Best of luck to you if you place your faith in that turd blossom.

      • feint_ruled

        I’ll take your word for it, I guess. But what is the point of the appeal to authority, unless ESP and radar are somehow connected? Unless you are trying to say as a proven scientist he puts together a mean experiment, in which case the world awaits his independently repeatable ESP experiments.

        • Ghostlore

          He was tasked by the CIA to look into it because he had clearance based on work he’d done with the government before. His (and Targ’s) experiments followed scientific protocol, but were later examined by independents and said to be no better than chance. From there the story gets murky and turns into a he- said-she-said see saw battle of ‘expert’ opinions (both for and against) , at which point I stopped caring.

          If we go with some facts about RV, they ARE, simply :
          -The Russians started studying psi first. The Americans caught wind of it and followed suit. Cold war era mentality could not allow for a gap in Intel gathering techniques.
          -The CIA didn’t believe in the phenomenon at first, and tried very hard to disprove it, on more than one occasion.
          – According to the scientists who developed the testing protocols, the research produced better than chance results (contested by skeptics later, see point above).
          -The research produced actionable intelligence (keyword ‘actionable’ meaning it was believed and used) and was reviewed by many military experts (which to me, lends credence to it). This is not to say it was perfect.
          -It was mostly used as a means of augmenting Intel gathering, not as a sole source.
          -Much of what happened about the program remains classified.
          -RV is still being used by many different people, in many different places. This includes corporations and governments.

          Seriously though, to twist your words a little bit, don’t take my word for it, and don’t guess. Do the research for yourself, contact people that were involved in the programs (emphasis on the ‘s’), then decide if it merits your belief or not.

          Or just take the easy road and blindly accept the opinions of a cantankerous, old, uneducated crank.
          Your choice.

  • emperorreagan

    Randi is an idealogue who has spent his career shouting down everyone with whom he disagrees. That he was unconcerned with differentiating between making a solid argument or basing an argument on unfounded assertions is no surprise.

    When idealogues dominate the game, the effect is to shut down lines of inquiry.

    • Echar Lailoken

      He’s made a career out of playing with/manipulating peoples expectations. What more would a person expect out of a stage magician?

    • Farnham Bailey

      Sounds like 90% of American Media

  • Tchoutoye

    When skepticism is applied selectively, for instance to certain groups of people and not to oneself, as is usually the case, it merely becomes a form of prejudice.

  • 1plakat

    Why the need to prove it? Will it help me get laid? If so, I’ll find a way to prove it. I’d do anything to get laid.

    We can’t even detect dark matter and we know its there. This is for the future, when instruments are up to par. Most novel discoveries are ridiculed because instead of the individual making the discovery distributing it freely to society (anonymously), they want the glory and adulation of the world, they want their ego to get stroked, compensation, and so get shunned until they die and the discovery is made valid by some no name. Now, if you can read minds and control that faculty, use it to detect trends in the stock market and call it a day. First we need to tackle the clean energy problem.

    The most amazing magickal experiences are best left unspoken or only shared with like minded folks that want to believe or else its not cool occult anymore and becomes cheesy mainstream science, I hate cheesy.

    This book should keep you busy for a while.
    http://www.amazon.com/Rough-Guide-Unexplained-Phenomena-Reference/dp/1843537087

  • Guest

    Nice now this stupid article is getting moderated by thad himself. stupid

    • Echar Lailoken

      That is untrue.

      • 1plakat

        its true. I wrote a great comment if I do say so myself and it got blocked. Now I posted that one, felt bad and deleted, now its here as guest, what? So he can seem like a victim? How is it untrue? we cant prove it or disprove it, its in super position. Thad, you know i can just create a new name right, gain your trust by praising your histrionic personality and then all of a sudden drop a troll post that will knock your psychic socks off right? Just post some interesting stuff, not all ideas are supposed to make it.

        • Echar Lailoken

          Did you post a link?

          If so it got caught in spam purgatory and is awaiting for the 1 or 2 people with mod powers, who are not Thad, to release it. There’s no dirty pool here.

          With Disqus, when you delete a post, it shows up as guest.

          Thad is many things, and not always my favorite, but he’s not what you are accusing him of.

          If your comments get held up, likely when a newish commenter adds a link, be patient. It will eventually show up. Please try not to overreact and start making accusations. It makes you look like a spazz.

          • 1plakat

            I am a spazz. Im not really here to build up a reputation or look good for random internet people, im what we call a straight shooter. at least I felt bad and deleted my comment instead of insulting him needlessly. You must not know about me. But I would not put it above thad to do this, the man talks directly to aliens and demons, a little covert moderation is not really far fetch if you take off the tin foil cap and think about it. And heck, now I want thad to have moderating power, he is the most enthused about this site out of all of us anyway. He writes the dead seas scrolls all over again over anything his mind wonders to. Such wasted talent, should be writing for a newspaper or a least a scandalous tabloid.

          • Echar Lailoken

            Noted

          • http://adamgoodwin.info/ Rhoid Rager

            It’s evil and oppressive language, but I like the word ‘spazz’. Thanks for reminding me of it. I laffed out loud when I read it in your post. 😉

        • Thad McKraken

          I have zero ability to moderate Disinfo comments threads. Sometimes I post comments and they dissappear too. I think it’s tech errors with wordpress, but just to clear the air once again. I have no access to moderate comments threads on this site.

  • Erik Denning

    “It’s incredibly bizarre how many people desperately want to believe that this potentiality doesn’t exist ” Is it? Of course we have unrealized potential, but to some of us, saying that potential includes psychic ability sounds as ridiculous as saying we have the unrealized potential to turn invisible or grow to the size of mountains.

    • gustave courbet

      I found Russel Targ’s work to be compelling. I recommend checking him out.

  • InfvoCuernos

    Ever notice how articles that are written in an aggressive and confrontational manner always cause an uproar? I wonder if there’s some sort of psychic link? Or maybe the whole thing is a troll. Hit us with some more Carl Sagan while you’re at it.

  • HeWasAGoodLadAtDerbyJimmy

    This site just uses up time.

  • Rolo Mictlantecuhtli

    One thing is certain: The title of this article is fabricated and very misleading.

  • julianpenrod

    The
    fact is, even in the area of “skeptics” against those who tout
    the paranormal, it’s not necessarily a case of “black hat/white
    hate” and often more like two mad dogs fighting over the same bone.
    To the extent of living by the credo that, if Carl Sagan didn’t say
    it, it doesn’t exist, the “skeptics” are all wrong. But even
    here, you see signs of buying into the lies the New World Order
    feeds.

    McKraken,
    for example, excoriating the presence of “homophobia”. To begin
    with , it doesn’t exist because it’s not even a legitimate term.
    It’s a calculated but illegitimate hybrid of part of the Latin based
    “homosexual” and the Greek “phobia”. And it’s intended, by
    it’s structure, to convey the idea that anyone who doesn’t completely
    and utterly accept homosexuality is suffering from an irrational fear
    of it. Many people don’t like wing tipped shoes, but not out of
    fear! The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
    doesn’t even list homophobia as a legitimate condition. Basically,
    it’s malpractice to diagnose anyone as having it! Too, even if you
    wanted to describe someone with a fear of homosexuals, you would use
    the term “arsenokoitephobia”. But, tellingly, those seeking to
    spread the propaganda in favor of homosexuality realized the target
    audience they were aiming at were too week minded to be able to
    pronounce, much less remember, that term.

    And,
    incidentally, “racism” means the proposition that various
    spiritual, emotional, personality and intellectual proclivities were
    connected to race. It is not a call to kill this group or that! It
    is a legitimate are for study that, frankly, never has been subjected
    to honest study! It has simply been dismissed out of hand, out of
    fear.

    Incidentally,
    you don’t see the “skeptics” put themselves to things like
    accusations of homophobia or racism or the claims of banned weapons
    systems in Iraq. To say they aren’t purveyors of special myths is a
    lie.

    It
    should be remembered, too, that there is a danger many even among
    those who accept the paranormal seem to fall into, condemning
    “religious people”, as here, along with “religious
    institutions”, like the corporations that various sects and
    Churches have turned into, and the acceptance of the presence of God.

    Also,
    a crucial point. Michael Prescott tries to shed a new light on those
    who deny the paranormal out of hand by saying the French Revolution
    James Randi invoked was based on “scientific rationalism”. In
    point, the philosophy, or “philosophy”, behind it was framed in
    terms of “scientific rationalism”, but, in fact, the revolution
    itself was an upheaval by the mercantile bourgeoisie to strip obvious
    power from the peerage. It’s even been revealed that Marie
    Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake”! And, when they
    stormed the Bastille, they found it not filled to the brim with
    political prisoners, but housing only a paltry handful of apparent
    actual criminals. In that way, then, as, frankly, has been the case
    through so much history, a “principle” was used to corral the
    dull witted into doing something to serve the wanton self interests
    of the obscenely rich! Like the New World Order.

  • Reasor

    I wonder if there’s still time to add Thad’s “psi was proven in clinical testing, but Wikipedia is covering it up” story to the Favorite Conspiracy Theory poll.

  • Matt Baen

    There’s a bias against psi phenomena because it’s infantile garbage.

  • Dan Clore

    I’ve checked some of FLIM-FLAM! against the works being criticized. One was Robert Temple’s book The Sirius Mystery, where Randi’s attempt at debunking fails because he misrepresents Temple’s book. He repeatedly gets claims and arguments so far off that his counterarguments are worthless. He claims, for instance, that Temple presents a “censored” version of a Dogon diagram, omitting parts that don’t fit his theory. But Temple presents the complete version of the diagram as a full-page illustration. He does also present versions of the diagram that omit parts, when he is making a point about other parts. However, the “censored” diagram that Randi presents does not match any of these.

    Randi seems to have relied on secondary sources rather than actually looking at Temple’s book. He seems to have misunderstood them, and constructed the “censored” version of the diagram himself, relying on descriptions of how Temple had changed it, while at the same time misinterpreting them as claiming that Temple omitted the full diagram. The rest of the account is similarly inaccurate.

  • Greg Little

    Good article. Keep in mind that any debunking of so-called debunkers will bring their disciples out to make snarky statements filled with claptrap.

    • iwanttobelieve

      James Randi’s target audience is the believers. It can be entertaining to see him debunk now-proven charlatans, but true skeptics don’t need messiahs (’cause disciples, really?) like James Randi. The general lack of evidence for the paranormal is enough.

      I had no idea James Randi did anything beyond a few youtube videos I’ve seen of him exposing known fraudsters. This article rankles me, though, because it seems like an attack on someone, in lieu of evidence. If the evidence for the paranormal was truly compelling and irrefutable, people like James Randi would simply be irrelevant.

      Imagine how silly it would be to read a scathing rhetorical attack on people who believe the sun orbits the earth. There are not many of them, but those people do exist. In fact, that very question used to carry a lot of controversy, that people even died over. However, now-a-days the evidence that the earth orbits the sun is just so compelling that people who deny it are completely irrelevant. My point is, in the case of the sun, a scathing rhetorical attack would be completely unnecessary, when you could just provide the evidence that the earth orbits the sun.

      With the paranormal stuff, there are some compelling studies and suggestive notions at work, but the evidence is just not quite there yet; it’s way too subtle to convince your average skepti-troll on the interwebz. I think the evidence will be there someday, personally. Until then, dude, we just don’t know.

      Theories do not pass or fail based on whether or not people can debunk them. Theories pass based on their evidence.

      Anyone could settle all this by blindly making billions off the stock market, or lifting a penny off a table with telekinetic powers under scientific scrutiny, or just winning the lottery a few times. If the answer is that it just doesn’t work that way, and is in fact way more subtle and difficult to assess… well, that’s why people don’t believe it. And, if it truly is a legit phenomenon, disbelievers are irrelevant. Why sweat it.

      If you think I’m being facetious or condescending, I am simply reflecting what I perceive as Thad’s attitude. His writing is full of petty insulting language – and not at all cleverly so – aimed at people who are skeptical of the paranormal; as though it were a character flaw to question paranormal claims. Everything needs questioning. Appeals to belief without question is a path back to fascism and the dark ages. I’m against that, personally.

      • Greg Little

        I’ve watched Randi since he started–and other skeptics have adapted his same tactics. They use extreme ridicule, belittling of others, and deception. If you actually watch Randi in his attempts to “duplicate” the feats of some psychics, he actually fails pretty miserably in duplicating them as they were initially done. I’m not saying that I believe in spoon bending and so on, but Randi never duplicated Geller. He gave a magician’s explanation but wasn’t all that good at it. He made up for it with showmanship and a type of sarcasm. To me, it isn’t really about evidence or lack of it in the scientific literature. There are two extremes at work in this, both sides are “true believers” and skeptics have the characteristics of a cult. There are studies in psychology journals about that aspect. What I applaud here is that the exact same tactics employed by the skeptic extremists are tossed back. I’d never read anything by Thad before, and I understand his sense of astonishment at discovering Randi. Discussion and going over evidence doesn’t happen between “skeptics” and the proponents. And it probably never will, because the skeptics are as much a cult as they claim the other side is.

        • iwanttobelieve

          Conversations over the internet tend to polarize, with both sides adopting childish tactics. I am guilty of this, in moments of weakness, of which I have many and often.

          Same as with road rage – it happens because with written words you don’t see body language. Humans do a million different unspoken apologies and indicators-of-acceptance in person-to-person conversation that just don’t happen in writing.

          I also think when the common person hears about PSI, they are imagining exactly spoon bending type stuff. PSI proponents suffer unjustly at the hands of people who don’t bother investigating what they’re really talking about, and just skip right to ridiculing spoon bending. (incidentally this is exactly what I do with Thad, whom I suspect is just writing these articles to get laid by foisting hallucinogenic sex magick on the unsuspecting naive).

          At the same time, I get the feeling that you might have a group of specific people in mind when you sling the word “skeptic” as though it were a derogatory term. Skepticism is good. Believing on faith is bad. I’ll never believe otherwise. Not taking Randi at his word, doing the investigatory work to illuminate the flaws in his arguments… that is skepticism. There’s no way around it. And it is good.

          Some people call themselves skeptics, without being skeptical of their own beliefs. These people are not skeptics.

          Some people call themselves open minded, while shouting down and damning-to-hell anyone who opposes them. These people are not open minded.

          Using the word skeptic as a derogatory term, simply because one doesn’t like having their beliefs questioned, is weak and hypocritical. It adds to the polarization effect.

          One true word is better than a million well-deserved zingers.

          • Greg Little

            That is a well-reasoned reply and well-thought out. I agree with nearly all of it. I do think Thad’s article reflects his astonishment with the discovery of the reality of the skeptical leaders. I don’t know about his “sex” motives. The implications of the word “skeptic” are not the same as it was in say, 1972. I do have specific people in mind when I use the term “skeptic”—there are a lot of them, and I’m thinking of the most influential ones. But I’ve been around alternative and mainstream fields since the early 70’s and vividly recall the beginning of PSICOP and all of the controversy that ensued. And I have rather carefully looked at the most influential skeptic’s arguments and statements—and found a great deal of deceit that is combined with ridicule. In truth, the main skeptics remind me of the leaders of North Korea.